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Fall Beneath the Waves: Shedd Aquarium Shares Schedule of Autumn Events

Experiences for Guests of All Ages to Explore the Aquatic Animal World

October 05, 2023

In the fall, Shedd is surrounded by brightly-colored trees.

As the weather starts to become colder, Shedd Aquarium is offering several ways that guests can spark their curiosity for the aquatic animal world. Guests can participate in local conservation efforts by meeting a rescued sea lion in a new animal encounter, exploring the newest exhibit, Plankton Revealed, visiting the new bowmouth guitarfish in Wild Reef and more.


Guests ages 21+ are invited to sip specialty drinks and dance to the sounds of Latin American and Caribbean music at the newest after-hours offering from Shedd, Ritmo del Mar. This magical event will allow visitors to immerse themselves in an energetic culture while looking nature in the eye. Throughout the evening, guests can take part in animal chats with experts in both English and Spanish, games of Lotería, bachata dance lessons, and, once the sun has gone down, watch fireworks over the city skyline.

  • Cost: Non-Chicago residents start at $39.95, Chicago residents $19.95 and Members $14.95.
  • Dates: Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 7 – 11 p.m.


Illinois Resident Free Days continue into October on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. On these select free days, with valid ID or proof of residency, Illinois residents receive free general admission, which includes access to all exhibits at Shedd, as well as to the several daily animal spotlights, alternately featuring natural behaviors from Pacific white-sided dolphins, beluga whales, penguins or California sea lions. Guests can explore the aquatic world further with add-on activities like 4-D Experiences or Virtual Reality Experiences.

  • Cost: Free; tickets need to be reserved online in advance.
  • Dates: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout October.


Stingray Touch, Shedd’s outdoor touch exhibit, will remain open until early November. Guests can connect with the soft, supple animals in a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience for a closer connection with nature and wildlife. During the experience, guests can discover how Shedd cares for the cownose rays as well as other interesting facts about the unique species while reaching into the tropical waters to gently touch the back of a ray. Cownose rays are tactile animals—they naturally school together, brushing up against each other while swimming. This social behavior makes them a perfect fit for hands-on encounters at Stingray Touch.

  • Cost: Free with admission.
  • Dates: Until early November, weather permitting.


Meet a sea lion at Shedd Aquarium! During this 45-minute up-close encounter, guests will go behind the scenes and interact with the rescued California sea lions living at Shedd. Additionally, participants can ask an animal care team member questions as they learn all about sea lion anatomy, diet and unique behaviors. As guests discover individual stories about the rescues, they will better understand the challenges these animals face in the wild and the importance of rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Sea lion encounters may include touch opportunities, dynamic training and play behaviors before a Shedd photographer snaps a final digital photo to wrap up the meet-and-greet.

  • Cost: $129.95 per adult (age 12+), $119.95 per child and $103.95 per member.
  • Dates: Friday, Saturday, and Sundays through December 2023.


The Great Lakes basin supports over 40 million people who depend upon the lakes for drinking water and employment, not to mention over 3,500 animal and plant species who call the lakes their home. Guests can take action to protect aquatic life and fellow humans by participating in Shedd’s Action Days. At various local beaches, waterways and forest preserves throughout the fall, volunteers can contribute to our conservation efforts through litter cleanup, coastal habitat restoration and woodland habitat restoration.

  • Cost: Free; registration required.
  • Dates: Select weekdays and weekends throughout October, November and December.


Penguins 4D highlights the emperor and rockhopper species as they swim, hop and splash through life in this new-to-Shedd film experience that engages multiple senses. Guests can waddle along with penguins as they overcome daunting obstacles on both land and sea. Groundbreaking technology brings us closer to this incredible animal than ever before. With “spy cams” disguised as part of the huddle, the playful, hard-working and intelligent nature of the two species is illuminated.

  • Cost: $4.95 upgrade per guest per experience ($2.95 for members).
  • Dates: Offered multiple times throughout the day when the aquarium is open.


Microscopic tiny plants and animals, called plankton, are a nutrient-rich food source that many species throughout the aquarium need to grow and thrive. Looking up from the bottom of the food chain, unpack the importance of plankton, peek in at the nursery and discover how growing plankton advances conservation and sustainability in this small but mighty exhibit – the newest at the aquarium!

  • Cost: Free with admission.
  • Dates: This new exhibit will be available to view each day the aquarium is open.

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VISUALS: Visuals of fall offerings can be viewed and downloaded here:

Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium