Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium is the largest indoor aquarium in the world, featuring sharks, beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions, penguins and much more. A few weeks ago I decided to make the trip with my two-year-old daughter. It was worth the 3-hour car ride from Wisconsin and I learned some cost savings lessons that you can benefit from.
First, parking is not a problem if you start your day early. There are four covered parking garages all within a three to five minute walk of the Shedd. You can take advantage of the garage’s $10 early bird special if you enter the ramp by 9:30a.m. and leave by 9 p.m. Enter after 9:30 a.m. and you will be charged $15.
Next, if you plan to be in Chicago for a few days I suggest purchasing the Chicago CityPass. It gets you into six Chicago attractions including the Shedd Aquarium, the John Hancock Observatory, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry for one bargain price. Adults are $49, children $39. You have nine days to visit each attraction once, starting the day you first use it. Considering the cost of a one-day pass for the Shedd Aquarium alone is $23 for adults and $16 for children 3-11, the CityPass is a great deal. You can buy the CityPass at all six attractions.
The Shedd attracts more than 2 million visitors a year. Beat the crowds by visiting on Sunday mornings, Mondays or Tuesdays. Tuesdays are also a great time to take advantage of the Shedd’s children’s activities. “Tots on Tuesdays” is a program specifically designed for 3-to-5-year-olds. It includes dancing, singing, crafts, and story time. Workers are also on hand to give kids the chance to touch the animals. Entrance to the program is included in the Shedd’s admission price.
Save Money. Pack a lunch. While the Shedd Aquarium has an in-house food court and restaurant, it also allows visitors to bring their own meals. There are a number of specially marked eating areas equipped with benches, picnic tables and vending machines that allow you to dine in full view of the dolphins or next to the penguins. It is also a great place to sit and rest for a while.
Which brings me to my last tip, BYOS. Bring Your Own Stroller. Shedd Aquarium does NOT rent strollers. With 450,000 square feet to cover it’s a good idea to wear comfortable shoes.
For more information on admission, directions and hours of operation, visit the Shedd Aquarium website.