12 Museums and Zoos Where You Can Spend the Night
Provoked, perhaps, by 2006's Night at the Museum, a spate of museums and zoos have started hosting overnight stays for adults and children alike. Spots all over the country are letting visitors spend the night among the exhibits, be that under the twinkling lights of a planetarium, by dinosaurs, or alongside ferocious (stuffed) beasts.
The American Museum of Natural History, for example, hosts an annual “A Night at the Museum,” where kids and their parents are invited to explore the halls after hours and camp out in one of the exhibits. Those who partake in the Intrepid’s “Operation Slumber,” on the other hand, get to wander the massive war ship’s decks and enjoy a nautical treasure hunt.
Of course, these slumber parties aren’t limited to kids—or New York. The adult overnight hosted at the Philadelphia Zoo lets folks get a bit wild by sipping on cocktails while being serenaded by the zoo’s plethora of animals. And over on the west coast you can sleep aboard the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship.
There is no shortage of places to experience the ultimate sleepover—and finally get answers to those longstanding questions of what happens when the lights go out. Ahead: 12 museums and zoos where you can actually spend the night.
Field Museum of Natural History’s “Dozin’ with the Dinos”
This is one of Chicago's most anticipated family events of the summer. Children ages 6 to 12 can bring their sleeping bags and wander around the museum, participate in workshops, and hear bedtime stories underneath Sue, the T-Rex. Cost is $60 per person. Read more about it here.
Baltimore National Aquarium’s “Sleepover With the Sharks”
Here guests get to fall asleep as sharks swim past. Included in the $120 fee: a behind-the-scenes tour, reserved seating in the dolphin amphitheater, a 4D immersion film, as well as dinner and breakfast. Read more about it, here.
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Extra Innings Overnights”
Die-hard baseball fans dream of making the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, New York to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, and now kids aged 7 to 12 can go a step further. For $49.95 a person, fans get to check out baseball artifacts after hours and enjoy special activities, like re-creating radio broadcasts of famous homerun calls. More here.
Philadelphia Zoo’s “Adult Overnights”
Who says kids get to have all the fun? While there are overnight programs for children throughout the year, the Philadelphia Zoo invites the adults to get up-close to live animals during an after-dark park tour. And, yes, there are cocktails. More here.
Star of India’s Overnight
The Maritime Museum in San Diego lets families on board the world’s oldest active sailing ship, the Star of India, for the whole night. The evening includes an imaginary 1870s voyage, where kids learn how to raise sails, navigate the seas using the stars, and sing famous sea shanties. The cost: $75 each. More here.
Nashville Zoo’s "Zzzoofari Slumber"
Families get to tour the zoo after hours, play games, do crafts, have a marshmallow roast, and enjoy hayrides before calling it quits for the night. Read more about it here.
Intrepid Museum's "Operation Slumber"
In New York City, visitors can bed down on the famous war ship, Intrepid. For $120 a person, overnighters get to explore the Hangar and Flight Decks and take part in a treasure hunt. Read more about it here.
The Bronx Zoo "Family Overnight Safari"
For $175 a person, kids and their parents get to fall asleep by the sea lions. Just be prepared for an interesting wake up call! Read more about it here.
International Spy Museum’s “Operation Secret Slumber”
Who doesn’t want to play spy for the night? That’s why this Washington, D.C. museum is letting kids aged 9 to 13 embrace their inner James Bond. The program includes participants getting top-secret KidSpy training, gather intelligence, break secret codes, uncover secrets, and track down a bad guy. Cost is $115 a person. Read more about it here.
American Museum of Natural History's "A Night at the Museum"
Children and their parents are invited to spend the night at one of Manhattan’s most famous museums and go on a hunt for fossils after hours. According to the website you can “settle down beneath the 94-foot-long blue whale, next to African elephants, or at the base of a striking volcanic formation and fall asleep in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most beloved museums.” Space is limited and dates sell out quickly. Cost is $145 per person. Read more about it here.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo “Snore and Roar”
This program in Washington, D.C. lets you fall asleep to the sound of howling wolves. As the sun sets, guests pitch a tent on Lion/Tiger Hill and take a tour with an animal keeper. The program is offered for both families and as an adults-only from June through September. Read more about it here.
University of Pennsylvania Museum’s “40 Winks with the Sphinx “
A scavenger hunt and evening expedition are all part of this one-of-a-kind sleepover in Philadelphia. Kids aged 6 to 12 can check out mummies and hieroglyphics before curling up beneath the foot of the third-largest granite Sphinx in the world. It'll set you back $55 a person. Read more about it here.