This one day tour of the Windy City encompasses a mere four miles and can be done on foot. Much of it is free. So bring your walking shoes and remember, don’t feed the bears.
Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary
East of 3400 N. Lake Shore Dr. in Lincoln Park
Chicago, IL 60657
Designed to replicate the shore of Lake Michigan as it existed prior to the growth of the city, the Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary is home to more than 150 native bird species. Herons, warblers, hawks and wood cocks frequent the eight acre site, as well as bitterns, cuckoos, hummingbirds and snipe. To maintain the environment for use by wildlife, the sanctuary is enclosed by an eight foot tall fence. Visitors, however, can overlook the ridges, ponds and marshes from a viewing platform or enjoy the view from a winding path that runs the periphery of the site.
Belmont Harbor Dog Beach
3200 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60686
A short walk south of the bird sanctuary brings you to a lively patch of sand in the northwest corner of Belmont Harbor where happy pooches bound and frolic in the gently lapping waves. Pet owners and passersby sit or stand along the ledge surrounding the beach and observe the antics. With the nearby marina as a backdrop, the dogs have no end of fun tearing around the sand, chasing after each other, wrestling and playing. When a well worn tennis ball enters the fray, watch out. The excitement turns manic and it’s hard to suppress a smile as a half dozen deliriously happy canines go plunging into the lake.
Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at
The Peggy Notebaert Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr.
Chicago, IL 60622
A twenty minute walk south of the dog beach in Lincoln Park brings you to the Peggy Notebaert Museum where a $9 entrance fee ($6 for kids 3-12) gets you access to a variety of wildlife related exhibits including the butterfly haven. This 2,700 square foot glassed in enclosure is home to 75 species of exotic butterflies and bird species. Stroll among the tropical trees, ponds and flowers and marvel at the stunning coloration of the gently flitting creatures that hover and swoop all around you. The haven contains more than 1,000 butterflies, many from the southern hemisphere and rarely seen in the North America.
Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-4757
One of the few remaining free zoos in America, Lincoln Park Zoo is an urban treasure for animal lovers. A five minute walk south of the Notebaert Museum, the 35 acre zoo originally built in 1868 is home to 230 animal species including elephants, bears, seals, lions, gorillas and giraffes. Designed with plenty of inside and outside habitats, the zoo is enjoyable year round. On any given day you can see polar bears frolicking with a beach ball or watch seals glide and spin in an underwater viewing area. The Kovler lion house presents the noble beasts in a 1920’s era arched and mosaic concourse, and meandering landscaped paths lead you past replica habitats where zebras, camels and rhinos graze.
Noble Horse Theatre
1410 N Orleans St
Chicago, IL 60610
A twenty minute walk south of the zoo brings you to the Noble Horse Theatre, the oldest riding hall in North America. A $25 admission fee ($18 for children) buys you a one hour performance of the Quadrille featuring a host of magnificent white stallions ridden by 30 equestrian riders demonstrating acrobatic tricks and sword play. At the conclusion of the show audience members are encouraged to meet the horses and speak to the riders. A free carriage ride is also available. Dinner shows include food and drinks for $40. To get there, walk to the end of Lincoln Park at North Avenue. Go right on North Avenue one block to Wells Street. Go left on Wells to Schiller and then right on Orleans.
If you love animals, you can see an astonishing variety of animals in a completely walkable four mile area of Chicago in a single day and at a price that’s easy on the wallet. So why not put on your walking shoes and start your adventure. It’s like a safari in the city. You’ll love it.