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Chicago’s Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory

by Jeff Wysaski

Lincoln Park—the largest public park in Chicago—is nestled along Lake Michigan on the North side of Chicago.

North Avenue borders the park to the south. Foster Avenue forms the northern border.

Lincoln Park from Hancock TowerAmong the many outdoor activities and entertainment venues found within the 1,200-acre park, two of the most popular attractions are the Lincoln Park Zoo and Lincoln Park Conservatory.
Both attractions are free to the public though there is a charge to ride the carousel or the childrens train at the zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Entry gate at Lincoln Park ZooLincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868. Though the wildlife of the zoo originally only consisted of two swans, the establishment has grown considerably over the decades.
Today, the zoo is home to approximately 1,250 animals of all sizes, shapes and species. A few of the most popular animals that can be found at the zoo include penguins, gorillas, polar bears and lions.
Lincoln Park Zoo JaguarThe Lincoln Park Zoo is broken into a number of animal houses and exhibits. Examples include the McCormick Bear Habitat, Kovler Sea Lion Pool and Regenstein Center for African Apes.
The zoo also boasts two separate children's areas that deliver an active learning experience for kids.
The Pritzker Family Children's Zoo is an indoor wooded environment where kids can play and encounter turtles, snakes, birds and other animals.
Entrance to Farm in the ZooThe Farm-in-the-Zoo exhibit gives children a hands-on animal experience, allowing them to feed cows and see rabbits, ponies and goats up close.
In addition to animals, the Lincoln Park Zoo also features an Endangered Species Carousel and Children's Train. Restaurants and shops are also on-site to complete the zoo experience.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Lincoln Park Conservatory in ChicagoWhat the Lincoln Park Zoo does for fauna, the Lincoln Park Conservatory does for flora. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is located on Stockton Drive, right next to the zoo. The conservatory serves as a botanical garden and boasts four separate houses – the Palm House, Fernery, Orchid House and Show House.
Lincoln Park Conservatory Fern RoomConstructed in stages between the years of 1890 and 1895, the Lincoln Park Conservatory takes the form of a stunning Victorian glass house. Designed by architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee, the gardens remain largely unchanged over the past one hundred years. A Scheelea Palm, which was brought back from Brazil, has been at the conservatory since 1929.
Other notable plants found in the Palm House include sour sops, banana plants and cacaos. The Fernery offers an abundance of cycads, as well as fern species such as staghorn, maidenhair and Australian tree.
Lincoln Park Conservatory Orchard RoomThe Orchid Room features such tropical plants as Spanish moss, a pitcher plant and, of course, plenty of orchids. The Show Room displays seasonal plants on a rotating basis.
Like the Lincoln Park Zoo, entry to the conservatory is free. Guided tours from a conservatory docent are also available during limited hours, and are free of charge.
The Garfield Park Conservatory is another Chicago conservatory worth visiting.
Other botanic gardens and conservatories on
Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn NY
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London UK — 5 large glasshouses.
Slideshow—all photos on this page

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Website and all photos copyright © 2001–2016 Lee W. Nelson