If you live in the Chicago area or have visited, chances are you've been to the Brookfield Zoo. Chicago is kinda unique in that it has not one, but two zoos. Even though the Lincoln Park Zoo always has free admission, I've always preferred going to Brookfield especially in the summer. The variety of animals is different and there tends to be more shade beneath the trees so even a hot day can be spent walking the paths. Not only is going to Brookfield Zoo always a blast, stopping to pick up snacks at #MyMarianos always makes for a better day.
Wednesday dawned as the perfect day to go to Brookfield Zoo, all we needed to do was stop at Mariano's on the way to pick up some healthy snacks. Mariano's is the perfect choice as they've got all these awesome food to go options right at the front of the store. The problem we faced was having to pick which foods we wanted. The selection is always staggering and narrowing it down took quite some time as we decided which would be easily eaten outside. They've got everything from sushi to fresh cut fruit and you can even save more when you use your Mariano's rewards card. I call that a win-win! Check out the rest of our shopping trip on our Google+ album.
The reason why I love going to the Brookfield Zoo over Lincoln Park is the memories I have of being there with my grandparents. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but this is the third time I've lived in the Chicago area! I was born here, but I've lived all over the country. When I was little we lived here in Chicago and I split my time during the week between both sets of grandparents. For almost four years I was an only grandchild and just an eensy, weensy bit spoiled. (By that she means completely and utterly spoiled in every possible way.)
Anyway, whenever my grandmother would take me to the zoo we'd use the Mold-a-Matic and get wax animals. While they aren't made of wax anymore, now the machine uses plastic, kids still love them. Even though, I don't have any children I still am tempted to get one every time I go to the zoo. Which means half our trip was spent over the selection of which figures to get. The merits of wax animals discussed could create a very serious and tedious lecture upon whether coloring outweighs details. Or rather if the Triceratops while white is nearly as majestic as the Dolphin with teeth in his smile.
I hate having to get food while at the Zoo. The choices aren't all that great or healthy and I don't feel so great after eating a ton of junk food. Stopping at Mariano's on the way enabled us to have some of our favorite foods to enjoy at the zoo.
We decided to eat lunch with the giraffes. Late last fall there was a new baby giraffe and it was nice to get to sit and watch him for a while. Susie decided to have some sushi. To our surprise a little girl of about three also decided that sushi would be a delightful snack. For the choices and variety at the zoo are not nearly as good as freshly prepared sushi.
While I went with the more classic chicken salad on a pretzel bun. Absolutely perfect zoo fare! Made much easier to eat with a fork which we nearly forgot to bring. Good thing we remembered or our fruit would also have been quite an interesting snack. We would have looked as determined as the baby giraffe we ate our food near. He spent quite a long time attempting to reach the offering of food just out of his reach. I'm not entirely sure our tongues could have functioned in the same fashion. As he triumphantly snuck a few pieces here and there.
We also saw Okapis which are related to giraffes. The very first Okapi born in captivity was at the Brookfield Zoo back in the '50s. They're pretty neat to look at. I absolutely love the markings on their hindquarters. So very distinctive.
After walking through the zoo, we decided it was time for our final snack. Chocolate covered cannolis from Mariano's bakery. While they tasted good, cannolis aren't meant to be carried around in a bag at the zoo all day. :) They were delicious despite their newly found character travelling through the continents filled with exotic creatures.
Be sure to connect with Mariano's on Facebook and Twitter.