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 Millennium Park
A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.
There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.
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