9 Things to Do at the Zoo This Summer

May 30, 2024

Summer starts now! While the summer solstice doesn’t happen for a few more weeks, the season is unofficially on. That means the end of school, outdoor activities and celebrations, vacations, and much more. The zoo is a great place to spend the day, and here are some ways to enjoy it to the utmost:

1. Start with an early morning walk through the zoo.

The zoo is now on its summer schedule, which means you can spend long, sunny, nature-filled days here, starting early in the morning. Lincoln Park Zoo gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. on weekdays or 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Buildings are open from 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Farm-in-the-Zoo is open daily from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

2. Enjoy an in-habitat Penguin Encounter.

Malott Family Penguin Encounters are back! Sign up to spend some time inside Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove, where you may be able to get up close and personal with a penguin or two (interaction is always done on the animals’ terms). Learn about their care here as well as their lives on the South African coast during this unique hour-long experience. Penguin Encounters take place between Wednesdays and Sundays weekly through October.

3. Use the app!

This summer, Lincoln Park Zoo is introducing its new web app, designed to help guests navigate the zoo and get information more quickly. The app assists people in getting from place to place and offers information on animals in a quick, efficient way. Because it’s web-based, you don’t have to download anything, making this a free, user-friendly way to get what you need. Go to go.lpzoo.org to get started.

4. Refresh yourself among the flowers.

Lincoln Park Zoo is an accredited arboretum with beautiful landscapes in every direction. Right now, flowers in bloom include irises, peonies, lilacs, horse chestnuts, dogwood, and more. As the season progresses, the zoo’s accredited perennial herbaceous hibiscus collection will begin to dominate the grounds with their dramatic petals and colors, joining the many plant species across the zoo and at the 14-acre Nature Boardwalk. Check out the zoo’s Garden Explorer to find out what’s in bloom when you go.

tulips in front of eadie levy's landmark cafe

5. Feed the animals at Farm-in-the-Zoo.

At Farm-in-the-Zoo, you can feed the chickens and the cows daily for free Tuesdays through Sundays each week. The Feed the Chickens program takes place at 11 a.m. at the chicken habitat, and the Feed the Cows commences at 11:30 a.m. at the Main Barn. Bring the family and enjoy!

6. Catch a free presentation.

All summer long, Guest Engagement demonstrations at Lincoln Park Zoo add an extra element of excitement (and education!) to your visit. Learn about the residents of Kovler Seal Pool at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. talks every day. Find out more about gorillas and chimps during Ape Cognition & Care at 1:30 p.m. daily at Regenstein Center for African Apes.

Or, catch a Penguin Feeding at 2 p.m. every day at Robert & Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove. On Fridays, come to Regenstein African Journey for a Giraffe Training at 1:30 p.m. Monkey Cognition takes place daily at 11:30 a.m. at Regenstein Macaque Forest and Polar Bear Care is 11 a.m. at Walter Family Arctic Tundra on Sundays, Thursdays, and Thursdays.

On Monday, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays throughout the season, many programs are interpreted by American Sign Language interpreters.

7. Take advantage of our accessibility accommodations.

ASL-interpretated presentations are just one of the accommodations offered at Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo’s mission is to connect people to nature—and we do this by making the zoo as accessible as possible for people of all abilities. The zoo is certified as Sensory Inclusive by KultureCity and offers features for guests who are Deaf, blind or low-vision, neurodivergent, and more. Check the Accessibility page for more information and view the Accessibility Map here.

8. Have a leisurely meal outdoors at The Patio at Café Brauer!

One of the pleasures of summer in Chicago is dining al fresco. Along with the more casual food items you can get at Park Place Terrace, Eadie Levy’s Landmark Café, Bird’s Eye Bar & Grill, Safari Café, and the carts on Main Mall, The Patio at Café Brauer is open for the season and serving up more elegant eats pondside. From shareable apps like cauliflower bites and a selection of salads and sandwiches to ice cream floats and a cookie skillet, this is a great place to enjoy your naturalistic surroundings and have a relaxing meal. If you’d prefer dessert on the go, visit the Ice Cream Shoppe inside Café Brauer.

9. Come to an event to enjoy the zoo after-hours.

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of evening events at the zoo, whether you’re bringing your family as a member invited to Super Zoo Picnic (on June 21) or coming to party with your friends at Summer Wine Fest (on July 26). Events allow you to experience the zoo with fewer people, more planned fun, and food and drink—but you’ll still get to enjoy animal views, learning opportunities, walks among the flowers, and all the best parts of being outdoors. Check out our events calendar here.

There are many ways to choose your own adventure at the zoo, so don’t miss out. Have a wonderful time at Lincoln Park Zoo!


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