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Museum-admission breakdown

Are the all-access passes to Chicago’s most popular museums worth the price? We make the call.

Paul Velgos
Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The Field Museum is named after Marshall Field and is a popular attraction for tourists and local residents.

Adler Planetarium(1300 S Lake Shore Dr)

GENERAL ADMISSION
$12, seniors $10, kids ages 3–11 $8, Chicago residents $2–$3 off: includes all exhibits, such as “The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time” and “Telescopes through the Looking Glass”

VIP TICKETS
Welcome to the
Universe Pass ($28, kids ages 3–11 $22): all exhibits, plus “Welcome to the Universe” in the Grainger Sky Theater and one other show, such as “Space Junk 3D” and “Night Sky Live!”

BEST BET
Welcome to the
Universe Pass. Why does the Adler have a state-of-the-art domed theater if you’re not sitting in it?


Field Museum(1400 S Lake Shore Dr)

GENERAL ADMISSION
$15, seniors and students $12, kids ages 3–11 $10: includes all permanent exhibits, such as the Grainger Hall of Gems and “Inside Ancient Egypt”

VIP TICKETS
Discovery Pass
($23, seniors $19, kids ages 3–11 $16): all permanent exhibits, plus one special exhibit, such as “Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux”or “Creatures of Light.” All-Access Pass ($30, seniors and students $25, kids ages 3–11 $21): all permanent exhibits, plus a film in the Ernst & Young 3-D Theater and “Underground Adventure.”

BEST BET
“Underground Adventure” is geared toward the little ones, and you’ve watched 3-D films before, so get the Discovery Pass. You can finally see what the fuss over “Scenes from the Stone Age” is all about.


Museum of Science and Industry(5700 S Lake Shore Dr)

GENERAL ADMISSION
$15–$18, seniors $14–$17, kids ages 3–11 $10–$11, kids 2 and under free: includes all permanent exhibits, such as “Science Storms” and “The Great Train Story”

VIP TICKETS
$8–$12 per add-on up to a total of $48, excluding general admission. Options include the new (and kind of creepy) “Animal Inside Out” exhibit, the U-505 submarine, an Omnimax film and “Coal Mine.”

BEST BET
General admission
. Those add-ons add up. But if you splurge on just one, go for “Animal Inside Out.”


Shedd Aquarium(1200 S Lake Shore Dr)

GENERAL ADMISSION
$8, kids ages 3–11 $6: includes“Caribbean Reef,” “Waters of the World” and “Amazon Rising”

VIP TICKETS
Shedd Pass
($28.95, kids ages 3–11 $19.95): the general-admission exhibits, plus the Abbott Oceanarium, “Polar Play Zone” and “Wild Reef.” Shedd Pass Plus ($32.95, kids ages 3–11 $23.95): all exhibits, plus a 4-D show in the Phelps Auditorium. Total Experience Pass ($34.95, kids ages 3–11 $25.95): all exhibits, plus “Jellies,” an aquatic show and the 4-D show. Behind-the-Scenes Tour ($48.95, kids ages 3–11 $38.95): all exhibits, plus a 50-minute guided tour with animal-care staff.

BEST BET
Total Experience Pass
. The Shedd’s aquatic shows are a must-see. And the 50-minute guided tour doesn’t offer the opportunity to touch a beluga or play with the penguins (which cost $250 and $59.95, respectively).


CityPASS ($94, kids ages 3–11 $79) offers VIP entry (read: skip the Shedd’s long admission lines) to the Shedd; Skydeck Chicago; the Field; the MSI or the John Hancock Observatory; and the Adler or the Art Institute. It’s valid for nine days. Our two cents? It’s worth it only if you’re a tourist with days to spare. Otherwise, if you’ve been to the Willis Tower once, you’ve been a thousand times.

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