Open 9 am - 5 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 their aquatic habitats? 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 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.”

Keep your sense of calm as you make your way to the Oceans gallery where you’ll witness gently swaying fronds of kelp in our Kelp Forest exhibit. This diverse and light-filled habitat, alive with leopard sharks, jack mackerels and garibaldis, is an example of the kelp forests that grow along the Pacific coast from southern Alaska to Baja California, Mexico.

Small mushroom-shaped jellies propel themselves through blue-lit waters.

Blue blubber jellies float in the Underwater Beauty exhibit.

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 Terraces. 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, sea star touch in Polar Play Zone and, from late-May through October, our outdoor Stingray Touch.

Stingray Touch is especially memorable. Watch as stingrays glide through the warm tropical water, and reach out to let them brush against your hand as they pass by. You can even help feed these supple, strong and flat-as-a-pancake fishes with a Stingray Feeding.

Learn from Shedd experts

Learn more about the beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphinssea lions and penguins, as well as the important conservation work we do at Shedd, during an Animal Spotlights in the  Abbott Oceanarium. These short, 15-minute spotlights are a perfect way to marvel at incredible animal adaptations.

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

Dolphins "tail walk", a behavior where they lift their bodies out of the water and propel themselves powerfully backwards with their tails.

Beyond the exhibits

If you want the ultimate up 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 to look nature in the eye like never before.

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

Exclusive Summer Programs

While the Chicago weather warms up, take advantage of our exclusive summer programs!

Logistics for your visit

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

  • Advance tickets required: Get to the aquatic world faster by booking your ticket in advance. Find the dates you are looking for with ease, knowing first-hand when dates are sold out. 
  • Download the Shedd Go! App: Let the Shedd Go! app guide you on your aquarium journey, right from your own mobile device. Available for Android and iOS.
  • Accessibility offerings: Wheelchairs, assistive listening devices, and noise-cancelling headphones will be available on a first come, first-served basis and will be sanitized between each use. 

    Details on Shedd's accessibility offerings.

  • Restaurants: Bubble Net food court and Soundings Café 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 machines must be consumed in designated areas. 
  • See more as you Plan a Visit.

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.