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Become Immersed in Aquatic Animal World this Summer with Shedd

Round-up of the best things to see and do for all ages, interests and comfort levels

May 26, 2021

A girl wearing a face mask puts her hand in the water to touch a stingray.

Shedd Aquarium is offering even more ways to look nature in the eye this summer for guests of all ages, interests and comfort levels. From planning a visit during late hours for even more time to come face-to-face with the aquatic animals that call Shedd home, to summer learning opportunities for kids and teens, and both virtual and in-person animal encounters, there are a variety of ways to get connected for animal enthusiasts and nature lovers. The aquarium continues to implement health and safety measures, including that tickets must be secured in advance, online or by phone, ahead of a visit.


The popular seasonal Stingray Touch exhibit is back this summer to allow guests to dip their hands beneath the waves and feel the unique texture of a cownose ray. New this year, guests can also help feed a cownose ray in the habitat during a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience. This add-on experience is offered daily from 9-11 a.m. to get people even closer to the animals and learn first-hand about how Shedd cares for these supple, strong fishes.

  • Dates: Daily from 9-11 a.m.
  • Cost: $5 per person ($3 for members)


As an effort and commitment to providing access to the aquatic animal world to more guests, Shedd Aquarium is extending its hours on Wednesday evenings starting June 16. Explore the aquarium after work or school during these late hours to come face-to-face with all the residents that call Shedd home – from penguins and paddlefish to sea otters and stingrays, guests can discover the aquatic world at night. Advanced tickets are required and visit the plan a visit page for details about latest health and safety protocols.

  • Dates: Wednesdays starting June 16 through July from 6-9 p.m.
  • Cost: $39.95 per adult ages 12+/$29.95 Children ages 3 - 11; Chicago Residents $19.95 adults 12+/$14.95 children 3 - 11 (Members FREE)


Select virtual animal encounters continue throughout the summer to bring digital guests up close to some of their favorite animals, including sea otters, penguins and sharks, to continue to reach a global audience and for those who might not be able to visit the aquarium in person yet. However, the penguin encounters will also be available onsite, in-person for guests on select dates starting June 4. During the 30-minute penguin encounter before the aquarium is open to the public at 8:30 a.m., guests will meet a penguin, see the curious bird explore their surroundings, chat with an animal care team member, and gently touch a bird and capture a photo.

  • Onsite Penguin Encounter Dates: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting June 4 – Sept. 6
  • Onsite Penguin Encounter Cost (includes admission): $94.95 per adult ages 12+/$84.95 per child ages 6-11 ($50 per member)
  • Virtual Animal Encounter Cost: $49.95 ($44.95 Members) per zoom link


Guests at Shedd Aquarium will soon be able to experience the action of BBC’s critically acclaimed Blue Planet II series like never before. Starting May 28, the 4D Theater will feature Octopus: Blue Planet II 4D Experience®, a special effects show highlighting one of the most captivating creatures of our planet’s oceans: the octopus.

  • Dates: Starting Friday, May 28 at select times
  • Cost: 4-D Experience admission is a $4.95 upgrade per guest per experience ($2.95 for members)


Find opportunities to make a difference for local aquatic animals and habitats with Shedd Aquarium throughout the summer. Volunteers are needed to restore and protect nearby beaches, waterways, and forest preserves. In addition, guests can sign up for the seasonal Kayak for Conservation program to paddle along the Chicago River guided by a Shedd nature expert. For upcoming dates and opportunities, visit and

  • Dates: Select weekdays and weekends throughout the summer
  • Cost: Action Days are FREE; Kayak Program starts at $20 per person


Shedd Aquarium will host its week-long summer camp program onsite to bring learners grades K-5 face-to-face with aquatic animals. Campers will explore aquarium habitats, participate in outdoor activities and games to explore curiosities, create aquatic-themed crafts and more. Camp Shedd: Summer Splash allows kids to discover the impressive aquatic animal world and uncover unique adaptations during this engaging program.

  • Dates: Monday through Friday starting June 14 – Aug. 6
  • Cost: $400 per camper ($375 members)


Shedd Aquarium offers a variety of opportunities for teens who are interested in science, animals, conservation and more to connect with peers and Shedd staff. Attend a Virtual Teen Workshop to discover new interests, engage in STEAM topics and investigate the aquatic animal world. Or take action for animals and the environment by participating in a Teen Nature Day.

  • Dates: Select Wednesdays
  • Cost: FREE

PHOTOS: High resolution visuals of Shedd Aquarium are available for download:
Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez