Visiting Cosley Zoo in Wheaton with Kids

Museums and Zoos

Cosley Zoo in Wheaton is a fun little zoo that lets kids get up close to see the animals in a friendly, walkable environment.

About Cosley Zoo

While Brookfield Zoo is an incredible destination, it’s also a pretty big to-do for us. My kids (4 and 2) don’t always last very long. Cosley is a smaller zoo that’s often less crowded. The exhibits are smaller and closer to the trail, so it’s easier to spot and watch the animals, too. It made for a great, low-key outdoor outing.

Of course, you can also expect to . . . see the animals! We were able to spot almost all the animals on our trip, including this foxy little guy.

Features of Cosley Zoo

Cosley showcases both farm animals and native Illinois species. You won’t find zebras or elephants here, but youΒ willΒ see 50+ species including cows, goats, llamas, deer, coyotes, bobcats, and the most exquisite collection of ducks that quack delightfully. For proof, here’s a video of my then-toddlerΒ losing his mind over the ducks a few years ago:

When you walk into the zoo, you’ll find a nature play area and the Douglas Depot visitor center/gift shop. Keep walking to find the duck pond, a small sand pit, and a large barn that houses sheep, goats, and more.

Inside the barn, zookeepers sometimes bring out native reptiles and other animals for visitors to see and touch. Outside, you’ll find animals like cows, ponies, and llamas. The animals are all treated to enrichment activities, and you can usually catch them playing around.

Across from the barn, there’s a pig pen and a colorful collection of chickens. Keep exploring to find a special bobcat habitat and a large enclosure with animals like deer, turkey vultures, and more.

The great thing about Cosley is that it’s really easy to spot the animals. Smaller crowds and smaller exhibits mean kids can really see what the animals are doing. Many come right up to the fences, like this coyote did on our last visit!

The aviary features a large variety of birds, including an owl exhibit.

A real railroad caboose has been converted into a play space for young kids with hands-on activities like puzzles and a matching game.

Food at Cosley Zoo

You are welcome to bring your own food to enjoy at the picnic tables, or to purchase food at the zoo. The “Coyote Cafe” concession stand sells traditional kiddie favorites (pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, and peanut butter & jelly), as well as snacks and ice cream. Meals with chips and a drink cost $5.50–$8.75, while ice creams cost $2.50–$3.50 each.


Here are current prices as of December 2020 (check website for changes):

  • Wheaton Park District residents: Free with a Wheaton Park District Universal Resident ID
  • All kids (from 0–17): Free
  • Cosley Zoo members: Free
  • Non-resident adults: $8
  • Seniors 55+: $7

Special Needs Accommodations

Cosley has accessible walkway surfaces, which are handy for strollers, too.

Parking and Transportation

Parking is free at Cosley Zoo, and the lot is right outside the front gate. The zoo is very stroller-friendly, but also walkable even for older toddlers.


The bathrooms include changing stations for infants.

Cosley Zoo

1356 North Gary Ave.
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 665-5534

Looking for even more animal fun? You’ll want to check out our list of zoos and aquariums in Chicagoland and our round-up of cheap (and free!) places to see animals

Join the List

Let us help you plan fun days!
Get kid-friendly updates straight to your inbox

"*" indicates required fields

When would you like to receive Kidlist emails?*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Articles

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

Our Amazing Sponsors
Popular Guides