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This Summer, Explore the Endless Beauty at Shedd Aquarium and Beyond

June 27, 2022

A group of kayakers on the Chicago river raise their paddles above their heads and cheer.

This summer, Shedd Aquarium invites guests to journey beneath the water to visit the aquatic animal world and beyond the walls of the lakefront aquarium to let their curiosity flourish while contributing to the conservation of the blue planet. From meaningful volunteer opportunities at local waterways to unforgettable experiences at the aquarium, Shedd offers all ages an opportunity to explore the magnificent depths of our lakes, rivers, oceans and seas.

See below for more information about summer programs offered by Shedd, on-and-off aquarium property.



For animal enthusiasts, visiting the animals who live at the aquarium is a fascinating experience. But Shedd encourages teens to go a step further and contribute to the preservation of wildlife while also getting their feet wet in a hands-on educational experience. Teen Nature Days are offered at no cost on select days throughout the summer and provide opportunities for litter cleanup, kayaking voyages and water quality sampling along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

  • Ages: 14-18; Teens currently enrolled in high school or equivalent
  • Dates:
    • Kayak and Caring for the Environment: Thursday, July 7 and Thursday, Aug. 18 from 9:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
  • River Science: Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Cost: Free, registration required


Every day brings a brand-new adventure for the campers on Shedd’s Summer Road Trip as they explore the nature that thrives and flourishes in the Chicagoland area. Through outdoor activities, environmental investigations and unexpected discoveries, children entering grades sixth-eighth will learn about the local wildlife, hike, paddle, swim and embrace their spirit of curiosity. The week concludes with an overnight stay at the aquarium.

  • Grades: Entering grades sixth-eighth in the Fall of 2022
  • Dates:
    • July 11-16
  • Aug. 8-13 (SOLD OUT)
  • Camp fee: $400 ($370 for members)


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 Blanding’s turtles, lake sturgeon, alligator snapping turtles, bullfrogs, ducks and fellow humans by participating in Shedd’s Action Days. At various local beaches, waterways and forest preserves throughout the summer, volunteers can contribute to our conservation efforts through litter cleanup, coastal habitat restoration and woodland habitat restoration.

  • Ages: All ages
  • Dates: Select weekdays and weekends beginning in June
  • Cost: Free, registration required


Kayak for Conservation brings participants on an engaging tour of the Chicago River and its wildlife as participants kayak through the heart of the city. Led by a Shedd nature expert, these tours focus on the impact of human behavior on river ecology and how participants can be advocates for this invaluable natural resource. The program was developed in partnership with environmental not-for-profit Urban Rivers, the force behind the “Wild Mile Chicago” project aimed at creating a floating eco-park along the Chicago River. Tours are offered at a variety of levels of experience and may include litter cleanup or other activities. Private group tours are also available.

  • Ages: Varies by program
  • Dates: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays
  • Cost: Pay-what-you-can registration ranging from $20–$100 per participant ($45 covers the base cost of the program); Private group fees vary by size of group
Guests in Stingray Touch put their hands into the warm, salty water as cownose rays cruise by and brush up against their hands.


Along with countless opportunities for adventuring off-property, Shedd offers a host of activities at the aquarium. General admission to the aquarium includes access to all of the habitats, Animal Spotlights and touch experiences, and membership grants guests even more discounts and exclusive events.

Reserving tickets in advance is required for all Shedd guests, including members.


Shedd also offers workshops to teens who want to dive deeper into topics about animal care, ecosystem preservation and careers at the aquarium. These workshops are free and welcome curious-minded individuals to make an even stronger connection with the aquatic world and engage with Shedd staff.


Guests can download the brand-new mobile app Shedd Go for iOS and Android for in-depth information on animals, exhibits and building navigation. Users can search for the names of their favorite animals, hear more about an animal’s story and even start exploring the aquarium virtually. The app is fully translated into Spanish, made possible through support from the Service Club of Chicago.


Illinois residents receive free general admission to Shedd Aquarium on select days during the summer. In June, the next free admission days (barring a $3 transaction fee per order) are June 27-28, 2022.

More information on other discounts, including Chicago’s CityPASS, are available on Shedd’s website.


School’s out, and so are Shedd’s cownose rays. The hands-on Stingray Touch allows guests to reach out and feel the smooth back of these gentle stingrays as they flap against each other and guests’ fingers. For an even deeper connection, guests can feed seafood treats to the stingrays for $5 during feeding times 9-11 a.m.


Ocean waves and sound waves blend with the beautiful city skyline for a breathtaking night at Jazzin’ at the Shedd. Chicago’s top jazz ensembles play live music for guests, who are welcome to wander the aquarium or relax on the breezy lakefront terrace. The full line-up, with different musicians nearly every week, is available online.

  • Dates: Every Wednesday June 15-Aug. 31
  • Time: 5-10 p.m.
  • Cost (tickets must be purchased ahead of time)
    • Adults: $39.95 ($19.95 for Chicago residents)
  • Children ages 3-11: $29.95 ($14.95 for Chicago residents)
  • Members: $14.95


For guests looking for an unforgettable encounter with a beloved animal, Shedd offers additional exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. From the Must See Tour of Shedd’s highlights to touching a beluga whale or joining the sharks for brunch, these encounters will surely delight guests of all ages.

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