Saving Tips: Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo

Paying Parking…Finding Parking…Waiting in Admission Line…Front of the Admission Line and Eyes Bulged…Fear Food and Drinks Line. These are some of the scenarios that happen on a Brookfield Zoo trip with or without guests. Brookfield Zoo, also known as Chicago Zoological Park, is the largest zoo near Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Zoological Society manages the approximately 215 acres that resides over 2,000 animals. It is opened 365 days out of the year. The hours of operations are from 10:00am to 5:00pm daily, unless changed during special events. Here are a few tips for your trip budget.

  1. Free and Discounted Admission:

The general admission cost for adults are $19.85, seniors (65 and over) are $14.50, and children (ages 3 to 11) are $14.50. Purchase the tickets online to save $1.00 per ticket. Visitors print the tickets at home and use the tickets within one year from the date of purchase. Free general admission to all active, reservist, and retired members of the United States Armed Forces with a valid ID at the zoo’s admission booth. Military admission tickets cannot be done online. If you planning on spending the night in the Chicago area, go to the zoo’s website for discounts or free admission with their hotel partners.

  1. Unlimited Drink Options:

Pay extra for the single-day unlimited cups without the lids. Use this cup to refill your drinks at the selected locations and the water fountains throughout the zoo. These heavy-duty paper cups are perfect to have for individuals doesn’t finished their drinks and share with others. The plastic souvenir cups with lids are for unlimited drinks. These are for annual usage. Unlike the single-day unlimited cups, these are more kid-friendly and lower risks for spillage. If you opted for bottled beverages, keep them to refill at water fountains.

  1. Food Options:

Food expenses can be more than the admission cost, especially when in a group. Before arriving to the zoo, have a full hearty meal. Brookfield Zoo has up to 10 dining options to satisfy many palettes. Bring storage bags to share large popcorn and other bagged snacks. It can be used for the unfinished food that you can snack on throughout the day. Chewing gum can assist in the craving to buy candy. Share a purchase of funnel cake or ice cream sundae to save cost. Do not buy kids meals but regular size entrées to share. Many of the entrees like the quesadillas and hamburger meal at the Café del Sol are large enough for 2-3 individuals to be satisfied. Drink water in between sugary drinks to lower the risk of over spending on food.

  1. Membership Options:

Planning on visiting Brookfield Zoo multiple times within a year, an annual membership can save you money or pay for its cost. Every member receives free parking for one vehicle at the main entrance, discount parking at the south entrance, member discounts on selected attractions, member publications, monthly shopping specials, restaurant discounts, education program discounts, and special events discounts. Individuals and family membership has three general options to choose from: Basic, Plus, and Unlimited. Check the website for price variations and benefits for each membership. Visitors receive a deeper discount for purchase of a 2-year term. Purchase online, you can print out a temporary card to use your benefits immediately after a completed purchase. Purchase at admission gate, save your parking receipt to get a deduction on the membership prices. Parking fees starts at $11.00 for non-members.

  1. Special Promotions/Bulk

Brookfield Zoo posts information about fee-based special events and educational programs throughout the year. Contact the Ticket Sales department for discount of a group of 20 or more. They have different group discount levels to assist the needs of the visitor. Book a special event like birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events to assist in discounts as well. It might not be a special occasion for you. The packages provide a location to gather and might cut overall costs. Zoo members receive a deeper discount on their special events.

  1. Learning Animal and Other Zoo Facts for Free:

On a tight budget to attend the special events or educational programs, there are posters and stands at each animal’s location that describes their way of life. Use the Brookfield Zoo map to make it a scavenger hunt and learning adventure. Ask the volunteers and zoologists stationed at different animal habitat for more information about that animal. Many employees have interesting facts that are not posted. Another idea for a scavenger hunt and learning experience, obtain Brookfield Zoo Tree Guide for the nature lovers. It is a map that gives you the location and description of the various trees throughout the property.

If you interested in visiting or getting more information about Brookfield Zoo, please call 708-688-8000 or go to website, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, Illinois 60513.


*Information based on date written. Check website for updates.

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