If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you were locked in a museum at closing time, here’s your chance to find out. Many museums, aquariums, and zoos are offering overnight events that give participants a unique behind-the-scenes perspective. “It’s a great blend of education and fun,” says Luz Montez, associate director of audience development at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. “There is nothing more charming than seeing a band of eight-year-olds gathered with flashlights, trying to figure out the answers for the dinosaur scavenger hunt — they’re immersed and excited at the same time!” Midnight tours and scavenger hunts along darkened halls are just some of the activities offered through this sampling of nocturnal adventures.San Diego Zoo
Roar & Snore sleepovers at the Wild Animal Park
Kids don’t get all the fun. While the zoo does offer popular overnight programs designed for youths (allowing them to take guided safari tours, play drums around the campfire, and fall asleep to exotic animal calls), it also offers all-night “Adventure” events just for adults.
Cost: Depends upon age and tent options
Upcoming dates: Vary, depending on the program and extend through November
Contact: (619) 718-3000, www.sandiegozoo.org
Museum of Nature and Science
Snore and Explore
After-hours access to this museum includes a nighttime Electric Theatre performance or a Fire and Ice show that will do anything but lull you to sleep. Wake up to an IMAX film first thing in the morning.
Cost: $35/child, $20/ adult chaperone
Upcoming dates: Through May
Contact: (214) 428-5555, ext. 8; www.natureandscience.org
Sleepover with the Sharks
What do sharks do at night? You’ll get up close and personal to find the answer as you spend the evening in the underwater viewing area. Visit includes a film in the 4-D Immersion Theater and a Jeopardy-style test of shark knowledge after breakfast the next morning.
Upcoming dates: Year-round
Contact: (410) 576-3833, www.aqua.org
Wisconsin Maritime Museum
Join the Navy for a night and sleep on the restored World War II submarine USS Cobia, a National Historic Landmark. Nighttime “watch groups” learn how to decode messages and find out how torpedoes are fired.
Upcoming dates: July and August
Contact: (920) 684-0218, www.wisconsinmaritime.org
American Museum of Natural History
NEW YORK CITY
A Night at the Museum
Flashlight in hand, tiptoe past the famous fossils after dark. Sleep under the giant blue whale or beneath the dioramas in the Hall of Northern American Animals.
Upcoming dates: Through June
Contact: (212) 769-5200, www.amnh.org