Who didn't watch the Ben Stiller flick "Night at the Museum" and wonder just what happens in the museum at night? Stiller's character spent the night at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and then hopped around a few Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. in the sequel. This summer, when looking for fun things to do with the kids at home or while on vacation, consider spending a night in a museum yourself. Some of the country's biggest museums are opening their doors. Here's your chance!
1. American Museum of Natural History, New York
"A Night at the Museum" takes kids through the dimmed halls of New York's famed American Museum of Natural History and its towering dinosaurs, 94-foot-long blue whale and herds of buffalo. The after-hours sleepover begins at 6 p.m. and runs until 9 a.m. for kids ages 6 to 13 and their parents. Admission, $129 regular priced and discounted for Scouts and members, includes a live animal exhibition, fossil fact-finding mission by flashlight, and either an IMAX or planetarium show, as well as an evening snack and light breakfast. Cots are provided but kids need sleeping bags, pillows and flashlights of their own. Sleepovers are held on random Friday and Saturday nights through October. Visit the museum's website for more information.
2. Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Plenty of scientific adventures can be experienced overnight during themed sleepovers held monthly. October's Spooky Science Sleepover guarantees to "make your hair stand on end -- literally," and December's Polar Express Sleepover will get your family in the holiday spirit. Or join in CSI (Carnegie Science Investigators) Sleepovers for a crime-solving-infused night. Sleepovers include live shows, an Imax film, theme-related activities, and free time to explore the museum exhibits. Late-night snacks and breakfast is included, as well. Bring a sleeping bag and a pillow. Sleepovers begin at 6 p.m. and end at 9:30 a.m., with more time to explore the exhibits during the day. The cost per person is $35, which includes general admission for the next day. Visit the museum's website for more information.
3. Field Museum, Chicago
The Field's resident T-Rex, Sue, welcomes families in August and October for the 10th anniversary of its "Dozin' with the Dinos" sleepovers at the museum. Guests of the popular Chicago museum will excavate fossils examine Sue bones, and spread out their sleeping bags near the Field's most popular exhibits. Premium family packages reserve sleeping spots in the Evolving Planet exhibition and provide behind-the-scenes guided tours, starting at $63 per person. Programs begin at 5:45 p.m. and end the next day at 9 a.m. Visit the museum's website for more information.
4. Higgins Armory Museum, Worchester, MA
Does your child romanticize about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? Consider a visit to this museum just an hour from Boston focused entirely on the history of arms and armor from Medieval and Renaissance Europe, ancient Greece and Rome, and Feudal Japan. The "OverKnight" program gives kids in 1st through 6th grades and their parents a chance to experience evenings in the Middle Ages. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. and running until 9 a.m., families will have either a pizza party or Medieval-style banquet before receiving special presentations about being a Knight. From heraldry lessons to shield workshops to chivalry scavenger hunts to the final after-breakfast Knighting Ceremony, there will plenty of excitement. The sleepovers are designed for up to 60 knights, which has be arranged together. Kids need to bring sleeping bags but dinner, snacks and breakfast is included for $45 to $50 per person, depending on dinner options. The programs are held on random Friday and Saturday nights through the beginning of October. Visit the museum's website for more information.
5. Museum of Science, Boston
Groups of 10 or more are invited to join in Boston's science museum's overnights, where kids from 1st to 7th grade and their parents will sleep beneath the watchful gaze of its T-Rex. Programs include science activities and demonstrations, a planetarium show, IMAX show and a Theater of Electricity Lightning! presentation, and kids will have a chance to explore the museum in the dark. The programs begin at 6:45 p.m. (with check-in from 5 to 6:30 p.m.) and ends at 11 a.m. and include snacks and breakfast for $50 per person. Sleepovers take place on select Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through mid-June. Special overnights for families are also available to members only. Visit the museum's website for more information.
6. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Groups of 10 children ages 7 to 12 and their parents can visit the Chicago science's museums' "Science Snoozeums" and sleep beneath a 727, near a giant heart or beside a toy-making factory. For $45 per person, guests can explore the museum and catch an Imax film (for an additional but reduced cost). Programs begin at 5:30 p.m. and end at 8:30 a.m. and include snacks and breakfast. One parent for every five children must chaperone the sleepover. Dinner is available for purchase at the museum's Brain Food Court. Visit the museum's website for more information.
7. Natural History Museum, Los Angeles
Join the museum's "Overnight Adventures" for a fun-filled night with a number of programs. Families are invited to join its "Camp Boo and Goo" family overnight for a flashlight tour of the La Brea Tar Pits with sticky goo crafts and live bug meet-and-greets. Groups of 10 or more can select from "Camp Dino," "Camp Archaeology," "Camp Goo," "Camp Tar Pits" and "Camp Butterfly Dreams" overnights running through the end of the year for $46 per person. Meals are not provided in the price of the Los Angeles overnights that begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9 a.m., but families receive free admission to the museum during the daylight hours, as well. Bring sleeping bags and flashlights. Family Overnights are available for groups of less than 10 people for $55 per person. These nights include a casual dinner and light breakfast. Visit the museum's website for more information.
8. Saint Louis Science Center
Visit the Science Center in St. Louis for year-long Camp-Ins that include an IMAX film, science demonstrations, activities, a planetarium show, and free time exploring the galleries. A pizza dinner, snack and continental breakfast is provided, and parking is included. Kids and parents will have a chance to sleep in the galleries and will receive a souvenir patch. Check in is between 5 and 6:30 p.m., and camp ends at 10 a.m. the following day. (Look for special Sleeping Under the Stars camp-ins at the Planetarium, as well. Rates very depending on group sizes. Visit the museum's website for more information.
9. Milwaukee Public Museum
Overnights at the MPM give families a chance to explore the museum in the dark in themed overnights, such as Cleopatra, Astronomy and Bugs & Butterflies. Available for children 6 to 12 and their parents, overnights begin at 7 p.m. and end at 8 a.m. the next morning. Included in the $47 price per person are educator-led activities, a planetarium show, self-guided flashlight tours, discovery hunts, access to museum exhibits, and an all-day museum admission for the following day. A light evening snack and breakfast are also provided. Visit the museum's website for more information.
10. Cincinnati Museum Center
Join the Museum Center for its popular Cave Overnight or its new Overnight at the Museum programs. The Cave program takes kids on a journey through the center's limestone and ice caves, introducing animals, playing games, and making crafts. The new overnight program gives visitors a chance to explore the museum on their own, as well as interact with instructors at specific areas. Overnights begin at 7 p.m. and last until 10 a.m. Both programs are $28 per person and include an IMAX movie the following morning. Visit the museum's website for more information.
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