Caring for more than 32,000 species of animal sea life, Shedd Aquarium has a big job! And they love sharing their experience with visitors from the Chicago area and from around the world. With the purpose of igniting compassion and conservation for the world of aquatic animals, Shedd brings these animals together where guest can experience and learn about them.
While the advanced technology used in Shedd is certainly from the 21st century, many folks still enjoy the fact that the architecture and buildings are quite old, providing a certain amount of charm and history. Encounter penguins, sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, sea lions, dolphins and so much more on your visit to Shedd Aquarium.
Not to Miss at the Shedd Aquarium
Caribbean Reef. Wondering what a 90,000-gallon tank looks like? Well now you can see! Filled with more than 70 species of sea creatures, you’ll come up near corals and sponges, sea turtles and stingrays, and even sharks! During certain times of day, you can even find the divers feeding the animals while they talk on underwater microphones to guests. (Dives daily 10:30am; 12 noon; 2pm; 3pm. Schedule subject to change.)
Waters of the World. Don’t miss the sea life that comes from at least 77 different habitats all around the globe. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the cold-water Oceans gallery where you’ll encounter the giant Kelp Forest floor-to-ceiling habitat. Make your way to the warmer waters of Chicago’s native Great Lakes to see ducks, sunfishes, and even prehistoric sturgeon. Or hop over to the islands and rivers where you’ll see interesting and unique piranhas, puffers, alligators and much more.
Shedd Aquarium Amenities
Services provided by Shedd Aquarium include:
Shedd offers several options for dining, including:
- Soundings Café is open seasonally during lunch time only. In warmer weather, guests enjoy eating inside with lakefront views or outside on the terraces.
- Bubble Net Food Court is a casual dining area with family-friendly foods such as burgers, pizza, sandwiches and more.
- Deep Ocean Café, located in the Polar Play Zone, offers snackable foods such as hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn or nachos.
- Stingray Touch is a snack stand serving Dippin’ Dots, Vienna hot dogs and beverages.
For sea-themed gifts and souvenirs, the gift shop offers a variety of options in the store and online. As a not-for-profit, all purchases go to support the organization’s mission. Shedd offers reusable bags for purchase in the shop, in order to protect the earth’s water animals from the harm of single use plastic bags.
- Wheelchairs are available to be checked out at the aquarium on a first-come, first-served basis. Photo id is required.
- Accessible parking can be found at the lot between Shedd and the Field Museum, as well as at the Soldier Field North garage. The bus turnaround works well as a drop off point for those who need it.
- Strollers and wagons are allowed, but smaller strollers will be better accommodated during crowded times.
- Service animals are welcome as defined by the ADA.
Shedd Aquarium Nearby Attractions
The Aquarium’s location on Museum Campus makes it perfectly accessible to all kinds of other interesting activities, like:
- Adler Planetarium
- The Field Museum
- Grant Park (with Buckingham Fountain)
- Big Bus Tours
- Soldier Field
- Lake Michigan shoreline
- Lakefront Trail
- Water Ferry to the Navy Pier
Getting to the Shedd Aquarium
Getting to Shedd isn’t hard as it is located on the Museum Campus near Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum, just off of Lake Shore Drive.
If you’re driving, the best way to access Shedd Aquarium is to exit Lake Shore Drive at 18th Street and follow signs for parking. Parking lots are located just south of the aquarium. Street parking can sometimes be located on Solidarity Drive, with pay-to-park boxes that accept coins or credit cards.
CTA buses take passengers to Museum Campus. Buses with access include #130 and #146.
Of course, if the weather is nice then a water taxi is a fun way to enjoy the scenic view while getting from one place to another. Shoreline water taxi provides service from Navy Pier to Museum Campus.
On warmer days, you can grab a bike from the Divvy share system and easily transport yourself over to the aquarium. The Shedd Aquarium is directly on the Lakefront Trail
When to go to the Shedd Aquarium
Arriving early is, of course, the best way to see your favorite animals at Shedd Aquarium. Opening hours are 9am-5pm on weekdays and 9am-6pm on weekends, with the possibility of extended hours throughout the summer. Sunday morning is the least crowded time for Shedd, so that may be your ideal time to visit! On Summer days, the line can stretch outside the building.
Shedd Aquarium Insider Tips
- Shedd Aquarium is included on the Chicago CityPASS and Go Chicago Card. It can save you a lot of money and almost as import, you can skip those big summer lines.
- Outside food is allowed in the aquarium, so feel free to pack your own lunch to eat in designated areas.
- Crazy about sharks? Don’t miss the Shark Chat located in the Wild Reef, starting at 9:45am and 3pm (times subject to change—check the website to confirm).