Spring Break Chicago-Style: Lincoln Park Zoo FREE Year-Round

Chicago, IL

There’s no need to get on a plane for Spring Break.  Lake County families who want to “get away” for Spring Break have an international vacation destination right on our doorstep!  Hop on the Metra or pack up the car for an exciting day trip into Chicago with the kids. No hotels, no passports, no flight delays.  Enjoy all the culture, sights, and attractions of a world-class city and still put the kids to sleep in their own beds.  This week, we’ve prepared a series of posts to help you enjoy Spring Break Chicago-Style. Hold the ketchup!

In case you missed our previous installments:
Play Garden at the new Maggie Daley Park
360° Chicago at the John Hancock Center
Family Day Trips for Twenty Bucks or Less

Lincoln Park Zoo

One of the world’s oldest zoos is just an hour’s drive away (dependent on traffic) from your home in Lake County. The Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 and is located in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park. It is among only a handful of zoos across the country that is able to offer FREE admission – 365 days of the year.

lincoln park zoo
© L. Thomas | littlelakecounty.com | 2015

With over 35 acres of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians from habitats all over the world, it’s easy to spend an entire day viewing wildlife with your children.  It’s the reason we have suggested it as one of our affordable Spring Break Day Trips for $20 or less (when you pack your own food and snacks.)  Pay $20 to park all day, and feel free to enjoy the animals at your leisure until zoo hours close. If you have a family of four, that’s only $5 per person for a world-class attraction! For further adventure, travel on foot and enjoy the other areas of Lincoln Park or the nearby Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (admission fees apply; however the museum is always FREE on Thursdays.)

Lincoln park zoo
© L. Thomas | littlelakecounty.com | 2014

My family and I have enjoyed many visits to the Lincoln Park Zoo over the years. My children love to revisit their favorite animals and discover new exhibits and spaces during our explorations. We only recently discovered the Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure located indoors at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo.

lincoln park zoo
© L. Thomas | littlelakecounty.com | 2015

I’m sure your children will have the same reaction as mine and will forget that there is an entire zoo outside to see! Save your stop here for when grown-ups need a break from walking and when you have a good number of animal exhibits already under your belt for the day. Otherwise, you could easily while away a chunk of the day on this great climbing structure. Be careful not to let timid toddlers climb too far! While this feature is awesome, it is sized for children, and I pity the parent that needs to climb in after a crying child who got in over his/her head.

lincoln park zoo
Image from Lincoln Park Zoo on Facebook

If you want to stay on a budget, be aware of the Lionel Train Adventure located near the West Gate just south of Regenstein Macaque Forest and the AT&T Endangered Species Carousel. The trackless train costs $3 per person, weather permitting. The Carousel is $3 or $12 for five rides.  There are also four cafes on-site, along with snack carts throughout the grounds.  All are open seasonally, so check ahead for availability.  Locker and stroller rental is also available for your convenience, and of course, there is a well-stocked gift shop. While these offerings can really make your day trip expenses add up, remember that zoo sales help fund this landmark attraction’s huge operating costs.

lincoln park zoo
© L. Thomas | littlelakecounty.com | 2015

If you haven’t visited the Lincoln Park Zoo lately, Spring Break makes an ideal time to visit. Chicago Public Schools are still in session until their Spring Break begins on April 6th, so weekday crowding should be less of a concern.

Lincoln Park Zoo
2400 North Cannon Drive, Chicago
Parking entrance at Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive. Parking fee collected at the lot exit. $20 flat rate for 30 minutes or more.
Connect with Lincoln Park Zoo
Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Flickr

By Loralie

When Loralie isn’t out exploring with her two pint-sized adventurers you’ll often find her in front of her computer plotting to take over the world (or at least Lake County.) She appreciates good friends, good food, expensive shoes and parents who make two lanes in the drop-off/pick-up line at school. Her spirit animal is The Hobbit. She invites you to join her on her quest for unique distractions, diversions and deliciousness in this county we call home.

Spring Break Chicago-Style: Lincoln Park Zoo FREE Year-Round

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