Chicago For Parks – Lincoln Park

If you have been to a park in Chicago, you have probably been to Grant Park. That wouldn’t be surprising since Grant Park is probably the most recognized park in Chicago with its own smaller parks and attractions within. Even so, there is another scenic park that you should check out if you happen to be in Chicago for parks.

The scenic park I am talking about is Lincoln Park, not to be confused with the Chicago neighborhood of the same name. The park is located to the north of Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile. At 1,208 acres, Lincoln Park is the largest public park in Chicago and much bigger than Grant Park. There are multiple attractions that you can visit within the park.

(Photo courtesy of Ceyhun Jay Isik via Flickr)

Lincoln Park Zoo

(Photo courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil from USA via Wikimedia)

Lincoln Park Zoo is located in the central section of Lincoln Park. The zoo is among the oldest zoos in North America, having been in operation since 1868. The zoo is home to around 1,100 animals from 200-plus species. Lincoln Park Zoo is currently split into 16 exhibit areas with one more reopening soon after a renovation. Here are just a few of them.

Nature Boardwalk is the exhibit area where you can walk along scenic South Pond on a boardwalk. This exhibit area is home to groups of animals including birds, frogs, fishes, turtles, and insects. Another exhibit area to note is Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove. This is where you can find a group of tropical penguins called African penguins. They are the only penguins known to breed in Africa.

In this exhibit area, you can sit indoors and watch as African penguins walk around near you and swim in the water. These are called Penguin Encounters. If you are visiting the zoo with young children, you will want to check out these two exhibit areas: Farm-in-the-Zoo and Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. In Farm-in-the-Zoo, children can learn about what farm life is like in the countryside.

Cows, chickens, ponies, and goats are the animals that can be encountered in this exhibit area. Young children can learn about gardening as well as visit a couple onsite barns that contain play stations. Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo focuses more on animals from the wilderness. Some of the animals that young children can get up and personal with include red wolves, black bears, North American river otters, and American beavers.

There are two sections in this exhibit area. They are Wild Sapling Play Forest and Treetop Canopy Climbing Adventure. The admission to Lincoln Park Zoo is free to everyone. This makes the zoo one of just a few free zoos in the country.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

(Photo courtesy of GPA Photo Archive via Flickr)

Plant and garden enthusiasts will want to check out the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It is located just to the northwest of Lincoln Park Zoo in Lincoln Park. This is a Victorian-era glass house that was built in the late 19th century. The conservatory’s grounds is home to a gorgeous formal garden. The formal garden was planted in the late 1870’s, making this one of the oldest public gardens in Chicago.

The formal garden is known for being the home of many sculptors and works of art. The most notable of these are the Bates fountains, the Schiller monument, and the Shakespeare monument. Inside the Lincoln Park Conservatory are four rooms filled with exotic plants from around the world. These rooms are Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House, and Show House. The admission to the conservatory is free for everybody.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

(Photo courtesy of TonyTheTiger via Wikipedia)

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool neighbors the Lincoln Park Conservatory to the east in Lincoln Park. This is a gorgeous garden that just happens to be tucked away beside the conservatory. The signature feature of this attraction is the pool that is filled with floating lilies. In addition to the pool, there is also a small waterfall and natural stonework designed to resemble limestone bluffs.

There is a stone walkway that leads into and around the lily pool. A prairie-style gate serves as the entryway to the lily pool. There is also a pavilion onsite. The lily pool is known to be a haven for many species of birds, dragonflies, butterflies, frogs, and turtles. The admission to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is free of charge to everyone.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

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The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is located just across West Fullerton Parkway from the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park. This museum has a focus on the natural history of the Chicago region. There are multiple exhibits currently on display at the museum. One such exhibit is RiverWorks.

This exhibit allows you to experience the reversing of the Chicago River so that it flows into Lake Michigan instead of flowing away from it. Another exhibit to note is Mysteries of the Marshes. This exhibit explore the seven different types of wetland and the animals that live in them. Also in this exhibit, you will also learn of the fact that before Chicago existed, the land was once dominated by marshes.

These are just a couple of the exhibits currently at the museum. The museum is also known for its onsite butterfly house called the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. It is home to one thousand exotic butterflies from over forty species housed in a tropical setting. The prices for admission to the museums are $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $6 for those aged from 3 to 12. Free admission is given to those aged under 3.

Chicago History Museum

(Photo courtesy of mason.flickr via Flickr)

The Chicago History Museum is located on the southwestern corner of Lincoln Park. This museum is dedicated to the history of Chicago. There are around six permanent exhibits housed within the museum. One of the exhibits is Chicago: Crossroads of America. In this exhibit, you can check out replicas of a Chicago L train car, a jazz club, and a Marshall Field store window.

Another exhibit is Lincoln’s Chicago. This is where you can learn about the time that former US president Abraham Lincoln spent in Chicago which he called his second home during his Illinois days. You can also get a glimpse of what Chicago was like during his time there.

These are the attractions that are housed within Lincoln Park. So, if you find yourself in Chicago for parks, you will want to check out the city’s largest public park.

Hotels in Chicago

Are you in need of a hotel to stay overnight at during your time in Chicago? If so, I have your back. Here are the two hotels that I would suggest you to book a stay at.

Courtyard by Marriott Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile

This hotel is located on East Ontario Street just east of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. There is a new restaurant onsite called Copper Fox Gastropub. There is also a Starbucks coffee shop onsite in the lobby. There is an indoor heated swimming pool at the hotel. If you are looking for a workout, you have 24-hour access to the hotel’s fitness center.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with breathtaking views of the surrounding cityscapes along with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $113 to $431. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile

This hotel is located on North Michigan Avenue, right on the Magnificent Mile. This hotel has a historic feel to it, specifically that of the Roaring Twenties period. The hotel is known for its gorgeous lobby with a sweeping staircase and marble mosaic floors. There are three onsite restaurants and bars at the hotel. They are Michael Jordan’s Steak House, ENO Wine Bar, and Tower Lounge.

Tower Lounge is located on the 32nd floor which will allow for breathtaking views of the surrounding skylines. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and sauna at the hotel. A fitness center is also available for you to use. The hotel’s rooms and suites all offer stunning city views along with WiFi. The suites also have separate bedrooms and living rooms.

The average rate for a standard room range from $173 to $453. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you had a chance to visit Lincoln Park in Chicago yet? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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