Need something to do in Chicago? Who doesn’t love an aquarium?!

Need something to do in Chicago? Who doesn’t love an aquarium?!

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Last Tuesday, my wife and I decided to take advantage of the holiday week and had a little family outing. We are both usually very busy, and it was great to just be able to put things aside for a day and do something fun with our kids. We went to the Shedd Aquarium—something we hadn’t done together in years and a first for Claire and Gavin. And, it was free! Well, mostly…not counting the add-ons of seeing the Jellies and the awesome kids play area… The Shedd has free days every so often, usually on Tuesdays. I think we would have had a blast had we not splurged on the extras, though I highly recommend doing so. The Shedd is unlike any aquarium I have ever been to. It is on the museum campus, and it belongs there. It is very museum-like but with live fish and the Pacific Northwest magically placed in the middle of the Midwest!

I am so glad that we went ahead and spent the money. Like I said, we really don’t get a chance to go out as a family like this very often. It was such a treat for us to go on such a grand adventure. We did the whole, “It’s a surprise! You’ll see where we are going when we get there!” sneaky parent thing. Our daughter, Claire slept all the way into the city. When she woke up, she thought we were going to Columbia College Chicago, or as she calls it, “daddy’s school with the big letters”.

We got to the aquarium and stood in line. (A little warning: free days = long lines.) Once inside, we made a b-line straight for the Jellies exhibit. It was a room full of jelly fish of more varieties than I realized existed. There were even baby jelly fish. Very cool. Claire’s favorite were the Lion’s Mane Jellies. Then we headed off to see the penguins. The big surprise down there was that the kiddos got to dress up as penguins and play on a model penguin habitat complete with “ice” slide to slide down on their bellies. You want to know what joy is? All you need to do is dress a kid in a penguin costume.

As students at Columbia, we are constantly near great places like this. The museum campus is within walking distance from the Center for Book and Paper Arts. Just walk down Roosevelt toward the lake. There on the campus is the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Adler Planetarium. And if you are into sports, the home of the Chicago Bears, Soldier Field, is there as well.

If you have a day free and need something to do, or if you are like us and are looking for an amazing family outing, I highly recommend watching out for free days to any of the museums. Last Tuesday was one of my favorite days I have had in recent memory, and I cannot wait to have another family fun day at one of the museums.