This is really an opinion question.

I'm planning a family trip to Chicago next summer. I've decided to get Chicago CityPASS's for the whole family.

I wish to explore the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum (all right next to each other). I really enjoy that kind of stuff, but I don't want to spend three days of our trip in the same area, so I've decided to try to cram two of these into the same day and devote a second day to the third.

So my question is, which of these three takes longer to fully explore, or would be most enjoyable to a serious nerd who loves planets, oceans, dinosaurs AND technology?


Opinion answer for an opinion question:

  • The Adler Planetarium isn't all that great. Most everything there are digital exhibits, you can learn from more Wikipedia or a couple episodes of PBS Nova.
  • The Museum of Science and Industry is amazing, and you'll want to spend a whole day there. There's a large variety of stuff, and it's top notch. I know that wasn't on your list, but it's a seriously can't-miss sort of place.
  • The Field Museum is massive, and a very good but very traditional sort of museum. Lots of very cool exhibits, the best of which have been there a long time. Your kids might get bored here depending on their ages and level of interest.
  • The Shedd Aquarium is also excellent, and particularly has a great section of local aquatic wildlife. One of my favorite museums.

If I were trying to plan this, I'd spend one day at the Museum of Science and Industry, a morning at the Shedd Aquarium, and an afternoon at The Field Museum. You'll definitely be missing out on exhibits at The Field Museum as there's no way to go through it all in half a day, so read up on what's there and plan your trip accordingly. Alternatively, you could drop the Shedd from your plans... the Field Museum is quite comprehensive.

While you're out by the Shedd or the Field Museum, be sure to enjoy the view on the lake. Fantastic view of the city, which is particularly stunning in the evening!


I would figure one day for the Field Museum, another split between the Aquarium (I've seen better) and the Planetarium. And the third day is for the Museum of Science and Industry. From your description of St Louis, this will be an all-day museum for you. I hope the snack bar is better than when were regular visitors.

Science and Industry is not located on the Museum Campus; it is a leftover from the 1893 World's Fair held on the Chicago Midway. However, there is frequent express bus service from the Museum campus, or elsewhere in the Loop.


I'd at least wait until temporary exhibitions are announced to finalize your plans. You can then decide if some are more to your likings than others.

Depending on the composition of your family (old folks, small kids...) spending more than 2, 3, hours in a museum can be hard; take that into account in your planning.

In my experience (in other science museums), you will spend more time in the Field Museum, especially if there are hands-on exhibits (where you can handle stuff yourself)

  • 2
    We are 2 adults and 3 kids. I expected us to blow through the St Louis Science Center in a couple of hours, but we had lunch and then saw a 45 min IMAX film and then a roughly equivalent planetarium presentation, and ended up being there for their entire operating hours.
    – Cale T
    Sep 21 '17 at 20:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.