Chicago in 3 days with a teenager (part 2 of 3)
We spent our second day in Chicago with our oldest teenager, Junior, in what is locally known as museum campus. This acreage along the lake is home to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field. Our segway tour yesterday provided an overview of what was available on the museum campus. We decided to spend the first half of the day at the Shedd and the last half of the day at the Field Museum.
After hearing so many great things, we were excited to visit the Shedd. I’d advise you to arrive as close to opening time as you can. There was no line when we arrived about 15 minutes after the Shedd opened for the day. Later in the afternoon, the line stretched out the door and 100 yards down the front steps. During our visit there were the following exhibits: Caribbean Reef, Wild Reef, Polar Zone, Amazon Rising, Amphibians, 4D Theatre, Sting Ray Touch, and an aquatic show.
We saw sharks, tropical fish, frogs, sea turtles, piranha, beluga whales, dolphins, sting rays, sea horses, penguins and so many more! We all agreed that our visit to the Shedd was one of the highlights of our trip. We chose the Sea Monsters movie for our 4D movie experience. They also offered a Sponge Bob show in case you have little kids. The Sting Ray Touch was really well done. We’ve all experienced small crowded touch tanks before, but this was different. Located outside underneath a permanent tent, the pool was very large. We didn’t have to wait in line, and there were plenty of places along the edge of the pool to touch the sting rays as they glided past. This experience is available May-October.
The aquatics show was short and sweet. The white beluga whales were so beautiful as they went through their training exercises. They did the same small routine with some dolphins as well. It gave the impression that the aquarium is more about conservation and education than teaching these animals to do tricks. And I’m okay with that. It was still a great show and I didn’t feel conflicted or start thinking about the Blackfish movie. The only place that the Shedd came up short was in the food department. They have a typical food court, but we opted for a sandwiches and fruit from their cafe. The cafe was like a Starbucks with sandwiches. It was just okay, so I’d bring your own lunch if you can.
We headed over to the Field Museum a little after 1pm that day. It’s a short walk to the convenient east entrance to the Field Museum. There were no other people in line. There were several 3D movies to choose from, but we didn’t attend any. The Field Museum’s most famous resident is a T. Rex named Sue. She is the largest and most complete T. Rex fossil ever found.
Local friends recommended the permanent exhibit, Inside Ancient Egypt. The mummies, tombs and artifacts were very well presented. The mummified cat was one of our favorite things. Another important stop for us were the lions of Tsavo. As a family, we’ve watched the 1996 movie The Ghost and the Darkness. It’s a fictional account based on the true story of two maneating lions in Africa during the building of the railroad in the late 1890s. The movie is quite intense and suspenseful, so I’d only recommend it for late tweens and teens.
The museum docents encouraged us to visit the Viking and Mammoth exhibits (which will only be open through this summer). Junior definitely enjoyed the hands on aspects of the Mammoth exhibits more than the Viking displays. While we enjoyed our visit, it was a long day. If we had to choose only one of these museums to visit, we all agreed the Shedd should not be missed. It might have been better if we had split our visits to these two museums into two different days, but I’m just not sure. Hubby and I had visited the Field Museum many years before when the special exhibition was Pompeii. It was amazing. In my opinion, unless you are really interested in a special exhibition they are having, it might be okay to skip the Field Museum.
Our last day in Chicago was filled with monuments, art, and fireworks. Check in tomorrow for all of those details!