Located on a sprawling 35-acre plot of stunning natural beauty, Lincoln Park offers a captivating sanctuary amidst the urban jungle of concrete and towering skyscrapers. With its irresistible allure and free admission, the zoo attracts over 3 million visitors annually, inviting them to immerse themselves in a close-knit environment that offers excellent views of the magnificent animals.
This distinguished zoo, being one of the oldest in the United States, seamlessly blends its original architectural marvels with state-of-the-art facilities, bestowing upon its guests a delightful combination of character and allure.
What sets Lincoln Park Zoo apart is its reliance on the support of visitors, donors, and members to operate on a daily basis, all without charging an admission fee. While receiving subsidies from the Chicago Park District, the zoo remains passionately committed to animal welfare, education, conservation, and scientific endeavors.
In essence, it stands as a remarkable and modern urban zoo, where visitors can explore and enjoy its wonders free of charge. Moreover, one should not mistakenly assume that this zoo is exclusive to the summer season, as it offers a plethora of captivating experiences throughout the year, welcoming guests every day of the 365-day calendar.
Must-See Attractions at Lincoln Park Zoo
A visit to Lincoln Park Zoo is a delightful experience that can easily fill your entire day with wonder. However, there are certain exhibits you should prioritize during your visit:
Western Lowland Gorillas: Witness the captivating world of these 200-400-pound primates, the largest living primate species. As critically endangered creatures, the gorilla families at Lincoln Park Zoo are a testament to the zoo’s renowned success in breeding programs. Encounter these majestic creatures inside the Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Farm-in-the-Zoo: Nestled next to the Nature Boardwalk, this exhibit offers an enjoyable experience for both adults and children. You can pet friendly goats, greet ponies, and even feed cows. Additionally, the urban farm exhibit provides seasonal gardening activities, allowing visitors to engage in hands-on experiences that contrast with the observation-based exhibits found elsewhere in the zoo.
Pritzker Penguin Cove: A few years ago, Lincoln Park Zoo welcomed a charming group of penguins into its family. Now, you can have face-to-face encounters with these unique creatures. Native to the southern coast of Africa, these endangered penguins weigh a mere 7 pounds each. Take the opportunity to spend personal time with them in their new habitat within Chicagoland.
Amenities at Lincoln Park Zoo
Searle Visitor Center, located at the East Gate entrance of the zoo, houses various services and amenities provided for both guests and members:
Lincoln Park Restaurants: Indulge in a variety of dining options available at the zoo. From hot dogs and Mexican cuisine to Italian fare, salads, and sandwiches, you can satisfy your cravings at Park Place Café, Café at Wild Things, Eadie Levy’s Landmark Café, and The Patio at Café Bruner.
Gift Shop: Situated on the main mall, the gift shop offers a wide array of souvenirs, handcrafted jewelry, games, puzzles, books, educational toys, and much more. You can explore numerous shopping kiosks scattered throughout the zoo as well.
Accommodations: For your convenience, strollers and wheelchairs are available for use at the zoo. While the zoo is generally wheelchair accessible, please note that certain exhibits may have limitations. Accessible and family restrooms are conveniently located throughout the park, and an ATM can be found at Park Place Café.
What’s Nearby Lincoln Park Zoo
Situated north of downtown Chicago, Lincoln Park offers a range of enjoyable attractions in its vicinity, including:
- North Avenue Beach
- Chicago History Museum
- Oz Park (a playground and park inspired by “The Wizard of Oz”)
- Lincoln Monument
- Lincoln Park Conservatory
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Getting to Lincoln Park Zoo
Reaching Lincoln Park Zoo is convenient whether you choose to drive, take public transportation, or bike:
- Driving: Located just off Lake Shore Drive, a few minutes north of downtown Chicago, you can reach the zoo by taking Fullerton Parkway or North Avenue (I-94) and heading east.
- Parking is available at Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive, open from 6 am to 11 pm daily. Rates vary from $20 to $35 per day depending on the season and special events.
- Public Transportation: CTA buses #22, #36, #151, and #156 have stops near the zoo’s West Gate, Farm-in-Zoo, or Café Brauer.
- The Brown Line and Purple Line trains stop at the Armitage station, which is approximately one mile from the zoo.
- Biking: If you prefer to ride your bicycle to the zoo, there are bike parking racks available at various entrance locations. Additionally, several Divvy bike share stations are within walking distance of the zoo entrances.
When to Visit Lincoln Park Zoo
The zoo is open 365 days a year, with varying hours depending on the season. Typically, the gates open at 9 am and close between 5 pm and 7 pm. To avoid crowds, it’s recommended to visit the zoo early in the morning.
Lincoln Park Zoo Insider Tips
- Money-Saving Tip: If you plan to visit multiple tourist attractions in Chicago, consider purchasing a tourist pass such as the Go Chicago Pass or Chicago Explorer Pass. Both passes include access to the rides at Lincoln Park Zoo, among many other attractions.
- Download a map from the zoo’s website before your visit to make the most of your day at the zoo.
- Plan your visit to coincide with the 11 am session at the Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House, where you can meet the animals.
- Stay informed about current events by checking the zoo website’s daily activity page.
- Smoking is prohibited at the zoo for the safety of both animals and visitors.
- Service animals that meet ADA requirements are welcome.
Hello! My name is Kimberly L. Paquette, and I am delighted to welcome you to my website. Here’s a little bit about me and what I bring to the table:
I have always been passionate about travel and exploring new destinations. From a young age, I developed a deep curiosity for different cultures, landmarks, and experiences the world offers. This passion led me to create this website, Chicago City Travel, as a platform to share my knowledge and insights about the captivating city of Chicago.