Shedd Aquarium. Where do I even start?
I guess we'll start at the beginning.
Ana is OBSESSED with anything that lives in water. One of her career possibilities is being a fisher woman who catches Giant Grouper fish. Her favorite fish are the ones that live way at the bottom and look creepy and have dangly lights and I know more about Anglerfish than anyone else my age without children or a marine biology degree. See? So Shark Week was prime time to start a study unit on the oceans and kick it off with a day trip to Shedd, since none of us have been there before.
SO. I Googled the SHITE out of 'Shedd Aquarium tips,' bought a multiple pocket backpack, THIS dress from Target (because hello perfectionism), packed the stroller once again, and bought tickets.
*In the interest of full disclosure, I'll say that our tickets were less than $150*
The General Admission tickets allowed us to do pretty much everything, including the Aquatic Show with the dolphins and the sting ray petting. The only things we spent money on were valet parking ($26 and SO WORTH EVERY PENNY because hello, 36 weeks pregnant), lunch (we were going to pack it, but ran late), and the gift shop which was pretty well priced.
Like usual, we were running a little late and made it out of the house in Home Alone style.
But we made it there not long after they opened since our drive was about 2 and a half hours and Chicago is an hour behind our time zone. We could have saved more money by packing lunches, which they totally allow, but I was too buy throwing all of our shit in a backpack and chugging coffee real quick.
10 TIPS FOR VISITING SHEDD!
Get there when it opens. No joke. It's *less* busy (it's always busy) and parking fills up quick.
If you can swing bringing a stroller, USE THE ACCESSIBLE AND STROLLER ENTRANCE. It was wayyyyyy less busy than the main entrance.
Go get your tickets for the aquatic show before any exhibits. They fill up fast and you might not get your preferred time slot if you don't. We showed up to the show 30 minutes early and got decent seats, but if you want close seats, you'll want to be earlier than that. You can watch the dolphins swim while you wait, so it's really not that boring.
If you want to pet the sting rays, go towards the beginning of your day. We went towards the end and the line was way too long for us to wait, so we just skipped it since our local zoo does sting ray petting too.
BE PREPARED TO BE PATIENT. There are A LOT of people and some seem to be raised in a barn. It was our biggest pet peeve of the whole day, but we didn't allow it to annoy us and explained to Ana that some people just have a hard time thinking of others. Okay, so we may have used the backpack as a bumper sometimes, but very rarely.
Take your time. Allow yourself time to get through everything without a rush. We packed snacks and water bottles for this purpose and it was so nice to get to read everything we wanted to.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO TAKE PHOTOS, it is very dark and they do NOT allow flash and for good reason. Not only would it reflect off the glass and annoy everyone in your vicinity, but it really affects the wildlife. One lady forgot to turn hers off and it sent the fish in the tank into a panic. Our phones took pretty great photos and I'm sure a point and shoot would too. IF YOU HAVE A DSLR we had to crank our ISO up super high. It definitely tested our manual shooting skills as the lighting was always different and very unlike normal lighting situations. I wish I would have invested in a Circular Polarizing Filter to remove the glare from the glass before we went. You can check them out here.
Carry or push kids if you can. Look, we know Ana is 5 an is more than capable of walking, bet we have a couple reasons we still bring a stroller along. For one, it's a shite ton of walking. When we checked our maybe accurate pedometer, we walked a total of 3 miles. That's a lot for any kid. For two, it get's packed with people and it's way easier for us to keep track of her when we're not actively looking at exhibits. We watched multiple kids get their feet stepped on by adults, bumped into, and lost in crowds. Ana is pretty sensory sensitive and it was nice for her to be able to have somewhere she could recluse away from the crowd at moments too.
Hit Netflix first. Maybe this is just Ana, but she watched a ton of fish and ocean documentaries on Netflix and was actually able to pick out a couple of the fish she learned about. She was super excited she "got to see one in real, REAL life!"
Read up! Pick out some favorites while you're at Shedd and then come home and learn some more. Over these next couple weeks we'll be sharing some of our ocean unit resources, including our library list!
Here's some of the hundreds of photos from our trip! In order to preserve our memories and get them in print, I'm making a hardcover photo book from Artifact Uprising with our photos! If you sign up with them, I think you can get 20% off your photo book too!