This post contains info on how to get tickets and discounts to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, as well as provide tips on planning your visit.
Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
Before you pay full price, check out our discounted tickets section.
General Admission Tickets
This ticket will get you into all permanent exhibits and animal presentations.
- Adult: $39.95
- Child: $29.95
- Purchase tickets.
This upgrade (on top of your GA ticket) will get you into the 4D theatre.
- GA Ticket Holders: $4.95
- Members: $2.95
- Purchase tickets.
There are several ways to get discounted tickets to the Shedd Aquarium.
We have listed methods to get cheap or free tickets, from tourist passes with included admission to other programs offering heavy discounts.
1. Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
Admission to Shedd Aquarium is included in Chicago’s tourist passes, which work by bundling discounts for purchasing tickets in bulk.
Depending on the type of card purchased, you could save up to 55% on retail prices at various museums, attractions, and tours around Chicago.
Here are just a few of the additional activities you can enjoy with a tourist pass at no extra cost:
- Field Museum
- Brookfield Zoo
- SkyDeck Chicago
- Adler Planetarium
- Architecture Cruise
- Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour
- Museum of Science and Industry
- And more!
If you want to learn more about attraction discount passes that can save you 50% on Chicago activities, check out our full post.
Chicago City Pass
Get in for free with the Chicago City Pass! See Chicago’s Top 5 attractions at a 53% discount.
For $114/Adult and $93/Child (3-11), you get the following:
- Shedd Aquarium
- Skydeck Chicago
- Field Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry OR 360 Chicago
- Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago
Make sure to check coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial for ticket deals.
3. Military Discount
Active-duty U.S. military personnel, when they present a valid ID, receive free general admission.
4. Veteran Discount
Veterans and retired U.S. military personnel, with valid ID, receive a $3 on-site discount for general admission.
On Veterans Day they receive free general admission.
5. Free Days
On select days with valid ID, residents of Illinois get free admission on select days.
6. Chicago Residents
Chicago residents with valid ID receive 50% off general admission.
7. Chicago Police Officers and Firefighters
Receive free admission with proper ID.
8. Educators Discount
Educators from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin
9. Museums for All
Free admission for low-income families. Learn more about eligibility.
10. Student Discount
Students 12 and up with school ID get a $3 on-site discount except for Illinois Resident Free Days.
11. Senior Discount
Senior citizens 65 years old and get up to a $3 on-site discount except on Illinois Resident Free Days.
12. Library Museum Passport
Chicago Public Library branches have Kids Museum Passports available to check out that can be shown in the general admission line for free entry for 2 adults and 2 children.
13. Museums on Us Program
Visitors who have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch card and matching identification will get one FREE admission ticket on the Sunday of the first full weekend every month, excluding June, July, and August.
Learn more about the program here.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
This section lists useful information on getting to the museum, when to go, and how long to stay.
If you want to get discounted tickets, check out the discount section above.
Where is the Chicago Shedd Aquarium?
The Shedd Aquarium is at 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago IL 60605 at the museum campus.
Shedd is within walking distance of most downtown hotels and popular attractions.
We recommend using this Google Maps link for directions from your exact location.
If you’re taking public transportation, there are a few CTA stops within walking distance.
- Bus #146 – Inner Drive/Michigan Express/Museum Campus.
- Bus #130 – Museum Campus (mid-May through Labor Day).
- Exit at the Roosevelt Red Line Stop – servicing Red, Orange and Green Line and offers connections to #146 bus, located at State Street and Roosevelt Road.
TIP: Keep in mind that hop-on-hop-off bus tours in Chicago have stops near the museum at Museum Campus!
When is the best time to visit?
- Weekdays: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Weekends: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Extended Summer Hours (mid-June to mid-August): 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Shedd Aquarium’s hours vary by season. Last ticket purchases occur 45 minutes prior to closing each day. Check the calendar before you visit.
The museum’s most popular times are weekends and afternoons.
We suggest visiting Monday - Thursday or Sunday morning for the most space to freely move about the aquarium.
If you visit on Saturday, we suggest arriving right at 9:00 am.
If you visit on Sunday, we suggest arriving at 9:00 am or after 5:00 pm.
How long should I stay?
Most visitors stay in the aquarium for between 2 and 3.5 hours.
Check out the exhibits below to see what you can find during your visit.
Can I bring food?
Yes. There are several restaurants and a vending area for snacks, but you may bring a lunch and eat it in the designated space on the North Terrace or lakeside lawn.
Are there lockers for my bags?
Yes. The aquarium has coat lockers that can be rented with cash or credit card. However, they are not monitored and mostly small in size.
Why not use one of these other options for storing your luggage or bags in Chicago?
Can I take photos?
Yes, you may take all the non-flash photos you like for personal use.
NOTE: Selfie sticks are prohibited.
This section lists a few of the more popular Shedd Aquarium exhibits.
The Amazon Rising
This exhibit displays plants and animals from the Amazon and teaches about how this ecosystem survives and even thrives with yearly floods.
There are piranhas, monkeys, and an anaconda, among other species and plant life, in the Amazon Rising.
You can see the differences in wet and dry seasons.
The Caribbean Reef
Check out the plant-life and the inhabitants of the Reef!
This exhibit gives you a 360-degree look at this habitat. You can play hide-and-seek with the animals who live here. Look for the green sea turtle and the sharks!
Waters of the World
There are over 80 habitats in this exhibit ranging from Asia to the local American wetlands.
The Oceans gallery has sharks and giant anemones with a floor-to-ceiling Kep Forest.
The Islands and Lakes habitat has a Bahamian iguana and American alligators!
Other habitats include the Great Lakes and the world's Rivers.
The Wild Reef
Home to sharks, stingrays, and live coral, the Wild Reefs offers a close encounter of some exotic creatures in their living habitat.
This exhibit is a recreation of a coral reef in the Philippines and allows you to see what divers do.
The habitat even goes above water and has recreated the fishing village in the Philippines that saved their dying coral reef.
The Abbott Oceanarium
This exhibit will teach you about the Pacific Northwest.
You will encounter beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea otters. You can also enjoy the Shedd’s aquatic show.
Polar Play Zone
Get up close and personal with underwater viewing decks where dolphins come to greet you while you eat your lunch, and a penguin playscape!
This is a favorite spot for families with smaller children and includes a kid-sized submarine to explore.