Welcome to part 2 of our Chicago weekend!
Sunday morning, we woke up to a little snoring Eyra! She (surprisingly) slept in that morning, allowing us to sleep until almost 8 am!! It’s funny how that is now the definition of sleeping in for us! We got our things ready, got dressed and headed down to check out. We could have just dropped our keys in the slot but I insisted on going up to the front desk to explain why the snack sensors in our room might have been tripped! Luckily, the woman who helped me looked at Eyra and just smiled and said she understood! We then headed to the car to go to the aquarium!
We got a nice outdoor parking spot very close to the aquarium and walked over to the entrance. We contemplated waiting in the regular line but we saw a better option, it was the “stroller accessible” doors and even better, there was no line. Boy are we glad we did that!! As we were patiently waiting for the aquarium to open, a few other people came up to wait by us. One family in particular that we struck up a conversation with. We introduced ourselves and learned the mom’s name was Katie (and I just have to mention, her blue/green/purple hair was amazing and I wish I was allowed to have my hair like that!!). Not that Clark would be opposed to that idea but it would look unprofessional at work. Katie and her family live about an hour outside of Chicago and come to the aquarium quite frequently. She gave us a lot of tips and pointers on what to see as well as lots of entertainment watching her children do potty dances while we were waiting! We told her we were from Pella and just visiting for the weekend, she was kind enough to use her aquarium membership to get us in for FREE! We even got to do the special amphibian exhibit and the Aquatic Show! It was such a big blessing!
So Katie (and family), if you’re reading this, THANK YOU SO, SO MUCH! We had a great time and we wish we could have bought you lunch or coffee or something! If you ever come to Pella, you and your family have a place to stay! Clark and I understand that you didn’t have to do this and yet you did.
As we began wandering around the aquarium, Eyra was in awe. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say “Woah!” so many times! She also kept waving at the fish saying “Haw-lo dishies!”. First up at the aquarium was the exhibit called Amazon Rising! Here we were able to see fish from all over the Amazon River area including the notorious piranhas, stingrays, some turtles, and even an anaconda! I think Eyra’s favorites in this first exhibit were the teeny blue fish here! I think if she could have reached her arm in, she would have!
I think one of Clark’s favorite parts was the architecture of the building. It had huge, round, lofted ceilings with really cool ocean themed lamps! In many areas there were cool things hanging from the ceiling like these sharks! RAWR!!!
The next 4 hallways were simply called Waters of the World! Here we were able to see fish from pretty much everywhere! Some of the coolest were definitely the Spider Crab and the eels! We also got to see some VERY pregnant sea horses, but no babies quite yet! After exploring these exhibits, it was time to go to the aquatic show! I think this was definitely Eyra’s favorite part!
We were able to sit with Katie and her family and they got us GREAT seats! Right up front for the action! The show started with some kid volunteers doing trivia while the trainers got situated in the pool! Up next was a video about conservation and what we can do to keep wildlife safe. Then the dolphins began their tricks! Eyra was fascinated! “WOW!!” she would yell every time they would jump! Let me tell you, these are some very talented dolphins!!
A few minutes later, they brought out a sea lion who walked RIGHT in front of us! It was hard to keep Eyra on my lap at that point! Then we got to meet Dory, a rescue dog that the aquarium took in! Her and the dolphins then did tricks at the same time! It was so cool!
We weren’t quite ready for lunch yet, so we headed back upstairs to finish the rest of the hallways that we hadn’t seen yet! Up next was the Wild Reef exhibit! Here we were able to see all the characters from Finding Nemo as well as giant coral statues that Eyra loved touching! This was one of my favorite parts! I love how colorful and beautiful the reef fish are.
There was also massive amounts of coral and sea anemones. This exhibit also had the cool ceilings where the fish swim above you! This was one of Clark’s other favorite parts! Eyra also loved looking up at the fish! We also got to see SHARKS here and even shark eggs! You could even see the little shark wiggling inside the egg! Crazy cool! We learned that the Shedd aquarium also grows and breeds their own coral to help keep the populations alive and thriving!
Next, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat before heading down to see the Beluga whales! As we were watching the whales, we noticed one of them had 2 large things on its sides that almost looked like growths. We soon learned that this whale was actually a nursing mother and those “growths” were actually her stores of milk! How cool is that?! We enquired about which whale was the baby and found out that she is still nursing her 4-year-old baby! You go mama! That’s some dedication right there!
We were also able to go down 1 floor and see into the beluga tank as well as the dolphins, otters, and even penguins! They even had a little restaurant and a yellow submarine for kids to play on! Eyra had a blast standing against the glass and watching the dolphins swim by! They were very playful!
Eyra was getting very tired at this point and the aquarium was almost closing, so we decided to head back upstairs. As we were leaving, we saw 1 more cool tank that had beautiful pink jellyfish! What a great way to end our visit! We headed out to the car, got Eyra comfy, and headed home to Iowa! It was a busy, but super fun weekend! Chicago, we can’t wait to see you again!