The best attractions in Lincoln Park

Upscale Lincoln Park offers more than swanky shops and well-reviewed restaurants; these destinations attract tourists and locals alike
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Photograph: Martha Williams Jeanne Gang's yoga pavilion near the Lincoln Park Zoo.
By Stephanie Bernstein |
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Like a small college town jammed into the middle of a city, Lincoln Park plays host to the DePaul University campus as well as parks and some of Chicago's best museums. Spend an afternoon visiting animals in the zoo or connecting with nature at the Conservatory with our guide to Lincoln Park's best attractions. Finish your day in the neighborhood with a bite at a great Lincoln Park restaurant.

RECOMMENDED: Explore the Lincoln Park neighborhood

Attractions in Lincoln Park

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

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This secretive spot just north of the Lincoln Park Zoo is a quaint, calm hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. No matter the season, the canopy of trees and chirping birds will provide a peaceful place to take a mental hiatus. If you don't have time to sit under the shaded pavillion and take in the scenery, at least pass through to the zoo via the gate at the northeast end of the garden.

Museums, History

Chicago History Museum

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See “Chicago's history unfold” at one of the city's most notable attractions. Exhibits like “Race: Are We So Different?” and “Facing Freedom in America” focus on more serious social history, while fun exhibitions like “Sensing Chicago” offer interactive activities for the kids. For a steep ticket price of $16, a visit is worth it—but may not require a whole day of wandering through the halls. 

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Museums, Art and design

DePaul Art Museum

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Hop off the train at Fullerton and you'll find yourself at the front door of this underrated art museum on the DePaul campus. The curators of the DePaul Art Museum have made a habit of hosting exciting exhibitions culled from the school's personal collection, including photographs taken by Andy Warhol and Jeff Carter's sculptures made from IKEA furniture.

DePaul University, Cortelyou Commons
Photo: Max Herman
Things to do, Schools and universities

DePaul University

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With more than 25,000 students, DePaul University is one of the nation's ten largest private universities. Its campus is spread throughout Lincoln Park, allowing visitors to stroll through the beautiful fall trees and gothic architecture on the way to area attractions.

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Things to do

Lincoln Park

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Chicago's largest public park is almost a third larger than New York's Central Park and can thank Honest Abe for its namesake. Stretching along the lakeshore, the community area contains the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. Additionally, it offers golf courses, baseball fields, a skate park and paths for walking, jogging or biking.

Attractions, Parks and gardens

Lincoln Park Conservatory

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The conversatory hosts more than 40,000 plants representing around 200 species under a glass dome and in greenhouse rooms just northwest of the zoo. Specific sights include an extensive fern collection, a room full of dozens of orchid varieties and a 100-year-old, 50-foot rubber tree. Flower shows change with the seasons so check the website for latest updates.

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Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Lincoln Park Cultural Center

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Wondering how there are always wedding photos being taken at this iconic spot? Us too. If you feel like making a little culture of your own, it’s worth looking into the woodshop, stained glass, ceramics and dance classes here. If you're not looking to hang around for too long, at least take in the breathtaking views of the downtown skyline—just like a number of newlyweds.

Things to do

Lincoln Park Zoo

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See some 1,200 animals, from apes to zebras, at one of the only few free zoos left in the country. It's pretty small—only 35 acres—but attractions like the Kovler Lion House and the Regenstein Center for African Apes pack a big punch. Best part is, each season brings a little bit of special flair to the exhibits.

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Things to do

Oz Park

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Located right behind Lincoln Park High School, Oz Park is just what you think: a park dedicated to The Wizard of Oz. Sculptures of the popular characters are scattered around the huge property, while the small-ish playground has a fun wooden castle/maze structure filled with windows to look through, things to climb, bridges to run across, etc. The playground even has equipment for the littlest ones—with a separate slide, rocking animals and a wooden train to climb on.

Museums, Natural history

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

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This museum was established in 1857 and has since become a home of sights, sounds and smells of nature amidst Chicago's urban landscape. From prairie and river ecosystems to the biology of Ice Age mammals, nature and its conservation is vast and varied. Hands-on interactive displays on marsh and river ecosystems engage kids, while the thousand fluttering beauties of the 2,700-square-foot Judy Istock Butterfly Haven appeal to all ages.

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