Shedd Aquarium Free Days in Chicago

Jellyfish at the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 8:23am

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Chicago's biggest museums all offer free days for Illinois residents throughout the year, including the Shedd Aquarium.

Have you been to the Shedd Aquarium? If not, this is your chance to visit. These free admission days include all permanent exhibits, Underwater Beauty special exhibit, aquatic presentation (subject to availability) and seasonal Stingray Touch (open late May to October).

As soon as you enter, stop at the Caribbean Reef. This 90,000 gallon circular tank is filled with sharks, eels, turtles, puffers, angelfish, and lots of other sea creatures. A diver feeds them and answers your questions. 

Clownfish - one of the many creatures you'll see during Shedd Aquarium free days

Another must see is the jellyfish. As they undulate gracefully they change colors like Christmas Tree lights set on slow. Contrast those with the prehistoric-looking creatures in Amazon Rising, and then check out the cute but quite lethal tree frogs.

I also enjoy the seahorses, and not just because they look like cartoon figures. In this fantastic species the males get pregnant!

Find even more free things to do in Chicago

Seahorse at the Shedd Aquarium

The "Wild Reef" is home to several species of sharks separated from you by 5" of glass. You can also walk all over a bunch of Stingrays - literally! Their tank is under the floor. 

Find a place to stay near the Shedd Aquarium

Walking over a stingray at the Shedd Aquarium

Whales and dolphins and penguins, oh my! In the Oceanarium's amphitheater you can see how beluga whales, sea lions, dolphins and other animals are cared for every day by their trainers.

Free days at Shedd Aquarium are listed below. You can take your chance and line up, or you can reserve in advance. There's a $3 charge to hold your ticket, just to make sure you're serious. Upgrade to a 4-D experience for just $4.95.

Shedd Aquarium Free Days 2019

  • January 17-21
  • February 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-28
  • June 17, 18, 24, 25
  • August 26-27
  • September 3, 4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30
  • October 1, 2
  • December 4


These free days for Illinois residents at the Shedd Aquarium are a great deal because admission is $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for children ages 3 to 11. Chicago residents save 50% and their tickets are $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for children. Ticket prices are higher because the museum combined their previously separate Shedd Pass and Total Experience Pass to offer just one general admission ticket that includes all of the permanent exhibits.  

Can't make it on those dates or not an Illinois resident? Get discounted admission to the Shedd Aquarium and four other top attractions with CityPass.

There are also free days at the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium throughout the year. Check out our free museum days Chicago guide, which is updated as soon as dates are available.

Getting to the Shedd Aquarium

With its location in downtown Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium (1200 S Lake Shore Dr) is easily accessible via public transportation, whether you're taking a bus, a train, or Metra. The Metra electric line runs under Grant Park with a nearby station. 

Don't want to deal with parking near the Shedd Aquarium? Take a ride-share service. If you're new to ride-sharing service use one of our codes and you'll get a credit with Uber or Lyft


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Chicago's Shedd Aquarium offers several free days a year for Illinois residents.
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About Theresa Goodrich

Theresa  Goodrich is the founder and publisher of The Local Tourist and author of the "Two Lane Gems" book series, uplifting and slightly humorous tales of American road trips.

1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
How much: Shedd Pass: Adult $30.95 Child $21.95
Shedd Aquarium is Chicago's indoor public aquarium. At Shedd Aquarium, animals connect you to the living world, inspiring you to make a difference.