Monday, April 29, 2013

LIFE LIST: SHEDD AQUARIUM

  “Aquariums have always inspired a certain amount of wonder”
                         

LIFE LIST: SHEDD AQUARIUM



What: This 1920's aquarium was the world's largest until the turn of the millennium.


When: April 2013 on our recent 3 week trip to Chicago- my first visit to the Shedd Aquarium was in 2011.


Where: Chicago, Illinois, right on Lake Michigan.

Beautiful Aquatic Carvings in the Main Entrance 
Cost: The cost of tickets range from $8-$48, I think the best choice is the 'Total Experience Pass' for $35. It might seem a little expensive but consider that it cost nearly $60 million dollars annually to maintain the aquarium and fish, so in my opinion, it's very fair. You get what you pay for and in this case it's an entire day of fun, educational experiences and an opportunity to see elusive creatures few have seen in the wild. The aquarium is clean, well maintained, the exhibits are up to date and there are several great play areas for kids.

Beluga Whale 
 If I do have one complaint; I think it would be nice if they had an area for nursing mothers. Considering this is a place you will be spending most of your day, it is not a quick walk to your car nor are there any quiet nooks a mom can sneak off and have a little privacy, a room for nursing mothers would be highly appreciated to us lactating mommies out there. I was INCREDIBLY impressed with Sesame Place who had separate private areas dedicated to 'Nursing Mothers'.  I mention this not only as a nursing mommy and advocate of breastfeeding but also I overheard two mothers asking the staff if there was a designated area for nursing moms, given that this is a place geared towards families along with the high volume of visitors daily, it could greatly improve the quality of the visit for some families.


Why this is on my list: I love aquariums. I fell in love with them years ago at the New England Aquarium in Boston. I think they are the perfect place....for every occasion  Obviously it's a fun and educational place to take kids, but it's a soulful place to wander around alone, or an ideal location to spend an afternoon with a loved one. I find aquariums highly romantic-aquariums and airports-I think both are the perfect place to pop the question, share a first kiss or tell someone that you love them.


Something I would recommend? Definitely. From parents, to families, to school groups, and couples or even people who just want to stroll around solo. Every inch of this 400,000 square foot aquarium is magical and memorable all the same.

I think This Would Be The Coolest Place To Have Wedding Photos Taken.
Will I go again? Yes! Aside from my deep appreciation for aquariums, the Shedd Aquarium offers several encounters with the animals; Trainer For A Day, Beluga Whale Encounter, Penguin Encounter, and Sting Ray Touch, and spend the night at the aquarium- I want to do ALL of them...hopefully I can on our next trip to Chicago! I think the Shedd aquarium with be a staple for all of our future trips to Chicago.

Submarine Play Area Across From The Beluga Whale Enclosure


Tips:

parking- If you are not staying inside the city or do not live in Chicago-just automatically tack on at least $20 for parking for anything you do. Yes, that's a lot but in DC and NYC it's over $40/day so I can deal with half that. My advice is to arrive early in the morning, around the time the Aquarium opens to park in the lot closest to the aquarium in the adjacent parking lot attached to the Field Museum. If it is a nice day then the walk from the parking garage is fine but on the day we went it was cold and pouring down rain so I was very happy with myself for arriving early to ensure a nearby parking spot. If you are organized enough there is a parking lot in front of the Adler Planetarium that only charges $11 if you get there before 9h30 A.M.- it is totally worth it and it is a short walk to the aquarium.

Complimentary Penguin Costumes For Kids To Wear While They Play
best time to go- Well it's good to get there early in the morning to get a good parking spot, though I was there once a few years ago before it opened and the line was insanely long outside and it was freezing. The morning seems to be very crowded with school groups-to give you an idea Shedd Aquarium receives about 10,000 visitors daily. Happily, the aquarium vastly cleared out around 1h30 p.m. and we felt like we had the place to ourselves the rest of the day. At this time many of the older kids had departed so it was much more comfortable in the play areas to be lightly sprinkled with more toddler aged children. Thus, my experience has taught me that the perfect time to go is on a weekday, during the school year, after 1h p.m.


snacks- We spent 6 hours at the aquarium and I was able to spend less than $10 to purchase a few small snacks for my little one and 1 drink. I did bring with me a bottle of water and a baggie of goldfish which helped curb my appetite. Had I known about the lockers I would have brought in a few more bottles of water. I get SO dehydrated-I could easily spend a small fortune just in filtered h2O. There are three cafes, and several gift shops where you can also find small snacks and drinks.

Either A Feeding Or A Cleaning
lockers- Lockers are available near the main entrance which are very affordable at .75 cents per usage-every time you open it you do have to pay again but it's totally worth it. A perfect place to store your coats, diapers, bottles of water, sunglasses and souvenirs. I think storage lockers at places like this where you will be spending the whole day are a major convenience and luxury. Where I was impressed with Sesame Places accommodations for lactating mommies-the Shedd wins the locker round, Sesame Place charged $19 to rent the same sized locker for the day-this is still undoubtedly one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard of and was so pleased to see the 75 cent sign at this locker area near the Shedd's entrance.

Photo Of Shedd Aquarium Taken At Adler Planetarium
buy your tickets online- It's not a bad idea to purchase your tickets online. Fortunately, the line was not long at all this time, however when I was there two years ago we waited in line for over an hour...outside...and it was frigidly cold! I'm sure the difference was that this time we visited the aquarium on a weekday.


aquatic show- We were able to see the aquatic show which showcased beluga whales, dolphins, and sea lions. The show is about 30 minutes and definitely worth it, what really made it special for us was that we were about a foot away from the sea lion which was surprisingly large and adorable! It is really something to see how intelligent these animals are! I love what Z says at the end of this clip!


video

how much time to spend there- We spent 6 hours at the aquarium and I felt like that was a perfect amount of time. We were able to see everything, my 2 year old had plenty of time to play in the designated play areas. It was a more than sufficient amount of time to be able to see everything at a leisurely pace....as leisure as things can be with a toddler. I think had I been alone I could easily spend an equal time span wandering around the aquarium-what you miss out on with a small child is being able to read all the bits of information along the way.

staff- I found all of the staff members to be very friendly, knowledgeable, and happy to help the visitors.


gift shop- I am a NUT for gift shops- I'm not even going to pretend to try to hide it... I LOVE THEM. I think it's nice to buy a little memento from the places you visit. Typically I go for a magnet or something that I can use on a regular basis like a coffee mug or toenail clippers. The large gift shop by the main entrance is very unique because of its very uncommon ceiling art, which was only pointed out to me by my 2 year old saying "look mama, a giant squid". I had to laugh that she even knew that title and could accurately identify it...because of an episode on the Bubble Guppies. Below is the quirky necklace I couldn't pass up.





Inside The Wild Reef

my 7 favorite things about the Shedd Aquarium


1.light fixturesWhen you walk into the aquarium, don't forget to look up. The building has the charm and details that you don't see created now a days. The unique octopus light fixtures at the entrance of the aquarium are unusual and extraordinarily beautiful ....in fact the main entrance itself is really quite a sight. So if you are stuck in a long line, just look up, and your time in line will make you feel like you are in a museum in Europe.

Jellies Exhibit 
2.jellies exhibitThe current Jellies exhibit is captivating and host more than 10 different species of Jellyfish. I would have never realized how bewitching these peculiar creatures are had we passed on the opportunity to walk through this display. There is a lot of intriguing information along the way but even just to spend time gazing at these mesmerizing beings would be time you could get lost in. This display will be available throughout 2013. I am actually quite intrigued about jellyfish, enough so to inspire several 'fun jellyfish facts' google searches.


3.play areasThe lowest level houses the Polar Play Zone. Granted before I had a child I would not have cared or even noticed...now though I find play areas like these to be invaluable. It gives my daughter a chance to play with other kids which is a treat since our trips are typically very lengthy and usually we are in hotels that cater to' business people' and it gives me time to relax. One of the play areas is across from the Penguins and the other submarine play area is across from the Beluga Whales. I certainly did not mind the long stretches of time we spent in the Polar Play Zone, being able to watch my daughter in a state of bliss all while being able to the unique view left a big smile on my face. 


4.beluga whalesThe first time I had even heard of the Beluga Whale was on my first visit to Shedd Aquarium. I think they are one of the most interestingly beautiful creatures on this planet. I am very anxious to one day (hopefully soon) take part in the Beluga Encounter!



5.starfishThere is an excellent display where you can touch the starfish- they are so strikingly beautiful, and to see so many at once was just.... awesome



6.great view of ChicagoThe views along the perimeter of the Shedd Aquarium are some of the best in the city. You can take some incredible shots of Chicago outside or even sitting at one of the cafes inside the aquarium. Unfortunately the majority of our trip to Chicago was rainy and overcast so most of my pictures are similar to this.


My Little Girl Marveling At The Grandeur Before Her

Entrance Into Wild Reef
7.wild reef:We almost missed this massive area of the aquarium, it was a last minute walk through right before we left and it ended up being my absolute favorite of all the permanent displays. The Wild Reef had an astonishingly large tank with colorful fish, sharks and eels. It was impressive, enchanting and felt like we were walking into a magical book. Now this would be the place to have to engage in that special moment....again wedding photos here in the Wild Reef would be stunning.




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4 comments:

  1. I want to go, it looks and sounds like a magical place, the beauty of nature under the sea! Thanks for the review.

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    1. Rox, it was wonderful I would suggest you visit the the d.c. aquarium but it was terrible- don't waste your time! But you are soulful and i think you would appreciate a day to yourself at the Shedd!

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  2. That place looks absolutely amazing! I love, love, love it!! I would so love to wander around there and see all the sea life creatures. I have never heard of the beluga whale and think its unbelievable they have a whale there, crazy! That necklace is so unique and really pretty!

    I am crazy about gift shops and souvenirs. I've even had a dream about not being able to get hold of the souvenirs whilst in Africa, i was panicking because i hadn't bought my gifts!

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    Replies
    1. It is so nice to have a tangible item that sparks happy memories from your travels!

      Z and I had a really great day- it was actually her second trip to the Shedd and it will certainly not be her last!!

      Do you have a large aquarium in England?

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