Grandma Ev came into town, so we headed down to Chicago’s main zoo, Brookfield Zoo in the west suburbs. The Chicago area has two main zoos- just north of downtown is the Lincoln Park zoo, a free zoo that charges over $20 for parking. Considering Lincoln Park zoo is free, there is a perfect amount of exhibits and animals for little kids to see, and a great ape and gorilla area. Occasionally, I have found parallel street parking north of the zoo, but it is hit and miss.
This was our first trip to the Brookfield Zoo in two years! Landon is so much older now and more able to interact with the information boards and kid’s activities. Brookfield has an interesting cost structure- there is a ticket option that includes three extra shows/exhibits, or the general admission ticket. I found that for a three-year-old, the general admission ticket provided more than enough time and access to exhibits. Parking is free for members, or $10 for cars. Stroller and wagon rentals are extra, and there is also an option to pay for attractions individually once inside the zoo. One of our favorite parts of the Brookfield Zoo is the monkey and ape exhibit. The way the exhibit is constructed, the observation areas are at tree level, and the monkeys have plenty of room to play and roam around.
The zoo is fairly spread out, so a stroller or wagon is a must if visiting with younger kids. Some indoor exhibits bar strollers from entry (except ADA wheelchair-type strollers for the disabled) but there are stroller parking areas. However, these are not secured, so it was a little annoying to have to gather up all of my valuables from the stroller and pack them through the exhibits while leaving my stroller outside. Landon had a great time running around from exhibit to exhibit, and sharing animal facts and observations with Grandma. We sure love when she comes to visit!
Our favorite animals on the day were the polar bears, dolphins, and giraffes. On this zoo day, we chose Brookfield because we were in the neighborhood. While visiting downtown Chicago, I would recommend visiting the Lincoln Park zoo because of its proximity to downtown. Brookfield Zoo has free admission on Tuesdays and Thursdays from now until December 31st! We may have to return before the end of the year to check out the animals that we missed during this last visit!