Created in 1998, Chicago’s Museum Campus, a 57-acre museum park, sits near Lake Michigan and surrounds three of the city’s most notable museums, all dedicated to the natural sciences: the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. The park is also the site of Soldier Field football stadium and the Lakeside Center of McCormick Place.
Adler Planetarium: Fans of the universe will be big fans of the Adler Planetarium, America’s first planetarium, founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler. Visitors have the opportunity to discover more than 35,000 square feet of exhibits that include scale models of the solar system, three full-size theaters and one of the world’s most notable antique astronomical instrument collections on display.
The Planetarium is a recognized leader in science education, with a focus on inspiring young people, particularly women and minorities, to pursue careers in science, but it’s not all for t\kids. The museum’s Adler After Dark event for individuals 21 and older is a fan favorite. On the third Thursday of each month the venue becomes a playground for adults as they explore various exhibits, peek through the museum’s telescope and participate in demonstrations, all while sipping cocktails.
Shedd Aquarium: Home to more than 650 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from across the globe, this venue is the world’s largest indoor aquarium. While here, you can feel stingrays float beneath your fingers, listen to sea lions bark and learn all about a variety of turtles. You can also meet the aquarium’s resident beluga whales, feed sharks, and learn what it takes to be an animal trainer at the aquarium.
Don’t leave without visiting the Jellies exhibit, where you can see an incredibly colorful exhibit of jellyfish from around the world. The exhibit is small, but packs a lot of life into one space.
Field Museum of Natural History: This museum has a collection of more than two million objects related to archeology, history and science, but its most-prized possession is Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found. The fossil is 42-feet long, 13-feet high and more than 65 million years old. Sue’s enough of a reason to visit, but there’s plenty more to keep you busy all day.
If you want to visit all of the museums, consider buying a CityPass or GoChicago card sold at the campus and at each museum. It gives you a discount entry and allows you to bypass the very long entrance lines. If you have a flexible schedule check out free days at the museums for the rest of the year.
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