Jazzin’ at Shedd Aquarium a memorable night for Chicago families

I grew up in Chicago and one of my favorite field trips to take each year when I was in school was to the Shedd Aquarium.

If you go

Wednesdays, June 25-Sept. 3, 5-10 p.m.


1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605


The Abbott Oceanarium, Jellies special exhibit and Polar Play Zone will be open until 8 p.m. (last entry 7:45 p.m.). Wild Reef will be open until 9 p.m. (last entry 8:45 p.m.) and the aquarium galleries, along with the terraces, will stay open until 10 p.m.



I loved being packed side-by-side with my friends while watching the aquatic show, with our shouts of “oohs” and “ahhs” echoing across the room as the dolphins and trainers showcased their tricks. It was a really loud and exciting time.

The atmosphere is completely different at night. Jazzin’ at the Shedd, a weekly summer evening concert series, offers the unique chance to experience the calm that settles on the aquarium once the hustle and bustle from the school crowds and families dies down.

Stroll through the Abbott Oceanarium where the Beluga whales glide through the water, popping their heads up every once in a while to take a peek at you. Or watch the two newest members of the dolphin family play together as the sun sets on the lake. And allow yourself to be mesmerized by the beauty that is the Jellies exhibit.

As you make your way to the aquarium galleries, you’ll be welcomed by the smooth sounds of Chicago’s finest jazz and funk musicians. You’ll find yourself swaying to the rhythms and bobbing your head before you know it.

Jazzin’ is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and with cocktails and light refreshments, the event is tailor made for a memorable date night. Surprisingly, it can be perfect for families with little ones, as well.

I commented to my husband how our 2-year-old daughter would have loved the event. She’s not very aggressive and would easily get lost in the shuffle of excited kids trying the get up close for the best views of the sea creatures.

With the laid-back feel of the night, she’d get a front row seat to Shedd’s 32,000 animal residents. And hey, one missed bedtime every once in a while doesn’t hurt.

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