Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo began in 1868 with a pair of swans donated by New York City’s Central Park. It grew with donations of animals by wealthy Chicago citizens, including a menagerie from the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Today the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of Chicago’s most popular attractions, and admission is free. The number one exhibit is the naturalistic Regenstein African Journey. This is a walk-through that allows visitors to get very close to the animals in environmental settings that are amazingly life-like. Parents and kids can get almost nose-to-nose with a quizzical-looking meerkat, or thrill with disgust at the sight of a room crawling with cockroaches. Of course, the Primate House and its monkey occupants is a favorite with children.
Perhaps less exotic, but quite educational for city kids, is the Farm-in-the-Zoo. Here, visitors can see a range of domestic farm animals, as well as demonstrations of cow milking, horse grooming, and other old time farm chores. The Lincoln Park Zoo also has big cats, elephants and sea lions. There are budget hotels near Lincoln Park Zoo, which is centrally located in Chicago. Parking in the zoo area is very limited, but public transportation is available from all discount hotels in Chicago near the Lincoln Park Zoo.