ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Highlights of the Shedd Aquarium: A Chicago Family Day Trip

Updated on October 30, 2014

Where the Rare Blue Iguana, Cute Penguins, and Massive Arapaima Dwell!

The John G. Shedd Aquarium, located right on Lake Michigan near downtown Chicago, is a great and convenient place to spend a day out with your family.

The aquarium claims to have more than 32,500 animals spread out throughout its spaces, and even though it attracts a lot of visitors it's laid out in such a way that the place didn't feel crowded when we were there.

Here are some highlights from our recent visit. The photos here are by us unless otherwise noted.

The Caribbean Reef and the Main Exhibits

the Congo River Puffer, Lungfish and the rare Blue Iguana

In the center of the main floor of the aquarium is a large circular tank called the Pritzker Caribbean Reef, and it is filled with really cool animals including southern stingrays and bonnethead sharks. You can easily get lost just standing and watching the fish in this tank.

The room branches off six wings that include five exhibits: Rivers; Islands and Lakes; Oceans; At Home on the Great Lakes; and Amazon Rising.

Make sure you seek out the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana, which looks about five feet long. It's extremely rare, according to the aquarium, with only about 30 left in the wild (and another 80 or 90 in captivity).

Also be sure to find the Australian lungfish. They are not a particularly exciting animal to look at, but the oldest one, called Grandad, has been at the aquarium since 1933! About four feet long, he has lived longer than any fish in any aquarium in the world, according to the Shedd.

I also liked the sea lampreys in this area, especially the one that had latched onto the glass window so we could actually see inside its mouth. Pretty creepy.

One other thing you can do here is visit the touch tank, which included lake sturgeon (something a bit different than the usually touch tanks). The fish's skin was like felt, I thought.

Amazon Rising, where the Anacondas and Piranhas Play

The Amazon Rising section is big enough that it takes two wings on the main floor, and it is definitely worth the space.

It is a flooded forest recreation of the Amazon River and surrounding jungle, and feels more like being in a zoo than an aquarium because of its anaconda snake, monkeys, spiders, and caimans.

Of course, it doesn't stint on the fish. The aquarium says there are 250 different species represented in the area, including piranha and a large fish called the tambaqui.

Most impressive is the araipama, which can grow to as long as 15 feet and 400 pounds. The aquarium's samples only look to be about four feet long, but they are some of the biggest fish I've seen (I've seen sharks and whales that are bigger, but this is a fish.)

The Best Tour Guide We Used When We Were in Chicago

A 4-D Movie, a Live Show and Penguins!

We attended the aquarium's "4-D Movie Experience," which was a 12-minute show about the habitats of animals stretching from the south pole to the north pole. It was interesting to see the polar bears, penguins and elephants on the screen, and the 4-D effects were pretty neat. The aquarium's shows change regularly so I don't know if this one will still be there if you go, but it is worth seeing.

We also went to the live aquarium show that included dolphins and sea lions and a dog. I suppose that it is a sign of the times that much of the show is dedicated to showing how well the aquarium takes care of animals rather than having them do tricks, which is fine but can be a bit dull.

Afterward, we strolled down the polar play zone on a lower level. There was a young children's area, with plenty of neat things to climb on, and another touch tank. This one was filled with more-common animals like sea stars to touch.

Down here were some of my favorite creatures: penguins. The aquarium has two types. The first are rockhoppers, which have the distinctive fringe at the top of their heads. The others are the Magellanic penguins, which are quite tall at 2 feet.

Jellyfish and the Wild Reef Down Below

After the polar play zone we took in the jellyfish exhibit. There were more than 10 different types on display, including the Egg Yolk Jelly, Moon Jelly and my favorite, the Upside-Down Jelly. The only thing that disappointed is is how small the exhibit seemed, but they are fascinating creatures worth visiting.

We finished our tour by taking the elevator down to the Wild Reef exhibit in the basement. Based on the reef and marine sanctuary of Apo Island in the Philippines, this is the place to go to see sharks, rays and coral. The elevator down to exhibit is right near the front of the Amazon Rising area, so try not to miss it.

One section of the aquarium we skipped was the outside stingray touch tank. This is a seasonal exhibit and it costs extra. The kids have touched rays at other aquariums and just didn't seem that interested.

One other thing to mention. We ate lunch in the aquarium's food court, and there were plenty of choices for everyone in the family. I always expect to pay more at these tourist attractions, but in this case I didn't think the prices were too outrageous.

Some Jellyfish in Action - Video Taken by the Younger Half of Goldenrulecomics

Shedd Aquarium Fish
Shedd Aquarium Fish

Have You Visited the Shedd Aquarium?

See results

More Things to Do and See in Chicago

Top Things to Do in Chicago: Highlights of a Family Vacation
We recently spent a seven- day vacation in Chicago, the third- most populous city in the United States. Chicago had plenty to see and do for our entire four- person family, with each of us getting to choose some attraction. There was great art and architec...

Highlights of Chicago's Art Institute: A Family Day Trip
The Art Institute is one of the truly must- see attractions for any visitor to Chicago. World- renowned for its Impressionist, Post- Impressionist, and American paintings, the institute says it contains about 300,000 artifacts and pieces of art spanning mo...

Highlights of the Museum of Science & Industry: A Chicago Family Day Trip
The Museum of Science & Industry on the south side of Chicago is a wonderful place to spend a day for the entire family. The largest science museum in the western hemisphere, it has more than 2,000 things to see or do spread out over 75 halls. Original...

Visiting the Skydeck At the Willis Tower: A Chicago Family Day trip
I first visited the Skydeck back in the mid- 1980s when I was a student in Chicago and the building was the Sears Tower. At that time, it was the tallest building in the world at 1,451 feet high. Today, it is only the eighth- tallest structure in the world...

Book Your Room Today

We have used to book our recent vacations, and haven't had a problem yet. You do have to spend a bit of time reading the reviews to make sure the hotel you select is exactly what you want, of course. Sometimes a good price just means that the hotel has had a lot of poor reviews and has dropped what it charges to attract customers!

One other bit of good news is that you get a free night's stay after booking 10 nights. The freebie has to be on a subsequent trip, but it has helped us save money. Check out today:

Gettysburg, Thomas Edison's Lab and the Frick Collection! - Reviews of Pennsylvania/New Jersey/New York Sights to See!

Gettysburg Battlefield Museum: A Pennsylvania Family Day Trip
The Gettysburg Visitor Center and Museum, located in the Gettysburg National Military Park, is the best place to start any visit to the Civil War battlefield...

Thomas Edison House Glenmont: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
Thomas Edison, one of America's greatest inventors, lived for more than four decades in a 29-room mansion called Glenmont in the exclusive Llewellyn Park nei...

Thomas Edison's Laboratory: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
The Thomas Edison laboratory in New Jersey is a great family day trip. Edison was the inventor of the first practical electric bulb, the motion picture camer...

Highlights of the Frick Collection in New York City
The Frick Collection is an art museum in Manhattan's Upper East Side, and is world-famous for its collection of Old Master paintings. Included in the collect...

Ford's Theatre, National Portrait Gallery and the National Zoo! - Reviews of Places to Visit in Washington D.C.

Highlights of The National Zoo: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is a great place to take the kids when they need a break from all the monuments...

Highlights of the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are located in the same building, and are officially called the Donald W. Reynolds Cent...

Highlights of the Library of Congress: Thomas Jefferson, Bob Hope and the Gutenberg Bible!
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, photographs, maps and other items in its collection. The Thomas Jefferso...

Renoir and Highlights of the Phillips Collection: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The Phillips Collection opened in 1921 as America's first museum of modern art, and it is still considered one of the premiere places to see such masterpiece...

Highlights of the National Museum of American History: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The National Museum of American History in the heart of Washington D.C. is one of those places that can really capture the attention of every member of the f...

Ford's Theatre, Where Lincoln Was Assassinated: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. was the scene of America's greatest tragedy. On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln, having successfully guided the c...

Highlights of the National Gallery of Art: A Washington Family Day Trip
The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and is a great change of pace from the many museums that are nearby. The pain...

Fort McHenry and Geppi's Entertainment Museum! - Baltimore-Area Places to Visit!

Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore: A Tourist's Guide to Comic Book Heaven!
Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located in Baltimore and is dedicated to all sorts of American pop culture: comic books, television, radio, movies, magazines...

Highlights of Fort McHenry, Birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a great place to visit, full of inspiring history, lovely grounds and cool views. It's also a place to ...

Moon Baltimore Book Review: A Great Little Tourist Guide!
We used this guidebook for a long weekend in Baltimore, and never felt the need to consult any other tour books or seek out more information from the Baltimo...

Nova Scotia, Land of Whale Watching and Outdoor Beauty! - Articles to Help You Plan a Visit to the Province in Canada!

Things to Do in Nova Scotia: Highlights of Our Family Vacation
Nova Scotia offered our family a good mix of what we seek when we go away on vacation. There's beautiful scenery to hike through, historical and cultural sit...

Top Five Travel Tips For Tourists Going to Nova Scotia
Our family recently visited Nova Scotia, which a wonderful place that has a wide variety of things to do for everyone. We wrote an online diary of the trip, ...

Of Family Vacations and Comic Books

Who are Goldenrulecomics?

For more about who we are and what we write about please see here:

Of Comic Books and Family Vacations: Who is GoldenRuleComics?
Who is GoldenRuleComics? Actually, the better question is who ARE GoldenRuleComics! I am the father of a teenage daughter, and we live in New Jersey. I hand...

I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as we enjoyed our travels and writing it. Now it's your turn!

Thanks for visiting!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)