Enjoy a Saturday brimming with nature in the lovely expanse of green that is Chicago's Lincoln Park. This city park stretches along Lake Michigan and manages to hold a zoo, a nature museum, a beach, sports playing fields, and a few ponds. Statues of General Grant, Abraham Lincoln, and William Shakespeare stand guard - see if you can spot them!
The (free entry!) Lincoln Park Zoo, is the family gem of the park. Visit the animals on your own or participate in a family activity - check the website for a menu offering everything from demos on cow milking to turtle tracking, storytime, concerts and more. The Children's Zoo features a fun climbing tree, a fun look into the lives of otters, and an aquarium filled with my daughter's favorite reptiles: turtles. The newly restored pond and Nature Boardwalk, located at the southern end of the zoo, is also worth a walk around. One of the best places to take a family portrait is on the bridge that crosses the pond from the red barn to the southern entrance to the zoo - you'll have the greenery of Lincoln Park, the pond, and the city skyline as your perfect backdrop.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, the Green City Market puts its farm-fresh, organic fruits and veggies on display in Lincoln Park. Located on the south end of the park, west of the zoo, this informal market also offers weekly cooking demos, tastings and more. In addition to fruits and veggies, a number of vendors offer everything from fresh pizzas to grass-fed beef burgers.
Round out your day of nature and all things green at the Peggy Notebaert Museum. This splendid museum connects kids to the science of nature via family-friendly exhibits and programming. Before you know it, you and your kids will be building worm composting bins, constructing a shelter out of organic materials, or hiking through the wilds of Lincoln Park in search of creatures. Visit naturemuseum.org to register for family programs and see what's on the menu for free museum activities the day of your visit.
Lincoln Park is also perfect for biking. Visit Bike and Roll Chicago at bikechicago.com to rent a bike. Your kids will love exploring the park on a tagalong or a bike trailer wagon - both rentable at Bike and Roll.