By: Shedd Aquarium Last Updated: August 26, 2019

This September brings with it a handful of opportunities for Illinois residents to experience all the wonder and aquatic splendor of Shedd Aquarium at no charge, with Illinois Resident Free Days on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the month starting after Labor Day.

While school or work might traditionally be a barrier to taking advantage of these free days, that won’t be the case in September, as the aquarium plans to extend its hours on several of those free days until 9 p.m. for Free Community Nights to provide more chances for guests and groups to take in, observe and learn about animals from the new beluga whale calf at Shedd to old favorites like three 31-year-old Magellanic penguins.


“We are a gateway to nature and an ocean experience for nearly 2 million guests each year, many of whom actively benefit from opportunities to connect with Shedd Aquarium during these Illinois Resident Free Days,” said Meghan Curran, senior vice president of marketing, sales and guest relations at Shedd Aquarium. “We look forward to making these important days as accessible as possible so that guests can stop by whenever their schedule allows to make an impactful connection with the aquatic world.”

A visit to Shedd Aquarium during Illinois Resident Free Days includes free general admission, which means guests with a valid ID or proof of residence have the opportunity to see all the aquarium’s galleries and exhibits, including the special exhibit, Underwater Beauty, as well as a ticket to an aquatic presentation, though space is limited on higher attendance days like these. Illinois Resident Free Days at Shedd are generously sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund.

Guests interested in diving deeper during their visit can upgrade their visit by purchasing a ticket for a 4-D film or a Virtual Reality experience.

As always, due to the popularity of these days, Shedd encourages guests to secure their tickets online via Shedd’s website. A $3 transaction fee applies to all Illinois Free Day tickets secured online. This helps ensure access to as many neighbors as possible by validating orders.

During these Free Community Nights, Shedd also encourages all IL groups like scouting troops, book clubs and more to host their meetings at the aquarium and take advantage of the free aquatic surroundings. Group reservations can be made in advance by calling the group hotline (312) 692-3333 to receive special entrance and individualized signage inside the aquarium.