With so many exhibits and activities, it's difficult to sum up Brookfield Zoo's menagerie of offerings. Suffice it to say there's a little something for everybody. The sprawling lawns with roaming geese are perfect for picnicking, immaculately groomed flower beds appeal to those sheltering an inner horticulturist, the nature trail provides a quiet space for undisturbed introspection and more than 200 acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits ensure you'll have a nice hike whether you break a sweat or not.
Your selection of animal attractions will obviously be influenced by personal taste, but a handful of crowd-pleasers seem to garner more traffic than others. Tropic World allows you to escape the heat (or cold), transporting you to the rainforests of Africa, South America and Asia; Seven Seas aquarium plays host to dolphin presentations throughout the day; the Children's Zoo allows close interaction with featured animals in addition to a petting zoo. The $27.3 million Great Bear Wilderness natural habitat (opened April 2010) offers access to polar bears, grizzly bears, wolves, bald eagles, bison and ravens in a 7.5-acre space.
Dining options are mostly overpriced junk food, so don't arrive hungry unless you're a fan of hot dogs, pizza and pretzels. Safari Stop restaurant is a food court-type eatery with a slightly more varied bill of fare and Bison Prairie Grill offers a good selection of burgers, sandwiches and salads, but your best bet is to pack a lunch or eat beforehand (though the stands serving Dippin Dots are worth a moment's consideration).
Admission is $13.50 for adults, $9.50 for children (3-11) and seniors; drivers should factor in the $9 parking expense. Annual memberships are available for those who plan to visit multiple times.
Centerstage Reviewer: Jenny Seay