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John G. Shedd Aquarium

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John G. Shedd Aquarium Review

One of the most popular aquariums in the country, the Shedd houses more than 32,500 creatures from around the world.

Highlights

Get an up-close look at piranhas, snakes, and stingrays. "Amazon Rising," an 8,600-square-foot exhibit that resembles a flooded forest, re-creates the rise and fall of floodwaters.

Shiver as sharks swim by in their 400,000-gallon tank as part of "Wild Reef," which explores the marine biodiversity and coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific. The exhibit also has colorful corals, stingrays that slide by under your feet, and other surprising creatures, all from the waters around the Philippines.

Stare down the knobby-headed beluga whales (they love to people-watch), observe Pacific white-sided dolphins at play, and explore the simulated Pacific Northwest nature trail in the spectacular Oceanarium, which has pools that seem to blend into Lake Michigan. The aquatic show here stars dancing belugas, leaping dolphins, and comical penguins. And be sure to get an underwater glimpse of the dolphins and whales through the viewing windows on the lower level, where you can also find a bunch of information-packed, hands-on activities.

Head to the 90,000-gallon "Caribbean Reef" exhibit to see sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, and other denizens of the deep dart around. It's most fun to observe when divers swim within, feeding the animals and talking to the crowd gathered outside. Kids have their own Polar Play Zone, where they can dress in penguin suits or explore Arctic waters in a miniature submarine.

Tips

Lines for the Shedd often extend all the way down the neoclassical steps. Buy a ticket in advance to avoid the interminable wait, or spring for a CityPass.

Soundings restaurant makes an elegant (albeit pricey) stop for lunch. The quiet tables look over Lake Michigan—and there are very few Chicago eateries that can say that. The food court, Bubble Net, offers more moderately priced family fare, and Deep Ocean Café, in the Polar Play Zone, caters to kids. All restaurants are open daily from 11 am to 4 pm.

Catch live jazz on the Shedd's north terrace on Wednesday evenings 5–10 pm June through early September. It coincides with Navy Pier's fireworks. A gorgeous view of the lake and skyline can make for a magical night.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., South Loop, Chicago, IL 60605 | Map It
  • Phone: 312/939–2438
  • Cost: $8, $34.95 all-access pass
  • Hours: Memorial Day–Labor Day, daily 9–6; Tues. after Labor Day–Sun. before Memorial Day, weekdays 9–5, weekends 9–6
  • Website:
  • Location: South Loop
Updated: 06-11-2013

Fodorite Reviews

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    John G. Shedd Aquarium Review

    The view from the dolphin pool towards Lake Michigan is breathtaking! The dolphin show is a bit cheesy. I wish they would ditch the costumes. I was embarased for the trainers. The skills of the dolphins, whales and the trainers are worth watching without all the hype. The newer exhibits in the rest of the aquarium are quite nice. Some of the older areas need updating but the building itself is very historic. long walk from the parking area-especiallyn in cold weather

    by krisan26, 7/25/10

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