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Nestled a few miles from the city’s bustling downtown, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the most beautiful and oldest zoos in the country, featuring historical architecture and world-class wildlife exhibits. It’s easy to spend an entire day at this tranquil scene and forget that the city’s skyscrapers are right beyond the zoo boundaries.

Besides the array of animals on display here, the nicest thing about this zoo is the fact that it’s free and open 365 days a year.

Besides seeing the animals here are five things to do on and around the zoo grounds:

Take a ride: The new Lionel Train Adventure ride at Lincoln Park Zoo is a site to see for all ages. The four-car train takes passengers on a ride through evergreen trees, over a bridge and through a canyon to catch a glimpse of dinosaur fossils. Tickets are $3.

The zoo’s beloved AT&T Endangered Species Carousel is also a must. It features 48 artisan-crafted wooden animals, two chariots and can accommodate up to 50 riders. The menagerie is made up of rare and endangered animals, many of which are represented in the Lincoln Park Zoo. Tickets are also $3. Value Ride Passes are available at $12 for 5 rides at the train or carousel.

Pet the animals: The Farm-in-the-Zoo inside the main zoo is also free to enter and allows for interaction with the cows and goats. A zoo attendant is waiting with hay for children and adults to feed the cows with, and the goats are always ready for a good petting.


Look at the lights: Every year from the day after Thanksgiving until around New Year’s Day the zoo is decorated with more than two million lights and bright displays. Zoo hours are extended into the evening in celebration of the holiday season. Ice-carving demonstrations, kids craft activities and photos with Santa round out the festivities.

Alfred Caldwell Lily PondRelax by the lily pads: The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond is a one-and-a-half acre space right outside the Lincoln Park Zoo on Fullerton Avenue. It’s a quiet and serene space, a spectacular refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city. The focal point of the space is the water lily pad-covered pond and all of the birds and other wildlife that wisely make their home here. Much like most things around the Zoo grounds, it’s free to visit.

Lincoln Park Zoo also offers a number of programs and special events for families as well as lectures for adults. For a list of nearby hotels please click here.