Shedd Aquarium – All in one Guide & 1 Day visit Itinerary

photo of pod of dolphins

Welcome to Shedd Aquarium, where aquatic wonders await! Nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium is a premier destination for marine enthusiasts and families alike. Immerse yourself in a world teeming with vibrant sea life, from graceful dolphins to majestic beluga whales.

What to see

At Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, you’ll discover a fascinating array of exhibits and aquatic life. Here are some of the highlights you won’t want to miss:

  1. Oceanarium: Step into the Oceanarium to witness incredible aquatic shows featuring dolphins, beluga whales, sea lions, and more. Marvel at their grace and agility as they perform in a stunning aquatic setting.
  2. Wild Reef: Explore the vibrant coral reefs of the Wild Reef exhibit, where you’ll encounter colorful tropical fish, sharks, and other marine creatures. Learn about the importance of coral reefs and the threats they face in today’s changing oceans.
  3. Amazon Rising: Journey into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest at the Amazon Rising exhibit. Encounter exotic freshwater fish, amphibians, and reptiles native to this biodiverse ecosystem. Learn about the interconnectedness of the Amazon River and its surrounding rainforest.
  4. Abbott Oceanarium: Dive deep into the underwater world at the Abbott Oceanarium, where you can observe a variety of marine life, including Pacific Northwest sea otters, penguins, and jellyfish. Discover the unique adaptations of these animals to their ocean habitats.
  5. Stingray Touch: Get up close and personal with stingrays at the Stingray Touch exhibit. Dip your hand into the shallow touch pool and feel the smooth texture of these fascinating creatures as they glide gracefully through the water.
  6. Special Exhibits: Shedd Aquarium often hosts special exhibits and temporary displays featuring a wide range of topics, from conservation initiatives to biodiversity hotspots. Be sure to check out what’s on display during your visit.

These are just a few of the highlights awaiting you at Shedd Aquarium. With engaging exhibits, interactive experiences, and educational presentations, there’s something for visitors of all ages to enjoy and learn from.

Insider Tips

  1. Arrive Early or Late: Beat the crowds by arriving early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This will give you more space to explore the exhibits at your own pace and enjoy a quieter atmosphere.
  2. Check the Schedule: Be sure to check the schedule for animal feedings, presentations, and special events. Plan your visit around these times to catch exciting demonstrations and learn more about the marine life at Shedd Aquarium.
  3. Behind-the-Scenes Tours: Consider booking a behind-the-scenes tour for a deeper dive into the aquarium’s operations and conservation efforts. These guided tours offer exclusive access to areas not typically open to the public and provide insights from expert staff members.
  4. Use the Shedd App: Download the Shedd Aquarium app to access interactive maps, exhibit information, and daily schedules. The app also provides insider tips, animal facts, and real-time updates to help you make the most of your visit.
  5. Become a Member: If you’re a frequent visitor or plan to return in the future, consider becoming a member of Shedd Aquarium. Membership offers perks such as unlimited admission, exclusive events, and discounts on parking, dining, and gift shop purchases.

By following these insider tips, you can make the most of your visit to Shedd Aquarium and create lasting memories of your underwater adventure.

1 Day visit Itinerary


  1. Arrival (9:00 AM): Arrive early to beat the crowds and start your day at Shedd Aquarium. Purchase tickets or present your pre-purchased tickets for entry.
  2. Oceanarium Show (9:30 AM): Head straight to the Oceanarium for the first show of the day featuring dolphins, beluga whales, and sea lions. Arrive a few minutes early to secure a good seat.
  3. Abbott Oceanarium (10:15 AM): Explore the Abbott Oceanarium exhibits, including the Pacific Northwest sea otters, penguins, and jellyfish. Take your time observing the marine life and learning about their habitats.


  1. Lunch Break (12:00 PM): Take a break for lunch at one of the dining options within Shedd Aquarium or nearby on the Museum Campus. Enjoy a meal with views of Lake Michigan before continuing your exploration.


  1. Wild Reef (1:00 PM): Make your way to the Wild Reef exhibit to discover the colorful coral reefs and tropical fish of the Indo-Pacific region. Learn about coral conservation efforts and the importance of preserving these fragile ecosystems.
  2. Amazon Rising (2:00 PM): Journey into the Amazon Rainforest at the Amazon Rising exhibit. Encounter freshwater fish, amphibians, and reptiles native to the Amazon River basin. Explore the interactive displays and educational presentations.
  3. Stingray Touch (3:00 PM): Visit the Stingray Touch exhibit to get hands-on experience with stingrays. Dip your hand into the touch pool and feel the smooth texture of these fascinating creatures as they glide past.

Late Afternoon:

  1. Special Exhibits (4:00 PM): Check out any special exhibits or temporary displays currently on view at Shedd Aquarium. These exhibits offer unique insights into marine conservation, biodiversity, and other relevant topics.
  2. Souvenir Shopping (5:00 PM): Wrap up your visit with some souvenir shopping at the gift shop. Browse a selection of marine-themed gifts, books, and toys to commemorate your day at Shedd Aquarium.


  1. Departure (6:00 PM): As the aquarium closes for the day, take one last look at the stunning views of Lake Michigan before heading back to your accommodation or exploring other attractions in the area.

This itinerary is flexible, so feel free to adjust the timing and order of activities based on your preferences and the schedule of shows and presentations at Shedd Aquarium. Enjoy your day of exploration and discovery!

Product Suggestions

  1. Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated throughout your visit by bringing a reusable water bottle. Many attractions, including Shedd Aquarium, have water refill stations to help reduce plastic waste.
  2. Sunscreen: If you plan to spend time outside on the Museum Campus or along Lake Michigan, don’t forget to protect your skin with sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
  3. Camera or Smartphone: Capture memories of your trip to Shedd Aquarium with a camera or smartphone. Take photos of your favorite exhibits, animals, and scenic views to cherish for years to come.
  4. Binoculars: Enhance your wildlife viewing experience by bringing a pair of binoculars. Binoculars can help you get a closer look at animals in the Oceanarium and outdoor habitats.
  5. Guidebook or Map: Pick up a guidebook or map of Shedd Aquarium to help navigate the exhibits and learn more about the marine life on display. Guidebooks often contain interesting facts, photos, and tips for visitors.
  6. Snacks: Pack some snacks to keep your energy up during your visit. Choose portable, non-perishable snacks like granola bars, trail mix, or fruit snacks to enjoy between exhibits.
  7. Backpack or Tote Bag: Carry your essentials in a backpack or tote bag to keep your hands free while exploring Shedd Aquarium. Choose a lightweight, water-resistant bag with plenty of room for your belongings.
  8. Sunglasses: Shield your eyes from the sun’s glare with a pair of sunglasses. Look for sunglasses with UV protection to help reduce the risk of eye damage.
  9. Rain Poncho or Umbrella: Be prepared for changing weather conditions by bringing a rain poncho or umbrella. Chicago weather can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to have protection from rain or drizzle.
  10. Souvenirs: Don’t forget to pick up souvenirs to remember your trip to Shedd Aquarium. Shop for marine-themed gifts, plush toys, t-shirts, and other memorabilia at the gift shop before you leave.

These products will help you stay comfortable, prepared, and entertained during your visit to Shedd Aquarium. Happy exploring!

Nearby Attractions to Shedd Aquarium

While you’re visiting Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, there are several nearby natural attractions you might want to explore:

  1. Lake Michigan: Step outside Shedd Aquarium to enjoy the beauty of Lake Michigan. Take a stroll along the lakefront path, relax on the sandy beaches, or rent a kayak or paddleboard for some water-based fun.
  2. Grant Park: Located adjacent to Shedd Aquarium, Grant Park offers lush green spaces, gardens, and scenic views of Lake Michigan. Visit Buckingham Fountain, Millennium Park, or the Art Institute of Chicago, all within walking distance.
  3. Northerly Island: Just south of Shedd Aquarium, Northerly Island is a 91-acre peninsula featuring nature trails, wetlands, and bird habitats. Explore the natural beauty of this urban oasis and enjoy breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline.
  4. Burnham Park: Stretching along the lakefront, Burnham Park offers expansive green spaces, recreational facilities, and walking paths. Spend some time outdoors picnicking, biking, or simply enjoying the scenic vistas.
  5. Maggie Daley Park: Adjacent to Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park is a vibrant urban playground featuring climbing walls, skating ribbons, and imaginative play structures. It’s a great spot for families and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.
  6. Chicago Riverwalk: Explore the scenic Chicago Riverwalk, located a short distance from Shedd Aquarium. Stroll along the riverfront promenade, admire the architecture, and take a boat tour to experience the city from a different perspective.
  7. Jackson Park: Located south of Shedd Aquarium, Jackson Park offers expansive green spaces, gardens, and recreational facilities. Explore the Wooded Island, Japanese Garden, and other natural attractions within the park.

These nearby natural attractions provide opportunities to immerse yourself in the beauty of Chicago’s outdoor spaces and enjoy a variety of recreational activities. Whether you prefer walking along the lakefront, exploring urban parks, or simply soaking up the scenery, there’s something for everyone to enjoy near Shedd Aquarium.


  1. What is Shedd Aquarium?
    • Shedd Aquarium is a premier public aquarium located in Chicago, Illinois. It is home to a diverse array of marine life from around the world and is known for its educational programs, conservation efforts, and engaging exhibits.
  2. When was Shedd Aquarium founded?
    • Shedd Aquarium was founded in 1930 and opened to the public on May 30, 1930.
  3. What are the main exhibits at Shedd Aquarium?
    • Some of the main exhibits at Shedd Aquarium include the Oceanarium, Abbott Oceanarium, Wild Reef, Amazon Rising, and the Stingray Touch exhibit.
  4. What types of animals can visitors see at Shedd Aquarium?
    • Visitors to Shedd Aquarium can see a wide variety of animals, including dolphins, beluga whales, sea lions, penguins, otters, sharks, stingrays, tropical fish, amphibians, and reptiles.
  5. Does Shedd Aquarium offer behind-the-scenes tours?
    • Yes, Shedd Aquarium offers behind-the-scenes tours that provide exclusive access to areas not typically open to the public. These guided tours offer insights into the aquarium’s operations, animal care practices, and conservation efforts.
  6. Are there opportunities for visitors to interact with the animals?
    • Yes, visitors can interact with animals at the Stingray Touch exhibit, where they can touch and feed stingrays in a shallow touch pool under the supervision of aquarium staff.
  7. Does Shedd Aquarium offer educational programs for schools and groups?
    • Yes, Shedd Aquarium offers a variety of educational programs for schools, groups, and families, including guided tours, interactive workshops, and overnight stays.
  8. What conservation initiatives is Shedd Aquarium involved in?
    • Shedd Aquarium is actively involved in various conservation initiatives aimed at protecting marine habitats, promoting sustainable fishing practices, and raising awareness about environmental issues impacting aquatic ecosystems.
  9. Are there dining options available at Shedd Aquarium?
    • Yes, Shedd Aquarium has several dining options where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack during their visit. Options include a café, food court, and seasonal outdoor dining areas.
  10. How can visitors get to Shedd Aquarium using public transportation?
    • Visitors can reach Shedd Aquarium using public transportation, including the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses and trains. The #146 and #130 buses stop near the aquarium, and the Roosevelt station serves as a transfer point for several CTA train lines.

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