Day 2 of our Super Chicago Field Trip was spent at the fabulous Shedd Aquarium. The Shedd is in an easy to find location, along the shore next to Adler Planetarium and The Field Museum. It was one of our favorite visits while we were in Chicago, so much so that it has made the itinerary on several prior Chicago visit as well. (Maybe not terribly surprising since we are huge animal fans) According the their website, Shedd Aquarium is the largest indoor aquarium in the world and I can’t say I’m surprised as there is A LOT to do and see.
Here is a little sampling of some of the fun we had.
We all had a great time exploring the aquarium and were able to take advantage of several animal encounters, a dive presentation in the Caribbean Reef and an animal chat about Sharks in the Wild Reef. (Incidentally did you know you are more likely to die choking on a toothpick than you are to get bitten by a shark? Who knew, right?)
The favorite animal (by vote) was the sea turtle in the CarribeanReef. Her name is Nickel and she is enormous! She only swims with her head down and her bottom up because she was involved in a boating accident in Florida. I appreciate that they share the animals’ stories, I think it help us make connections with the animals and can serve as great conversation starters with the kids, especially about conservation issues.
The Special Exhibit that is currently on display through 2013 is Jellies. The Jellies exhibit pass was only a few dollars extra and was worth the price. It captivated the attention of even the 3-year-old. The exhibit itself was very cool and had some really neat features. I love this picture of my sister and Rose talking about the Jellies. She is amazing with the kids. It is so natural for her to be completely present and in the moment with them. Love her!
Mowgli’s favorite place at the aquarium was the Polar Play Zone and Underwater viewing area. The Shedd has a baby Beluga whale and it was in the underwater viewing are that Mowgli and my sister saw the baby and mother swimming together while the baby was nursing… so sweet. (Although it was also in this area that upon seeing the dolphins, he announced he was going to “eat them on bread” Oy!) If you have little ones you wont want to miss the play zone where they can explore a submarine, dress up like a penguin, practice their belly slides or touch a live starfish. As you can probably imagine we could have spent the better part of the day just in this area. Here’s my boy working on his penguin slide..pure joy!
We did not do the Aquatic Show this time for a couple of reasons. First, all the animals that are in the show are on exhibit and still can be seen. There were several trainers in the Oceanarium available to answer questions when the show was not going on. Secondly, I was raised in North central Ohio during the Shamu days when Sea World was still located near Cleveland. We were regular visitors and have seen some really great aquatic shows! We have seen the shows at Shedd Aquarium and while they are good…Sea World they are not. ( I guess we were just spoiled…thanks mom and dad!) Lastly, admission to the aquarium is not cheap. Admission was almost $100.00 for myself and 3 kids. Was it worth it.. absolutely. Was I willing to part with another $40.00..no. Which bring me to my money-saving tips.
Tips for Homeschoolers: In addition to discounts for Chicago residents, there is a discount available for educators in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, but you do have to register online to get your pass. Also I should mention that the Shedd Aquarium website has great information about the exhibits and aquatic animals in general so you will want to check it out.
Money Saving Tip: This may seem obvious but double-check your admission charges. As I mentioned the prices vary widely with several options including shows and exhibit available as add-ons to the base admission price. I was initially overcharged by over $50.00 and the employee, while nice enough, couldn’t figure out why and wasn’t sure how it fix it. The charge on my sisters card for her admission went through twice. Maybe just a glitch with their system that day, but I thought I would mention. My second money-saving tip is to pack a lunch. They have a very nice cafe on site but as, I still have a child in diapers I carry a back pack anyway. There is a lunch room as well as a beautiful multi-level covered outdoor eating area. This was the view from the deck. We had a wonderful time at the aquarium and really enjoyed this amazing view of the city while we rested and enjoyed our lunches.