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Shedd Aquarium

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1200 S Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605 United States
(312) 939-2438

There are many wonderful exhibits at Shedd Aquarium. We have outlined the permanent exhibits below with descriptions and photos. You may also check out the special temporary exhibits here.

Caribbean Reef

This is the iconic circular tank right inside the aquarium. You have a 360 degree view of the fish, coral and sharks. You can watch a diver feed the fish and have a chance to ask him or her questions. There are benches around the tank and it’s also a great place to take a break and figure out where to go next!


Abbott Oceanarium

The Oceanarium is where the Aquatic Show takes place and you can see beluga whales, dolphins, and a cute little sea otter, named Luna. The Polar Play Zone is a part of the Oceanarium.


Polar Play Zone

Kids can slide down small slides like a penguin while watching the penguins waddle and swim across the way. There is a submarine where they can turn dials, press buttons, look through scopes and control a robotic arm. They can see small exhibits with viewing windows low to the ground are great for the kids as well. There is also an opportunity to touch starfish in shallow, cold water tank and the underwater viewing was great.



Wild Reef

The reef is one of my favorite areas in the aquarium. It has floor to ceiling tanks and even one that is curved at the top so you can look up and see fish and sharks swimming above you.


There are so many colors and sizes of aquatic life to see and the scale is just magnificent. The kids were in awe and ended up standing in front of the tanks staring, pointing and talking about everything they were seeing for a really long time!


Shedd Aquarium Parking

The cheapest parking that I know of is street parking on E Solidarity Drive, which is the street between the Shedd and Planetarium. We found a spot there today and used the City of Chicago street parking app (ParkChicago). I initially planned on staying 3 hours, but we were so engrossed at the aquarium that when I received a notification that our time was running out I extended it by another hour. Very convenient, especially since you never know how long the kiddos are going to last.

There is also a lot closer to the Shedd, between the Shedd and Field Museum, which costs a flat rate.

The accessible entrance is a closer walk than the main entrance (and a must for strollers), then take the elevator up one floor to the main lobby.

You can also check Spot Hero for possibilities.

Admission Tickets

I definitely recommend buying tickets online before arriving, unless you are going on a discount day. The line to buy tickets was winding around when we got there around 1pm, but the will call line was only 4 people deep. It also gives you a chance to check out your options and decide what you want to see instead of waiting to figure it out when you are distracted and trying to keep an eye on your kids. On discount days general admission is free for Illinois residents and the extra exhibits are discounted. Those offers are available on-site only and not pre-sale online.

Click here to see the current ticket prices, discounts, and special offers.


There are three locations within the aquarium that sell different types of food. At Soundings Café you can eat inside with lakefront views or outside on the terrace. They have fresh salads, wraps and sandwiches made to order. The Bubble Net has a family friendly menu with pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches, burritos and other choices everyone can enjoy. The Deep Ocean Café is in the Polar Play Zone, and has a lot of kids’ favorites including hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

Your other option is to bring your own food or buy from vending machines in the lunch room, located right inside the accessible entrance. They have tables and chairs in a cafeteria setting. I would recommend going either before noon or after the lunch rush because it can get fairly crowded.

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