Though there are numerous outstanding aquariums in the U.S., our top pick this year is located smack dab in the middle of the country. Chicago, Illinois, the Windy City. A name attributed less to the actual wind and more to the boisterous politics of the late 1800’s!
No oceans to be seen but access to five spectacular lakes. Not only does Chicago have a colorful past, it has a great history of philanthropy and John G. Shedd ensured his legacy with the creation and donation of the Shedd Aquarium.
We’ve got info, tips, tickets and prices for you to explore as you plan your visit to Chicago.
He wanted to give back to the city where he had risen from stock boy to president of Marshall Field, the famous department store. Because every great city in the United States and Europe had a notable aquarium, he decided that Chicago must have the biggest and best.
Mr. Shedd imagined the stately marble building we see now with the goal of complementing the other two world-class institutions already in Chicago, the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.
If your family consists of several generations, a trip to the Shedd Aquarium is the kind of experience that will be universally applauded. There is something to delight every person that has the good fortune to walk through the aquarium doors!
It’s in Chicago!
Chicago has a lot to offer and one of the easiest ways to make sure you hit the highlights is with the Chicago CityPASS which features entry into some of the best Chicago museums including:
AND THE SHEDD AQUARIUM!
Fast Pass offers expedited entry to the aquarium so you won’t need to wait in the general ticket purchase line at the front. Locals will tell you that line can be pretty long sometimes! This is a great option for a stress-free family event.
The experience begins before you even enter the building. This aquarium was designed by one of Chicago’s most prestigious and accomplished architectural firms, Graham, Anderson, Probst & White.
Masters of the Beaux-Arts style (their other work includes the Field Museum and Wrigley Building), they created a neoclassical temple of white marble and terra cotta that celebrates aquatic life.
If you like architecture, this is great eye candy!
Shedd was the first inland aquarium with permanent saltwater exhibits as well as freshwater habitats. In early 1930, 20 insulated railroad tank cars circulated between Key West, Florida, and Chicago until a million gallons of tropical ocean water filled the marine animal habitats.
Now the aquarium boasts 25,000 fish and 32,000 aquatic mammals housed in 5 million gallons of water. You will be eye to eye with some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.
Some of the very best deals in Chicago come in the form of combination tickets. You can find great deals on tickets to the Shedd Aquarium plus a variety of other popular attractions such as Skydeck Chicago with a combination ticket. Or you can add the Adler Planetarium, the Chicago Art Institute or a river lunch cruise.
Chicago does a great job of combining history, science, and art in a way that is really fun. Few destinations offer the variety that is found in Chicago and a little advance planning will make your visit even more memorable and rewarding.