Zoo in Mount Prospect

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When he shuts up his workshop at the North Pole after another successful holiday season, Santa Claus doesn't simply hibernate until next December. Instead, he packs up his sleigh and heads to his summer home at the Fox River Valley's Santa's Village Azoosment Park. Open from May to October, the wonderland greets guests with three separate amusement experiences. The fun begins in Santa's Village, where quaint alpine building and expertly manicured pathways awaken feelings of nostalgia in hearts young and old. There, visitors can zoom down the original Santa's Tree House Slide, hitch a ride on the Kringle Convoy, or snap a picture at a recreation of Santa's North Pole home. They can also tap into the amusement rides including the antique carousel, the Tilt-A-Whirl, and Dracor the Dragon's Coaster.

A renowned lover of animals, Santa has also filled his park with a menagerie of creatures both familiar and exotic. After visiting Rudolph and company at Reindeer Ridge, visitors can grab a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh on their way to see the denizens of Parakeet Paradise, Tortoise Island, or Old MacDonald's Farm and Petting Zoo. In addition to grabbing up-close peeks of everything from a red-tailed boa to a fennec fox, visitors can also take in an exotic animal show that educates audience members about the park's wild residents.

Always in the holiday spirit, the park welcomes groups looking to add a spark to reunions, birthday, or group outings. This accommodating spirit even extends to the park's rule book: parking is free, and picnic baskets are encouraged.

601 Dundee Ave.
East Dundee,
IL
US

Over the past quarter century, Serpent Safari's indoor zoo has amassed a collection of rare reptiles that have appeared in publications such as National Geographic. Animals of impressive age, unusual coloring (such as an albino alligator), and Guinness World Record-holding weight have all called the Safari their home. Originally founded as a reptile adoption and education center, the Safari now runs guided tours and birthday parties that usher children through the world of scaly, cold-blooded creatures known as bankers into the diverse realm of reptiles. Following the tours, patrons can partake in photo opportunities with giant snakes, or take home a friend from the pet store.

6170 Grand Ave
Gurnee,
IL
US

In 1961, Bob Terese and Corinne Owen opened a small pet shop in downtown Chicago. Part of their mission: to employ workers with developmental disabilities so they can lead productive and fulfilling lives. That little pet shop has since relocated and expanded into a 70-acre campus called Lambs Farm, which has a variety of residential and vocational programs that continue to help those in need. Nearly 250 individuals live here today in group homes and individual apartments; they have access to employment opportunities and a number of recreational services, such as camping and hobby clubs. In addition to the expansive pet shop, the campus also has a farmyard, a bakery, and assorted shops that sell goods handcrafted by Lambs Farm residents.

14245 W Rockland Rd.
Libertyville,
IL
US

In Wheaton, a day at the park is never the same twice?unless, of course, you want it to be. The Wheaton Park District maintains 53 facilities that encompass everything from pools to hiking trails that weave through the area's lush outdoors. With just a glance at a few of its destinations and attractions, it becomes apparent that the district is serious about its commitment to "enrich the quality of community life."

The Prairie Path Minigolf Course and The Rail, for instance, take up residence at Clocktower Commons. Here, 18 mini-golf holes wind past a central water feature while a 12,000-square-foot skate park lets inline skaters and skateboarders practice tricks that are simply too rad for their parents' driveways. Wheaton Park District also includes The DuPage County Historical Museum and the Cosley Zoo, where a trip into the barn introduces visitors to goats, wooly llamas, and other local wildlife.

102 E Wesley St
Wheaton,
IL
US

Lincoln Park Zoo is a living, breathing, and sometimes roaring historical landmark that has delighted Chicago families since its founding in 1868. Anyone can simply walk into the zoo and immediately enter an exotic world of wild-animal habitats?without having to pay a cent. Beyond their animal exhibits, Lincoln Park Zoo stands as a leader in conservation science, both at the local and global level. They work towards the highest possible animal care and educational outreach.

My Chicago by Giuliana Rancic

E! News anchor and Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic was born in Italy but she has strong ties to Chicago?namely, her husband Bill, the Trump-approved entrepreneur and restaurateur behind RPM Italian. In the My Chicago by Giuliana Rancic collection, the star of Giuliana & Bill gives the scoop on her favorite local spots to get glammed up, be entertained in style, and even shop for Bill.

Shop the Collection

2200 N. Cannon Dr.
Chicago,
IL
US