Lincoln Park Zoo tour: To the beach and back

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Time: 2 to 3 hours

Cost: Just parking- for three-four hours

Parking at the southernmost tip of the Lincoln Park Zoo lot puts you within easy-stroller accessibility of the North Avenue Beach. Really! And, as it is one of the few Chicago beaches manned with lifeguards early in the day (9:30 a.m.), you can get to the beach for some water play before intense heat kicks in. Bring two coolers in the car: a small one with drinks and a larger one with a picnic lunch.

  1. Park at the southernmost tip of the Lincoln Park Zoo lot. Leave your picnic in the car for later-just bring drinks with you now. It’s 300 steps from your car, up the stroller ramp and over the North Avenue Bridge crossing Lake Shore Drive.
  2. At the bottom of the ramp, proceed south along the paved walking/running/bike path about 1½ blocks to the North Avenue Beach house for bathrooms, water and food service. Use caution: Bikers and runners can move very fast! Stroller-accessible beach-mats stretched out in a pathway across the sand to the water’s edge will allow you to push your stroller to the water without getting mired in the sand.
  3. Optional add-on: After you are sun-and-sanded out, walk back to the south end of the Lincoln Park Zoo parking lot. Between your car and the lake run a series of rowing lagoons with grassy, tree-lined parkways. Get out your lunch cooler and spread a blanket on the grass for a shady, sand-free picnic before you drive home.
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