Live Music And More At Brookfield Zoo’s Summer Nights

Thanks to Brookfield Zoo for sponsoring this post.

Brookfield Zoo has always been a place I’ve enjoyed taking my family to but now there are even more reasons to visit with the return of their Summer Nights outdoor concert series. From 4:00 to 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays through August 12, guests of all ages can enjoy a variety of live music acts. From popular local acts to national bands, all genres are represented throughout the summer so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Zoogoers can bring lawn chairs or blankets and relax on the East Mall while taking in the sounds. After a fun day walking around looking at all of the animals it’s nice to sit and relax while enjoying the music.

Future acts include:

  • Friday, July 21 – American English (Beatles tribute band)
  • Saturday, July 22 – The Main Squeeze (Rock n Roll Funky Soul)
  • Friday, July 28 – Brass Buckle Band is (Country-rock band)
  • Saturday, July 29 – One Moment From Glory (Top 40 cover band)
  • Friday, August 4 – Hello Weekend (Pop cover band)
  • Saturday, August 5 – House Party (DJs)
  • Friday, August 11 – Hi Infidelity (Hits from ’80s and today)
  • Saturday, August 12 – Dishwalla (Alternative Rock)

Along with live music on the main stage, there is also a kid’s stage with family-friendly acts including music, juggling and acrobatics, magic shows, and puppet and clown performances. There are roaming kids’ entertainers like jugglers and costumed animal characters, too. Best of all (according to my kids at least), is the fact that the playground is right next to the concert area. This is great because parents can let kids play and still be able to enjoy the music while they watch them.

Those who didn’t get a chance to see all the animals during the day can enjoy extended hours at some of their favorite exhibits. Several animal exhibits and other in-park attractions (some require separate admission) are open until 8:30 pm during Summer Nights. These include Butterflies!, The Carousel, Clouded Leopard Rain Forest, Dolphin Underwater Viewing, The Fragile Desert, Hamill Family Wild Encounters, Pinniped Point, The Swamp, and the zoo’s summer exhibit, Dinos & Dragons.

During Summer Nights, there are enhanced dining experiences along with a beer and wine garden. I enjoyed a Mai Tai and some fried pickles- both of which were delicious! Those who want to bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks can do that as well.

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If you go to Brookfield Zoo’s Summer Nights make sure to stay until the very end because you will not want to miss the spectacular laser light show closing out each evening. Hands-down this is the best light show that I’ve ever seen!

Summer Nights is free with zoo admission. Get more details about Brookfield Zoo’s Summer Nights here.

 

Making Memories At Brookfield Zoo

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

One of the great things about the Chicago area is that there are so many fun family-friendly things to do. One of the places we enjoy going as a family is the Brookfield Zoo. Some of my favorite zoo memories are pictured below, from the hot summer days to the cooler days at their ‘Boo at the Zoo’.

This summer, Brookfield Zoo is encouraging families to make even more memories inside their gates. On Friday and Saturday evenings, through August 13th, they are hosting Summer Nights.

The zoo stays open until 9pm these nights so people can enjoy Brookfield Zoo in a new light with cooler evening weather, enhanced dining, a beer and wine garden, live music, roaming performers, kid’s entertainment, and a new laser light show, all surrounded by wildlife and nature.

The summer fun isn’t limited to night time though. During the days families can find all the great exhibits they’ve grown to love, along with other exciting attractions like Dolphins in Action, Festival of Flight, Hamill Family Wild Encounters and Hamill Family Play Zoo. This summer the boys went to their first dolphin show and to Hamill Family Wild Encounters for the first time.

In the “Wild Encounters” area, visitors get a number of hands-on experiences including opportunities to touch and feed animals, including parakeets and goats. Lucas enjoyed brushing the goats and sitting with them in the goat area. We also got to see reindeer up close which is any Santa loving child’s dream!

Visiting the zoo with young children? Then you’ll want to visit the Hamill Family Play Zoo. Children will have fun touching, exploring, building, and playing while connecting with nature. They can pretend to be a zoo keeper, dress up like a lemur, or make some crafts.

Imaginative fun isn’t limited to the Hamill Family Play Zoo. My boys found it all over the park!

We loved checking out all the animals, too. The dolphins and penguins were my favorite. Lions and tigers and bears were a must-see on Luke’s list and Jake wanted to checkout the reptiles. I loved this guy (pictured below) who slowly came over and stood as still as could be just looking at me, letting me snap his photo.

Love birds? Now through Labor Day the zoo has ‘Festival of Flight’ which is a 20-minute presentation offered a few times through the day, that features more than 20 species of birds.

Have you visited Brookfield Zoo yet this summer? It’s not too late to make some more wonderful family memories!

Party For The Planet At Brookfield Zoo

Every day is Earth Day at Brookfield Zoo, but on April 24th they will be showcasing some of the steps you can commit to that will truly make a difference for animals across the globe at their Party for the Planet! Visit the Eco Expo featuring over 40 Earth friendly vendors, drop off recycling, enjoy live entertainment, plant a tree, and enjoy green activities and crafts. Party for the Planet will be filled with educational, engaging, and fun activities for the entire family and I’m excited to be attending with my family courtesy of Brookfield Zoo.

During the event, Nature Cat will be in the Discovery Center to greet all of his fans and Chicago’s own WTTW will be engaging kids in an eco-friendly activity. NATURE CAT is the hit new PBS KIDS series that was recently nominated for a Daytime Emmy® Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.  NATURE CAT follows Fred, a house cat who dreams of exploring the great outdoors. In each episode, once his family leaves for the day, Fred transforms into Nature Cat, “backyard explorer extraordinaire.” Nature Cat can’t wait to get outside for a day of backyard nature excursions and bravery, but there’s one problem: He’s still a house cat with no instincts for nature. With the help of his animal friends, Nature Cat embarks on action-packed adventures that include exciting missions full of nature investigation, “aha” discovery moments and humor, all while inspiring children to go outside and “play the show.”

List of special events during Party For The Planet:

9:30am – 3:30pm – FREE PARKING in the North Parking Lot if you donate recyclables (see website for items they accept)
10am – 4pm – Eco Expo – Pavilions
10am – 3pm – Meet Nature Cat from WTTW’s new public television series.
11am – Tree Planting – Butterflies!
11:30am, 3pm – Giraffe Zoo Chat
12:00pm, 1:30pm – Green Thirteen Performance – Bison Pavilion
1:15pm – Bilingual Zoo Chat – Bison Pavilion

*Update 4/25: It was such a fun event! The boys liked meeting Nature Cat and our family enjoyed the beautiful day at the zoo!

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8 Tips To Save Money At The Zoo {And Brookfield Zoo Pictures}

We are lucky to have two large zoos and a handful of small ones in the Chicago area. Our favorite is Brookfield Zoo. Here are some of my favorite pictures from our first zoo trip of the summer (and ways we saved money while there):

Money Saving Tip #1: Brookfield Zoo has a dinosaur exhibit so instead of paying a lot in the gift shop for a souvenir, we picked up these dinosaur hats for just a couple dollars at Target.

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Money Saving Tip #2: Pack a cooler with drinks and food. We packed our drinks, snacks and the boys lunches. My mom and I ate food from a snack shack at the zoo and we splurged on ice cream since it was so hot outside.

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Money Saving Trip #3: Check into joining your local zoo, especially if you plan on going there often or are going to pay for attractions anyways. Our membership includes 4 tickets to the dino exhibit, 4 tickets to ride the tram, 4 tickets to the dolphin show, unlimited access to the Children’s area, free parking and guest passes. Once you pay for parking, it’s often cheaper to get a membership! Plus, zoo memberships often get you a discount on food and souvenirs.

Other ways to save?

#4: Look for coupons online.

#5: Check to see if your local library has any passes to local attractions (here in Chicago they do).

#6: If you are going to be purchasing a drink, look for refillable cups.

#7: Check to see if your zoo has free admission days.

#8: Enjoy a free show. A lot of times you can see zookeepers feeding animals or talking about animals around the park. These talks are free. Check the schedule at your local zoo.

How do you save money at the zoo?

Zoos Go Blue

I recently learned about “Zoos Go Blue” and am really excited to share about this with you all. Through a national partnership with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, member Zoos & Aquariums from across North America will be participating in the inaugural “ZOOS GO BLUE” event in April to support Autism Awareness Month. Find out if your zoo is participating here. You can register for up to 6 people for free basic admission and parking.

If you live in the Chicago area, Brookfield Zoo’s special event is April 28th. The Zoo is also going blue that day so I’m really excited to visit with my family and see everything lit up blue.

In addition, there is a toolkit for families who want to visit the zoo that will help them prepare their child for the visit. Lucas is a little young for this but I think it’s a great resource for families with older children. (The toolkit can be found at the link provided above.)

(Disclosure: Like most of my Autism related posts this is not sponsored and I’m not affiliated with any Zoo, other than having a membership to one that I paid for with my own money.)

 

Spring Fun In Chicago

My family has enjoyed a lot of outside time these past couple weeks. It’s been wonderful but as much fun as we’ve had in the backyard, I am already looking forward to getting out and about around Chicago. I headed to Kidgrade.com for some ideas of places we could go that are family friendly. I like the site because there are ratings from other parents on how kid-friendly places are. Here are a few of the places I want to take the boys this Spring:

Places we have never been to before:

Blackberry Historical Farm (Aurora, IL)

Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe, IL)

Exploritorium (Skokie, IL)

Kaitlin’s Hideout- A Play Center For Children With Autism (Glen Ellyn, IL)

Places we have been to before and can’t wait to return to:

Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield, IL)

DuPage Children’s Museum (Naperville, IL)

Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL)

Wilderness Falls (Bolingbrook, IL)

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If you live in the Chicago area what fun places are you looking forward to taking your family?

(Disclosure: I am a Kidgrade Ambassador but all thoughts are my own. I was not asked to write this post and am not being compensated for it but I do receive “perks” as an ambassador.)