“When is the Shedd Aquarium Free for Illinois Residents in the First Half of 2020?”

Illinois Free Days at the John G. Shedd Aquarium are January 16-20, 2020, February 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 2020; and the 15th, 16th, 22nd, and 23rd of June, 2020.  Notably, this means the whole of every standard workweek (Mondays through Fridays) are Illinois Free Days in February, but not weekends.  Admission is free for Illinois residents, but there is a $3-per-order transaction fee if one reserves Illinois Free Day tickets online. This is a great opportunity for families with babies or preschool-aged tots, homeschooling families, and adults with open schedules to see the Shedd Aquarium. Please note that Monday, January 20, A.D. 2020 is Martin Luther King, Junior Day, which all schoolchildren have off, so if one or more parents (or perhaps a grandparent or uncle or aunt) has the day off, a trip to the Shedd Aquarium may be a good way to spend the civic holiday.

JanuaryThursday, January 16, A.D. 2020

  Friday, January 17, A.D. 2020

  Saturday, January 18, A.D. 2020

  Sunday, January 19, A.D. 2020

  Monday, January 20, A.D. 2020  
FebruaryMonday, February 3, A.D. 2020  

Tuesday, February 4, A.D. 2020  

Wednesday, February 5, A.D. 2020  

Thursday, February 6, A.D. 2020  

Friday, February 7, A.D. 2020  

Monday, February 10, A.D. 2020  

Tuesday, February 11, A.D. 2020

  Wednesday, February 12, A.D. 2020  

Thursday, February 13, A.D. 2020  

Friday, February 14, A.D. 2020

  Monday, February 17, A.D. 2020

  Tuesday, February 18, A.D. 2020  

Wednesday, February 19, A.D. 2020  

Thursday, February 20, A.D. 2020

  Friday, February 21, A.D. 2020  

Monday, February 24, A.D. 2020  

Tuesday, February 25, A.D. 2020  

Wednesday, February 26, A.D. 2020  

Thursday, February 27, A.D. 2020  

Friday, February 28, A.D. 2020
JuneMonday, June 15, A.D. 2020  

Tuesday, June 16, A.D. 2020  

Monday, June 22, A.D. 2020  

Tuesday, June 23, A.D. 2020  

      The Shedd Aquarium can get crowded on weekends.  The staff advises people contemplating a visit to try visiting on a weekday.  On the Website, they exclaim, “You’ll have the best views of your favorite animals!”  Capacity is limited.  The staff advises visitors to reserve tickets online in advance to avoid getting there and finding out it is sold out for the day.  The 4-D Experience admission is a $4.95 upgrade for all guests. 

Figure 1 Caption: John G. Shedd Aquarium Caption: These are dolphins jumping in the John G. Shedd Aquarium’s Oceanarium in 2016.

Community Discounts

Educator Offers

Educators from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin can receive complimentary Shedd ticket by registering online.  This offer is not valid during special events or for admission to the 4-F Experience.  Educators from outside the quad-state area can receive a $3 on-site discount on a Shedd Aquarium ticket by showing a valid school identification card or current paystub.


Students (age twelve-and-over) with valid school identification receive $3 on-site discount on general admission every day except on Illinois Resident Free Days.  Please note that this offer cannot be combined with other discounts and is not available for child admission tickets for children ages three-to-eleven.

Active-Duty U.S. Military Personnel

Active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Services receive free general admission with proper identification.  Once on site, one can add 4-D Experience tickets.  Please note that dependents and other family members are not included in this offer.

U.S. Military Veterans

On the weekend of Veterans Day Weekend (Saturday, November 7, A.D. 2020 through Monday November 9, A.D. 2020)[1] U.S. military veterans receive free general admission.  This offer is only for veterans or retired U.S. military and is not applicable to dependents.  It cannot be combined with other discounts.  Click here to find out more about accessibility tools.

Chicago Police Officers and Firefighters

Chicago police officers and firefighters receive free general admission when they show proper identification on-site.  This offer is not valid during special events or for admission to the 4-D Experience.

Senior Citizens

Senior Citizens (sixty-five-and-over) receive a $3 discount on-site on their general admission tickets every day every day except Illinois Resident Free Days.  This offer cannot be combined with other discounts.

Kids Museum Passports

Check out a Kids Museum Passport, which is good for free on-site admission for children and adults, at branches of the Chicago Public Library.  Present the passes in the general admission line.

Corporate Members

General admission tickets are now the standard ticket for all visitors, including the employees of the Shedd Aquarium’s corporate partners.  As a supporter of the Shedd Aquarium, a corporation’s employees will receive complimentary admission to the Shedd Aquarium’s permanent exhibits, including Stingray Touch; and first-come, first-served tickets to the animal presentation (a $39.95 value).  Click here to see current corporate member details.  

Bank of America Museums on US Program

All visitors who present an active Bank of America®, Merill® (formerly Merill Lynch®), or Bank of America Private Bank® (formerly U.S. Trust®) branded debit or credit card – whether a physical or electronic/digital card – and an active, valid photo identification card shall receive one free general admission to the Shedd Aquarium during program dates listed below:

2020 Bank of America’s Museums on Us Sundays

Sunday, February 2, A.D. 2020

Sunday, March 8, A.D. 2020

Sunday, April 5, A.D. 2020

Sunday, May 3, A.D. 2020

Sunday, September 6, A.D. 2020

Sunday, October 4, A.D. 2020

Sunday, November 8, A.D. 2020

Sunday, December 6, A.D. 2020

These admission benefits are not transferable, and are valid exclusively for the cardholder.  This offer is not valid during special events or for admission to the 4-D Experience.

Museums for All

      As a Museums for All partner, the Shedd Aquarium offers daily free and deeply discounted admission to eligible poor families.  Participants can present their Electronic Benefits Transfer (E.B.T.) card to redeem this special offer.  The free Museums for All admission includes all permanent exhibits, Underwater Beauty special exhibit, aquatic presentation (subject to availability), and seasonal Stingray Touch (open from late May to Labor Day weekend).  Admission to the 4-D Experience is a $4.95 upgrade for all guests.  Any family that has a state-issued E.B.T. card with a valid identification card can redeem up to four admissions to the Shedd Aquarium per E.B.T. card any day of the week.  Admission is free for children (seventeen-and-under) and $3 per adult (eighteen-and-over).

Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago.
Figure 2 Credit Adobe Stock Photo Caption: This is the roofline of the Shedd Aquarium.

      The Shedd Aquarium is a Smithsonian Affiliate.  It is located on the Museum Campus in the Chicago Park District’s Burnham Park.  Normally, the Shedd Aquarium is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the workweek (Mondays through Fridays) and from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays).    Click here for updates on hours.  The last ticket sale is forty-five minutes before closing.

      The address is 1200 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605.  The Website is https://www.sheddaquarium.org.  The phone number is (312) 939-2438.

[1] This year, Veterans Day will fall on Wednesday, November 11, A.D. 2020.  Veterans Day Weekend is the previous weekend.

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