Lincoln Park Zoo

This small zoo in the center of Chicago is perfect for small children and parents looking for a quiet, leisurely stroll — and some impressive animals!

Lincoln Park Zoo covers 49 acres (20 hectares) in Lincoln Park, just north of downtown Chicago. Meander among more than 1,000 animals in realistic habitats. There are monkeys swinging in trees, zebras grazing on plains and harbor seals lounging on rocks. Entrance is free and it’s open every day of the year.

The zoo was founded in 1868 when a pair of swans were donated to Lincoln Park by New York’s Central Park. In the following years the swan collection expanded with animals including a bear cub who would often escape from his enclosure and roam around the park at night.

The Regenstein Center for African Apes is the zoo’s largest and most extensive enclosure at 29,000 square feet (2,700 square meters). You’ll see chimpanzees and lowland gorillas, among other primates. See giraffes, African wild dogs, crocodiles and hippos in a separate African enclosure, and an indoor big cat display.

Take a stroll through the wooded Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo, featuring North American animals such as owls, beavers, black bears, wolves, turtles and ducks. Exhibits and explanations are geared towards kids.

The Farm-in-the-Zoo has also been designed with children in mind, featuring cows, pigs, ponies, chickens and sheep. There are regular talks and demonstrations, such as how to milk a cow, for families to learn about life on the farm. Don’t miss a ride on the Children’s Train for kids 3 to 12 years old.

Stop for a break at Park Place Café, which serves up fare like burgers and pasta. You’ll find organic food at the Café at Wild Things and pizza and drinks at the Patio at Café Brauer. Take the time to sit back and enjoy the surroundings, as the park is full of tall old trees and surrounded by the city skyline.

For more details on interesting local attractions and activities, check out our things to do in Chicago page.