Jazzin’ at the Shedd

On Wednesdays in the summer, the Shedd Aquarium hosts an event called “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” and it is just what it sounds like.  A jazz band performs while you explore the many levels of the aquarium.  When the weather cooperates, these bands play outside on the terrace.  Thanks to the rain that never ends in 2019, we had to experience the music indoors.

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The John G. Shedd Aquarium opened its doors to the public on May 30, 1930.  It operates as an aquarium and museum of aquatic life.  It provides educational services to the public and conducts scientific research to further support and protect marine wildlife.  It is hard to find someone who has lived in Chicago (or its suburbs) and has not visited the Shedd Aquarium at some point in their lives.  Along with the Planetarium and the Field Museum, the Aquarium is part of what is now known as the “museum campus”.

From 5:00 – 10:00 pm on these select dates, the museum is closed to the public for this private event.  For the price of admission ($20 for Chicago residents, $25 for Non-residents, Free to Members), guests have access to the full aquarium as well as the live music playing that night.  The Jazzin’ season will run through August and a list of performers can be found here.

With this being a special event, and a weeknight, the aquarium was not crowded.  At all.  We were able to get right up to the glass at each exhibit without waiting.

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The five-hour admission is more of an “open house” format.  Come late, leave early.  Whatever works with your schedule.  A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Food and drinks are served, however, they are an additional cost to the night.

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  • Some exhibits close early. We decided to eat at a restaurant instead of the event.  Due to our late arrival, we missed the chance to visit the Oceanarium (it closed at 7:45 pm).
  • Another bonus that comes with admission is that you can view the Wednesday night Navy Pier fireworks from the terrace. For an additional $20, you can even reserve a spot on a Shoreline cruise to get you even closer to the display.

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I have made many trips here with my kids that it was nice to explore the marine life on my own.  Additionally, there were very few children present that night.  This is not advertised as an “adults only” event but only a handful of couples brought their kids.  Not that I have anything against kids, but aren’t “date nights” and excuse to get away from your own for a few hours?

Sometimes date-nights can be on a weeknight.  Break up your week with a little Jazz and an ocean of fish!

Art on the Mart

PRO TIP:  If you don’t read any further than this, take my advice and BRING HEADPHONES (more on that later).

Art on the Mart is a permanent public art experience along the Riverwalk in Chicago.  Lights and pictures are projected onto the entire south side of the Merchandise Mart.  Introduced in September of 2018, the art installation is presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theaters.

theMART (formerly the Merchandise Mart), located in the River North neighborhood between Wells and Orleans streets, is the world’s largest commercial building and design center.  It spans two whole city blocks and is 25 stories tall.  theMART has been an icon in Chicago’s architectural city since it was built in the 1930s.

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On May 13, 2019, Art on the Mart expanded its projections to seven days a week for the summer.  Projections begin about 15 minutes after sunset.  Approximate sunset times are listed on their website calendar.  This summer program will run through September 29, 2019.

I would recommend getting there at least a half hour early.  There really isn’t “seating” available, except on the edges of some landscape ledges.

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Before the show starts, there is a projection instructing you to visit the website for audio.  They do not play this publicly, so if you don’t have headphones with you, you are out of luck.  Trying to play it through the speaker on your phone didn’t work that well.  Some of the light projections are set to music and some of the projections were performances from theater performers, visual artists and puppeteers.

The display is visible for 2 hours.  I’m not sure if it repeats at some point.  We didn’t stay that long.  If you are feeling adventurous, we saw a good number of kayakers enjoying the visual display on the river during that night.

If you are in the city, this is definitely worth fitting into your agenda.  This is also a FREE activity so that is always a bonus.  Just make sure you have headphones.