Lincoln Park Zoo#3 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
Located 2 miles north of the Loop in the North Side neighborhood of Lincoln Park, the Lincoln Park Zoo is home to dozens of species, such as zebras, sloths and hippos. Visitors can view the zoo's furry (or scaly) friends in their natural habitats: Check out the gorillas in the sprawling Regenstein Center for African Apes, or head to the Kovler Seal Pool to get up close and personal with harbor seals.
Travelers appreciated all of the large mammal species found here, as well as the zoo's lack of an entrance fee. If you have kids in tow, head to the Farm-in-the-Zoo exhibit, where little ones can meet barnyard favorites like cows, pigs and goats. Also, plan on using public transportation or a taxi to get to the zoo since there's limited availability in the zoo's parking lot and parking fees start at $20 per vehicle (or $25 per vehicle on weekends) for 31 minutes to 2 hours of parking.
The Lincoln Park Zoo is not within walking distance of an L station, however, two bus routes – Nos. 151 and 156 – have two Lincoln Park Zoo stops. Bus Nos. 22 and 36 also drop two blocks away from the zoo. The property is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30, 5 or 6:30 p.m. depending on the season. During the zoo's annual ZooLights light display, gates remain open until 9 p.m. All of the zoo's exhibits are free to visit, but bring money if you plan on riding the zoo's carousel and train or purchasing items at the on-site gift shops and cafes. Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo website to learn more about exhibits, facilities and special events.
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#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain
Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.
At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.
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