Fun aquarium in downtown Chicago. The Polar Play Zone is a playarea where kids can explore icy caves or dress like a penguin. If your kid's like the song "Baby Beluga", they'll love the beluga whale encounter experience.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium is hands down the BEST aquarium I've ever been to. Not only were we able to see the oldest living sea creature ever, but we also saw a dolphin show! How awesome is that?! We had to pay an additional fee and reserve our seats early in the morning, but the fee was well worth it. What a great show! My kids and father had a great time watching and learning about the beautiful mammals.
The aquarium had many large rooms filled with different sea creatures from different ocean areas. We enjoyed the Caribbean Reef with the giant squid. Another favorite was the Finding Nemo tank with all the characters from the movie in it. All that was missing was a seagull saying "mine!"
In the center of all the rooms was an activity for the younger children to engage in while their adults explore the tanks more in depth. One room had a rowboat that helped the children imagine that they were going fishing. Another room had a tent and campfire with sticks to make s'mores. Other rooms had hands-on displays for the little ones to explore the different regions.
The lower level had the Tide Pool. There was a long line, but the wait was well worth it. My kids LOVED touching the starfish, sea anemone and other creatures of the sea. They loved how the starfish kept closing up when they poked it because they felt like they were tickling it. It was a great experience that they still talk about today.
Just a bit further from the indoor Tide Pool was the Penguin exhibit. This was one of my favorite parts because we saw real live penguins AND, in a separate section, were able to dress up and pretend to BE penguins! They had kid-sized costumes, slides and rocks. I got the best pictures of my kids dressed as penguins sliding on their bellies around the rocks. It was so funny!
This was a great way to spend the afternoon!
We took my son here for his second birthday (he loves fish and we thought it would be neat for him to see them up close). Instead of getting there really early in the morning and having to leave at nap time, we opted to have him sleep in the car on the ride there, giving up more time to enjoy the aquarium. Every second counts because this place is EXPENSIVE! For my husband and I, our teenager and our 2-year-old we paid over $80. Granted, we did pay for a few extra shows, but it was still a pricey day.
The Good: There is no way, you can see every exhibit at the Shedd in a day. Well, I suppose you could, but it wouldn't be very fun. We love the variety of exhibits at the Shedd and the Polar Play Zone (an areas for younger kids) was a blast! Some of my toddler's favorite moments were dressing up as a penguin in the Polar Play Zone, watching the Dora & Diego 3D movie (very short - maybe 10 minutes) and touching the starfish. My teenager liked the Jellies exhibit and the dolphin show (an educational show - not about the "tricks" at all).
The Bad: The money spent, of course. And I only mentioned the cost of admission. If you visit the Shedd you also have to take other costs into consideration: parking (try to find meter parking before pulling into a lot - you'll save at least a few dollars), food, souvenirs, and other incidentals. Also - the whale exhibit was closed when we visited so that was a bit of a bummer.
Overall: We had a lot of fun and I like how the Shedd has exhibits and things to do that both of my kids (a toddler and a teenager) could enjoy. Definitely a must-see in Chicago if you've never been before.
I've written this before, but I have to say... coming from the West and being used to seeing dolphins and whales and sea life in abundance, I am not totally out of my mind excited about this place, but it is VERY nice for the Midwest. These animals, especially in the marine area are not native and therefore it's quite the scene! I love that a bit of my homeland is in the Midwest and available for kids to share.
Pretty pricey joint, but keep your ears/eyed peeled for free days! Not all attractions can be seen on these days, but you can pay to see the missing links. It can be tricky because there are multiple passes you can buy but exclusions on some. The regular-ish price for a child is $20 and the adult around $30. I say that loosely because the prices vary according to what exhibits you'd like to see. There are security guards working the exhibits you must pay extra to check out.
This place is large and in charge! There's definitely a full day to keep the kids busy here. Have no fear. You're getting your money's worth if you stay the whole day and definitely skip naptime. But, it's worth it for the education! Exhibits of just about all animals imaginable.
This place feels like the largest building EVER. It's so beautiful inside and out. They'll love exploring and roaming free to check out some of the coolest animals on the planet. There are really fun people at the Shedd to teach them all about these creatures. They must have very cool parents for taking them here!
We recently spent an afternoon at the Shedd's aquarium, and had a fabulous time. The aquatic "show" was just so-so, but the exhibits, including the Jellies were AWESOME! We also really liked the main circular aquarium when you walk in. I could stand there and watch those fish for hours. Bring lots of money...you will find it hard to pass up the strategically placed gift shops every ten feet!
Yes, it's expensive, because it takes a lot of money to keep up these amazing animals. I paid $80 for an individual membership, and went twice in the week I was in Chicago. My preschooler was my free guest, and my 1.5 year old was free. Avoid free/discount days, which I think only apply to Illinois residents anyway. To get membership you skip the hour+ line that forms by the afternoon, and all the best stuff you have to pay for anyway. To go once for me was $61, so to go twice the membership was clearly worth it. A bus takes you to the aquarium, and the food court downstairs was very reasonably priced and food ok. And everything is indoors and warm. We got around fine with a stroller, but I asked the staff frequently how to get places. Not every elevator takes you to every floor.
The Polar Play Zone is a great playground for little kids. So good that my kids weren't interested in the penguins, beautiful beluga whales, and playful sea otters. The Wild Reef to see the sharks and stand on top of the sting ray tank is also a must. My preschooler liked the dolphin show, but there is very little dolphin jumping, and a lot of explaining how they train the dolphins. My 1.5 year old was NOT interested. They do show a live video feed displayed in the background so you can see what's going on close up no matter where you're sitting. The 4-D movies don't spray water, which I takes away from the 4-D effect, and the Happy Feet movie has a fairly scary moment when killer whales almost kill the penguins. I thought it was going to be a happier movie. Good thing there are three movies to choose from. The website doesn't say, but members pay $3 per movie. Luckily when we went it was buy one get one ticket free. I would skip the Jellies exhibit if I had to pay separately for it. It's better than the Camden Aquarium (which I do enjoy, especially their shark tunnel), the Baltimore Aquarium, and far far better than the New York Aquarium.
The Nitty Gritty: Definitely not cost effective for the family. We were in luck and scored a Groupon Deal. We went here on during Wednesday summer evening for Jazzin' in the Shedd compliments of Groupon. An awesome deal which included the Wild Reef. A steal considering admission is crazy expensive for each adult. The savings from the tickets we probably spent on parking only $20!
The fun: Since it was a Wednesday evening, it was not too crowded. Not a lot of families, as this is typically more for date night couples. Nevertheless, we loved not having to fight for space. Not a huge museum, so we got to see everything offered. They had the Wild Reef (3rd floor) open as well and included in our admission. They also had the Jellies exhibit which is really pretty, but it is a really small exhibit. I expected it to be a little bit bigger.
Son's fav moment: There was jazz music being played by the Caribbean Reef (middle of museum) and my son loved dancing to their music. He enjoyed watching the diver in the Caribbean Reef.
Parent's fav moment: I loved the Wild Reef with all the beautiful colored fish.
Bottom Line: I would recommend if you could score a great deal or if money is not an issue. I can see how crowded it could get during a weekend or even weekday, so be prepared.
Tip: Stroller friendly (if not too crowded)
My advice: go on a week day if at all possible! We had a hard time moving around inside because it was so crowded. It was very expensive, but worth it in my opinion. I'm a huge marine life lover! I recommend buying tickets in advance.
Best feature: the abundance of exhibits
Cons: no nursing area/station, expensive
If you live in Chicago, a membership is more than worth it. If you're visiting, this is a must see for your kids. My son and I are there at least once a week. He just turned 2 and he absolutely loves it. There are lots of exhibits where the glass goes all the way to the floor, so little kids can really get close to the action. There's also a play area for kids by the penguins along with booths where you can have lunch. You can either bring your own food or buy at the cafeteria - I recommend bringing your own as the cafeteria food is pricey and not so good. There's a new place with better food but its also pricey and only open on weekends. Spring for the Fanatasea tickets, its totally worth it.
The staff at the Shedd are really helpful and super friendly. I could not recommend this more for families with young kids.
We had a really great time at the Shedd Aquarium!! Their is so much to see there! So many amazing creatures everywhere you look. Right when you walk in you are greeted by an enormous salt water aquarium with shark, sting rays, etc. If you have time check out the Fantasia Show. The Baluga whales were our favorite part!!
This is the nicest Aquarium I've ever been to. I went in high school for an all day field trip and it was so wonderful. The tanks are huge and full of interesting creatures. There are usually shows that you can sit and watch; they're usually pretty interactive. I highly recommend visiting here is you're in Chicago and have time.
The Shedd Aquarium is such a beautiful and fun place to take your family. There are so many different exhibits to see with such a variety of creatures. There really is something for everyone. We took our son when he was a year and a half old and he just loved watching all of the fish swim around. It is also great for older children, they really can learn a lot about different environments and learn about all of the neat creatures they have there. With any downtown attraction it can get expensive quickly with drinks, snacks, and souvenirs.
We took our daughter here when she was 1 yr old and again when she turned 3. She had a lovely time here on both occasions. We always buy the all access pass to see the dolphins and penguins. The admission is a bit on the expensive side so it may be worth looking into family membership if you plan to visit often within the same year. The second time we went on a free day. General admission is free on free days. You only need to pay a little bit extra for an all access pass. It is a great deal but the crowds on free days are crazy. It took us an hour to get to the ticket counters. However, the weather was good so our daughter did not complain.
My family took some out of town guests to see the Shedd Aquariam. We initially purchased just the general pass and began looking around at the different aqariums. The first several were beautiful, but quickly got redundant. If you are planning on spending some time there, I suggest purchasing the all-access pass which allows you to see the dolphins, penguins, etc. The building is beautiful and the location is fabulous, but fish are only exciting for a brief period of time. We enjoyed the aquatic show and the kids got into the 4D movie.
The Shedd Aquarium is a fun trip for all ages! We even took our daughter when she was just a year old and she loved watching all of the fish. Older kids will appreciate the informative exhibits and hands-on activities. The aquarium is easy to get to, not a bad drive from the Chicagoland suburbs. The only downside is that the aquarium is one of the more expensive family attractions in Chicago, and I know that it gets very busy on free days!
This is the best aquarium that I have ever been to. It has so many activities for young kids to get their hands on. The exhibits are easy for little ones to see and get close. They even have dolphin shows. if you don't want to get wet don't sit up front. :-) The layout of the place is very easy to get around and find bathrooms. It is also kept up very well and clean. Be prepared tp spend a lot of time there.
The Shedd Aquarium is RIGHT on Lake Shore Drive, in the heart of Chicago. It's a great aquarium with some really amazing animals, but it is very pricey. I'd recommend looking for discount or free days, but it's very crowded on those days, so be prepared. The dolphins were our favorite part!! And it's hard to resist a cute stuffed orca whale from the gift shop.
We love the Shedd! What a great place to spend family time. It is pretty pricey but I did some research and found that in January and February of 2011 they have over 20 free days...including all next week! We are going to try to go again during a free day. Though the place gets packed we are just patient and enjoy a cheap outing!
Shedd aquarium is great especially if you live in IL. We have family in Chicago so we go to keep the kids entertained they have free days which is a great time to go if you have never been I believe they still have a military discount. If you go on a day that is really rainy it will be pretty empty and you will get more 1 on 1 attention since alot of families wont come out in the rain. This is great for anybody who loves marine life. Its great for all ages
we had such a great time here - my 5 year old was able to touch a dolphin!!! It was great - practically empty the day we went and we got tons of attention from the staff. We had our baby with us too and I felt really comfortable finding places to feed and change him - we really enjoyed our day here
This place is great! I love going here! The workers are great! If you get in on a Free Day, it's a whole lot better! The gift shops are really cute & the resturants are good too! I had a blast being here. The admission doesn't cost too much either. I can't wait to go back!