Nights at the museum
Sleep with the fishes, wolves and dinosaurs at family slumber parties.
© Adler Planetarium
Families stretch out for the night at Adler Planetarium.
Sleep with sharks. Howl with wolves. Get chummy with a mummy . . . in the dark.
At top museums, that results in sweet dreams, not nightmares.
After everyone else goes home, many museums, aquariums, nature centers and even a submarine turn over their galleries to children and their adults.
Armed with flashlights, they get to explore the exhibits, do experiments, have a snack, listen to a bedtime story and then get into their sleeping bags, right next to their favorite creature or historical character.
It's a memorable — and inexpensive — getaway.
Here are some of the best-known museums that offer sleepovers. A few offer overnights to groups any time, but others have set dates, mostly in winter and spring. They sell out fast, so reserve as soon as possible.
The evening includes a scavenger hunt, aquatic show, dive presentation and exploration of the galleries, oceanarium and reefs.
In 2020, dates are Jan. 24, Feb. 28, March 20 and 27, April 17 and 24 and May 8. Cost is $85, including dinner and breakfast.
For more, see Chicago with kids.
Sleepovers include such activities as dissecting owl pellets, a 3D movie about Sue, a flashlight tour of the Hall of Dinosaurs and bedtime stories outside the Maori Meeting House.
© Sea Life
Kids sleep in the Ocean Tunnel at Sea Life Minnesota.
In 2020, dates are Jan. 17 and 24, Feb. 7 and 28, March 7 and 27 and April 3 and 17. Cost is $68, including a snack and breakfast.
In 2020, dates are Feb. 7 and 28, March 20 and April 24. Cost of $65 includes an Omnimax film, scavenger hunt, science toy-making, breakfast and parking.
Cost of $49 includes a pizza dinner, breakfast, T-shirt and admission the next day. The group minimum is 15, but smaller groups can combine to meet it.
In 2020, ocean overnights are Jan. 10 and 31, March 20, April 3, June 5 and July 17.
© Wolf Center
From behind a glass wall, guests at the International Wolf Center watch the resident pack.
Cost of $99 includes a seal presentation, behind-the-scenes tour, afternoon tea, dinner and continental breakfast. Group minimum is 25, but smaller groups can combine to meet it.
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The minimum cost is $700, including breakfast. Guests go on scavenger hunts and get behind-the-scenes tours.
For more about Duluth with children, see Duluth rocks!
International Wolf Center in Ely. In the Wolf Family Rendezvous Jan. 18-19, people can learn about the pack dynamics of wolves by spending a night camping in front of the wolf-viewing window of the center's auditorium.
© Beth Gauper
In Manitowoc, Wis., families can stay overnight in the USS Cobia.
Cost is $75, $50 for youths 6-12, and includes a pizza dinner and continental breakfast.
For Wolves After Dark on Feb. 8-9, the minimum age is 12 and cost is $70.
For more about the area, see Dreaming of Ely.
Themed overnights often are linked to special exhibits, which include "Mummies'' and "Dinosaurs.'' They're very popular, so reserve early.
In 2020, dates are Jan. 17, Feb. 21 and March 27, and the cost is $55 per person. The fee includes a planetarium show, discovery hunts and flashlight explorations, evening snack and breakfast.
For more about going to Milwaukee with kids, see Playtime in Milwaukee.
© Field Museum
At Chicago's Field Museum, "science is even more fun in your pajamas.''
But on some weekends, it becomes a motel during Family Overnights.
The cost is $44, including a guided tour that includes some areas that usually are off-limits and museum admission the next day.
For more about the area, see Two trails from Two Rivers.
Dates in 2020 include Jan. 24-25. There are also a few Overnight Adventures that individual families can join.
Cost is $36 for kids 6 and older and $18 for adults, including a snack and hot breakfast.