Friday, March 11, 2016

Shedd Aquarium Visit, February 2016!

Shedd logo
Disclosure: We received free ticket to Shedd Aquarium in exchange for our honest review. All opinions and experiences are our own and may differ from yours. 

I visited the Shedd Aquarium when I was in high school, but haven't been back since. I've always wanted to take my children here and show them all of the amazing animals in bodies of water across the Earth, most of which homes they have never even heard of. I was so beyond thrilled when we were given five almost all inclusive tickets for our family to visit! 

 There is no mistaking once you've finally come into Chicago. Traffic went from "normal" to will we ever get to the Shedd Aquarium?! I wish Google Maps would have shown us that we could have stayed on US-41, instead of sending us back onto I-94 into the traffic. All in all though, at least we made it and had plenty of time to explore. On our way back home we look US-41 and had quite the scenic view through various parts of Chicago. When we visited on Saturday, February 20th there was also an auto show so we had thought parking was going to be a huge issue. Thankfully we had a very easy time parking at Soldier Field. There is definitely a lot of parking around Shedd Aquarium so I don't see it being to big of an issue for future visits either.

 Shedd Aquarium will connect you to the whole aquatics world. It is home to over 32,000 animals and dozens of which you can TOUCH! They have award-winning exhibits to explore and in-depth hands-on activities to try. So much to see and do, it really is a day long trip. Personally I suggest you arrive as soon as the doors open at 9 am. We did get stuck in Chicago traffic and arrived at about 3pm I believe. The Aquatics Show was already sold out, but that just gives another reason to visit the Shedd Aquarium again in the near future. 

I am so glad we already had our tickets and just had to pick them up at Will Call! There was a HUGE line out of the door, I was quite shocked by this as up here in Milwaukee, the only time we have long lines at our museums, zoo, etc is when we have a free day. So going off of that I planned our visit specifically NOT on a free day... nope, it was still super busy! I feared that the inside was going to be super packed like the small buildings at our zoo up here when it's busy, but the Shedd Aquarium is so big that everyone divided as they came in. There are so many different ways to go and so many things to look at as soon as you walk in that we really didn't run into the same family more than once, maybe twice. I was very pleased with this, with our two boys and how excited they get for everything and always want to run off to the next thing that catches their eye, I was a bit nervous. We never once lost sign of them and I honestly feel people in general were more polite in the Shedd Aquarium than at any exhibit/event/etc up here. Okay, enough jibber jabber, onto what we seen (I will try to keep it all in order of how we seen it)!

Wild Reef
  The first exhibit we looked through was the Wild Reef which is an eye into the coral reef in the Philippines and gives everyone a diver's eye view of a diverse marine metropolis. There were so many beautiful, exotic corals to see and stunning animals with unusual patterns, shapes and textures so that they are able to blend in with the reef. 

You can see all the beautiful fish, sharks, and stingrays. There is a large tank with various fish and even sharks. They all live together is peace and harmony. My favorite thing in the Wild Reef was to see the sharks with the fish. There were all sorts of fish that I have never seen before. The fish there are so unique and interesting that it was hard to keep track of time. I hope you will go to the Shedd Aquarium and see the Wild Reef LAST, because as my mom always says "Homework then games and fun time" that's what I learned for the last ten years of my life. I think the Shedd Aquarium  is all about showing everyone all the different types of animals in the world.    


I loved how the coral seemed to glow and was the brightest thing in the Wild Reef exhibit. There was a large interactive Coral Reef educational center set up in the beginning of the Wild Reef, this was perfect for the boys as they love to explore with their hands. 

Once we got to the large tank with the shark and various fish that caught Cade's attention. He sat down to watch all of the fish, big and small swim past him. He was super stoked that there was a shark in the tank! As Jada stated above, it was so lovely to see the fish and sharks swimming together peacefully. 

 Onto Abbott Oceanarium & Bubble Net Food Court
 Sadly the Aquatics Show was already sold out when we arrived at the Aquarium, but we were able to catch a short glimpse of one of the dolphins as it swam back to the show area. We headed downstairs to the Polar Play Zone and Underwater Viewing Area. The kids had a little fun and a little break to just play. There wasn't much to see through the Underwater Viewing Area though. When we came back up we found some fun little Sea Otters playing though. And then headed to the Bubble Net Food Court for lunch. 

The Sea Otters were rolling in the water playing together and boy they sure do like to make a mess of their glass by splashing water on it. 

Lunch was quite tasty, none of us were disappointed. We were a bit shocked at the price, although we did feed a family of five. Dan had a double cheese burger, it was the last two patties that they had at that place. Jada had a very large piece of pepperoni pizza and the two boys and I had chicken tender baskets. They were having a bit of an issue with the fountain soda. They have two islands for the soda and condiments, one of the fountain soda machines was completely out of order and the other one only one side work (they were double sided, so four in total) and then the side that did work had a couple flavors that were empty. It would have been nice to be notified of this and we would have just bought the bottled beverages. But we can't let fountain soda ruin our trip, right?! So where did we go next? 

I'm pretty sure I took more pictures while we were in Amphibians than I did anywhere else in the entire aquarium. From the fun of asking the kids to count how many frogs and salamanders they seen to the simple fact that this was the least crowded area so taking photos was a lot more simple! I kind of feel as thought I didn't take enough pictures in here, but here is what I have. I've edited them the best I could to get rid of the glares from the glass and tank lights. The kids loved this exhibit as well, they were very content and had so much fun. 


 The Amphibians were by far my favorite, yes, for sure. After we left the Amphibians we headed over to the Reptiles. Find out more about Amphibians.
Now had the Anaconda been out where we could see her, that would have been my absolute favorite part of our entire visit! However, she was hiding in the back where no one could see her. I wanted to camp out and wait til she came out, but I'm sure that would have been frowned upon. 

She had however just shed her skin so I was at least able to take a couple pictures of that. I've always been a lover of snakes so just knowing she was there was rather awesome for me. The guest experience representative that was standing near her exhibit was rather informative about her. I didn't catch her name, but he did say that she is 15 feet long. He said it was kind of odd for her to be in the back hiding and pointed out where she normally is. I will definitely look for her when we return. 

While personally I am terrified of spiders, I thought it was quite amazing to see the Goliath Birdeater aka "Bird Eating Spider". Had it not been in a glass tank, I would have been out of there quicker than anyone knew I could run. The Goliath Birdeater is of the tarantula family and is the largest spider in the world based on mass. Second to the Huntsman spider if you go off of leg span.

Ezio checking out The Caribbean Reef Plaque. We had missed the divers in the giant round tank in the middle when we first arrived. 

Above is the beautiful sunset view as we exited the Shedd Aquarium. 

Don't forget, we visited the Shedd Aquarium on February 20th and yes, the kids are in t-shirts and comfortable. It was a beautiful 60 degrees when we arrived, so gorgeous outside and Shedd Aquarium is right on the lake. 

Took a few photos on our way down US 41 heading home. Beautiful city and wonderful places to visit. The Shedd Aquarium was even more amazing than I had remembered from my trip when I was in high school. My children all greatly enjoyed the whole experience and of course slept the ride home. 

If you are planning a trip to the Shedd Aquarium please arrive early! Also, allow your family at least 3 hours if this is your first visit. There is so much to see and do at the Shedd Aquarium. We could have easily spent another 2 plus hours looking at the things that we didn't have a chance to and of course adding in the Aquatics Show that we missed. 

Connect with Shedd Aquarium
Twitter @shedd_aquarium
Google+ +Shedd Aquarium  

Have your been to Shedd Aquarium? What do you think you and/or your child(ren) would love to see most at Shedd Aquarium?


  1. Do you come in from the north or south? US-41 runs through our town in Indiana, although I would still take I-94 (cutting off on I-55 north to Lake Shore Drive. We used to go to the Shedd for field trips in school, but more recently we took the kids there (and now that they are older, they are often going up with friends). We used to have a family membership there and I remember attending a birthday party for two of the penguins. It was fun. Taking US-41 from where we are to the city isn't the best things, because it's SO stop-and-go, going through Hammond and Whiting, plus the far south side of Chicago. My favorite thing to do in Chicago is to go to the Field Museum, though. Ancient Egypt and dinosaurs. I could spend a day each in just those areas.

    1. Hi Linda, We came down from Wisconsin. Coming down US-41 wasn't too bad, not too much stop and go and we were able to avoid the tolls. Wow, that is so wonderful that you guys were able to go so often. I'd definitely love to visit more often and I am hoping we can make it down to the Field Museum this summer. Any other awesome places to visit in Chicago with a 10 year old, 5 year old and 4 year old that you could recommend?

  2. If I ever make it to Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium is on my must visit list. We visited the Sea Life Aquarium in Michigan today and had such an amazing time. I can only imagine how much fun we would have at Shedd. There is something so serene yet fun while visiting an aquarium. I also love that they are so educational.

  3. It looks like a nice day out with the kids. My stepson has been asking to go to the rainforest park we have here, but aquariums, zoos, and the like generally make me sad for the animals, so I've been taking him anywhere but the rainforest park. I'm hoping he'll grow out of it!

  4. This brings back so many memories! We used to visit the shed on field trips when I was in elementary school. We have moved away but still have family there. I'd love to take my kids back! Super fun looking!

  5. Looks like a great place to visit. WE live in Denver and our aquarium is one of the kids favorite places to visit. Always a great place to hang out as a family.

  6. What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. We used to have an aquarium in Cleveland when I was younger, but not any more. Whenever we visit other cities, I always check to see if they have an aquarium. I will be in Chicago on business/pleasure next month and will definitely check out Shedd Aquarium! :)

  7. I always enjoyed watching marine animals. I always get this amazing feeling in observing the vast variety of sea creatures. I haven’t been in Shedd Aquarium but I’d really love to visit this place. Your photos are awesome. Thank you!

  8. I will be in Chicago next month! I love aquariums! I will make sure I make it there on my trip. I have an obsession with frogs and turtles. I will enjoy the day more than the children!

  9. This aquarium looks awesome! I love to travel to different zoos and aquariums around the world so this is now on my must see list! Love those vibrant poisonous frogs they are so cute!

  10. Wow this looks so much fun. I'm fond of aquariums after having lived near one for years. Your pictures look great and your kiddos are cuties!

  11. We have an aquarium near us (NE Oklahoma), but it doesn't seem to be as nice as this one. I'd love to take my mom to her birthtown and visit the aquarium while we are there. My kiddos would enjoy it!

  12. From the time I was a kid until now, I didn't really care for the zoo or the circus. But I loved the aquarium and still do. There is just something magical about going to the aquarium. This looks like such a fun trip and your kids are adorable!

  13. This looks like a great outing with kids! I have always loved the aquarium no matter what city Im in. The one here in Atlanta is awesome, but I will make sure that when we visit Chicago, we make it to the Shedd Aquarium!

  14. We don't have an aquarium in my town which is such a bummer! My little one is obsessed with sea life so we have a tiny fish tank in our house. The nearest aquarium is like two hours away. I loved all the photos!

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