Free or Inexpensive Places to See Animals

Do you have an animal lover in your house? Then this list is for you! We’ve gathered all of the free or inexpensive places to see animals in our area. Nature centers, farms, smaller zoos, and pet stores… we’ve scoped out all the possibilities for you!

Are your kids into something that we can look into for you? Email us at annie@mykidlist.com or comment below and we would love to compile some options… we are always looking for ideas and strive to be the best local resource we can be!

Nature Centers with Animals

Knoch Knolls Nature Center

320 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL 60565

Outside, there’s a really neat mud-free playground; inside, there are exhibits about the river with a 900-gallon fresh water tank with live animals, a “living wall” of plants, a hands-on display of natural objects, and more. Click here to see all of the upcoming events at Knock Knolls Nature Center.

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center

3609 Spring Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523

This is a great place to see ducks and walk along tree-lined paths and a waterfall.

Hal Tyrell Trailside Museum

738 Thatcher Avenue
River Forest, IL 60305

Kids can see live native animals, tour wildflower gardens, learn about local wildlife and their habitats, and more—all inside this historic  Victorian mansion from the 1870s.

 

Lyman Woods Nature Center

901 31st Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515

This is a great place to check out a real live bee hive with clear sides so you can see all of the them vigorously working to make honey!

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center

9800 Willow Springs Road
Willow Springs, IL 60480

At this large nature center, you will see a turtle habitat and many tanks with live animals. There are more birds outside as you continue down winding paths.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center

419 Trout Farm Road
Bolingbrook, IL 60440

The first and second floors have tanks with different animals, including snakes, frogs, and tortoises. Read our review and see all the great features of this nature center, such as hands-on activities and a rooftop picnic area.

Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens

7402 Lake Katherine Drive
Palos Heights, IL 60463

The lower level has animals, including many snakes, a bunny and other interesting native creatures.

Willowbrook Wildlife Center

525 S Park Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

This site rehabilitates over 8,000 animals each year and you can sometimes see them caring for these animals through the glass viewing area. There are also cages in the same area with birds and reptiles and a circular path outside that leads to more cages with animals.

Bartlett Nature Center

2054 W. Stearns Road
Bartlett, IL 60103

The seasonal exhibits at this indoor center include reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

2430 N. Cannon Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 755-5100

$9 for adults; $7 for students and seniors (60+); $6 for children Ages 3 – 12; Free for children under 3; family memberships start at $60.

Click here to see our full list of Chicagoland Nature Centers.

Nearby Farms

Blackberry Farm

100 South Barnes Road
Aurora, IL 60506

In their discovery barn, kids can see chickens, sheep, piglets, baby goats and more. Non-resident admission is $7 for children and seniors, $8 for adults. The next free day is August 9, 2017.

The Children’s Farm at the Center

12700 Southwest Highway
Palos Park, IL 60464

Guests are welcome to touch, pet and groom the animals which change seasonally but often include chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, pigs, goats, cows, sheep, horses, ponies and donkeys. Admission is $6 for ages 2 and up and the farm is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm-4pm.

Want to visit another farm with your kids? Click here to see our full list of farms in our area.

Zoos

Cosley Zoo

1356 Gary Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 665-5534

Cosley Zoo houses over 150 animals, representing more than 60 species. Click here to see all of the species you will see at this zoo. Wheaton residents are all free; Children are free; Nonresident Adults (ages 18-54): $7, Nonresident Adults (ages 55 and over): $6.

Phillips Park Zoo

1000 Ray Moses Drive
Aurora, IL 60505
(630) 256-3860

You can see river otters, great horned owls, cougars, llamas, pygmy goats, gray wolves, bald eagles, farmyard animals, reptiles, peacocks, and elk. Admission is free.

Click here for the full list of zoos in our area.

Pet Stores

Another great place that kids often love to visit for their animal fix, is your local pet store such as Petco or Petsmart… unless your kiddos talk you into buying a new pet!

About the Author

Jill Borkowicz
Jill is thrilled to be sharing her insight and knowledge of local fun on Kidlist! As an Oak Park native, Jill and her husband settled in La Grange Park in 2007 and couldn’t be happier with the community they call home. Raising two lovely daughters, ages 8 and 10, Jill is always on the lookout for cool things to do as a family. She is passionate about yummy food, an organized abode, creative entertaining, frugal finds, travel adventures, a healthy spirit, and overall family fun. Jill’s favorite wintertime activity with the fam? Ice skating followed by hot chocolate! Summertime family favorite? Long pool days with friends that end with a BBQ!

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