We were wide awake early on Saturday morning. Well…let me clarify that. Random Esquire and I were up bright and early on Saturday morning. We hung out and swapped stories before Sunshine got out of bed to join us for some conversation. We quickly showered and head out for a spectacular day in which Random would be showing us just why Chicago is an incredible city.
We first went to the Greek section of Chicago (who knew??) and had a SPECTACULAR breakfast at the Meli Cafe & Juice Bar (but I’ll be saving all of my Chicago food porn for a separate blog post) before making our way to the Shedd Aquarium. Thankfully, we arrived there early enough to secure a really good parking spot and not have to stand in any lines.
Groundbreaking for the Shedd Aquarium took place back in 1927 and took just over two years to complete at a cost of over $3 million (which is pretty crazy for the 1920’s). It contains over 1,500 species of fish, animals, birds, & insects and contains over 25,000 fish. It is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world with over five million gallons of water and sees over two million visitors annually.
Basically, this is one of the best aquariums you’ll see anywhere in the world.
The only real downside about visiting an aquarium is that if you don’t have the proper camera equipment, you’ll never be able to get truly awesome photographs because of the (a) lighting, (b) water, and (c) fast movement of the fish themselves. Needless to say, though, this is one stop that you don’t really need photographs of in order to remember how great of a time you had.
The most incredible exhibit, for me, was The Caribbean Reef. It was built in 1971 and is a 90,000-gallon circular tank that features some incredible species of fish. We were also lucky enough to have been there when a diver entered the tank and actually interacted with the fish while answering questions fielded by a host who was walking around the tank. I mean…talk about interactive exhibit!! Unfortunately, none of the photos I took turned out, but trust me…it was absolutely incredible!
I also had a fun time enjoying One World, which is an animal show featuring their beautiful beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and sea lion. It didn’t have the excitement of, say, a show at Sea World…but it was really entertaining and informative.
The Amazon Rising exhibit was also really cool, primarily because the feel of walking through the area made you feel like you were inside of a flooded forest. I also saw one of the largest fish I’ve ever seen in my entire life (though the name of it escapes me).
There are so many more areas of the Aquarium that I could talk about (like the 4-D “Sea Monster” movie that we saw or the incredible Oceanarium, which allows you the opportunity to go beneath the surface and see the beluga whales, penguins, sharks, and Pacific white-sided dolphins all in the water. It truly was a sight to behold.
If you’re only going for one day, I highly recommend purchasing the Total Experience Pass for $34.95. If you’re going to be in Chicago for about a week, I’d HIGHLY recommend picking up the Chicago CityPASS for $89. What this gives you is immediate VIP entry to Shedd Aquarium (which is extremely important when the line forms around the block) in addition to admission to The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago, the Willis Tower Skydeck, and either the John Hancock Observatory OR Museum of Science and Industry. We ended up only having time to see the Skydeck (which I’ll discuss later), but if we had been there longer we DEFINITELY would have gone to a museum and the Art Institute (more reason to go visit again). The only catch is that the CityPASS is only valid for nine days, but you’re saving 49% off the price of separate tickets so it’s definitely worth it.
To me, there are three tourist attractions is Chicago that are a MUST for any tourist and the Shedd Aquarium is definitely #1 on that list. If you’re ever in the city, go out of your way to visit. You will NOT regret it!!