Shedd Aquarium by Matthew Hughes

  • Shedd Aquarium: On the Shores of Lake Michigan

    Nestled on the banks of Lake Michigan, the Shedd Aquarium is housed in a classical Greek structure that helps it blend in with the rest of the Museum Campus buildings. The National Historic Landmark is host to over 32,000 animals, and the creatures are housed in exhibits based on their natural habitats.

    As you approach the aquarium, you'll see the line outside of the main entrance. Try to arrive earlier in the day to avoid standing in some of the long lines, especially during the peak tourist season. The aquarium offers several special exhibits and a ticket to its dolphin or whale show for a bundled price.

    Once you've purchased your tickets, you'll enter the world of the Shedd Aquarium. One of the first exhibits you'll see is Amazon Rising, which features snakes, piranhas, and other creepy creatures from the humid jungles of South America. Be aware that the room is a bit warm to match these animals' natural homs. Nevertheless, you'll be enthralled to so close to exciting creatures.

    In the center of the aquarium is the Caribbean Reef. Built in 1971, this 90,000 gallon tank features around-the-room viewing, so you can see the aquatic animals from a number of angles. Sit down on the bench and gaze in wonder as these beautiful creatures flit about in their natural habitat. Try not to sit and stare for hours at these oceanic beauties, because there's plenty more to see.

    Up next is the Waters of the World, a collection of exhibits exploring the various creatures that can be found on the planet. One of the highlights of this section is the area spotlighting local animal life. Learn about animals that can be found just outside the Shedd in Lake Michigan. If you've brought kids, your young ones will find plenty of interactive activities to get them excited about marine life in their own backyard.

    Heading further into the depths of the Aquarium is the Wild Reef exhibit. Opened in 2003, the area is home to a 400,000-gallon tank complete with sharks from around the world as well as a recreation of a Filipino fishing village. Dive deep into the ocean and check out creatures that you've never seen before in this section.

    As you continue on, you'll enter the Abbot Oceanarium. A favorite of guests, this two-level exhibit is where the dolphin and whale shows entertain audiences. If you can't make it for the next show's start time, head below where you can watch the dolphins, otters, sea lions, and Beluga whales play and swim about before and after their performances. It's also a great spot to learn about how the different oceanic and fresh water ecosystems are connected.

    Did we just say Beluga whales? Yes, there's a family of Belugas who make their home at the Shedd Aquarium. These hyper-intelligent creatures are proudly displayed in the shows as well as beneath the Abbot Oceanarium. They're a fun and unique species that are a favorite with guests and locals.

    The Shedd continues to be one of the most exciting and forward-thinking aquariums in the nation. After you've seen the sites, stop by the Soundings Cafe and grab a snack. Once you've picked up some food, head out to the outdoor eating area and marvel at the gorgeous Chicago skyline. Perfect for the summertime, it's a great way to enjoy the sight of America's Second City while taking a break from the wonders of the Shedd Aquarium.

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