We had the pleasure of checking out Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, when we were visiting for our daughter’s Navy boot camp graduation. I’ve put together this post for all of those that may be Visiting Chicago for PIR Weekend – Shedd Aquarium is a Must See and Do!
We received complimentary tickets to visit Shedd Aquarium, however all opinions are our own.
We recently visited Chicago for several days for our oldest daughter, Kayla’s, Navy boot camp graduation, situated on the Great Lakes, in the city of Waukegan. To say we had a fantastic time would be an understatement. While we were there, we did a little site seeing, and checked out a couple of very cool places in the Chicago area; one being Shedd Aquarium.
When I ask Kelsie, our almost 13 year old, to go through a list of places in Chicago to visit while we were there, Shedd Aquarium was at the top of the list. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that she loves animals, and hopes to major in Zoology one day with a minor in Marine Biology. She has a deep love for science, and an even deeper love for animals, and their welfare.
When you first arrive at Shedd Aquarium, you will notice the most unique marine life sculptures that had Kelsie gushing with happiness, once she read what the plaques say. (these sculptures are a part of the Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea exhibit which will be on display until September 2018) In these exhibits you will notice plastic water bottles, rope, swimming fins, flip flops etc., all of which was once trash, collected from over 300 miles of beaches. Living along the gulf coast of Florida, I can attest to the trash that is found on our beaches daily. Can you imagine across all of the beaches, the amount of trash that is found daily? It’s one of those things that make you think twice about buying plastic water bottles or simply leaving that broken sand toy in the sand at the beach. These exhibits are also located throughout the building inside as well.
This aquarium is HUGE! You will need to plan out several hours to view everything available, and if you happen to visit on a holiday weekend, plan an even longer time. It would be best to buy your tickets ahead of time online, if possible. The line to get in to purchase tickets was very long. If you have your tickets already purchased you will be able to head to the side of the building, and get in a much shorter line to get in. Grab a map once inside, because it will come in handy.
I have two favorite marine animals, my first is the manatee, and my second are the beluga whales. So I fell in love with the Oceanarium. I loved the fact that you get a below and above the water viewing on these guys! They even gave us a wonderful concert with their squeaks, clicks, and whistles. I think we stood and watched them for nearly 30 minutes. They are fascinating creatures.
Being from Florida, we are used to only seeing bottlenose dolphins, so the Pacific white-sided dolphins was a very unique experience. Kelsie came home and started doing some research on them. (we homeschool, and look at every opportunity as an educational one)
Make sure that when you arrive to reserve your free tickets to the aquatic presentations, at one of the ticket kiosks in the lobby.
Every where you look, you will be greeted with marine life. Kelsie found a spot, pulled out her phone, and started taking pictures of many of the fish. She loved that she could immediately look nearby at the plaques to discover what fish, or critter she was viewing. In some locations there were even tablet devices to scroll through what was swimming in the tanks you were viewing. Keep in mind, while snapping all those great photos to keep your flash off!
From the Amazon and Caribbean to the Wild Reef and the Great Lakes, Shedd Aquarium has something that will strike everyone’s interest. Living in the south we don’t get to see much marine life outside of what is along the gulf coast. I think we really enjoyed the Great Lakes exhibit the most. Not to mention that you get to touch a sturgeon! We have plenty of touch tanks around here for star fish, sea urchins, and sting rays, so this was a super cool factor for us! I totally missed out on grabbing a photograph of Zack and Kelsie doing this, because we happened to visit on Memorial Day weekend, and it was very crowded. Keep that in mind for photo opps. There are so many places around the aquarium to get some really great shots; you just may have to be patient and wait for an open moment.
On a personal note, with the crowds, I only had my 50mm lens with me, but it came in handy because I was able to get a lot of shots by holding my camera above people. I was glad that I made that choice to grab that particular lens!
If you are visiting the Chicago area for PIR weekend, Shedd Aquarium should be on the top of your list to check out. Kayla flew out on Saturday morning, so she was unable to attend with us. However, if your SR is staying at the Great Lakes for A school, you will be able to take them with you at some point over the weekend, during their Liberty. As an active duty member they will receive free admission, using their CAT card. If you visit them during A school during Memorial Day and Labor Day 2018, using the Blue Stars Museum Program, not only will your SR get in free, but they can admit up to 5 family members as well. This is a great program, and you can read more about that here.
Ticket prices are totally reasonable, if you aren’t with your SR during the above mentioned time. You have several options, from general admission prices: Adult $39.95, child (3-11) $29.95, to purchasing a Chicago CityPass Adult $106, child (3-11) $89. The CityPass includes admission to Shedd Aquarium, along with admission to 4 other top attractions. It’s really the best option, if you plan on visiting more than one place. For all ticket options check out their website.
Parking heads up….We don’t have any experience, but it is limited, and it’s $2 to park. We actually took the bus and they literally dropped us off almost directly in front. If you plan on visiting Shedd Aquarium, it is next door to The Field Museum, and a very short walk to Adler Planetarium. You could potentially visit all three, if you arrived early enough. The Navy Pier is across the lake, and they offer ferry rides over, in case that was something you wanted to do. So your one bus ride, Uber, or taxi ride would really benefit you, if you were planning on visiting a couple of these places in one day.