Swimming with sharks in Matteson, Illinois? More like watching them on land!

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, there are few activities more thrilling than swimming with sharks. But, if you’re in Matteson, Illinois, you’re out of luck. Despite being situated just a few hours from Lake Michigan, there are no opportunities to swim with these fearsome creatures in the area. And that’s probably for the best!

But don’t worry, you can still get up close and personal with sharks in the Land of Lincoln. Here are some options for watching these magnificent predators on land.

The John G. Shedd Aquarium

The John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is home to a variety of aquatic life, including several species of sharks. But don’t worry, you’re safe behind the glass! They have over 2,000 animals including everything from sea otters to iguanas. They even have a Beluga Whale tank. If you’re looking to be entertained, then the Shedd Aquarium is the place to be.

The Willis Tower Skydeck

Do you want a bird’s eye view of downtown Chicago AND maybe pretend to be on the side of a skyscraper in a movie? Check out the Willis Tower Skydeck. The observation deck on the 103rd floor offers incredible views of the city, as well as a fun photo opportunity known as “The Ledge.” This is a glass box protruding out from the side of the building, offering a unique perspective of the city below. And, if you look hard enough, you might just see a shark swimming in one of the many bodies of water visible from the Skydeck.

The Field Museum

While the Field Museum may not be known for its aquatic collections, it is home to one of the most famous sharks of all time: Sue the T. Rex. (Yes, we know, sharks and dinos are not the same, but who doesn’t love Sue?) Sue, the largest, most intact, and possibly the most famous T. rex skeleton in the world, is housed at the Field Museum. She’s so popular that she even has her own Twitter account. Check her out and learn a little history while you’re at it.

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Movies and TV Shows

If you’re stuck at home and need your shark fix, there are plenty of movies and TV shows available for streaming. From classics like “Jaws” to modern-day thrillers like “The Shallows,” there’s no shortage of options. And, if you’re looking for something a little different, try the spoof movie “Sharknado” or the TV show “Shark Tank.” Can you think of any more shark movies or shows worth mentioning? Let us know!

Shark art

Who says you need to see sharks in water or on TV? You can still “experience” them through art. There are many ways to accomplish this, from realistic paintings to abstract sculptures. Perhaps the most famous example of shark art is Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.” This piece features a dead tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde, making for a pretty impressive spectacle. Regardless of whether it’s lifelike or surreal, shark art is sure to make an impression.

Other places to watch sharks

While they might not be a feature attraction, sharks can be found in many other aquariums along with other water creatures. The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, for example, is home to several sand tiger sharks, as well as rays, sea lions, and other marine life. If you’re traveling, you might be able to find an aquarium closer to home. Look for accredited establishments and make sure they are promoting keeping animals in ethical conditions.

Shark & Ocean Conservation

Let’s take a moment to appreciate sharks and their role in our planet’s ecosystem. In fact, you don’t need to watch or interact with a shark to show your love for these creatures. Supporting shark conservation efforts and organizations can go far in protecting these animals and their habitats. By doing so, you’re helping to preserve the ocean’s biodiversity and create a healthier environment for all of us to enjoy. For instance, check out the work of the Shark Trust.

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Swimming with sharks might be a dream for some adrenaline-seekers, but in Matteson, Illinois, it’s not possible. Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the beauty and majesty of these incredible creatures from the comfort of dry land. Whether you’re visiting an aquarium, checking out shark art, or watching a movie, there are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with these apex predators. Just remember, it’s always safer to watch them from afar.

So, next time you want to have a shark experience, opt for one of these land-based options, and feel comfortable knowing that you won’t end up as shark food. Despite the slight disappointment of not being able to experience real swimming with sharks around Matteson, we can always appreciate these fascinating creatures from afar.

Table: Sharks You Might Spot on your way to Matteson

Type of Shark Region
Great White Shark Atlantic Ocean
Tiger Shark Western Atlantic, Asia Pacific, and the South Pacific
Bull shark Coastal Waters
Hammerhead Shark Pacific and Indian Oceans


  • “Shedd Aquarium.” Shedd Aquarium, www.sheddaquarium.org/.
  • “Skydeck Chicago – Willis Tower Skydeck.” Skydeck Chicago, 103rd Floor, www.theskydeck.com/.
  • “T. Rex Sue.” Field Museum, www.fieldmuseum.org/science/blog/t-rex-sue.
  • Duarte, Fernando V., et al. “The outrageous amounts of plastic that humans produce each day.” The Conversation, 18 Mar. 2022, theconversation.com/the-outrageous-amounts-of-plastic-that-humans-produce-each-day-180146.