How to fully enjoy Fall Fest

All of your pumpkin-spiced dreams will come true at the Lincoln Park Zoo during weekends throughout October. The zoo has been transformed into a farm-like wonderland filled with the high-pitched shrieks of children, adults and monkeys alike. 

As I walked through the grand entrance of Lincoln Park Zoo, after about a 40-minute CTA ride, I was greeted by an overwhelming amount of inflatable activities that would have made kindergarten-me buckle at the knees. The first thing I saw was a giant obstacle course à la Wildcat Welcome Tailgate, and a deflated pumpkin bouncy castle. (Hopefully, it's inflated all other days). I’m still unclear on how exactly inflatable objects relate to fall, but I wasn't complaining.

As I continued eastbound I found what I had come to Fall Fest for: a pumpkin patch. With hay barrels, scarecrows and pumpkins in three different sizes, the patch was definitely most authentically "fall" part of Fall Fest. Before my friends could even say "squash plants," I'd bought two small pumpkins and a gourd for my dorm room. (Smaller pumpkins cost two dollars, medium pumpkins five dollars and large pumpkins – weighing ten pounds or more – were 50 cents per pound.) There are also similarly priced, really cute lumpy gourds.

The southeastern corner of the zoo housed a big pink ferris wheel – which I did not ride because I am terrified of heights and Ferris wheels in general – but it’s a great alternative to the recently closed Navy Pier Ferris wheel (RIP, my giant circular friend). 

In the middle of the zoo houses lay a what the Fall Fest website refers to as a "corn maze and mountain of hay." The corn maze is definitely see-through and easy to navigate, but still pretty well-done for being in the middle of a city: I hit a dead end more than five times. (Plus, I took some corn off one of the stalks to put in his room… On second thought, this might be the reason the maze is so see-through.) The mountain of hay is less of a mountain and more of a stack, but it still attracted many adorable, laughing children to squee over. This attraction was definitely the best deal, because you get two attractions for one ticket!

Finally, at the south end of the zoo, just as I was exiting, I saw the zoo’s version of a little hay ride. It only lasted five minutes, on a tiny designated course with a smattering of hay barrels, but it was still worth it.

Fall Fest was a great way to get a little taste of fall and all of the fun activities that can be done throughout the season,” says Shoshi Reich, McCormick freshman, who visited last weekend. It even comes complete with the authentic unpleasant animal smells of the farm! 

Tickets for attractions cost $3 for one, $27 for 10 and $51 dollars for 20. Most attractions cost one ticket. Fall Fest runs on weekends from October 2-18 at the Lincoln Park Zoo located at 2001 N Clark St.


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