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 City, and then hopped around a few Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. in the sequel. This year, 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 City'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, $145 regular priced and discounted for Scouts and members, includes a live animal exhibition, fossil fact-finding mission by flashlight, and either an LeFrak Theatre or space 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.

2. Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh

Plenty of scientific adventures can be experienced overnight during themed sleepovers held monthly at the Carnegie Science Center. 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 Omnimax movie, theme-related activities, and free time to explore the museum exhibits. Late-night snacks and breakfast are 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.

3. Field Museum, Chicago

The Field's resident T-Rex, Sue, welcomes families with children ages 6 to 12 to 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.

4. 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 at the museum 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 program begins at 6:45 p.m. (with check-in from 5 to 6:30 p.m.) and ends at 11 a.m., and includes snacks and breakfast for $50 per person. Sleepovers take place on select Thursdays and Fridays from October through mid-June. Special overnights for families are also available to members of the museum.

5. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Groups of 10 children or more ages 6 to 12 and their parents can visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's "Science Snoozeums" and sleep beneath a 727, near a giant heart or beside a toy-making factory. For $65 per person on select Fridays each month, guests can explore the museum, take part in a museum-wide scavenger hunt and catch an Omnimax film. 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.

6. Natural History Museum, Los Angeles

Join the Los Angeles museum's "Overnight Adventures" for a fun-filled night with a number of programs. Children ages 5 and up can select from a variety of themed nights including "Camp Dino," "Camp Archaeology," "Camp Goo," "Camp Tar Pits" and "Camp Butterfly Dreams." Overnights at the museum begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9 a.m. and families receive free admission to the museum the next day. Snacks and a light breakfast are provided, but guests should eat dinner before arriving. Bring sleeping bags and flashlights, too. Overnights are $60 per person and are $55 per person for groups of 10 or more.

7. Science Center of St. Louis

Visit the Science Center in St. Louis for year-long Camp-Ins that include an Omnimax film, science demonstrations, activities, a planetarium show, and free time exploring the galleries. A pizza dinner, snack and continental breakfast are provided, and parking is included. Parents and children ages 6 and up will have a chance to sleep in the galleries and will receive a souvenir patch. Check in is between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and the camp ends at 10 a.m. the following day. (Look for special Sleeping Under the Stars camp-ins at the Planetarium, as well.)

8. Milwaukee Public Museum

Overnights at the Milwaukee Public Museum give families a chance to explore the museum in the dark in themed overnights. Available for children 6 to 12 and their parents, overnights at the MPM begin at 7 p.m. and end at 8 a.m. the next morning on select Fridays throughout the year. 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. Admission is $42 per person for groups of 15 or more. A light evening snack and breakfast are also provided.

9. Cincinnati Museum Center

Join the Cincinnati Museum Center for its popular Cave Overnight or Explore! Overnight 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 Explore! 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 Omnimax movie the following morning.

10. The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia

Enjoy a night under the stars at the Franklin Institute. The family Camp-In for children ages 6 to 13 is a great way to enjoy hands-on activities during the evening hours at this Philadelphia museum. Guests will enjoy a live astronomy show, a planetarium show, an IMAX movie, rooftop stargazing in the Joel N. Bloom Observatory and exclusive shopping hours in the Sci-Store Gift Shop. Guests also get to sleep next to the Institute's best exhibits like the Giant Heart, Sports Challenge and Electricity. Admission is $49 per person on Friday nights and $55 per person on Saturday nights. A light continental breakfast is also included. Camp-Ins take place on select weekends throughout the year and children 13 and under who keep their Camp In badge receive free admission to the Institute every day for a year!

11. Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

Spend the night at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and immerse your family in the traditions of the Jewish heritage. The museum hosts three to four overnight programs a year, including one themed sleepover that is connected to the latest traveling exhibit and one that allows children to sleep in Noah's Ark. The Night Aboard the Ark: Noah's Ark Family Sleepover is Skiball's most popular overnight. It is held annually on the first weekend in February, so be sure to check the dates in advance. The program starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday and ends at 9 a.m. on Sunday. Children must be at least 6 years old and accompanied by an adult. Admission is $55 per nonmember and $45 for members. Advance registration is required and families will enjoy hands-on activities, bedtime stories, animal yoga and more. Dinner and breakfast are provided, too.

12. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, NY

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY offers families and groups the chance to sleep among the iconic athletes through the Extra Innings Overnight program. On select Saturdays throughout the year (divided into Youth Group and Members Only dates) families with children ages 7 to 12 can enjoy the chance to explore the museum after hours. The program also includes a private screening of The Baseball Experience; activity stations at different exhibits; an evening snack; sleep accommodations in the Hall of Fame Gallery and other select exhibit spaces; a light morning breakfast; and a Hall of Fame knapsack with souvenirs from the sleepover. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and guests must check out by 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. Admission is $60 per nonmember or per person for groups of 9 or less, and $50 per member or per person for groups of 10 or more.

13. Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Join the Denver Museum of Nature and Science staff for a fun, hands-on overnight program where families and youth groups of six or more can learn about space, health, science and nature through interactive exhibits and IMAX films. On select weekends throughout the fall and spring months, the museum hosts camp-ins for children grades 3 through 6 that include museum activities, a Planetarium show and IMAX film, an evening snack and a light breakfast. Overnights are $50 per student and free for one adult per group of six, and it includes admission to the Denver Zoo the next day. Check-in begins at 6 p.m. and check-out ends at 11 a.m. Registration is required 30 days in advance.

This article was updated as of February 25, 2014.

For more family fun, check out:
  • 10 Best Zoo Overnights with Animals
  • 12 Best (and Sweetest!) Factory Tours
  • 10 Best Movie Destinations

  • Written by Lissa Harnish Poirot and Hilarey Wojtowicz



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