Located on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago’s downtown district is the ever popular Shedd Aquarium. Shedd is part of the city’s Museum Campus. Its companions on this beautiful stretch of the city are the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, and oddly enough, Soldier Field- home of the Chicago Bears football team.
Shedd Aquarium was the destination of a spontaneous family trip last Saturday. In retrospect, our experience might have been better had we not visited on a weekend, however we still enjoyed our visit.
A popular destination of both tourists and locals alike, Shedd Aquarium is home to a number of exhibits with thousands of sea creatures. Our first stop of the day was at the Amazon Rising exhibit where we learned that the largest fish in the Amazon could grow as long as 14.5 feet. Unfortunately, the aquarium does not have a living fish of this size so we had to settle for a life-size replica. Another notable resident of the Amazon Rising exhibit was the large anaconda.
We next headed to the Abbott Oceanarium where we came to my favorite exhibit- the beluga wales. We arrived at feeding time and saw several aquarium workers throwing fish into the mouths of five or six wales. I was immediately reminiscent of my high school days when I aspired to become a marine biologist. I didn’t pursue that career since I ended up at a university with no water, but I still wonder sometimes what it would’ve been like had I followed through.
Our next stop was downstairs at the Polar Play Zone to visit the penguins and the underwater viewing area of the balugas and dolphins. We received quite a treat when one of the dolphins stopped next to the glass mid-swim to check out the aquarium guests. He gestured like he was talking to us, much to the delight of the crowd.
Back upstairs, we found ourselves in an area where Ladybug was able to feel a real starfish. It was the only animal she has actually been brave enough to touch. Unfortunately, I was not able to document this momentous occasion because both my hands were busy holding her up so she could reach. In the same area, she was also able to play with fake barnacles in water.
We then took the elevator to the top floor to explore the Wild Reef of the Philippines. Before we arrived at the aquarium I gave Ladybug a mission: to find the Nemo fish. She took her mission very seriously and finally found Nemo at the Wild Reef. We saw D’s favorite- stingrays- along with a few sharks and many colorful fish.
Once we had seen all we could see at the Wild Reef, we realized it was getting late and Buddy was done. We stopped by one last exhibit- The Great Lakes- on our way to the exit.
Things to Know Before Visiting Shedd Aquarium
Operating hours: 9am- 5pm on weekdays, 9am- 6pm on weekends
Address: 1200 S LakeShore Dr, Chicago IL 60605
Food options: We did not eat at Shedd Aquarium since we arrived after lunch but there are a few places available to grab a bite. Bubble Net Food Court and Soundings Cafe are open daily, while three other food locations are offered on a seasonal basis.
Parking: Parking on museum campus is a little pricey so if possible, I recommend taking public transportation. The Museum Campus is about a 10 minute walk up Roosevelt Ave from the CTA train station. If you must park, a parking garage is available for all three museums and Soldier Field. Limited pay-to-park street parking is also available.
Visiting Tip: We visited on a Saturday and it was very busy. I recommend visiting on a weekday when it would hopefully be a little less busy.
Have you ever been to Shedd Aquarium?
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