Peyton and I spend a fair amount of time in Illinois each year. Between going to visit family and taking in attractions we are down there almost every other month. This month we checked out the Shedd Aquarium while we were down there. Can you believe, I’ve gone to Illinois hundreds of times and I have never once in my life been to the Shedd Aquarium? But we did it this last time we were down there!
For those of you that have never been, like me, let me tell you a little bit about the Shedd Aquarium. First, the Shedd Aquarium is open year round! And it’s located right in the heart of Chicago next to Lake Michigan off of South Lake Shore Drive. Even the walk to the aquarium is beautiful. So be sure to save some time to explore outside as well!
If you are going to visit, I highly suggest buying your tickets online. We did not do this and ended up spending a fair amount of time waiting in line to buy tickets.
The Shedd Aquarium is HUGE! With over 32,000 animals to see you will easily spend a whole day here. We only had a half a day and I do not think we saw everything. But we’re going back!
There are also aquatic presentations to see while there. We took in one of them while there and learned so much! From learning about the dolphins to meeting a walrus up close and personal there’s so much to learn! There are also areas where you have an encounter with animals. Peyton really wanted to touch a stingray but chickened out. Maybe next time.
Throughout the day there are different programs and presentations that you can learn all about the different animals that call Shedd Aquarium home. I feel like we barely scratched the surface on this visit. We will definitely be back to check out the aquarium again, but next time we are spending the whole day!
Before your visit, I highly suggest spending some time online and familiarizing your self with everything the aquarium has to offer. They do post their daily schedule and it’s a good idea to check it out. Some programs are repeated throughout the day, some are not. So if there is something you really want to take in I suggest double checking the schedule and making sure you plan it into your day.
There are a few places you can stop and grab a bite to eat while at the aquarium. Or you can bring your own food too! Here’s a list of possible locations to be open during your visit –
This is a smaller venue. But it does offer a full line of Starbucks drinks and coffee, fresh-baked pastries and sandwiches. I’d stop here more for a snack.
One of my favorite places to stop! You’ll find fresh salads, wraps and burgers fresh off the grill, all featuring sustainable and locally grown ingredients when in season.
The Bubble Net
If you have little ones you’ll love the family-friendly menu at The Bubble Net. Featuring pizza, burgers, sandwiches, burritos and salads plus vegetarian choices and Healthy Fare for Kids meals.
Deep Ocean Cafe
Another snack option if you don’t want a full meal is a stop at Deep Ocean Cafe. You can grab hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, popcorn and Dippin’ Dots!
After visiting the Stingrays remember to wash your hands, then head over to Stingray Touch and grab a quick Vienna hot dog, Dippin’ Dots or a refreshing beverage.
Kids getting a little cranky? Need something to tide them over till meal time? Pick up some freshly popped popcorn, Dippin’ Dots and sweet and salty snacks to hold them over.
Also, as I mentioned, feel free to bring in your own snacks and picnic lunch to enjoy. Not every location was open when we went so be sure to keep your options open if you plan on eating at the aquarium.
There are 9 exhibit areas to take in while visiting. Some may be closed while you are visiting and they won’t post about it. So again, be flexible. There were a few closed off areas on our visit.
You’ll see lots of animals found in the Amazon. Plus you’ll learn about the plants and people that call the Amazon home. You’ll learn how the Amazon has yearly floods and how the river, animals and people all adapt to the constant changes.
You’ll feel like you are walking under water being surrounded by sharks, stingrays and fish. It’s one of the best places to take in all these animals swimming around in a simulated natural environment.
Polar Play Zone
This is a great place for your little ones to burn off some energy. They can dress up like penguins, touch starfish or take in all the beauty of watching otters swim and play!
Waters of the World
You’ll learn about our local water animals as well as about animals from around the world. It’s a great place to learn about who live in lake Michigan and who else lives around the world under the sea.
At Home on the Great Lakes
Learn in depth about the Great Lakes ecosystem and see how you and your family can make a difference. Learn about the natives that call the Great Lakes home and about those invaders who are trying to take over.
Special Exhibit – Amphibians
You can play hide and seek with all the amphibians in this exhibit! With over 40 species of frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians are swimming, hopping, climbing and hiding you’ll have a good time trying to spot them all.
You’ll experience the Pacific Northwest shore and see how thier ecosystem works. With beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea lions and sea otters you’ll see them all! This is also where the aquatic presentation happens so be sure to take some extra time and enjoy it while you are there.
This is a special exhibit and will be around until September 2018. It’s included in your general admission ticket. You’ll see art installations made with items that have washed ashore.
By far one of my favorite exhibits! You’ll get to walk around a fully sustainable and working reef full of life. Check out all the different animals living in harmony under the water and on the reef.
Do you see how this could be a full day? So much to see and do! It’s must see if you are heading to Chicago and looking for something fun and educational to do.