Shedd Aquarium Vacations


Some people think that the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL is only fun and interesting to children. One of the most popular museums in Museum Campus, the Shedd has plenty of activities for all ages. Families with young ones and teenagers can quickly discover the wide variety of activities available.

1. Exploring the Reefs and Rivers

One of the largest attractions in the Shedd Aquarium is the fish themselves. Over 32,000 animals and fish live in the Aquarium. Some are ready-to-play and others are fascinating to look at. The main floor houses the majority of the fish and reptiles that live at Shedd Aquarium.

The main floor is divided into several exhibits. In the center of the large room, families will find the Pritzker Caribbean Reef exhibit. This large tank houses several species of fish, including stingrays and sharks. There are six other exhibits that branch off of the center: Amazon Rising, Oceans, At Home on the Great Lakes, Islands and Lakes, Rivers and the entrance to Wild Reef. There are some benches and a popcorn stand for those who need to take a break. One thing to note is that the most colorful fish are in the Amazon Rising, Oceans and Rivers exhibits. Most of the reptiles are in Amazon Rising, including a large Anaconda.


Because there is a lot to see and not always ample time, one suggestion is to have everyone think of their favorite fish or reptile. Then, ask where those species are housed. This may help you narrow down which exhibits are important to your family. If time isn’t an issue, the area can be walked through in about 30 minutes to an hour if you do not stop and only glance at the tanks.

2. 4-D Movies and Shows

The Shedd Aquarium, like many other museums located in Museum Campus, is very privy to the latest technology. The pricier tickets usually include a 4-D movie or the dolphin show, sometimes both. Always ask how long the movie is before deciding which one you’d like to see. Younger kids may be more impressed with a popular, full-length movie rather than an educational featurette. If the fatmily tires easy, plan the film or show to be in the middle of your trip to provide the perfect relaxation time.

3. Enjoying the Basement

The basement of the Abbott Oceanarium hosts some of the largest tanks in the Shedd Aquarium. The area allows visitors to look into the dolphin and Beluga whale tanks. The penguin exhibit is also located on this floor. One of the most kid-friendly exhibits, the Polar Play Zone, is also located here.

The Polar Play Zone is a dream come true for most children. Slides and tunnels allow children to play freely, which is great for children who tend to be hyper after films or long periods walking. The kid-sized submarine is also an interesting way for children to use their imagination.

If traveling with older children, teens or other adults this is still a must-see area. The area does give you the best views of the larger marine animals aside from watching the show. A small café is also located in front of the large dolphin tank and offers plenty of seating. This area isn’t always as crowded as the main floors, so it is an excellent spot to sit and relax for a bit.