Chicago Museum Campus
Chicago Museum Campus is a 57-acre lakefront park that is home to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum. If you can’t decide between visiting an aquarium, a natural history museum or a planetarium, you should probably just see all of them in one day.
Chicago’s Museum Campus was created in 1998 when the city reconfigured the lanes of southbound Lake Shore Drive. Sited next to Soldier Field (home of the Chicago Bears football team) and overlooking breathtaking Lake Michigan, the three museum are situated on a pedestrian-friendly area with tons of walkways and jogging paths surrounded by well-kept lawns and shady trees. A narrow isthmus even links Northerly Island to the mainland, allowing beautiful sailboats to coast by during the summer.
The Shedd Aquarium is, appropriately, next to Lake Michigan. Donated by millionaire John G. Shedd in 1930, the Shedd has since added a number of marine-life habitats including Amazon Rising, the Caribbean Reef, the Oceanarium, Waters of the World and the Wild Reef.
You’ll find all kinds of water creatures like frogs, snakes, starfish, shrimp, giant octopus, otters, dolphins and sharks. One of the more popular premium experiences at the Shedd Aquarium is the Beluga Encounter. You’ll actually be able to get in the water with one of these little guys. And thanks to a small training session with one of the animal experts, you’ll be in for a surprise when you’re in the water! Like the Trainer for a Day experience, this attraction is pretty pricey ($200). Swimmers must be 10 years old and 60 inches tall. Kids age 10-15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Fall (Now – June 11)
Weekdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Weekends: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Summer (June 11 – Aug 20)
All days: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nov. 23 – Early close at 3 p.m.
Dec. 13 – Early close at 3 p.m.
Dec. 24 – Early close at 3 p.m.
Dec. 25 – Closed.
Jan 1 – Late opening at 11 a.m. and extended close at 6 p.m.
Jan 15 – Extended close at 6 p.m.
Feb. 19 – Extended close at 6 p.m.
*Last ticket sales are 45 minutes before close.
The Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History boasts several prized, world-famous exhibits including Sue (the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurs), a large taxidermy collection (showcasing the Lions of Tsavo from the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness) and an exhibit that features artifacts from ancient Egypt (with the most famous mummy in the world, King Tutankhmun or King Tut). 2010 marks the 10 anniversary of the installation of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton named for fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson who discovered it in South Dakota in 1990.
The Field Museum opened in 1893 in a different location and was moved to what is now Museum Campus in 1921. Permanent exhibitions include Ancient Americas, Evolving Planet, the Grainger Hall of Gems, Inside Ancient Egypt and the Underground Adventure. Traveling exhibits come and go, and perhaps one of the most popular was the 2003 Baseball as America exhibit that displayed treasures from the coveted Hall of Fame. Think Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken, Jr. and more!
9am-5pm every day except Christmas
Last admission at 4pm
The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Here are two little known facts about the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum: it was the first planetarium built in the entire Western hemisphere and it’s the oldest in existence today. Opened in 1930 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987, Adler Planetarium is the only museum in the world with two full-size theaters.
Forget making your own model of the solar system! The Adler Planetarium has everything you need to learn about outer space. With ancient astronomical instruments and state-of-the-art computers/telescopes, your passageway to the universe beyond our planet is made easy by the friendly (and very knowledgeable) staff members and scientists. Experts inside the Space Visualization Laboratory will answer any and all question you have about the stars, planets and more.
Daily: 9:30 am–4:00 pm
November 23: Closed
November 24, 25, and 26: 9:30 am–6:00 pm
December 25: Closed
December 26, 2017–January 1, 2018: 9:30 am–6:00 pm
Many Chicago Museums, including Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Shed Aquarium have admission free days throughout the year.
by Carrie Williams