From the August 2019 issue

3 Cool Aquariums in Michigan, Chicago and California

Got a kid who is wild about sea life? Treat them to a visit to one of these cool aquariums in metro Detroit and beyond.

Child reaching out to red jellyfish
Photo from Monterey Bay Aquarium

Looking for a fun and educational day out with the kids? An aquarium might be the perfect option for you – and these three cool aquariums in Michigan, Chicago and California are perfect the next time you’re on a vacation or staycation.

Take a look at the details on each one, pack up the car and get ready for a day of educational, animal-focused fun.

 Close to Home: Sharks, Stingrays and Turtles – Oh, My!

Don’t be surprised if your kids become mesmerized watching the sea creatures gliding above them at Sea Life Michigan Aquarium’s tropical ocean exhibit. While the sharks may inspire a few shivers, the two green sea turtles are likely to spark a smile. Both turtles were rescued after being injured by boats in Florida and wouldn’t survive on their own.

Now the pair – 28-pound Benson and 85-pound Carr, both part of an endangered species – have a permanent home in this spot at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills.

All of the aquarium’s 10 interactive zones are designed to pique your kids’ interest in learning about the sea creatures they encounter.

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“We’ve thought about the littlest family members with tanks that are low to the ground and fun pop-up bubbles for kids – as well as adults – to feel like they are inside a tank,” explains Debbie Gibb, a marketing manager at the aquarium. “Our 120,000-gallon ocean tank with 180-degree tunnel is a beautiful and relaxing place to watch sharks, rays, sea turtles and hundreds of tropical fish swim overhead. Our helpful and knowledgeable staff will make sure that everyone has a great time and learns something new about our oceans and sea creatures.”

For families looking to make the most of your trip, Gibb says you can re-enter the aquarium the day of your visit. So go out and grab lunch; then come back to explore more. And, in mid-August, the aquarium is hosting mermaids in its ocean tank Thursdays through Sundays.

A Day Trip: Go Behind the Scenes at  Chicago’s Top Aquarium

Chicago’s lakefront Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world, offering visitors the chance to see more than 1,500 species (for a whopping 32,000 creatures!). It transports marine enthusiasts of all ages to aquatic environments like one that mimics a Philippines coral reef – or the 3-million gallon Abbott Oceanarium featuring beluga whales, dolphins and sea otters.

Before you go, check out some of the special programs going on at the aquarium that can make your visit even more memorable. The aquarium offers behind-the-scenes and private personalized tours. Perhaps one of the most unique offerings, however, is Jazzin’ at the Shedd, held every Wednesday evening through the end of August where you can kick back and enjoy live music ensembles right in the aquarium.

Even Farther Away: Jam With the Jellies in California

What sets Monterey Bay Aquarium apart is its unique location, tucked right into California’s Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. The exhibits here seamlessly blend what your kids see on the aquarium’s outside viewing areas – like sea otters, sea lions, dolphins and other ocean creatures – with indoor exhibits.

Each exhibit helps walk kids through what life is like for these sea creatures and what steps they can take to protect their habitats. Another standout is the aquarium’s Jellies exhibit, where your kids will be wowed by the variety, color and movements of these ethereal ocean dwellers.

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