Bank of America’s Museums on Us program offers free admission to 5 institutions in Chicago, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago History Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Adler Planetarium.
You can get free access to any of these places on the first full weekend of each month through the Museums on Us Program as long as you have a Bank of America debit or credit card.
Visiting both the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium together makes for an especially good day trip to Chicago, because they are within close walking distance of each other, and they are great places to visit with your kids.
However, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, and Museum of Contemporary Art are also incredible destinations, but you’ll have to drive or take public transportation if you want to visit more than one in a single day.
Everyone that has a Bank of America card can get free admission, but you will still have to pay for the kids if you bring them.
You just need to show your Bank of America card and your ID at the counter where you purchase tickets to receive your free passes.
Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium Day Trip
My girlfriend and I recently visited the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium to take advantage of this offer, as we both have Bank of America credit cards.
The Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium are situated perfectly along the lake, allowing for gorgeous views of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and Burnham Harbor.
It’s easy to access both locations and park your car, and you can even enjoy a walk around Northerly Island Park on nicer days.
When To Visit
The best time to avoid the crowds is as early as possible on Sunday morning, and the winter months are much slower than in summertime.
On weekends, the Shedd Aquarium is open from 9 AM to 6 PM, and the Adler Planetarium is open from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
Where To Park
The cheapest on-street parking is probably at the pay-and-display kiosks on Solidarity Drive as you drive up to Adler Planetarium, but they get full pretty quickly, so you may have to park in the parking lot that is adjacent to the Adler Planetarium for $19.
You can also park in the parking garage at Soldier Field for $19 or find additional on-street parking further away, but the other options are much closer.
Adler Planetarium Museums on Us Pass
Your Bank of America card will get you a free general admission pass ($12 value) at the Adler Planetarium, which provides you with access to all of the exhibitions.
You’ll have to pay from $3 to $10 extra if you want to see any of the shows, and passes for children ages 3 to 11 cost $8.
There are also various Adler Planetarium Discounts available including Illinois resident free days, so check the website for extra savings before your visit.
The Adler Planetarium exhibitions are oriented a little more toward entertaining and educating kids, while the shows are the main attraction for adults, so you probably won’t need to spend too much time there, if you don’t want to pay extra to see the shows and you don’t have kids along with you.
Shedd Aquarium Museums on Us Mini Pass
Your Bank of America card will get you a free “mini pass” that provides you with access to the general Aquarium galleries and the Wild Reef.
This is similar to the general admission pass that costs $8 for adults and $6 for children, except that you also get access to the Wild Reef, which the general admission pass doesn’t provide.
You can opt to upgrade your “mini pass” ticket to include the Abbott Oceanarium for an additional $6.95, but you otherwise can’t see the other attractions such as Jellies, the 4-D theater, the aquatic show, or the Polar Play Zone.
Check out these Shedd Aquarium Discounts to learn more about the Museums on Us tickets.
Even though you don’t get full access to the Shedd Aquarium, there is still a lot to see with your free “mini pass.”
You do miss out on some of the main attractions, but it still makes for an entertaining trip to enjoy yourself and walk around the different tanks and exhibits.
Take advantage of the Museums on Us program from Bank of America to take a nice day trip to Chicago, Illinois.