We stopped here first because Lincoln Park Zoo opens at 9:00 a.m., and savvy Chicagoans will tell you that it's best to start out early as the zoo crowds grow exponentially in the afternoon (the quality of the exhibits and the free admission draw upwards of 3 million people a year). Because the zoo is nestled in the heart of the park, it has an intimate setting that allows a much better view and proximity to the animals. Lincoln Park Zoo is unique in that it combines state of the art facilities along with maintaining much of the original turn of the century architecture.
The most recent addition is the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo. Certainly not your average children's zoo with goats to feed and cows to pet, this Children's Zoo offers a "walk in the woods", featuring a beautifully landscaped area showcasing native animals of North America, such as bears, wolves, beavers and otters. The Tree Canopy Climbing Adventure lets kids climb into a forest canopy rising 20 feet into the air. Bird exhibits, terrariums filled with frogs, snakes, and turtles add to an experience kids are not soon to forget.
Other attractions at the zoo include the SBC Endangered Species Carousel ride, the LPZOO Express train ride, the 4-D Virtual Safari simulator and a Safari Audio Tour. A small fee is charged for each of these attractions.
Now that we've worked up an appetite, let's have an early lunch at Café Brauer. The café is housed in a wonderful Prairie-style building and sits on the edge of the zoo lagoon. During summer months, the outdoor beer garden is open for sipping on a refreshing brew and enjoying a bratwurst or kabob. After lunch, you can wander next door to the Ice Cream Shoppe (the "-pe" stands for old-fashioned!) and enjoy a drippy cone. Swan shaped paddle boats available for rent for zipping around the lagoon and getting a different perspective of several animal exhibits.
Now that we're done with the zoo, let's go to the beach!