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Shedd Aquarium: Discover the Wonders of Marine Life

Started on May 30, 1930, Shedd Aquarium is one of the largest indoor aquariums globally, with 32,000 sea animals with about 1,500 unique species of fish, both marine and freshwater, along with other marine animals.

It has a water capacity of about 5 million gallons with a special display called the Caribbean Reef, housing 90,000 gallons of water and a wide variety of marine animals.

Its other major attraction is the Oceanarium, the largest indoor marine-mammal pavilion with 3 million gallons of water.

It mimics the Pacific Northwest coastal environment with deadly beluga whales and dolphins splashing about in different pools. Some of the popular Shedd Aquarium animals are sea otters, penguins, sea horses, and seals, with many exhibits featuring them.

Besides seeing these sea animals in the display exhibits, you can have exhilarating experiences feeding sharks, playing with penguins, and getting a chance to be a trainer for a day.

If you are a keen marine enthusiast, you can always volunteer here. Many opportunities will help you learn more about these beautiful creatures. Besides that, there are umpteen internship and job opportunities too. Visit the official website of the aquarium to get the latest inputs.

Learn more about the aquarium and be updated with the latest events and programs through their Facebook page.

You must also look at the Shedd Aquarium’s Twitter handle for the latest updates and interesting discussions about the aquarium and marine life.

So get ready to have a day full of fun and enjoy an adventurous journey in the mystical marine world.


Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, was started by retailer John G. Shedd, though he did not live long enough to see the aquarium to its completion.

Initially, the aquarium had 132 exhibits and cost $3 million to be built. Its construction started in 1927, and within a short span of three years, the aquarium was established. It was the first indoor aquarium in the world.

The aquarium underwent many changes and kept adding to its glory over time. In 1971, one of its most popular exhibits was established, replicating a Caribbean coral reef.

In 2000, the Amazon Rising was added, an exhibit recreating the Amazon River basin. In 2003, the Wild Reef exhibit came alive with 26 interconnected habitats through which you could explore a Philippine coral reef.

Today, there are many beautiful exhibits at the aquarium and some special shows and events that add to its magic, including the Abbott Oceanarium, Wild Reef, Amazon Rising, and Waters of the world.


Free Days

Many people are surprised to know about Shedd Aquarium’s free days and often ask when Shedd Aquarium is free. To answer your query, yes, the aquarium does have free days, wherein visitors do not have to pay any admission fee.

To know what day is Shedd Aquarium free, you will need to go to the website as it changes frequently.

Every year the aquarium comes up with an entire list of free days. For instance, specific Shedd Aquarium free days in 2019 and similar will be there for this year.

However, you need to make a booking for this as there are no tickets to Shedd Aquarium available onsite.


What makes this aquarium truly special besides all the exhibits is the discounts for Shedd Aquarium tickets. You will be amazed at the wonderful discounts to Shedd Aquarium for different categories of people.

For instance, there is a special Shedd Aquarium student discount and also a Shedd Aquarium teacher discount. Under this category, you receive a complimentary ticket if booked online, but you need to show the necessary id proof.

There is a Shedd Aquarium military discount too, where military people get free admission, but it is not applicable for dependents and family members. Even Chicago police officers and firefighters get similar Shedd Aquarium tickets discount.

If you are a Chase Private Client Arts and Culture cardholder, you can get free admission to the aquarium in 2020. It needs you to have a digital card on the mobile. All these discounts for Shedd Aquarium make it very affordable to visit this magnificent aquarium.


Besides getting discounts on tickets, visitors can also buy coupons from authentic vendors that give you freebies and a certain percentage off on some event entries.

These Shedd Aquarium coupons come in handy, especially when you are traveling in huge groups. All you have to do is share the Shedd Aquarium promo code while entering the venue.

One of the trusted vendors for coupons is Shedd Aquarium Groupon. It has many packages for visitors with other tourist attractions added to it too. To purchase Groupon for Shedd Aquarium, you need to visit the Groupon website and find some good deals.

Virtual Tour

Discover the aquarium through the virtual lens and get a sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes. Special virtual field trips are planned for children to make them aware of aquatic life.

Some of the popular ones are Turtle Check-Up, Penguins, Sharks, Animal Defenses, Coral Reef relationships, Sound Waves and Dolphins, Green Lake Invaders, and some more.

The main aim of these virtual trips is to enhance the school curricula and support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core Standards, and CPS science curriculum, Amplify Science.

Live Cams

Beluga Encounter
Beluga Encounter © Shedd Aquarium

Explore the underwater beauties at the aquarium, even if you can visit the venue through the Shedd Aquarium webcam. These cameras are placed at various exhibits to showcase the workings of the animals in their natural surroundings.

For instance, the aquarium’s Underwater Beauty exhibit’s live cam offers a beautiful view of the butterflyfish, angelfish, and wrasses trapezing through the exhibit in their colorful best.

You can also watch the playful penguins having some fun through the Shedd Aquarium penguin cam. There is a wide selection of live cams, and you can watch what you please from the website.

Shedd Aquarium Tickets

Experience some breathtaking sights and see some beautiful sea creatures here. The admission to Shedd Aquariumincludes all the exhibits, animal presentations, and Stingray Touch, which is open between May and September. To get Shedd Aquarium tickets, you need to go online to their website.

Admission to Shedd Aquarium is quite simple. Fill in the date you want to visit the aquarium and then see the prices of the tickets as per age group. Also, check out if there are any special events or shows.

Note that the tickets for Shedd Aquarium events are additional and will be mentioned on the website.

Shedd Aquarium admission price for adults above 12 years of age is $39.95 with $19.95 for Chicago Residents. Shedd Aquarium prices for children between 3-11 years is $29.95 (Chicago Residents $14.95). However, the Shedd Aquarium cost for infants and members is free.

Shedd Aquarium ticket prices can be reduced if you are a member or if you get a coupon.

Must procure these Shedd Aquarium Chicago tickets from a trusted vendor only with an authentic Shedd Aquarium logo.


Being a member of the aquarium works out to be cost-effective. Shedd Aquarium Chicago’s price reduces drastically, and you get many other benefits too. All members get the following benefits:

  • Free entry to all exhibits
  • Invite to member-only events
  • Discounts in aquarium restaurants and gift shops
  • Discounted tickets to 4-D Experiences
  • Early notice of events and discounts
  • Additional benefits at some of the aquariums and zoos in the United States
  • Discounts on Extraordinary Experiences

There are different categories of membership you can choose depending on your family size. All the categories give you free entry for the entire year.

  • Single Person: $75
  • Two people: $125
  • Two adults and all children under 18 years: $195
  • Two adults, two adult guests, and all children under 18 years: $250
  • two adult cardholders, three adult guests, and all household children under 18 years: $500
  • Two adult cardholders, four adult guests, and all household children under 18 years: $10000

Events at Shedd Aquarium

The constant endeavor of the aquarium is to make your visit to this abode for sea creatures special and unique.

Thus, it often holds special shows and presentations where these intelligent sea creatures’ skills and talents are showcased. Some of these events are at an additional cost, but it is worth every dollar spent.

Dolphin Show

The smart and playful dolphins get the limelight in this show, where the trainers showcase the acrobatic stunts the dolphins have learned. They also show how these dolphins are trained.

There are special Shedd Aquarium dolphin showtimes that are mentioned on the website or at the venue too. Check it out and mark it in your calendar.

This show is part of the Aquatic Presentation. The other animals in this presentation are the majestic sea lions, beluga whales, and barred owls.

4- D Experiences

Get your adrenaline pumping high at the 4-D theater in the aquarium. There are many shows planned every day that will give you the experience of a lifetime.

Feel the chair vibrating as the sharks come on screen and the air move when it is thundering and get a splash of water as the dolphins jump out of water: all this and more at the fantastic 4-D theater.

The 4-D admission is a $4.95 upgrade per guest per experience, and for members, it is $2.95.The details of the shows and their timings are mentioned on the website and even at the venue. Be sure to book the show in advance as the seats get filled fast.

Touch Experiences

Stingray Touch
Stingray Touch Experience © Shedd Aquarium

Get up-close and personal with these fabulous sea creatures as you touch them and feed them. From the gentle Shedd Aquarium beluga whales to smooth stingrays and sea stars, dip your hands in the cool waters and feel these beautiful creatures as they come towards you for some love.

Unique Animal Encounters

Come face to face with the Shedd Aquarium otter as you sit right in front during an aquatic presentation. You never know. It might just turn towards you to be fed.

Behind-the-Scene Tours

See what happens behind the scenes at the exhibits. Check out the animals’ habitats, and the food-prep rooms, and witness the feeding for some of them. This tour is priced for Adults (12+): $59.95, Children: $49.95, and Members: $18.95. In this tour, the group size is limited to 12 people.

Tour of the month

Dive deeper into the lives of the sea animals as the aquarium conducts special detailed tours of one exhibit every month. You can check out which one is planned for the month from the website. This tour costs adults (12+): $59.95, Children: $49.95, and members: $18.95 with the group size limited to 12 people.

Personalized Tours

You can design your tour as per your interest at Shedd Aquarium. For instance, if you want to know more about Shedd Aquarium sharks and their habitats, book a tour in advance, and you will have a private guide taking you through the exhibit in a 45-minute tour, giving you details about their habitat, food habits, and everything else.

Such personal tours are priced at Adult (12+): $74.95, Child: $59.95, and Member: $31.95 with the group size limited to 10 people.

Penguin Encounter

In this 60-minute program, you are introduced to one of the aquarium penguins and learn about its history and anatomy.

You can also get to touch its dense, waterproof feathers and learn about the conservation of these lovely creatures. This tour is priced for Adults (12+): $94.95, Children: $79.95, and Members: $49.95 with a group size of 10 people.

Otter Encounter

Meet a sea otter in this program and help a trainer with feeding the otter. Get firsthand experience in touching its dense fur and soft paws. Relive this experience for your life as you get a digital photo of your time with the otter. This tour is priced for Adults (12+): $129.95, Children: $114.95, and Members: $84.95 with a group size of 8 people.

Shark Feeding Tour

If you are adventurous enough, enroll for this adrenaline-high tour wherein you get a chance to feed the beast of the sea. Also, watch guitarfish, sawfish, and sharks being trained in the 400,000-gallon shark habitat.

This tour is priced for Adults (12+): $94.95, Children: $79.95, and Members: $49.95 with a group size of 10 people.

Trainer for a Day

Spend your time with trainers and learn to be a marine mammal trainer as you walk with them to different habitats of penguins, sea lions, otters, dolphins, and others. You get a chance to interact with all of them and also understand their feeding schedule and more.

This tour is priced at $360 a person ($300 for members) for 4 hours with a group size of only four people.


The main element of the aquarium lies in its magnificent mammoth exhibits that are home to thousands of sea animals. These exhibits are spread across the entire width of the aquarium showcasing the animals in all their glory.

Each exhibit depicts a certain ecosystem required for the animals to thrive: from the bright and sunny Philippines reefs to the dense Amazon forests, the fierce Pacific Northwest coast, and the Great huge lakes.

Islands and lakes

It is one of the oldest galleries at the aquarium, showcasing all the oceans, islands, rivers, and lakes. The main occupants of this magnificent gallery are Haraldmeier’s Mantella, a giant Pacific octopus, Gymnarchus, blue iguana, starfish, seahorses, and alligator snapping turtle.

Caribbean Reef

Get a 360-degree view of the diverse life that lives in this giant gallery with 90,000 gallons of water, where green sea turtles, bonnethead sharks, tarpons, stingrays, and many other sea animals thrive. The main attraction of this exhibit is a diver who interacts with the animals as he talks to the visitors.

Wild Reefs

Home to the beautiful, colorful Philippine coral reef, deadly sharks and rays showcase a fine blend of predators and prey. Look out for the incognito frogfish, whose sponge-like shape keeps changing color to blend in with the coral. Visit the coral lab to understand how the aquarium recreates reef conditions for new coral to grow.

Abbott Oceanarium

Watch Shedd Aquarium penguins do stunning acrobat tricks. The sea lion amuses the crowds with his eating habits and many other creatures as you sit in the Oceanarium. This enthralling experience is sure to give you goosebumps.

Polar Play Zone

Let your kids have a rough time becoming some of the friendly sea animals at the aquarium as they don the attire of a penguin or explore a submarine. They can touch and feel some of the animals too, like the sea star. Adults can have a good time here, getting a 360-degree view of the gallery that gives the feeling of being inside the ocean.

Amazon Rising

Amazon Rising
Amazon Rising © Shedd Aquarium

Explore the Amazon River basin, the largest rainforest on Earth, and see the diverse marine life. From electric eels, and shiny piranhas to dart frogs, rays, and a diverse range of birds. You will be awe-struck by the wide array of plants and animal species.


Stroll through the four acres of land surrounding the aquarium, where there are wildflowers, vegetables, and grass, thriving beautifully. Visit the migratory bird garden to see some amazing birds that pass by every year.

Personal Events

Apart from the shows, the aquarium offers its venue and facilities to celebrate special days like weddings and birthdays. Imagine taking your vows with sharks and dolphins as your backdrop. Let’s find out more about all these events and programs.


Make your wedding an unforgettable experience at the aquarium. The magnificent architecture and unique settings will entice all your guests while the impeccable service will floor them.

From drinks overlooking the Pacific Northwest coast with dolphins dancing to the culinary delights in a formal sitting area, you will love it all. To know about the Shedd Aquarium wedding cost and all other details you can visit the official website.

Corporate and Social Events

Besides weddings, you can use the venue for hosting corporate events and meetings at this unique venue overlooking Lake Michigan and the beautiful Chicago skyline.

From dining, and décor to entertainment: everything is organized perfectly at the aquarium. So be it your birthday, mitzvahs, family reunions, and corporate socials- Shedd Aquarium is the best place to have it.

Gift Shop

Purchase gifts and souvenirs from the gift shop and contribute towards the upkeep of the aquarium. All the proceeds received from the shop are used for the conservation of marine life. In fact, for the upkeep of the venue and to look after all the animals, the Shedd Aquarium donation request is always open for your generous offerings.

There are many choices of gifts to take back home for friends and family at the gift store. From books on marine animals for the curious young minds to clothing and accessories, jewelry, home décor, and fun toys and games. Pick up all that you want as a remembrance of the fun time you had at the aquarium.


The staff at Shedd is the most important resource as they are needed to look after the animals. Hence, the aquarium endeavors to have dedicated people on its staff.

Many job offers are open at all times, from health, accounting, and conservation to marketing, maintenance, guest experience, and more. Watch out for the latest updates on Shedd Aquarium careers on their website.

Besides regular jobs, you can also apply for Shedd Aquarium internships. These are especially beneficial for college students who want a hands-on experience of the work and learn new skills in marine life management.

You can also be a part of Shedd Aquarium volunteer programs and do your bit for the community. There are new openings at all times. All you need to have is a passion for marine life conservation.

You get to learn a lot and have many additional benefits like free admission to the aquarium and other cultural institutions, discounts at cafes and parking, and more.

Important Information

Operating Hours

Shedd Aquarium hours are between 9 am and 5 pm from Monday to Friday, and on the weekends, it is open between 9 am and 6 pm. To avoid the rush, you should reach the aquarium early.

For a query, you can always call the Shedd Aquarium phone number: 312-939-2438 or email them at [email protected]


The aquarium is located at 1200 S Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605.


If you are driving from Lake Shore Drive, exit at 18th Street. Follow Museum Campus Drive around Soldier Field. You will reach the parking area. The aquarium is north of the parking garage and the Field Museum.

If you are taking public transport, you can take the Chicago Transit Authority and get on the 146 bus to the Museum Campus. If you are a Metra or Amtrak user, then it is best to take 130 buses eastbound.

You can also take a water taxi to Shedd. The Shoreline Sightseeing water taxis ply between Navy Pier and the Museum Campus dock at the lake level on the northern side of Shedd.

If you fly into Chicago, it is best to come to Chicago Midway international airport as it is closest to the aquarium. Located about 11 miles from the venue, you can either take the subway (orange line), shuttle, or a taxi from the airport to the aquarium.

You can get the exact details from the Shedd Aquarium map, where the directions to Shedd Aquarium are given very clearly.


Chicago Park District controls the parking for Shedd Aquarium. There are many options for parking near Shedd Aquarium.

You can choose street parking on Solidarity Drive, though at present, this is shut.

You could also opt for lot parking at the Museum Campus. There are many parking spaces.

Here is the Shedd Aquarium parking cost for these lots:

  • East Museum Lot: $30
  • Soldier Field North Garage
    • Up to 4 hours: $25
    • 4 to 12 hours: $30
    • 12 to 24 hours: $50
    • Special event: $30
  • Adler Lot
    • Early bird, before 9:30 a.m: $12
    • Daily: $25
    • Night rate, after 4:30 p.m.: $15

There is an option for valet parking too. It is available for guests at $30 per vehicle, based on availability. You could also book in advance through SpotHero so that you are assured of a space. It works out best during weekends when the turnover is high.

There are special parking lots for buses and big vehicles too. You can park in the lot next to Adler Planetarium. Buses can also be parked for free on Canal Street at Roosevelt Road, about one mile from Museum Campus.

Hotels Nearby

If you are looking for clean and comfortable accommodation close to the aquarium, you will be surprised at the number of hotels near Shedd Aquarium Chicago.

You can get a wide variety of staying options, from luxurious suites to pocket-friendly rooms and all within walking distance of the aquarium. Please note all the prices mentioned are subject to change. Check with the hotels for the latest prices.

Marriot Marquis Chicago

Towering high over Lake Michigan, this luxurious property is spread over 90,000 sq ft with more than 1200 stylish rooms. Each room has a contemporary design and is equipped with all the modern amenities. Priced at $250 per night and located only 1.6 km from the aquarium, it makes for a great choice if budget is not an issue.

The Blackstone, Autography Collection

Located just 1 km from Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, and priced at $232 per night, this grand hotel is worth every dollar spent. Outstanding hospitality, opulent décor, and a fine dining experience make it a great place to spend a weekend while exploring the aquarium and other nearby places.

Palmer House – A Hilton Hotel

One of the oldest hotels in Chicago, the Palmer House Hilton is an 1871 property, and it has retained its elegant charm even today. Located about 1.8 km from Shedd Aquarium Chicago, this hotel has a fine blend of modern and old-world. It is priced at $190 per night.

Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown South Loop

One of the best options for a budget-friendly hotel near Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the Hilton Garden Inn has contemporary rooms with state-of-the-art technology and modern facilities. Priced at $120, it is a great bargain for all you will get at this venue.

Best Western Grand Park Hotel

If you are looking for a cheap but well-sanitized and comfortable place near the aquarium, your search should stop here. The Best Western Grand Park Hotel is a steal at $70 per night and has all the facilities that any other hotel would provide.

With a superb location, housekeeping service, and restaurants to dine at, it is one of the best Shedd Aquarium hotels near central Chicago.

Restaurants Nearby

Want to catch a quick bite while at the aquarium or want to have a fine dining experience after spending a long day at the venue? There are all kinds of eating options available in and around the aquarium. Here are our top five favorites:

  1. The Budlong Hot Chicken: Dig into some delicious burgers and sides.
  2. Soundings at Shedd Aquarium: Enjoy the serene view at this outdoor seating restaurant while you eat some mouthwatering delicacies.
  3. Corner Bakery Cafe: Fill yourselves with delicious cakes and healthy breakfast options before you enter the aquarium.
  4. The Field Bistro: Have a quick bite with plenty of snacks, beverages, and meal options.
  5. Yolk South Loop: The perfect place to step out and grab brunch or have some coffee to rejuvenate those tired limbs after a day at the aquarium.

Other Attractions in the Vicinity

Chicago or the windy city is a great place to spend a long weekend. It is the second most visited city in the country after New York attracting about 50 million tourists every year.

There are many things to do and places to see to keep people of all age groups enthralled. So if you have the time and the energy, definitely stop by to visit these places in Chicago.

  1. Field Museum
  2. Millennium Park
  3. Adler Planetarium
  4. Soldier Field
  5. Buckingham Fountain
  6. Hamilton: The Exhibition
  7. Museum Campus

Other Nearby Aquariums You Might Like to Visit


Shedd Aquarium is one of the most popular aquariums in the United States with thousands of animals, and a wide range of plants and birds, all coexisting here in the most admirable manner.

It is the most visited aquarium in the country, with approximately 2.5 million visitors every year on average. It has also been termed a National Historic Landmark since 1987 and has won awards for its exhibits.

Discover these breathtaking exhibits that house all these magnificent sea animals and watch the extraordinary Shedd Aquarium shows with animals displaying their skills.

Experience the thrill of being inside the ocean through the 4-D movies screened at the aquarium and come up, close, and personal with some of the deadly sea creatures in the live encounters. The aquarium has all this and much more for its visitors.

Besides all the fun and frolic, you can also learn about the conservation of sea creatures, their living patterns, and their food habitats through behind-the-scenes tours or volunteer programs.

Check out Shedd Aquarium reviews to understand how popular it is, or watch Shedd Aquarium videos on YouTube. You will be in awe of the magnificence of this haven for sea animals.