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The grand entrance of Shedd Aquarium
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Is it possible to travel the world in only one day?

It is at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, where you can stroll among the winding waters of the Amazon River, the legendary coral reefs of the Caribbean, the coastal beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the icy majesty of the Arctic – all in one visit. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in the heart of downtown Chicago, Shedd Aquarium will transport you to aquatic wonders from all corners of the globe. In a city known for its exceptional variety of museums and sights, Shedd Aquarium’s underwater beauty is a must-see to add to your itinerary. Check out these four dazzling views of Shedd’s exhibits, home to 32,000 aquatic animals.

Diving into the Caribbean

Located right by the aquarium’s entrance is the Caribbean Reef, a 340,000-liter habitat featuring a 360-degree view of a tropical coral reef. Watch stingrays and schooling fishes glide by. Catch a glimpse of a passing shark and take a walk around the exhibit to see if you can find Nickel, the aquarium’s flagship green sea turtle. Stay to see the dive presentation, when a diver feeds the fishes and answers visitors’ questions.

A sea turtle encounter at Shedd Aquarium

A seaturtle encounter at Shedd Aquarium
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©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Global Inspirations

Showcasing 76 fresh and saltwater habitats with hundreds of aquatic species, the Waters of the World galleries take you from the rivers of Asia to the lakes of Africa to an island in the Bahamas – and more. You won’t need a passport, just bring your curiosity as you take a self-guided tour of the planet’s diverse aquatic life. Look for seahorses, freshwater turtles, deep-sea fishes and even alligators. Explore the Great Lakes exhibit, where the ecosystems of Lake Michigan and surrounding wetlands have been recreated to highlight a wide range of local animals.

A tiny manadrinfish explores its saltwater habitat at Shedd.

A tiny manadrinfish explores its saltwater habitat at Shedd
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©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Wildlife at Wild Reef

Sharks, sharks and more sharks – there’s no shortage of these fascinating predators at the Wild Reef exhibit. Inspired by a real island in the Philippines, Wild Reef replicates a tropical Pacific ecosystem, complete with an expansive, colorful reef of live corals. It also houses the largest collection of sharks in the aquarium. If watching the sharks swim isn’t enough, check out the exclusive Feeding Tour, where you get a behind-the-scenes look at how – and what – these ocean carnivores eat.

See sharks of all stripes and colors at Shedd Aquarium.

See sharks of all stripes and colors at Shedd Aquarium
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©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Arctic Adventures

Underwater and coastal gems of the Pacific Northwest are featured at the Abbott Oceanarium. This is where you’ll find the aquarium’s marine mammals, including beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions and sea otters. Stick around for an aquatic presentation to learn about the animals. If you have children with you, head over to the Polar Play Zone – an Arctic-inspired interactive playground. Here, find a kid-sized submarine, a sea star touch pool and an underwater viewing gallery where you can get eye to eye with the dolphins and whales. Even if you don’t have children, you’ll still want to visit Polar Play Zone to see the penguin habitat, home to colonies of Magellanic and rockhopper penguins.

Beluga whales make an appearance at the Abbott Oceanarium.

Beluga whales make an appearance at the Abbott Oceanarium
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©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Getting There

Shedd Aquarium is located in downtown Chicago. The city is easily reached from international destinations via Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW).