Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago: a guide for families with young kids

Planning day trips for the under-4 set means scaling things down to tot-sized capabilities. Thinking a little smaller will boost your enjoyment of the day, empower your little one and, ultimately, help you step out more often.

These three pint-sized outings start from the same Lincoln Park Zoo parking lot hub and are timed to end before momentous meltdowns ensue.

The lakeshore section of Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s best spots for short, cheap trips, all doable in less than a day.

How far can you expect a 3-year-old to walk? “It varies with each child,” says pediatrician Dr. Lisa Thornton, “but even a few blocks is on the outside limit.” Travel light with one sturdy backpack, but be sure to include:

  • Some cash. Both the zoo’s carousel and train are .75 a ride, cash only (standing adults have to pay, too).
  • Lots of water. Try to get kids to sip some water (not juice) every 10 minutes or so.
  • A stroller, sturdy kid carrier or wagon. Encourage kids under 3 to walk some, but expect to carry or give rides, too.
  • Sunscreen/hats/sunglasses.
  • Snacks. Feed little ones some yogurt and carbs before you start-avoid sugar at this point. Take a snack every half hour or so-fruit and peanut-free trail mix is good. After the trip, you can have that cookie.
  • Potty breaks. Expect little ones to have to relieve their bladders at least once an hour.

Click one of the three tours below to get started!

tour1 tour2 tour3

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