Lincoln Park Zoo

Just because we live in a big, busy city doesn't mean we don't have the chance to encounter creatures big and small. Many of Chicago's museums, zoos, and its amazing aquarium give families the chance to get up close and personal with some of the sweetest and scariest animals around. Here are three opportunities for connecting with some of the exotic animals that call Chicago home.

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Touch a Stingray at the Shedd Aquarium (1200 S Lake Shore Dr.)

This Spring, the Shedd Aquarium invites visitors to experience the underwater grace of stingrays in its latest hands-on experience, Stingray Touch. Opening to the public on Friday, May 17, this exhibit will feature 40 cownose and yellow rays in an 18,000-gallon pool located under a tented structure on the aquarium's south terrace. Tickets for this special experience will be available beginning on May 1.

Fly Butterflies at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr.)

Step into the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and you'll find yourself in a magical wonderland where over 75 species of exotic butterflies and birds flitter and fly around, sometimes stopping to perch on a flower a leaf, or even a human (stand still!). The 2,700 square-foot greenhouse with its tropical trees and flowers and the sun shining in through its window-paned ceiling is a delight for children (and adults!) of all ages. 

Camp Out at the Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N. Clark St.)

Pitch your family's tent on the grounds of the Lincoln Park Zoo for an overnight adventure! After an evening of fun planned activities, you'll fall asleep in your tent under the stars and wake up to a hooting gibbon calls or honking flamingos. Sleep Under the Skyscrapers: Outdoor Campouts take place in June, July and August, and includes dinner, evening and morning activities, and continental breakfast. Recommended for families with children 5-12 years old. Tents are provided for a $10 rental fee or families can choose to bring their own tent with no charge. 

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