John G. Shedd Aquarium
Cost: General Admission (original galleries only): $8, $6 kids. Total Experience pass: $37.95, $28.95 kids.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and holidays. Closed Christmas day. Check website for extended summer hours.
Visitors can discover the dolphins and whales in the Oceanarium and get a view from below after watching the aquatic show. In the Polar Play Zone, kids can get a diver's eye view of all kinds of sea creatures, including otters, dolphins and beluga whales, plus they can touch a live sea star. Sharks swim around visitors and sting rays swim below their feet in Wild Reef. For an extra fee, take a behind-the-scenes tour or join an overnight at the aquarium. Food is available at the aquarium's restaurants, or bring your own. Public, paid parking lots are located nearby on the museum campus or take public transportation. Shedd offers free days for Illinois residents, but avoid the long lines and reserve tickets ahead. Be prepared for crowds in the exhibits on free days.