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Coming Soon: Lincoln Park Zoo Nature Boardwalk and 'Sleep Under the Skyscrapers'


I am a student journalist at DePaul University and an enthusiastic blogger for Lincoln Park Now. I am interested in community journalism, new media, and volunteering. My number one passion? Writing, of course!

Only a couple months remain in the Lincoln Park Zoo's enormous reconstruction plan for the south pond--by the end of June, the newly renovated and completely balanced ecosystem at the Nature Boardwalk will finally open. And with a $12 million price tag, you can expect the long-anticipated renovations to be pretty incredible.

Frank Mathie outlined the south pond's planned transformation from 4 acres of mosquito-infested, dirty, stagnant water to the beautifully balanced, thriving ecosystem at the Nature Boardwalk in this ABC 7 report. Visitors can expect natural vegetation, aquatic vegetation, birds, fish, turtles, frogs--you name it.

Slightly less in tune with the wilderness setting but still quite appealing will be the Cafe Brauer beer garden and patio, where visitors can enjoy food and beverages amidst the wildlife.

But finishing the renovations and re-opening the south pond isn't the only thing the Lincoln Park Zoo has in store for its Nature Boardwalk...

The weekend of July 16 (and then again the weekend of August 20), the Lincoln Park Zoo will invite Chicagoans to "Sleep Under the Skyscrapers" at the Nature Boardwalk. According to Explore Chicago, for $50 ($45 for zoo members) you can "take a hike, explore the wildlife that enlivens this area and enjoy a pizza dinner. Pitch your tent and sleep under the skyscrapers, then wake to the morning songs of birds."

south pond.jpg

North pond ain't the only pond in town! The Lincoln Park Zoo's $12 million construction of the South Pond will transform it into a thriving ecosystem at the Nature Boardwalk.

According to the zoo's website, the registration price is per-camper and includes two meals and a tent rental arranged through REI (though campers are welcome to bring their own tents, too). Sleeping bag rental can be negotiated through REI at an additional cost. There will be flashlights and lanterns available, but in limited supply, so campers are encouraged to bring their own.

Here is the complete schedule for the event:

6 p.m. Participants will check in near the south side of Park Place Cafe. Staff from REI will help groups pitch their tents.
6:30 p.m. Pizza dinner will be available while groups continue to set up their tents and campsites.
7 p.m. Create campsite flags
8 p.m. Nature Walk with REI and zoo staff
10 p.m. Attendees will have access to the bathrooms in Park Place Cafe throughout the night.
7:30 a.m. Breakfast
8 a.m. Break camp
8:30 a.m. Final group activity
9 a.m. Departure

Urban camping--who would have thought of it?

What do you think of it all, Lincoln Park? The renovations at the south pond, the Cafe Brauer beer garden and patio, and the possibility of an over-night camping trip right here in the neighborhood must be generating some sort of buzz.

Do you think that these are awesome renovations, updates and events designed to engage your community, or do you think that they're geared more toward tourists? Are you planning to visit the Nature Boardwalk? Would you ever consider participating in the zoo's camping event?

ChicagoNow is open for discussion, and so are we. Let's discuss!



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prashs said:

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Camping in the city sounds great...but what if it attracts the Bears!?

j_pod said:

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i think this is a great idea! until i read that it's $50 per camper... ouch! what if you bring your own tent, do you still have pay $50 per person?? it seems kinda outrageous just to get some pizza, and maybe bagels in the morning...

jcd said:

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Sleep Under the Skyscrapers sounds like an awesome idea. I don't feel $50 per camper is too high (been to a Cubs game or a movie lately). It seems priced about right for a full nights entertainment. To answer the question, it seems like it is geared towards locals which is good since you might have the chance to meet like minded neighbors. It seems like a good in-town get-away for local families.

jennkloc said:


I agree! The price seems steep, but you also have to remember that the zoo is free, and that they rely on donations to pay for their programs. A fun event like this is another revenue-generating fundraiser for the zoo so that they can keep providing all their awesome FREE programming, too!

Do you think it's something you'll try out?

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