Once the world’s largest indoor aquariums, Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, and amphibians. The aquarium sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and is part of Chicago’s famous Museum Campus, which includes the Field Museum and Adler Planetarium.
The first inland aquarium to include permanent saltwater exhibits along with freshwater exhibits, the Shedd Aquarium is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago. Permanent exhibits include the multilevel Oceanarium, which mimics ocean conditions off the northwest coast of North America; the Wild Reef exhibit, which simulates a Philippines reef ecosystem; and the Amazon Rising exhibit, which introduces visitors to the Amazon River and rainforest. Make the aquarium a stop on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour or visit after taking a Segway tour of the Museum Campus.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Buy tickets online in advance to avoid long entry lines, which can sometimes take up to two hours.
- Entry lines can sometimes stretch outside, so dress appropriately in case of inclement weather.
- Allow two to three hours for your visit.
- The Shedd Aquarium is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
How to Get There
The Shedd Aquarium is located on the Museum Campus in the South Loop, just off Lakeshore Drive and a short walk from downtown. It is accessible by several bus lines, and the nearest El stop is Roosevelt.
When to Get There
The Shedd Aquarium is open year-round and can be particularly busy on the weekends and school holidays. Arrive early to beat the crowds, or look for special evening events when you can experience the aquarium after dark.
Special Experiences at the Shedd Aquarium
Make your visit to the Shedd Aquarium truly unique by participating in one of the many special experiences available. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Wild Reef and experience a shark feeding, get up close and personal with penguins or beluga whales, or visit the animal healthcare center and watch the animals’ meals be prepared. For an even more in-depth experience, spend four hours learning what it’s like to be a marine mammal trainer at the aquarium.