New Amphibians Exhibit! A Guide For Taking Your Kids To Shedd Aquarium

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Today we had the opportunity to check out the new Amphibians exhibit at Shedd Aquarium and hang out at the aquarium for the afternoon. There was so much to see, do and touch!

Special Exhibit: Amphibians (New!)
The layout of this exhibit was open and inviting! My kids loved the explanation of the stages of a frog soon after walking in:

There was a little video as well as examples of each stage of development. They learned a lot in a short period of time that seemed to give them a greater appreciation of what they saw in the rest of the exhibit.

Another great aspect is the invitation to touch and feel the simulated textures of amphibian skin! The tanks with frogs and salamanders were really fun we played “find the frog” in many of them.

Caribbean Reef
This is the iconic circular tank right inside the aquarium. You have a 360 degree view of the fish, coral and sharks. You can watch a diver feed the fish and have a chance to ask him or her questions. There are benches around the tank and it’s also a great place to take a break and figure out where to go next!

Abbott Oceanarium
The Oceanarium is where the Aquatic Show takes place and you can see beluga whales, dolphins, and the cute little sea otter, named Luna, that was recently rescued. The Polar Play Zone is a part of the Oceanarium.

Polar Play Zone
Kids can slide down small slides like a penguin while watching the penguins waddle and swim across the way. There is a submarine where they can turn dials, press buttons, look through scopes and control a robotic arm. They can see small exhibits with viewing windows low to the ground are great for the kids as well. There is also an opportunity to touch starfish in shallow, cold water tank and the underwater viewing was great.

Wild Reef
The reef is one of my favorite areas in the aquarium. It has floor to ceiling tanks and even one that is curved at the top so you can look up and see fish and sharks swimming above you.

There are so many colors and sizes of aquatic life to see and the scale is just magnificent. The kids were in awe and ended up standing in front of the tanks staring, pointing and talking about everything they were seeing for a really long time!

SpongeBob Squarepants 4D Experience (New!)
This short film (about 7 minutes) is about the adventure of SpongeBob, Patrick and Sandy to rescue the Jellyfish of Jellyfish Fields from Plankton’s evil scheme. There are fun bubbles, blasts of air, rumbling of seats, lighting effects (including a brief strobe) and a water mist. The effects were very entertaining and a fun surprise. They were creative and not all predictable, which made it fun for me too! The show is recommended for children age four and up.

Stingray Touch (Just opened for the season!)
Reach out and touch stingrays as they swim around a warm and shallow tank. There is a section with a step so younger children can reach. This is very similiar to Stingray Bay at Brookfield Zoo, however we felt that there were much less stingrays so you might have to wait a bit for them to swim past where you are standing.

Parking

The cheapest parking that I know of is street parking on E Solidarity Drive, which is the street between the Shedd and Planetarium. We found a spot there today and used the City of Chicago street parking app (ParkChicago). I initially planned on staying 3 hours, which cost $6, but we were so engrossed at the aquarium that when I received a notification that our time was running out I extended it by another hour. Very convenient, especially since you never know how long the kiddos are going to last.

There is also a lot closer to the Shedd, between the Shedd and Field Museum, which costs a flat rate of $22.

The accessible entrance is a closer walk than the main entrance (and a must for strollers), then take the elevator up one floor to the main lobby.

Admission Tickets

I definitely recommend buying tickets online before arriving, unless you are going on a discount day. The line to buy tickets was winding around when we got there around 1pm, but the will call line was only 4 people deep. It also gives you a chance to check out your options and decide what you want to see instead of waiting to figure it out when you are distracted and trying to keep an eye on your kids. On discount days general admission is free for Illinois residents and the extra exhibits are discounted. Those offers are available on-site only and not pre-sale online.

Eating

There are three locations within the aquarium that sell different types of food. At Soundings Café you can eat inside with lakefront views or outside on the terrace. They have fresh salads, wraps and sandwiches made to order. The Bubble Net has a family friendly menu with pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches, burritos and other choices everyone can enjoy. The Deep Ocean Café is in the Polar Play Zone, and has a lot of kids’ favorites including hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

Your other option is to bring your own food or buy from vending machines in the lunch room, located right inside the accessible entrance. They have tables and chairs in a cafeteria setting. I would recommend going either before noon or after the lunch rush because it can get fairly crowded.


This post brought to you by the Shedd Aquarium.

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