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Something's fishy in Chicago
Umptybumpty shapes and colors drifting in cool turquoise or darting in and out of brilliant coral…Shedd is great day out for the small and the tall. Aquariums, like zoos, are perfect for entertaining families of all ages 'cause who doesn't love to watch the fish? There are enough fins here to keep everyone occupied for the better part of a day, and it's an especially good choice for a rainy/cold one.
They are swimmingly equipped to handle wee people with a food court and 2 cafes for filling empty tummies, and plenty of restrooms. The entire complex is stroller and wheelchair-friendly and, of course, there is a very large gift shop for picking up a plushy beluga or sea turtle t-shirt to take home.
All this fun isn't exactly inexpensive: general admission ($8 adults/$6 kids) does not include the 4D theater, aquatic show, Polar Play Zone or at least 3 other exhibits that are covered under Shedd's higher-end tickets or CityPASS. Considering that full adult admission is $35.00 ($26 kids) at time of this writing, the $76 adult/$59 child CityPASS (includes 4 more Chicago attractions) may be worth shelling out for if venturing on to the nearby Field Museum and/or planetarium.
Open every day of the year except Christmas - see website for hours and other info; prices above were current in 2011 so check those as well.
- Family Travel
John G Shedd Aquarium
In my opinion the best part of the Aquarium is the Oceanarium. In the marine mammal pavilion you will see beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Alaskan sea otters and seals in a re-creation of a Pacific Northwest coastal environment. The place is really great. I especially liked the Animal Underwater Viewing area. It gave me a different perspective to see the marine mammals.
There is a dolphin and whales show. You will see them diveing and tail bobbing The show takes place in the amphitheater during the Marine Mammal Presentations. I checked when the show starts in the programme given to me at the entrance.
Besides the Oceanarium, in the other areas there were variety of tropical Caribbean animals including sharks, eel, sea turtles and colorful fish.
Took me about 3 hours.
As far as I remember I paid about USD 19.
Memorial Day - Labor Day
9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursdays, June - August
9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
(Oceanarium closes at 8 p.m.)
Labor Day - Memorial Day
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. winter weekdays
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. winter weekends
Closed Christmas day
Top 10-Shedd Aquarium
Last visit-12/24/14. Watch Groupon for discount offers, we got a Total Experience Pass that included everything at the Shedd for $24.
The Shedd Aquarium comes up on the must see list of every guidebook with good reason. It is the world's largest indoor aquarium and if you are into fish, you can spend hours here. On our last visit we spent 3 hours and didn't have enough time to see everything.
There are all kinds of ticket options that give you access to various parts of the aquarium. If you don't have a lot of time or have kids with short attention spans, there is a general admission ticket for $6-8 that gets you in to the main exhibits at the Aquarium. Personally this is my favorite part of the aquarium, it includes the Caribbean Reef, a 90,000 gallon round tank when you first walk in. Catch one of the daily feedings, look for the enormous green eel and Nickel, the rescued green sea turtle. In another section, be sure to see Granddad, an Australian lungfish that has been there since 1933 when he was used to lure visitors to the World's Fair. The Pacific Northwest is also in this part with the playful sea otters, sometime in early 2015 Luna, the new baby sea otter, should be out in the exhibit.
From there other ticket options include a show at the The Oceanarium which is supposed to resemble the Pacific Northwest. There's a aquatic show called Fantasea that replaced the old dolphin show, it's not exactly a Sea World type show but they do highlight the beluga whales, dolphins and a sea lion. The wall of windows in the Oceanarium creates the stunning optical illusion of connecting with Lake Michigan in the background.
The Wild Reef features sharks and a coral reef. It's most famous resident, Bubba, a 140 lb. Queensland grouper that had successful cancer treatments died in 2006.
There's also 4D movies and a special exhibit of Jellies which I think are really cool. Our Total Experience passes cost $39.95 although we got them for $24 through Groupon. I think next Christmas Eve, which is when we always go, I'll just spring for the general admission and skip the movie and show.
DISCOUNT DAYS-there are 52 days a year that offer free general admission to Illinois residents only, the main part is FREE, extra if you want to see the Wild Reef or Oceanarium. There's also a discount on certain days if you have a Bank of America credit/debit card.
Best time to go-when it first opens or on a weekday, the crowds steadily become larger
For more pictures and some interesting stories of some of it's residents, see my Travelogue
Fun Fact-when the aquarium opened in 1930, the saltwater was sent from Key West to Chicago by rail, the final shipment of salt water was received in 1970! Now the Shedd mixes it's own.
Talk to the Beluga at the John G Shedd Aquarium
Over 6 different trips to the U.S. I/we have visited 5 different aquariums and this is my second favourite after the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
BUT....., it does have something that my No 1 aquarium doesn't have. Check the piccie beside this tip & yes folks you've hit it in one! The one & only, incomparable BELUGA whale. Just magical animals they are, the only cetaceans that can move their heads because of their necks. Now don't ask me to explain it technically because I'm a mere generalist educator not a specialist in ocean marine mammal life (would like to be mind you!). I swear that the beluga there was talking to me & I was trying to impress the attractive American lady beside me by talking back to it (and my wife wasn't too far away! LOL!). Seriously, I would go to the Shedd again knowing there's a Beluga there, but it is worthwhile visiting in it's own right.
Set in a beautiful building of it's own (see my Chicago travelogue for a photo of the front view), reminding me a little of our Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney(see my 2nd Sydney must see tip), it seems very modern inside.
It boasts of being the largest indoor aquarium in the world, but is still easily navigable even by the directionally/visuall spatially challenged such as myself.
With something like 8 000 animal exhibits & extremely interesting exhibits of different aquatic habitats & their denizens it is a definite MUST SEE if you are planning a visit to Chicago.
Lastly, check out their website. I've only had a perfuctory squizz at a bit of it & it looks real good!
- Family Travel
The Shedd Aquarium
Visit the largest indoor aquarium in the world! The Shedd aquarium features a wild variety of marine plants and animals and currently has a new exhibit on wild sharks and coral reef from the Philippines. Tickets are for $21. with discounts for seniors and children. The Shedd is one of the three museums in the Museum campus. The other three are the Adler Planetarium and the Field museum. Check the website or call for hours.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Shedd-A Water Delight
Before other aquariums became popular, like the Atlanta one that we went to, this was the king. It was the idea of John Shedd, who ran Marshall Field department store who contributed $3 million in 1920's to make this the premier icon. It was the largest back in 1930 when it opened. Now it has 32,500 animals for view. It is a child interactive type now with the updates recently. Little changed until early 2000's and they just re-opened with upgrades in last couple of years. We could not spend time to go inside, but it used to be fantastic, and you could look into many small and quaint fish tanks of a great variety of them.
Fee is $25 and it is located in the museum complex by Grant Park along the lake shore.
- Museum Visits
Next to Field Museum,another interest option,can see visit one of largest Aquariums in world. Sometimes you have to wait in a long line to get the tickets as you can see on my picture.
Also next to the Aquarium,you can get a taxi-boat at Michigan Lake to go to Navy Pier.
You could spend hours in here and still not see everything. This place is amazing and so big inside. When you enter you will be given a guide of what to see. This time round the place was packed for the holiday season (December) and the q's were very long.
Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has a magnificent display of aquatic animals. It's divided up into different displays featuing different sets of underwater creatures.
Located southeast of downtown Chicago, it's south of the Field Museum and right near the Adler Planetarium.
- Family Travel
When I was a kid living in East Tennessee, in 1960, my dad took me and two of my brothers to Chicago and the the favorite thing we saw was Shedd Aquarium. We were all awestruck - talked about it for years. Last summer my wife and I went back to Shedd - and we were awestruck again. There's a reason they call it "The World's Aquarium."
We've been to other newer aquariums which had acryllic walk-through underwater tunnels that Shedd can't match. But the one thing Shedd has that the others don't is the Oceanarium, and that's been added since I was young. This 3 million gallon marine mammal pavilion is the world's largest. To us it was definitely the highlight of our visit. The beluga whales, white-sided dolphins and other amazing creatures had us open mouthed and gasping with delight.
We were there on a summer weekend when the line was VERY long. We went back again on a Sunday in early autumn, and there was hardly any line at all.
- Family Travel
Went there on the busiest day of a week - Saturday at 10am. Bought our tickets at the reception desk, no problem, even though it is recommended to buy them online in advance.
The place was not too crowded for the first hour but we did have to go 15 minutes before the Dolphins presentation started to make sure we have good seats. The show was pretty boring (few jumps and mostly dolphins feeding) but I guess I should not expected much from 20 minutes marine life presentation.
In general I`d give it 3 stars out of 5.
- 4D All-Access Pass is $27.50 for adults, $20.50 for kids/seniors (includes the Oceanarium, Wild Reef, Lizards and the Komodo King, Amazon Rising, the Caribbean Reef, Waters of the World and the new 4-D Special FX Theater, featuring SpongeBob SquarePants.);
- All-Access Pass is $23 for adults, $16 for kids/seniors (includes all of the above with the exception of 4-D Special Thater);
- Become a member and go for free. Individual memebership is $70;
- Just Aquarium is $8 for adults, $6 for kids/seniors;
- Wild Reef Mini Pass is $18 for adults, $14 for kids/seniors (includes entrance to Wild Reef, Waters of the World, Amazon Rising and the Caribbean Reef).
NOTE: Residents of the city of Chicago receive a 25% discount on admission every day. Must present vaild ID.
- Family Travel
A Great Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium has a wide variety of aquatic creatures, many of which are not found in most other aquariums. I personally enjoyed the Wild Reef exhibit the most. Not only are the reefs beautiful, but there are some interesting fish there, like the frogfish. Be sure not to miss it! There is an elevator that takes you to it. The beluga whales are, of course, also a favorite! Most of the exhibits were created to look like the actual surroundings of the region that the fish are from, which creates a really fun atmosphere.
Like most aquariums, they also have a show where you can see certain animals do tricks. The show I saw was Fantasea. The visuals and backdrops were amazing, although I think they tended to be given more focus than the animals. Still, it offered performances by the dolphins, beluga whales, a hawk, a sea lion, and the penguins.
The aquarium takes about 2-3 hours to see everything, and it's especially nice if you are traveling with children.
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
Shedd: Excellent Aquarium
I visited this excellent Aquarium on both my Chicago visits. On both occasions, I am not one bit sorry!
My theory is; aquariums cater for 2 types of people:
1) Those who are knowledgeable about sea life.
2)Those who are not knowledgeable about sea life.
Either group will be fascinated in their own way!
My highlight of the aquarium was the beluga Whales. The area was built so that close viewing is possible. On my second visit during August 2006, this section was closed as one of the Belugas had a baby. In that case, Beluga Congratulations!
My camera takes terrible pictures throuth water, hence my VT pics are from outside the tanks!
I can write plenty here, but best that you visit this aquarium yourself. If I visit Chicago again, I would without hesitation visit a third time!
Click here to return to my Chicago Homepage.
- Family Travel
- Whale Watching
World's largest Aquarium
The Shedd Aquarium, located on Chicago's Museum Campus, is the world's largest indoor aquarium with more than 8,000 aquatic animals representing more than 700 species from all parts of the world. The Caribbean Reef, teaming with bright, colorful new corals and more than 60 species of animal, includes bonnet head sharks, southern stingrays, angelfish and a hawksbill sea turtle. Divers hand-feed sharks, sea turtles and eels at scheduled times during the day. The Marine Mammal Presentation, presented several times each day, features animal-care staff interacting with the dolphins and whales as they dive, spyhop and walk on their tails.
Dining options at Shedd Aquarium include the Bubble Net Food Court offering pizza, sandwiches, burgers and more, Sounding Restaurant with full table service, wine and cocktails in a casual setting, and Mrs. Field's Cookie House featuring cookies, brownies, cold beverages and coffee. You can also visit the gift shop for souvenirs, jewelry, home decor and more.
Of the 3 on museum campus, this seemed the most popular and the most crowded. It is called the world's largest indoor aquarium & it's supposed to have thousands of marine animals. The aquarium took in numerous sick and injured animals, including sea otters who were hurt after the Exxon Valdeez oil spill. There's an interesting exhibit about this unfortunatel incident here as well. While it was not my favorite, it got more interesting as I walked through.
On the 1st floor, you'll find the Carribean Coral Reef, which was the most crowded area of the aquarium. The large tanks are full of different tropical fish from around the world. The scope of areas covered was amazing in itself. It was tough to get close to the windows though. But the feeding show was pretty interesting. A diver swims around the tank and speaks through a microphone about the fish in that particular tank and their eating habits.
The next first floor exhibit- Amazon Rising- was equally crowded. Here you will find a re-creation of an amazon basin and yet more fish.
The whale a& dolphin tank was one of my favorites. You get to see the Beluga whales & dolphins up close both above the water and below. There was a feeding show going on here which I found interesting.
In the shark area, the tanks are designed so that the sharks swim next to & above you. Unfortunately, you don't get to get in the tanks and swim with the sharks, or even the dolphins, but it was still interesting to watch.
There was also a walk through exhibit on crabs, which probably doesn't sound that interesting. But the attention to detail & range of exhibits made it a place worth browsing through, if you want to learn more about the habitats of crabs and just how many kinds there are.
I probably missed one of the best parts of the aquarium by skipping the Oceanarium. This is one of those pay extra exhibits and one where there are shows at certain points in the day. I can't remember if it was included with the citipass, but being woefully short on time, I had to pass.
- Family Travel
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