Shedd Aquarium with Friends- Chicago, Illinois

Landon and the back half of the penguin suit.
It was adorable.
When we found out that Cambria and Eric were going to be in Chicago at the same time as us for probably the last time ever, we jumped at the chance to see them and their cute boys one more time before they move cross-country back to the West. Landon and I took the train in to the city to meet them at Shedd Aquarium. Last time we were at the aquarium, Landon was one, and we only bought general admission tickets for the main floor. The main floor of the aquarium is underwhelming except for the giant tank in the middle. This time, we bought tickets to see the whale and dolphin show, which also gave us access to the marine mammals and reef exhibits. 
Landon and I rarely go to major attractions like this with other people we know. With our ever-changing schedule and time spent in foreign lands alone, I did not appreciate how much more fun things can be with friends! Cambria and Eric’s boys surround Landon in age, and so they had so much fun enjoying the museum together! They played in a submarine, and on a penguin habitat. Landon found a penguin costume and had so much fun pretending to be a penguin! Unfortunately, he did not want to spend any time looking at the camera during his play…
Three boys in a boat!
The whale and dolphin show took place in a large auditorium overlooking Lake Michigan. With the glare of the windows, I wondered if we would be able to see anything. Little did I know, that a few minutes before the show they lowered a screen to keep out the light so that they could spotlight their trainers working with the whales. The belugas did some good tricks, but most were too small for the kids to really appreciate. The dolphins, thought, did big leaps out of the water and all sorts of things that the boys really liked. They had a sea lion walk out on the bottom walkway of the auditorium which was neat, and overall I thought it was a cool show and the boys really liked it. We had lunch down on the marine mammals floor and then went up to wander around the Amazon exhibit. The boys were immediately attracted to the mundane- this “dug-out” canoe at the entrance of the exhibit. It was hard to get them to go any further for quite some time as they took turns sitting in the seats, catching fish, pretending to fall out, and all sorts of other toddler shenanigans. The only catch is that there were only two seats, and three boys. This caused some problems, but I think they did a good job rotating and sharing just about as well as little boys can.
My favorite part of the Amazon exhibit was a giant anaconda! It was very long and slithering through the water. Very cool! Eric pointed out that we had missed the entire Reef exhibit. We headed that way and got stuck at the first tank there. It was a wave simulator- but this one had clear tanks so the boys could see what happened to the fish during the waves. They soon discovered that the waves were the coolest thing ever, and so exciting! They waited in anticipation for each wave to come and then had a celebration. This continued for 10-15 minutes, and they revisited this tank twice before we left:

The reef section of the aquarium was super neat! There were giant tanks with coral and sharks and all kinds of tropical fish. We saw some jellies and the boys’ favorite- the sharks.

Looking at the tank that extended over the top of us!

We learned about sea turtles and how they come up on the beach to lay eggs. All the boys decided to get on the turtle, although Landon just admitted to me looking at the pictures that he was nervous about the “mean” turtle with two eyes. Ok…

The boys on the turtle

It was wonderful seeing old friends and having our children get along so well. On my imaginary street where we would live in a neighborhood with all our friends, these friends would be close to us so we could play together always! We are sad they are leaving South Bend and our part of the world (when we are in Chicago), but we are happy that they are beginning the next step of their journey closer to family and friends in the west. LOVE YOU GRAHAMS!

Landon giving his friend sweet hugs

As far as the aquarium goes, I would say that the other museums and attractions of Chicago would be first on my list of things to see. The aquarium is a great place to go with kids, however, and better to do on bad weather days then say, the zoo. The general admission ticket is hardly worth it unless you have a tiny toddler or baby that you are worried about keeping happy for long periods of time. To really see the best parts of the museum, you have to at least buy a ticket to the whale and dolphin show. These tickets are significantly more expensive, but worth it for the variety and splendor of the exhibits below the main floor. 

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