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Chicago’s amazing Museum Campus houses three of the city’s leading institutions all in one place. Spend a day exploring the underwater world of aquatic animals at the Shedd Aquarium, a dramatic history of the natural world at The Field Museum, and the far-out galaxies of space at the Adler Planetarium. We’ve created a Chicago Museum Campus 101 hit list to direct you to the must-see exhibits you’ve got to add to your agenda.

SHEDD AQUARIUM

Abbott Oceanarium at Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd is home to more than 32,000 aquatic animals, some of which you can actually touch and interact with. But the stars of the show are the beluga whales and Pacific white-sided dolphins housed in the Shedd’s stunning Abbott Oceanarium. Designed to mimic the coastal ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest, this exhibit surrounded by rocky outcroppings and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the blue waters of Lake Michigan is where you’ll see the dolphins leaping and beluga whales showing off during aquatic shows. For a different perspective, head to the underwater viewing gallery, where you can watch the torpedo-like dolphins zip through the water at speeds of up to 25mph or come face-to-face with a seemingly smiling beluga whale. It’s here that you’ll also find the Polar Play Zone, where kids can dress up as a penguin or play scientist and explore ice caves. Visit the Wild Reef, a recreation of a coral reef in the Philippines, and get a diver’s-eye view of menacing sharks, stingrays and live coral. A long-time favorite is the Caribbean Reef, a tank you can actually walk around to get a 360-degree view of the sharks, sea turtles and moray eels that swim by. Visit during one of the daily feedings and you’ll have a chance to speak with a diver as they tend to the hungry residents. And don’t miss the 4-D Experience, where your movie theater seat vibrates and you’ll feel water mist as you’re plunged into an underwater feeding frenzy on the South African coast.

THE FIELD MUSEUM

Inside Ancient Egypt at The Field Museum

Unlock the secrets of natural history at The Field Museum. As you enter the grand hall of The Field you’ll be greeted by SUE the T. rex, the largest and most complete T. rex ever discovered. Measuring a staggering 40-feet long and flashing 58 dagger-like teeth, you’ll want to take a selfie with SUE. Then head underground and explore the timeless mysteries of an Egyptian tomb at the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit. Walk through the rooms of a 5,000-year-old tomb and discover fascinating hieroglyphs, see one of the largest collections of mummies in the U.S., wander through an Egyptian marketplace and visit the shrine to Bastet, a cat goddess. If you’re a dinosaur fan, head to the Evolving Planet exhibit. Here you’ll find the museum’s impressive dinosaur hall, with a vast collection of dinosaurs depicted in their natural environs. Then shrink down to the size of a bug in Underground Adventure, where you’ll go under the soil and meet denizens that include a giant mole cricket and wolf spider. Get a glittering look at some of the most beautiful jewelry in the world at the Grainger Hall of Gems, where you’ll learn how rough gems are transformed into spectacular works of art. Exquisite rare jewels and gold objects, along with amazing creations by top designers, are on display. It’s no wonder this exhibit has inspired so many marriage proposals!

ADLER PLANETARIUM

Adler Planetarium

Explore infinity and beyond at the dazzling Adler Planetarium. Catch a show in a state-of-the-art sky theater, where you’ll zoom off into space to explore mysterious planets, swirling galaxies and brilliant stars. Check out the Mission Moon exhibit, where you can launch a stomp rocket, get a peek inside the Gemini 12 spacecraft and experience America’s first steps on the moon through the eyes of NASA astronaut Jim Lovell. Touch an actual moon rock and examine a meteorite that crashed to earth in the Our Solar System exhibit. The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time takes you on a trip from the universe’s humble beginnings over 13.7 billion years ago to today. You’ll see some of the most beautiful objects in deep space magnified in ultra-high resolution from some of the world’s most advanced telescopes. If it’s open (check at the box office), you can see telescope views of the sun at the Doane Observatory. Find out what the Adler’s scientists are up to in the working Space Visualization Lab, where astronomers give live presentations. Kids love to play in the Community Design Lab, where they can use unusual supplies like marshmallows, popsicle sticks and bubble wrap to find imaginative ways to interact with the universe. And little ones love Planet Explorers, where they can operate the controls in a two-story rocket and man the Space Station.

CITYPASS

Save 53% on VIP admission to five of Chicago’s top attractions (including the Museum Campus’ Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium) with a CityPASS. Besides saving money, you’ll get to skip the ticket lines. CityPASS is valid for nine consecutive days, starting with the first day of use. So, once you’ve fully experienced the Museum Campus you can move on to the other attractions covered by your Chicago CityPASS: Skydeck Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry (360 Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago are alternative options).

GO CHICAGO CARD

With the Go Chicago Card you can pick from more than 25 Chicago attractions, saving up to 55% on top museums and tours. Choose as you go or use a sightseeing itinerary created by Chicago travel experts. The All-Inclusive Pass is available in 1, 2, 3 or 5-day passes, and is the only one that includes the Shedd Aquarium. You can use your pass right on your phone with the free Go City Card app.

GETTING TO THE MUSEUM CAMPUS

Shoreline Sightseeing Water Taxi

A fun way to get to the Museum Campus is to take a Shoreline Sightseeing Water Taxi from Navy Pier, which lets you off right at the Shedd Aquarium. The CTA #130 Museum Campus bus departs from the Union Station and Ogilvie train centers, and makes stops downtown along the way. Or take the CTA Red Line train to the Roosevelt stop and catch the CTA #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express/Museum Campus bus.

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