Father and son getting ready to camp in their tent

Campout at the Zoo

Saturdays
Calendar Icon Select Summer Saturdays
Saturday
Clock Icon 6–10:30 p.m.
Sunday
7–8:30 a.m.
Clock Icon TBD
Age Icon All Ages
Recommended for Ages 5–12

Overview

Interested in seeing amazing animals at Lincoln Park Zoo after hours? Join us at Campout at the Zoo for Saturday evening only or the overnight campout!

The night begins with pitching tents and prepping your campsite. Then visit some of the zoo animals, explore animal activity stations, and enjoy a campfire and s’mores. Spend time relaxing at your campsite before you—and the rest of the zoo—turn in for the night. Wake up to the calls of gibbons and flamingos and grab some breakfast before taking a leisurely morning hike.

Registration

Registration opens each year in April. Registration links will be available on this page at that time.

Active members are eligible for early registration!

Note: To be eligible for early registration, membership must be active at the time of the campout you attend. Donors and members who are eligible will receive an email with the registration link prior to their early registration date.

To check your membership status, call the membership hotline at 312-742-2322. Make sure you join or renew your membership prior to early registration!

Dates, Times, and Pricing

2023 dates and prices will be posted in April. Campouts are for families with children 5–12 years old.

Each campout takes place rain or shine; activities and sleeping location will be moved indoors in the case of severe weather.

Families can choose to attend just the evening only for activities and treats or they can stay for the entire program and sleep overnight at the zoo. Free parking is included in the cost of registration.

  • Evening Only (7–10 p.m.)
    Includes evening activities, s’mores, and parking
  • Overnight (7 p.m.–8:30 a.m.)
    Includes s’mores, evening and morning activities, breakfast, and parking
  • Add-On Dinner (6-7 p.m.)

Tents are provided for a $15 rental fee or families can choose to bring their own tent with no charge.

Listed price is per person, not per group. Active Lincoln Park Zoo members at the Individual level and above receive a 15 percent discount on registration. Become a member today! To be eligible for the member discount and qualify for early registration, your membership must be active at the time of the campout you attend.

Scholarships

Lincoln Park Zoo offers Campout at the Zoo scholarships to cover the costs of registration, tent rental and dinner. Please complete and submit an application to be considered for a scholarship.

Scholarships are limited. Applying for a scholarship does not guarantee a spot in a campout program.

Optional: To guarantee your group a spot in a campout, you may choose to register your group once registration opens. If your group is later granted a scholarship, we will refund the amount of the scholarship from the registration fee.

Links to scholarship applications will be accessible when registration opens in April.

Sample Agenda

The program agenda may look something like this (subject to change):

Evening

6–7 p.m. Check in, set up tents; optional add-on dinner at Park Place Café
7:15–7:30 p.m. Orientation and introductions
7:30–10 p.m. Activities in various animal buildings;
Evening Only participants depart at 10 p.m.
10–10:30 p.m. Spend time relaxing at the campsite
10:30 p.m. Lights out

Morning

7–8 a.m. Breakfast on the Park Place Café patio
8–8:30 a.m. Morning activity
8:30 a.m. Pack belongings and depart

Campout at the Zoo Staff

Lincoln Park Zoo Learning staff and volunteers will guide your campout experience from arrival through departure. They will provide an orientation, help you set up your campsite, and lead fun activities throughout the zoo during the evening and following morning. One zoo educator will sleep over at the zoo and a dedicated security person will be available to assist participants overnight.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I bring with me?

Items to bring:

  • Tent (unless you purchased a tent rental in advance)
  • Sleeping bag and pillow
  • Sleeping mat
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes for indoors and outdoors
  • Basic toiletries—there will be access to simple restroom facilities without showers
  • Quiet games or storybooks for downtime before going to bed
  • Flashlights
  • Refillable water bottles
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Ear plugs and eye masks
  • Wagon to transport your belongings

What should I not bring with me?

Items NOT to bring:

  • Air mattresses that are too large for a tent—see tent specs below.
  • Valuable items—the zoo is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and/or marijuana—we ask that you refrain from consuming alcohol, and smoking tobacco and cannabis inside the gates for the health and safety of our animals and visitors. Any persons found to be intoxicated or possessing these items will be asked to leave the program immediately. Registration fees for these individuals will not be refunded. For more information, please see the Guest Guidelines and Code of Conduct.

Where do we sleep?

Participants will pitch tents on the zoo’s South Lawn. Participants can choose to bring their own tent or rent one from Lincoln Park Zoo for a small maintenance fee. Rental tents will be assigned based on the number of people in each family. In the case of severe weather, participants will sleep indoors.

Tent locations on the South Lawn are not determined by staff. Participants choose their tent locations on a first-come, first-served basis upon arriving at the campout.

How big are the tents?

Rental tents will be assigned based on the number of people in each family. Below are the tent specs for the various Lincoln Park Zoo rental tents:

4-person tents – Approximately 8 feet by 7 feet
6-person tents – Approximately 10 feet by 9 feet

What food will be offered?

S’mores, light bedtime snacks and breakfast are all included in your registration fee. Participants can choose to add dinner on prior to the start of the program. Both dinner and breakfast items will be provided and served with health and safety in mind. Please keep this in mind when considering if the below options fit your needs.

Optional add-on dinner: The 2023 menu will be posted when registration opens in April.

Snacks: Crackers, raisins, pretzels
You are welcome to bring your own non-refrigerated snacks, but we request that you do not eat them in zoo tents

S’mores: Graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows

Breakfast: Continental style—assorted pastries, fruit cups, juice, coffee, and tea

Can I register a large group of children, such as Scout groups?

Groups cannot register for outdoor campouts.

Can I register my child, who is 4 years old?

No, program activities are specifically designed for families and groups with children ages 5–12. In the best interests of other participants, as well as your 4-year-old, we ask that you wait until they are at least 5 years old to attend a campout. Siblings older than 12 may attend the campout with the understanding that activities are geared towards children ages 5–12.

Can I register a group of just adults?

No, Campout at the Zoo is a program for families with children between the ages of 5–12. For more information regarding upcoming adult programs, visit lpzoo.org/events.

Can I bring an unregistered child to the program and register them when we arrive?

No, registrations must be made in advance. We cannot accommodate day-of registrations and unregistered guests will not be permitted to stay on zoo grounds.

Can I register for the program and then become a Lincoln Park Zoo member later to receive the member discount?

No, you must be an active member at the time of registration in order to receive a discounted rate. To learn more about becoming a Lincoln Park Zoo member, renew your membership, or retrieve your membership login information, visit lpzoo.org/membership.

Can I drop off my child(ren) and pick them up in the morning?

No, all children must be accompanied by an adult. For every five children, there must be at least one adult present.

What if I need to cancel my registration?

If, for any reason, you need to cancel your registration, you may do so up to two weeks before the program date and a refund will be issued (less a processing fee). If you must cancel less than two weeks before the program, no refund will be given.

Will I have direct contact with the animals?

For the safety of all, direct contact with animals is not possible. All animal care, including feeding and cleaning, is done by professionally-trained animal keepers and/or veterinarians.

Will I be able to explore the zoo at night by myself or with my group?

No, participants must be accompanied by a Lincoln Park Zoo staff member at all times when on zoo grounds.