Following Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s announcement Monday that Chicago is on track to move to Phase 4 beginning Friday, June 26, Chicago’s popular zoo and museum destinations are making plans to reopen. They all are following timed-ticket reservations and the face covering, social distancing and look-but-don’t-touch protocols.
The free,easily walkable zoo in Lincoln Park, opens with a preview weekend June 26-28. It opens to the public June 29. Expect grounds to be open but buildings are closed. The zoo is at 2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago. For reservations and other information visit LPZoo/welcome.
For a virtual tour of the zoo with Mayor Lightfoot, go to HitPlayChicago. Released last week, the tour is Mayor Lightfoot’s latest field trip to Chicago destinations during the city’s and state’s “stay home” orders for staying safe.
Brookfield Zoo, operated in suburban Brookfield, IL by the Chicago Zoological Society, opens to members July 1 and the public July 8 using reserve-ahead, timed tickets. No tickets available at entrance.
“Brookfield Zoo has been closed for nearly four months and we are eagerly looking forward to welcoming guests back to reconnect with animals and nature,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of CZS.
Admission includes access to Dinos Everywhere! and is $24.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 3-11 and $19.95 for seniors 65 and over. Parking is $15. Check protocols at CZS/Know. Indoor spaces are closed. Food carts and gift shop carts will be on walkways.
Brookfield Zoo entrances: North Gate is at 8400 31st St. (1st Avenue and 31st Street) and South Gate is at 3300 Golf Rd.
Because Chicago museums are basically indoor facilities, most of them will be opening at different times in July with timed-tickets.
Shedd Aquarium, the middle building at the Chicago Museum Campus on Lake Shore Drive, will reopen July 3. Member pre sale is June 24, public presale is June 25. Visit Tickets are for reserved time.
Other museums have said announcements will come in July. The Art Institute of Chicago is still encouraging people to visit the museum online until it reopens.
With everything you have to do, places to go, people to visit there might not have been time to fit in everything you hoped to see by Dec. 31. No worries. Some of the fun shows, exhibits and festivals will still be around in January, 2019.
Lyric Opera’s delightful “Cendrillon” (Cinderella ) runs through Jan. 20 and its exceptional “La boheme” continues at the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, through Jan. 31. For tickets and more information visit Lyric Opera.
“Steadfast tin Soldier at Lookinggglass Theatre in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N. Michicagn Ave. runs through Jan. 13. For tickets and other information visit Lookingglass.
“Wonderland Express” is at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe (just east of Edens Expressway) through Jan. 6. (This is a time and date ticketed show) For tickets and other information visit . For parking check Chicago Botanic.
“Zoo Lights” at Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St.,, Chicago, is open New Year’s Day and continues through Jan. 6.
If you don’t want to be saying “Oops” this holiday season then 1. Don’t wait to get tickets to the shows you or your family want to see and 2. Do put those holiday events you want to go to on the calendar.
The good news is that there are numerous great holiday shows and happenings in the Chicago area. The problem news is that the many places to go, things to do and see make it hard to narrow down the choices to what is doable.
Tip: Be realistic when weighing what is manageable with kids, tired feet and meal breaks.
The following suggestions offer three Chicago area choices in each category – shows, shopping and spectacular lights and sights:
Where: In Goodman Theatre’s Albert Theatre at 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
Why: Goodman’s production of Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol” is a Chicago tradition that never gets old with new staging often added. But the show is also a talking point for families on what is important.
Where: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr. (50 E. Congress Pkwy) at Michigan Ave.
Why: Going to the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” is also a Chicago holiday tradition. It was beautifully re-imagined last year by choreographer Christopher Wheeldon as a visit by Marie and her mother to the 1893 World’s Fair. The mysterious Great Impresario turns the visit into an adventure. And it is all set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous music.
Where: Lookingglass theatre is in the Chicago Water Works at 821 N Michigan Ave, Chicago.
Why: Lookingglass productions are highly innovative, well acted and engrossing. This tale based on a Hans Christian Andersen story is being staged as an exciting spectable by ttalented, creative Mary Zimmerman.
Where: On line and at the museum, front entrance at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern Wing entrance at 159 E. Monroe St.
Why: Gift shop entrances do not need admission fees or tickets. The shops carry one-of-a kind gifts that won’t bust the budget. The Modern Wing has good glass items and the main gift shop has excellent jewelry and ties. Both shops have Frank Lloyd Wright items and gifts inspired by other artists. Also visitors like to take holiday photos with the wreathed lions in front.
Where: In Lincoln Park at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago
Why: See the animals while strolling among 2,5 million lights thanks to Com Ed and Invesco. Also visit Santa, watch ice carving, sip warm spiced wine, snack on holiday treats and watch a 3D light show.
Why: the Garden’s event is called Wonderland Express but before going into the building that has trains zipping through Chicago landmarks, see trees and walkways lit by thouands of lights and visit the greenhouses’ topiaries and poinsettias. Then don’t worry about the “snow” falling on shoulders inside the exhibit building. It’s all about fun and winter wonders.
You know that Chicago celebrates the holidays with sparkling lights but if you don’t want to have to walk or drive all over to see them then check out the Holiday Lights Tour that takes folks to them on a double-decker trolley.
The tour starts its rounds from the John Hancock Plaza Tree at 875 N. Michigan Ave. It continues for 2 hours, 30 minutes with a stop at nearby Sprinkles Cupcakes, then over to the Christkindlmarket followed by a stop at Lincoln Park for ZooLights before ending back at the Hancock Center.
The Holiday Lights Tour goes from Nov. 24 through Dec. 23. For tickets, tour dates and hours visit Chicago Trolley.
ZoolLights at Lincoln Park is more than a walk on the wild side. Along with visiting the animals and strolling among glowing, color-changing lights, there is a Light Maze labyrinth ($3), rides on the Endangered Species Carousel and a Lionel Train Adventure.
ZooLights entry is free but on Family Nights of Dec. 11, 18 and Jan. 1, the rides are also free.
ZooLights is Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 1-3 and then every night from Dec. 8 through Jan. 7 except Dec. 24-25. Hours are from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Lincoln Park Zoo is at 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago. For ticket and other information call (312) 742-2000 and visit Lincoln Park Zoo/events.
Brookfield Zoo glows with more than a million LED lights during Holiday Magic, weekends Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17 and during the week Dec. 26-31. Don’t miss the events 41-foot high talking Tree, other trees that seem to dance to music and large light-shaped animals. Lights go on at 4 p.m.
Brookfield Zoo’s main parking lot is at First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield, IL. For more date, hours and specific holiday events call (708) 688-8000 and visit Holiday Magic.