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As part of a Christmas trip to Chicago our family visited Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic. Going into our visit I had extremely high expectations as this came up in my research time and time again as the #1 thing to do in Chicago with kids at Christmas. I have to say, we were definitely not disappointed!

Holiday Magic incorporates over a million Christmas lights, decorations and trees into an evening visit to the Zoo. In its 36th year, Holiday Magic is Chicago’s largest and longest running light display.

Here are a few tips for families visiting:

  1. Don’t Miss It: Because of the location of the Brookfield Zoo (suburb- not downtown) I can see how someone visiting Chicago would be reluctant to make it a priority. However, I highly encourage you to put this activity at the top of your list! We all thoroughly enjoyed every minute!
  2. Maximize Time: Check the hours of operation (currently 4PM to 9PM) and plan to spend most of that time there- especially if you are interested in seeing the animal exhibits! If you are going for the lights, you will need at least 2 hours. 
  3. Prioritize Your Time: In addition to checking the operating hours- be sure to pay special attention to the animal enclosure hours as some close. Also, keep in mind that there is no special lighting for the outdoor exhibits so any animals that are not in one of the indoor enclosures will be more difficult (or impossible) to see after dark. There are some special events as part of Zoo lights. Again, check the website for specific times and plan accordingly.
  4. Dress In Layers: All evening you will be walking in and out of buildings. Most of the animal exhibits are climate controlled and very warm. This is a huge benefit to be able to walk in and warm up- but while watching the animals, it’s very easy to overheat. Be sure to wear an easily removable outer layer.

    Beautiful view of the dolphins at night!

  5. Light Show On Reptile House: Don’t miss the light show on the Reptile House! It plays every few minutes (with a countdown clock so you know.) We almost didn’t wait around for the two minutes, but it would have been a huge mistake. It ended up being one of our favorite parts of the whole evening and we went back to watch it 3 different times!

Whether you are local to the Chicago area, or just in for a visit- the Brookfield Zoo Holiday Lights is a fantastic way to get in the holiday spirit. With over a million lights- the thing you will love most is simply taking it all in. We relished in standing by the lake and seeing lights in every direction for as far as we could see- such a magical sight!

For more information and to plan your visit, go to their website- here.

*Brookfield Zoo hosted Mom With A Map on our visit to Holiday Magic. All the opinions and experiences in this post are authentically ours.*

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