Winter weather in Chicago calls for entertainment that warms you up despite the cold wind gusts outside. Lincoln Park Zoo serves up just the right amount of outdoor fun, while keeping bodies heated through hot chocolate as well as plenty of beer options in BrewLights presented by Louis Glunz Beer, Inc. Prior to hitting up the event, an array of restaurants along Clark street provide food to get your caloric content high as increasing fat intake raises the thermogenic effect therefore your metabolism and keeps your body warmer. Lining up the stomach also serves as a great buffer for all the beer. December days usually are times to stay inside yet this was an unusually nice 40 degree night, perfect for strolling around the zoo and drinking to your heart’s content. Each ticket purchase included 12 sample-sized tastings of seasonal beers on tap. Practicing safety first, designated driver tickets were also available, which included vouchers for hot chocolate at Bird’s Eye Bar & Grill, Park Place Cafe and Eadie Levy Landmark Cafe.
Walking through the main entrance, a large, beautifully decorated tree of lights lined in green, red, purple and beige took center stage, the lit up branches wildly waving ‘Welcome!’ Two lines formed, one a bit longer for bag check and the other shorter line for guests who opted to travel light. Mini beer sampling mugs, the size of 3 sips worth or one big gulp, were handed to you with 12 drink tickets inside as well as a useful map. Green and red beer stations were sprinkled across the zoo, with a purple pop up station that served seasonal brews. Attractions like Giraffes and Aardvarks Q & A session at Regenstein African Journey, live music, and pictures with Santa Claus broke up outdoor activities to retreat into the heated buildings. Candy cane treats from the elf because peppermint helps to wake you up and shake off any fogginess. Exploring the different monkey habitats and types such as the white cheeked gibbon or the three adorable tails intertwined Bolivian gray titi monkeys hanging huddled on a tree branch made for an unforgettable experience. Entertaining especially to watch the Hoffman sloth dangle from his two toes upside down whilst slowly munching on lettuce leaves, his long nails contrasting with the elongated brown leathery pads of his hands used to grip his food.
Sights and sounds of BrewLights involved people dressed in layers as well as scarves and hats to fight the brisk wind while“Feliz Navidad” and a medley of other classic Christmas songs played from the speakers that synchronized with bright, flashing lights across the field. People gathered close together for warmth as lines formed for the red, green and purple stations. One of the longest lines, for the seasonal beers of course, draped next to the Regenstein Center for African Apes with a large Santa kitty looming near, the red and green lights from the Hancock and other city skyscrapers creating a lovely Christmas cheer feeling. Hopping on the carousel and choosing between tigers, ostriches, sleighs, otters, and more to enjoy the nostalgia of childhood rides is fun if a bit woozy when getting off. All the spinning around and around mixed with beer makes for a dizzy spell. Fret not for the feeling quickly dissipates with the crisp, cool air while you take a hike over across the bridge while spying on the swans and geese in the almost frozen pond, ice sheets forming on the surface. Wandering towards the glittering decorated lights of a winding maze greets you, inviting and a bit challenging as picking the right route leads you to the exit or facing people who shake their heads at following you into a dead end. Stop and jump on the over-sized lawn chair for a picture to commemorate your victory of finding the way out. If you’re feeling charitable, dole out extra drink tickets to other patrons so they can imbibe the night away.
Visit zoo lights to view their upcoming events so you too can enjoy the magic of merriment, pretty lights, and cute critters.
Photo Credit: Yvonne Pulido