An aquarium visit soothes the soul with visions of ambling fish and bubbling tanks that call to mind the gestation pods in which all human life begins. Come full circle with today's Groupon: for $20, you get two evening tickets to the Shedd Aquarium, which include admission to the special exhibit, Jellies, and the aquatic show, A Holiday Fantasea (up to a $40 value). Groupons are valid for evening admission from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Choose from the following dates:
- Monday, December 19
- Tuesday, December 20
- Wednesday, December 21
- Thursday, December 22
- Friday, December 23
Guests should arrive to A Holiday Fantasea by 6:15 p.m.; admission is subject to availability.
Shedd Aquarium, one of the world's leading aquariums, houses scores of undersea creatures, from sharks and dolphins to vibrant sea cucumbers, in educational, eye-catching exhibits. Crystalline invertebrates lacking blood, bones, and brains sway their tentacles with the languid grace of a lobotomized maestro in a limited-run exhibit, Jellies. Marvel at the diverse species in a rainbow of hues and a range of sizes from 1/10 of an inch to larger than a blue whale's shower cap. Enormous panes of spotless glass allow visitors an up-close investigation of the mysterious creatures, whose huge range of sizes and delicate bodies make them difficult for scientists to study. The aquarium's seasonal aquatic show, A Holiday Fantasea, employs leaping dolphins, operatic beluga whales, and a dancing sea lion to inspire festivity in the hearts of its two-legged audience. A select few audience members will even get to meet a dolphin up-close, and visitors can take in Shedd's bedecked halls, extended evening hours, and expanded family activities.
Today’s Groupon also grants couples admission to all Shedd exhibits, including the Oceanarium, Wild Reef, and Waters of the World exhibits. Visitors can discuss the upcoming Chicago Bears season with beluga whales and sea otters at the Oceanarium, or share a rueful chuckle at the plight of the dodo with the penguins at the Polar Play Zone. Some exhibits occasionally close during evening hours for cleaning or crustacean-canasta nights.
By the early 1920s, nearly every major metropolis in the United States and abroad had an aquarium. By 1930, Chicago stood tall among their ranks, thanks to civic leader John G. Shedd’s drive to build the first permanent inland saltwater collection in the country. Shedd’s contribution of $3 million paid for nearly a million gallons of seawater, which were transported by rail from Florida’s coast before filling exhibits large enough to accommodate sea mammals as well as fish.
Today, Shedd’s dream continues to thrive with the aquarium’s scores of undersea creatures—from sharks and dolphins to vibrant sea cucumbers—showcased in educational, eye-catching exhibits. The permanent collection spirits visitors from the Great Lakes to the Amazon River to the waters of the Arctic Circle. The resident critters often share their turf with temporary guests such as sea jellies and stingrays, who fill dramatic special exhibits.
The most exciting animal encounters, however, may come via the year-round aquatic show. Trainers show off the talents of sea lions, dolphins, and even beluga whales. They have some four-legged company, too: a trio of rescue dogs often perform alongside their finned adoptive family, demonstrating how learning through positive reinforcement transcends boundaries between species.