Shedd Aquarium

When you live in Chicago, it’s bound to happen that friends and family will visit you. The city is lovely, and I tell everyone to come and take advantage of a free stay. You’ll notice, however, that after a while, you are bound to re-visit the same Chicago tourist attractions time and time again. I could try and fit an entire itinerary in this post, but instead, I think the Shedd Aquarium deserves it’s own.


Shedd gift shop with a giant octopus that blinks

After being here for a good few years now, I learned some neat things about Shedd that might save you some money. As the blog’s coupon queen, I think it’s pretty helpful to know that Shedd has Illinois Resident Discount Days, which are designated days you can bring proof of residence in the state and visit the aquarium (not including special exhibits) for free. What about all your friends from out of town, you ask? General admission is just $8, and residents get $3 off admission if it’s not a resident discount day. (Note: General admission is not really advertised anywhere at the ticket booth, but trust me, there is such a thing!) I know you’re probably thinking, ‘Well, their other regular packages go up to about $35, what on earth am I missing here?’ I think the main attraction that I’ve noticed missing from general admission access is Stingray Touch, Jellies, the Aquatic Show, the Oceanarium and the 4-D movie. If you’re really looking for a fancy time, you can meet the penguins and belugas and everything for a premium price. If you’re tight on time or money, or if you’ve already visited everything once, $5 is a great deal.

Tickets for $5
Architecture and Decorations
I’m not much of an architecture nerd, but I can appreciate a well-designed building when I see one. One thing you’ll notice about Shedd is that every little detail is part of a theme–aquatic life. With details like octopus lamps, turtle door frames and marble walls that resembles ocean waves, the architecture is amazingly intricate. Due to the sheer size of the building, it was difficult to take pictures that would do it justice. Try to picture what the legendary city of Atlantis might look like, and now imagine it being removed from the sea and painted white.

Seahorse decoration

Seahorse decoration

Sea-life themed chandelier

Ocean-life themed chandelier

Special Exhibit: Jellies
I was pretty impressed by the Jellies exhibit (yes, you have to pay extra for it). The jellyfish are so much fun to watch and take pictures of. At the end of the trip, I think every one of my friends had pictures worthy of making screen-savers and desktop wallpapers with. If you’re an Instagram enthusiast like I am, I think the jellies takes the cake for the most photogenic creatures at Shedd.






General Admission Exhibits
My favorite part of the entire experience is getting to learn about what good work Shedd has done, especially with the animals they’ve rescued and rehabilitated, like these adorable sea otters from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and Nickel the sea turtle, who suffered injuries from a motor boat accident.

Here’s one of two rescued sea lions, a perfect example of some of the awesome work that Shedd does.


You like turtles? They’ve got turtles.


Lobsters and crabs the size of your head? You got it!




What about frogs the size of your pinky nail?

I bet seahorses aren’t something you see everyday, but you know you wish you did–they give off this aura of tranquility.


They even have exhibits where you can touch some of the live animals.


Starfish touch exhibit

Of course, you’d also expect pretty corals, starfish, and well… fish. There were definitely a lot of fish.

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Sea animones and sea urchins

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The most awkward looking fish I’ve ever seen. Does he have buck teeth? Am I looking at this right?

Do you remember The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister? I read it when I was a child. I think I found his doppleganger.

Do you remember The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister? I read it when I was a child. I think I found his doppleganger.






A piranha. Did you know they don’t really eat people? People eat piranhas though.


So that pretty much sums up my many trips to the Shedd. If you ever get to visit the city, make sure you mark this down on your must-do list. And don’t forget to take a stroll outside, where you’ll find one of the city’s best views of the skyline.

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