Monday, January 26, 2009

Chicago's Lincoln Park

Lions, Tigers, Penguins, and Gorillas...oh my! (note, all images (c)

One of my favorite places to take out of town guests is the Lincoln Park Zoo. It is nestled just north of the city's main downtown area, in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park and is one of the oldest zoos in our country. One of the best parts about this zoo is that it is free 356 days of the year.

Since it is a free zoo, it has a feeling of a park with animals. The animals are in cages, but the zoo itself is completely open for visitors to pop into whenever they want (during zoo hours, of course). Sometimes when coming home from work during the summer I will ride my bike through the LP Zoo and enjoy the fresh air and fun.

The zoo is best enjoyed during the summer hours when you can rent a paddle boat, view the sea lions and ride the carousel, but even during the winter there are many animals to see. The big cats and small mammals are inside their own building. Actually, last semester I did a project for a biology class that I was taking where I went to the zoo every other Saturday to document the actions of the collection of Dwarf Mongeese. Through out the whole semester, from the late summer heat of September to the pre-Christmas excitement of late November, children of all ages were able to look at the animals.

One of the most humorous exhibits, to me, at least since I grew up in a rural-ish area, is the John Deere tractor. Since most Chicago kids have never gotten stuck behind one of these on a narrow country road, their appeal, and the magical work they do on parcels of land called "farms" is near legendary. Many of these kids have never been outside the concrete jungle that is Chicago so the "Farm at the Zoo" is fascinating. I'm sure even visitors from all over would find this fun because it is in the middle of the petting zoo section. The "Farm at the Zoo" also includes live cow milking daily.

The grounds and the park area around the zoo allow for ample picnicking area where you can gaze at the skyscraper while listening to the roar of the lions in the background.

In 1868, when the Lincoln Park Commissioners were given a gift of a pair of swans and then in 1874, the swans were joined by a bear cub, the first animal purchased for the zoo. Rumor has it that the bear became very adept at escaping from his cage and could be found roaming the Lincoln Park neighborhood at night. The cage solutions have become much more sophisticated in the past century.

Parking is available at the zoo for a fee, but the more adventurous should drive around the neighborhood to try and find some free parking. It might take a few minutes, but the saved parking money is worth it. Also, the CTA offers several transportation options to the zoo. Go to the trip advisor for more information.

12 tidbits:

Travis Erwin said...

My family loves Zoos so if we ever make it to Chicago we will definitely check this one out.

pattinase (abbott) said...

As often as I've been to Chicago, I've never visited the zoo. Thanks for making me want to next trip.

Barrie said...

So, the zoo if free, but you have to pay for parking? We're the opposite here in San Diego!

Lauren said...

@travis- There are bigger zoos, but it's the whole environment (and the free factor) that really make this fun. I actually used to live a half mile away and would just walk over with friends on a summer day.

@pattinase- I hope you are able to pop by and check out the zoo. Also, the area around it (Lincoln Park) is very fun, too.

@barrie- I have always wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo! I have been to the LP zoo area over 30 times and I haven't used the official zoo parking lot as I just park on the street or take public transportation--I think only people with multiple really little kids or tourists who don't realize they could look for free street parking use the pay lot. They kinda have to charge because the zoo is right downtown, but they do charge about half of what other parking in the area charges, at least.

Neil Bytes said...

I always wanted to visit Chicago.

Spy Scribbler said...

Hah! Imagine, going to a zoo to see a John Deere tractor. Now that really cracks me up, Lauren! LOL!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to visit your zoo someday.

Our Cleveland Zoo has free parking, but a fee to get in and another fee to get into the Rain Forest.

We always go on Mondays when it is free to Cuyahoga County Residents.

Barbara Martin said...

It would be a good place to visit as I love all animals.

Do they only have demonstrations of cow milking? I'm only inquiring because if one has cold hands, cows can be ornry with a well aimed kick. My country cousins had a dairy herd with one cow that refused the milking machine and had to be hand-milked.

Lauren said...

@neil- Thanks for popping by my blog and for posting.

@spy- The funny thing is how excited the little city kids get about the thing.

@mary- Your zoo's rain forest exhibit sounds really interesting.

@barbara- I know that they use the machine to milk them, but I've never seen it happen. I imagine if a cow wouldn't take to the machine that they would just get a different cow for that exhibit.

The Blonde Duck said...

Great review!

Do ya'll really not eat hot dogs with ketchup?

Lauren said...

@duck- I'm glad that you asked. I am currently conducting a completely unscientific review on the best hot dog joint in the Chicago area. It will be the subject of a My Town Monday.

I also plan on doing a post on the best pizza and the best Italian beef (which is sort of like a french dip from arbys, but much better)) in the city as well.

But, to answer your question, they do not serve ketchup on hotdogs. They are, however, served with tomato slices (and celery salt, hot peppers, mustard, a pickle spear and sometimes neon green relish). Ketchup in addition would be too much.

Typically I have to remove the pickle spear and mush up the tomato so that the thing can fit in my mouth.

Since I'm really from Indianapolis, when I make a hotdog for myself I use ketchup, mustard and relish.

Probably a much longer answer than you are looking for :-P

What do you guys put on your hotdogs?

Unknown said...

You have a beautifully written blog with some nice images to go along.

The humor is the best thing I like about your blog and couple of your narration made me fall out of my chair laughing. Awesome.

I read about the paycheck part, I don't know what I will do if my paycheck gets delayed by 2 months. Oh my god.

I hope this goddamn recession recedes asap and bring some cheer for all of us.

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