Weather can be an obstacle for travel during the long Midwestern winters, so Chicago is often left off the list of vacation options this time of year.
When the Windy City meets January and February, the combination becomes a force that makes you fearful to leave the house or hotel room.
Winter travelers arriving on flights to Chicago would probably describe the weather in one word: bitter.
Still, Chicago has a certain air about it — one where the cold weather actually suits the environment — and the locals are prepared with a number of indoor attractions, one such being the Shedd Aquarium.
After years of weekend trips to Chicago for little getaways and choosing to hang out at the Field Museum, I finally decided to put that tradition to an end on my last trip and head over to the Shedd Aquarium that is literally just a short walk across the street.
I don't regret the decision. It didn't take long for me to add the Shedd to my list of iconic Chicago attractions.
The Shedd Aquarium immediately takes you to another place, and that place is generally tropical and warm. Of course, the section with the penguins will cool you off again, but the majority of the exhibits will take you away from the winter raging outdoors.
The aquarium is set up with fish, reptiles and underwater mammals geographically split into different tanks decked out in what would be considered local to their natural habitat. Visitors can explore the Great Lakes, the Caribbean Reef, or the Amazon's flooded forest.
A must-see at the aquarium is the aquatic show. Not only do dolphins flip and beluga whales put on a show, but the view from the grandstand is very impressive. This portion of the aquarium is set on the edge of Lake Michigan with giant windows letting the indoor pool connect with the outdoor.
Also be sure to check out the special exhibits on offer. Right now, you can dive into the world of jelly fish. This special exhibit is very visual with colorful displays of jelly fish ranging in size from tiny to giant.
The Shedd Aquarium can be visited daily with tickets starting at $8 for adults and $6 for children. If you are a resident of Illinois, there are certain days of the year where you can get discounts — perfect days for escaping the realities of an otherwise cold Chicago day.
CC Flickr photo credit: Michael Gray