Open 9 am - 5 pm

Tips for a great visit:

  • Before your visit, be sure to review the arrival and departures information below to ensure that your trip starts and ends on a good note!
  • Download a Shedd Aquarium map here and print copies for all adults and chaperones in your group.
  • Download the Shedd Go app! Anyone with the Shedd Go app on a smart device can scan habitat QR codes throughout the aquarium to learn more about the exhibits and the animals they are looking at.
  • Visit our Plan a Visit page for the most up-to-date information about visiting Shedd Aquarium. 
  • Touch Experiences: Sea Star Touch and Sturgeon Touch are open daily. Stingray Touch and Stingray Feeding are available seasonally.
  • Restaurants: Bubble Net food court will be open from 10:30 a.m. until 2 hours before the aquarium closes that day. Any food or drink you bring with you or purchase from vending machines must be consumed in designated areas.
  • Free audio guides tell you all about the belugas, dolphins, sharks, penguins and more Shedd favorites.
A charter bus delivers students to Shedd's bus turnaround as learning facilitators greet the arrivals.

Arrival

Please arrive at the Shedd Aquarium bus loop located on the south side of the building at your chosen arrival time (noted on your confirmation email). Due to timed ticketing and limited capacity, your group will not be permitted to enter before your selected entry time. All visitors of your group must be together at the time of entry and will enter no later than 30 minutes after the entry time of your reservation. If you are running late, please contact 312-692-3333.

  • We are constructing a refreshed accessible entrance to more quickly and seamlessly connect guests with the aquatic animal world. During this transformation, all guests will enter the aquarium along the half-circle driveway (bus loop) and proceed up the ramp behind the temporary ticketing booth.

Our team will greet you, get your group name and give you any updates to your reservation. Your group will then be led through our security scanners, which keep our guests, animals and staff safe. If you have lunchroom reservations, you will be escorted to your lunchroom and deposit your lunches in bins. From there, you can begin your self-guided journey at the aquarium with our staff available to answer any questions you may have.

At the end of your visit, you will exit the doors by the Phelps Auditorium (4-D theater) and head down the same ramp to the bus loop that you entered.

Before you arrive at Shedd Aquarium, please review arrival procedures, program times, lunch time and location and departure instructions/locations with your group. Space for addressing your group inside the aquarium is limited.

Lockers for coats and bags are available on a first-come, first­-served basis in our main lobby for $8-$12 per use, based on the size of the locker. Shedd is not able to store any items that do not fit into these lockers.

A young woman has her bag checked by security before entering the Shedd building.

For the safety of our guests, all bags will be searched at the entrance. We recommend that members of your group bring as few bags as possible and have them open for examination as they enter to avoid delays.

Your group name will be your "admission" for the day; no tickets or wristbands will be issued. We will have a list of all groups visiting us to confirm when your group goes to the exhibits and activities scheduled to attend.

Departure

Many groups plan to depart at the same time. Please make sure your entire group is together before you call the bus to meet you at the bus loop. This will help give all departing groups timely access to the bus loop.

Need to change your group size?

Please notify us of any upgrades or changes in the number of adults or children in your group at least 14 days before your visit by emailing [email protected] or calling 312-692-3333.

An excited young visitor pokes her head out of the window of a visiting school bus pulled into the circle drive.

Payment or cancellation policies

Any cancellation, rescheduling, or refund requests must be made no later than 14 days before your visit date.

No refunds will be issued unless Shedd Aquarium cancels the program. Shedd Aquarium reserves the right to cancel the event for any reason. If your event is cancelled, you will be informed via phone as soon as possible. In the event of a cancellation, you will be fully refunded within 30 days. Your refund method will be based on your original method of payment. Please review our full payment policy online.

Deferred payment deadline

Any outstanding balance is required to be paid 14 days prior to your visit. If your group is paying by check, the check payment must arrive to our mailing address below to be processed by the 14th day before your visit.

Free visit confirmation

For free Illinois school group visits we will send you an email prior to the 14 day required notice window asking you to confirm that you are still planning to attend. Failure to confirm may result in the cancellation of your order, or any scheduled activities to be removed from your itinerary.

Bus Funding for Field Trips to Shedd

Shedd is committed to ensuring access to the aquatic animal world for Chicago Public Schools. One way we create access is through our Bus Fund Program.

Bus funds are available on a limited basis to eligible CPS schools that are visiting for a field trip. During the online registration of your field trip, if your trip and school are both eligible, you will be presented with the option to apply for reimbursable bus funds if they are available. If awarded funding, detailed instructions for reimbursement will be provided.

Accepted payment methods

To pay by credit card, call 312-692-3333. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

To pay by check, please email us the check number, order confirmation number, along with the date it has been processed/delivered to the postal service to confirm your order. All check payments must arrive to the location below for processing at least 14 days before the scheduled visiting date.

Please mail to:

Shedd Aquarium Society
29017 Network Place
Chicago, IL
60673-1290

Please include your confirmation number on the check.

Bubblenet cafeteria is located below Soundings in the Oceanarium, and features cafeteria-style dining from several different food stations.

Soundings Café in Shedd's Oceanarium serves up paninis, soups and sandwiches.

The Farmer's Fridge is a vending machine operated by a touch screen, where one may buy fresh salads, snacks and other healthy food options.

Lunchroom reservations

Our new reserved lunchroom spaces are the Soundings Café and Bubble Net food court. Vending machines will only be available in Polar Play Zone.

There are a limited number of seats in the lunchrooms and they are available only by advance reservation. 

    • If you reserved a lunchroom, the time and location will be noted in your reservation information. (Please be aware that lunchroom locations are subject to change upon group check-in.) 
    • When you arrive, your group's lunches will be collected and delivered to your appointed lunchroom at the time designated on your reservation. 
    • Lunchroom reservations are for a maximum of 20 minutes. Punctual arrival and departure are essential to ensure the spaces can be used by all groups that have reserved them. 

When you arrive your group's lunches will be collected in a bin and will be available in your appointed lunchroom at the time designated on your reservation.

Didn't book a lunchroom?

Shedd Aquarium does not have room to store lunches for those without lunchroom reservations. Please have your group members keep their lunches with them.

Groups are welcome to leave the building to eat outside on the plaza then reenter the aquarium to finish their visit.

When the Deep Oceans cafe is not open, there is limited seating on lower level 2 in the Abbott Oceanarium near the underwater viewing area. This is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Young learners explore a tactile model of a tambaqui fish with their hands.

Guest Behavior

Please remember that many guests (both groups and individuals) visit Shedd Aquarium each day. To ensure the best possible experience for all guests, we expect group leaders and chaperones to monitor their group's behavior and ensure our policies are adhered to. Any group not adequately supervised may be asked to leave the aquarium.

A guest wears a subtle earbud so she can listen to the audio description of the Aquatic Presentation.

Questions?

If you have questions about your visit or need to change your reservation, please call us at 312-692-3333.

Field Trip Preparations: Begin planning and preparing for your field trip using our online resources.

Learning Labs and Science Tech Treks: If you registered for a learning program, additional details will be sent closer to your visit date.

Accessibility

At Shedd Aquarium, we believe there should be no boundaries to your experience. If you have an accommodation request related to a disability, please contact us at [email protected] or 312-692-3312. We look forward to assisting you.