Open 9 am - 6 pm

Shedd Aquarium is a wonderful place to go with chums or by yourself for a much-needed self-care day. Whether you need to escape the office, your apartment, or the weather, swim on over for fun and exciting experiences.

Take the day to relax. Sometimes you need to recharge, and what better way to clear your mind than by watching enchanting animals in exotic settings? Walk around or park yourself on a bench and let our 32,000 animals do the rest.

Nickel the green sea turtle, her long front fins swept wide, swims in Caribbean Reef at Shedd Aquarium.

The 90,000-gallon Caribbean Reef exhibit, located in the rotunda, is a great place to sit and watch the world swim by. Look for graceful stingrays, colorful schooling fishes and green sea turtle Nickel. Hit by a boat propeller in the wild, Nickel has a unique swimming posture due to buoyancy issues linked to the injury. Unable to survive in the wild, Nickel was offered a home at Shedd, where she is thriving. Watching her casually, yet confidently, swim through the exhibit is sure to calm, if not inspire, you to do the same and just keep swimming.

“Unable to survive in the wild, Nickel was offered a home at Shedd, where she is thriving.”

The sea jelly exhibit near the entrance to Wild Reef is a draw for photographers and Zen-seekers alike. The graceful purple-striped jellies glow in the atmospheric lighting as they drift with the habitat’s current. This is a great spot to take awesome photos and videos, or to simply focus your mind on the mesmerizing jellies.

A purple-striped jelly at Shedd Aquarium.

The sea jelly exhibit near the entrance to Wild Reef is a draw for photographers and Zen-seekers alike.

Aquatic symbols mark the time in the clock in Shedd's lobby, an example of the building's Beaux-Arts style.

Aquatic symbols mark the time in the clock in Shedd's lobby, an example of the building's Beaux-Arts style.

Shedd is full of hidden gems. Whether you’re an architecture buff or a casual admirer, be sure to check the “other” animals in the original building. Looking like Neptune’s temple, hoisted from the sea and gently lowered into place on Chicago’s lakefront, Shedd is decorated with marine designs throughout; in fact, nearly every facet of the building celebrates aquatic life in terra-cotta, marble, bronze and other materials.

Look for small marine fossils in the foyer floor, octopuses draped over hanging lanterns in the vestibule, sea turtles on ceiling tiles, skates as wall sconces and other examples of sea life nestled into the décor. Even the foyer’s seafoam green marble looks like ocean waves.

When you’re caught up in all the surf and shell details, it’s easy to forget that we have an amazing view of the Chicago skyline on the North Terrace. Check it out during a meal or snack from Soundings Café or the Bubble Net food court. It’s a great spot to snap a few photos (don’t forget to tag Shedd), or to simply take in the view of the lake and the wonderful city that is Chicago!

A guest gently touches the rough, prickly surface of a sea star in sea star touch.
A cownose ray gives us a glimpse of the flat mouth on the bottom of its body designed for sucking up and crushing clams on the ocean floor.

Reach out and touch something

Looking for a tactile experience? Shedd offers three chances to touch some of our awesome animals: the sturgeon touch pool in the Great Lakes exhibit, the Polar Play Zone touch pool in the Abbott Oceanarium and, from late-May through October, our outdoor Stingray Touch.

Stingray Touch is especially memorable. Watch as stingrays swim in formation, and reach out to let them brush against your hand as they pass by. If you’re lucky, the large, impressive mangrove whiptail ray, George, may swim close enough for you to touch. This soothing interaction is sure to make you smile whenever you think back to it.

Learn from Shedd experts

Learn more about the beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea lions and penguins as well as the work we do at Shedd during a narrated in the Abbott Oceanarium. And marvel how the dolphins make 20-foot leaps look effortless.

After the presentation, spend time a level down at the underwater viewing windows. The belugas, whose bulk belies their gracefulness, convey serenity.

Trainer Lana sits in the water in Shedd's Oceanarium, a dolphin swimming in place in front of her.

Throughout the day you can also catch a Live Dive: Caribbean Reef presentation, which features a Q&A session with a diver inside the reef habitat as he or she feeds the animals. Where else can you talk to a person underwater feeding sharks and other fishes?Want to learn more about some of your favorite animals, such as penguins, sharks, or marine mammals? Attend the daily activities, listed in the foyer. Did you know penguins have 70 to 80 feathers per square inch on their bodies? Did you know they also have to molt them all at once every year? Learn more cool facts like these firsthand from Shedd experts. And remember, questions are always encouraged!

Beyond the exhibits

If you want the ultimate close look at Shedd’s animals, book one of our Extraordinary Experiences. Take a guided tour behind the scenes or meet some of our animals up close and in person with our Penguin or Beluga Encounters.

Whether you pet a penguin or stand chest-deep in water with a massive whale, you will be totally engrossed in an unforgettable experience.

Logistics for your visit

Here are some quick tips to help your visit go smoothly.

  • Buy your tickets ahead of time online. You can either save them on your mobile device or print them. This will speed up your trip through the line.
  • Arrive early. Shedd is a popular place, and getting here early will help you avoid the crowds and allow you the best views of our animals.
  • Dress for the weather. Our entry lines often extend outdoors, so be sure to be prepared.
  • Make a game plan. It’s difficult to see everything in one visit. Prioritize what you want to see—favorite animals or exhibits, or something new.

Whether you’re looking for a fun day with friends or a relaxing day by yourself, Shedd is the perfect place to recharge and create terrific memories.

―Karissa Knapp, marketing intern