LIFE LIST: VISIT A PLANETARIUM
Where: Adler Planetarium Chicago Illinois This was the first Planetarium in the U.S. and is the oldest in the world.
When: April 16th, 2013 on our recent 3 week trip to Chicago .
Why this is on my list: It is possible that I visited a planetarium when I was little...or maybe it was a 3D movie...the memory is pretty faint, nevertheless, I have always wanted to go and in particular I've been wanting to take my daughter. While looking for fun things to do in Chicago I came across the Adler Planetarium and knew that would be a fun way to spend our day-learning while life listing-sounds good to me!
Cost: The general admission is as low as $12/adult but I highly recommend getting the 'Welcome to the Universe' pass which includes a few shows and is $28/ adult person and $22/ child 3-11 years old.
Something I'd recommend? Astronomy is one of those things that I seem to have a mental block making it difficult to comprehend the information. It fascinates me, I am interested in it and enjoy learning about it but it just doesn't squeeze through the cracks in brain-I've always felt the same way about algebra. I took an Astronomy class in college because I thought it would be fun...my mom tried to warn me telling me that it is a difficult course- I thought she was nuts....it ended up being one of three of the hardest classes I have taken including a course on Post Colonial French theory and the other one was the Modern Middle East with a heavy emphasis on the Ottoman Empire. There are some things (also included is health insurance) that I just have a hard time wrapping my brain around. Learning that there are an estimated 100 billion planets outside of our solar system.....yea, that's hard to wrap my brain around.
Will I do it again? Yes, I would like to visit again. I'd like to see other planetariums as well as visit the Adler again since there was so much that I missed, perhaps when my daughter is a little older. No offense to my little explorer but it was desnsly content heavy and with a toddler your attention is diverted in so many directions so it would be nice to be able to spend a visit there to focus, learn and experience. On my next visit I would like to take advantage of ALL of the shows and and the demonstrations. Overall this facility is superb, I found everything from the cafe, the gift shops, the staff and all the exhibits in between are first rate. I cannot imagine there is another planetarium that exceeds any aspects of the Adler.
parking- There is a parking lot right next to the planetarium which offers an early bird special rate of $11 before 9h30, we squeaked in at 9h26, if it's a nice enough day it's a great place to park your car while you walk around the city.
play area-The play area is large and is entirely space themed. Actually I have to say that the play area at the Adler is far better than most of the establishments I've been to which are exclusively designated play facilities. As far as the Planet Explorers play area goes it really was QUITE impressive and my daughter had a very difficult time being peeled away.
cafe-The only thing our little girl wanted from the Cafe Galileo was a cupcake, but they had a wide variety of gourmet foods including flank steak paninis, tandoori chicken wraps, and confit onion flatbreads. I would be glad to enjoy a long, leisure, delicious lunch on Lake Michigan gazing through the large glass windows at the out of the priceless of Chicago.
time to spend- We spent 6 hours there, which was enough time to catch 3 'shows', spend a little time in the gift shop, let our daughter play and then really just scratch the surface. It would be worth it to spend an entire day here and when you need some fresh air pop onto the balcony to take in the striking Chicago skyline. Stars, Planets, Galaxies, Space Exploration, Astronomy, Milkie Ways, Black Holes....this is the Niagra Falls of information. I really wanted to say that it's an astronomical amount of information...but I don't want to sound spacey....Actually I think it would be beneficial to visit once a year. If I lived in Chicago, I would get a membership without hesitation. You can find more information about the innumerable benefits of being a member of the Adler Planetarium.
staff- The staff was very knowledgeable, this is not stuff that's easy to understand so I hope they are paid well-they deserve it.
age group- I'm going to say that this probably is not the best toddler destination. however the only other area that intrigued my 2 year old was the 'show'. As far as appreciation for the entire Planetarium goes I'd probably recommend school aged children.
lockers- Lockers are available for 75 cents (per use). I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this convenience to no end. Especially if you have kids, it is always a challenge to keep track of all your belongings ....and your children- particularly in the winter.
extras- There are several unique experiences that would be worth taking advantage of at the Adler-kids can spend the night in the Planetarium, once a month there is an adult's only evening called Adler After Dark and the Planetarium is available for private rental.
my 7 favorite things about the Adler Aquarium:
1.seeing a piece of the moon: I thought this was the neatest thing-I know we see the moon every night but to see it up close made me feel like an astronaut....to be honest that's not the first time I've felt like that.
2.the planets area: Very informational, hands on, interesting, and understandable.
3.i got to touch a piece of mars: A REAL PIECE OF MARS!
4.the Atwood Experience: This is a 15 minute long experience inside a 100 year old sphere where you learn about the stars and constellations. There was an overlap of info but I found the repetitiveness worthwhile-it was like have a rubber mallet softly pound the information into my head....in a good way.
5.the incredible view from the balcony: There is a terrific view of the Shedd aquarium that you cannot see anywhere else in the city, so It's a wonderful place for photo ops.
6.the shows: We saw two of the shows including one featuring big bird and Elmo so of course we felt like we had hit the lottery, the other was about the constellations.
7.gift shop: There were several things I wanted to buy from this gift shop including an astronaut Barbie doll for my daughter, space food and a necklace made from a meteorite- A METEORITE! My little one was getting anxious and I just had to leave...with nothing. But for the next time, I'll allot for more time to spend perusing the store and more money to spend! We don't do a lot of 'shopping' at home so I do like to indulge a little while on a trip and plus you can find things you would never be able to find at home and it's more meaningful.