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Summer at Shedd Aquarium: What's New and Returning

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

May 15, 2023

Shedd's Jazzin' summer event features fireworks and outdoor socializing on Shedd's North Terrace with a commanding view of the Chicago Skyline as the sun sets.

Look nature in the eye at Shedd Aquarium and in local community green spaces this summer. Shedd is bringing back several popular programs from last year, including Kayak for Conservation and Stingray Touch, to help guests indulge their curiosity while contributing to the conservation of the blue planet. From meaningful volunteer opportunities across local communities to unforgettable late-night experiences at the aquarium, Shedd offers all ages memorable opportunities to explore the aquatic animal world.


Connect with nature, peers and Shedd’s staff during free monthly program offerings for teens. During Teen Nature Days, explore local beaches, waterways and forest preserves while helping to restore and protect them.

  • Ages: 14-18; Teens currently enrolled in high school or home-school equivalent
  • Dates: Specific dates available online
  • Cost: Free; registration required


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, 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
  • 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 join Shedd Aquarium and A Queer Pride in celebrating our vibrant and creative LGBTQ+ community! Shedd Pride Night kicks off Pride Month festivities in style, featuring multiple DJs and an ocean-themed drag showcase. There will also be opportunities for guests to discover the wonders of the aquatic animal world in an environment that welcomes and embraces all identities.

  • Ages: 21+; photo ID required for entry.
  • Date: Thursday, June 1, 2023, from 6-10 p.m.
  • Cost: Non-Chicago resident starts at $39.95, Chicago resident $19.95, Members $14.95


Jazzin’ at the Shedd, the popular midweek, evening event series at Shedd Aquarium will return this summer. It features a festival-worthy lineup of Chicago’s top jazz ensembles, views of the city skyline on the breezy terraces and opportunities to look nature in eye with access to the full aquarium.

  • Ages: All ages
  • Dates: Wednesday, June 7 – August 30, 2023, from 5-10 p.m.
  • Costs: Adults start at $39.95 ($19.95 for Chicago residents); Children (3-11) start at $29.95 ($14.95 for Chicago residents); Members $14.95 (for all dates other than Members Jazzin')


General admission tickets include access to all Shedd Aquarium’s galleries and exhibits as well as Animal Spotlights, introductions to select animals, including beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, penguins and California sea lions. Here are some other offerings for a great visit:

  • STINGRAY TOUCH AND FEEDING: Guests can look forward to the newly reopened seasonal sting ray touch exhibit. This exhibit allows guests to get close and personal with one of the species of stingray living at the aquarium – the cownose ray – by gently touching its back as it swims by in the outdoor habitat. For an even deeper connection, guests can feed seafood treats to the stingrays for $5 during feeding times from 9-11 a.m.
  • EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES: 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. Cost varies by experience.

PHOTOS: High resolution visuals of Shedd Aquarium are available for download: of some of the summer programs:

Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez        Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin