Free Days at the Shedd Aquarium in 2024

Find out when Illinois residents can visit the aquarium for free.

Chicagoland families are blessed with an abundance of historical, cultural and imaginative museums throughout the city and suburbs. But, once you factor in tickets, parking fees, gift shop souvenirs and meals or snacks throughout the day, a wholesome museum trip can put a big dent in your wallet. 

Luckily, the Shedd Aquarium has plenty of upcoming free days for Illinois residents — including free evening hours — to alleviate some of the burden on parents. We’ve found all the info you need to know to reserve your free admission and enjoy a free trip to the Shedd Aquarium in 2024.

Find even more free museum days in Chicagoland. 

Quick details about the Shedd Aquarium 

Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

  • Getting there: The 130 and 146 CTA buses drop riders off steps from the aquarium. 
  • Parking: There are many parking lots near Museum Campus. The Soldier Field North Garage charges $25 for up to four hours and $30 for up to 12 hours. The East Museum lot charges $30 for up to 12 hours. Drivers looking to score a deal on parking can visit the Shedd Aquarium SpotHero page to score 50% off parking rates. Valet parking is available for $35. 

Upcoming free days at the Shedd for 2024

Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Free days are for Illinois residents only. Be prepared to show proof of residency to secure your free tickets. 

  • February: 27-29
  • March (Tuesday evenings 5-9 p.m.): 5, 12, 19, 26
  • April (Tuesday evenings 5-9 p.m.): 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
  • May (Tuesday evenings 5-9 p.m.): 7, 14, 21, 28
  • June (Tuesday evenings 5-9 p.m.): 4, 11, 18, 2

Tips for reserving free day tickets

Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Capacity is limited on free days, and the aquarium recommends making advance reservations due to the high demand for tickets.​ Prevent being turned away at the entrance by reserving your free day tickets ahead of time and using these free day tips for families: 

  • Illinois Free Resident Days include free access to the entire aquarium and the seasonal Stingray Touch exhibit. Add a 4-D experience for $4.95/person. 
  • Online ticket reservations are available. There is a $5 fee per online order. 
  • Reserve tickets by phone with no fee by calling (312) 939-2438 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
  • All adults in your party must show proof of Illinois residency. Acceptable documents include a photo ID, a current college ID, a utility bill, a lease agreement, a pay stub with address or other official documentation that lists both resident’s full name and address. 
  • Out of state guests are not eligible for free admission. 

Get all the must-know info and tips for visiting the Shedd Aquarium with kids in our family guide.


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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

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