The world's largest assortment of finned, gilled, amphibious, and other aquatic creatures swims within the marble-clad confines of the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
Permanent exhibits include the multilevel Oceanarium, which mimics ocean conditions off the northwest coast of North America. The beluga whales inside are remarkably cute creatures that come from the pint-size end of the whale scale. Their humped heads and natural “smiles” make them look eerily human. You'll also see Pacific white-sided dolphins, harbor seals, and sea otters.
Don't linger only on the main floor; you can go underneath the cement seats and watch the mammals from below through viewing windows. The “Wild Reef” exhibit will have sharkophiles and sharkophobes equally entranced; over a dozen sharks cut through the waters in a simulation of a Philippines reef ecosystem. And the “Amazon Rising” exhibits offer a captivating look at a year in the Amazon River and rain forest.