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7 Cool Museum Overnights

Bring the movie to life with these fun Philly-area overnights.

If watching A Night at the Museum has you and your elementary-aged kid eager for an overnight experience, check out this list of local cultural institutions that offer just that. You may not see the dioramas come alive, but staying the night at a museum, zoo or aquarium is definitely a unique adventure not to be missed. One tip: book early, because many of these sell out.    


Franklin Institute

Camp-In at the Franklin Institute invites families, scout troops, groups, and chaperoned individuals to experience everything the Institute has to offer after dark.  This is your chance to see all of the usual exhibitions including the Live Science Show, learn how space exploration is growing our understanding of the universe in the planetarium, then go to the observatory to gaze at the stars for yourself. Add to that an IMAX movie, hands-on workshops, endless rides on the flight simulator, and a light breakfast to cap it off. All participants receive a special badge that allows them free access to the institute for a full year.

Rates start at $39.50 for members, $49.50 for Fridays, and $59.50 for Saturdays 

Dates for 2017: January 20, 21, 28; February 3, 4, 24, 25; March 4, 10, 11, 18, 24; April 8, May 12

Garden State Discovery Museum

The Ultimate Birthday Sleepover at the Garden State Discovery Museum invites the guest of honor and all of her friends to hang out in their favorite exhibits like Storybook Castle or Into the Night, make jewelry to wear and share, receive spa treatments like manicures and pedicures, and sing their favorite songs with karaoke. Snacks and breakfast are included.

Rates: $35 per child (15 child minimum)    

Dates: Call for availability

Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Spend a Night in the Museum at the Academy of Natural Sciences and sleep with the dinosaurs, lions, or tigers.  The evening will be filled with exploring the exhibitions up close, digging for dinosaur bones, having a one-on-one with butterflies, a scavenger hunt, hands — on experiments, a live animal show, and of course, snacks. In the morning, enjoy breakfast, and if you haven’t already explored enough, spend the day returning to your favorite exhibits.

Rates: $50 for members, $55 for non-members, $80 Special VIP (Very Important Paleontologist)

Dates for 2017: January 7 (Special Dinosaurs After Dark Overnight), March 11, April 1

Penn Museum

Take a trip to ancient worlds with 40 Winks with the Sphinx at the Penn Museum. Explore the galleries with flashlights, participate in a scavenger hunt, play games and do crafts inspired by hieroglyphics and mummies, and when you’re ready to drift off to dreamland, do so surrounded by pillars from an ancient Egyptian king, under the giant Sphinx.

Rates: $45 for members, $55 for non-members, $50 per person for groups of 21 or more

Dates for 2017: January 7, 14, 27; February 10; March 10; April 21; May 19; June 2

Zoos and Aquariums

Philadelphia Zoo

A Night at the Zoo grants visitors access to exclusive activities including access to two animal buildings where visitors will get a unique perspective on the zoo’s animals, get up close and personal with a keeper chat and live animal presentation, and enjoy a night hike to see which animals are nocturnal and what they like to do while everyone else is asleep. Visitors get to sleep in the Treehouse or KidZooU.

Rates: $60-72 per guest

Dates for 2017: January 21, 28; February 11, 18

Elmwood Park Zoo

Camp at the Elmwood Park Zoo with Zoo Snooze. Experience the zoo in a whole new way. Each month from June through October, activities will be based on a different species, such as owls, snakes, and big cats. Price includes admission, pizza dinner, activities, a movie and popcorn under the stars, s’mores by the campfire, and a continental breakfast in the morning.

Rates: $34.95 per member, $49.95 per person, kids under 3 are free. 2017 rates are subject to change

Dates: To be determined

Adventure Aquarium

Shark in the Dark at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden invites visitors to sleep with the fishes and sharks after an evening of adventure, exploration, scavenger hunts, and interesting talks by divers, staff and volunteers. Explore the aquarium and spend as much time as you want at the touch tanks (which are always so crowded otherwise), and watch many of the animals get fed in the morning. Snacks and breakfast are included.     

Rates: $65 on Fridays, $70 on Saturdays

Dates for 2017: January 27, 28; February 3, 17, 25; March 3, 10


Photograph by Dari Sutton, courtesy of the Penn Museum. 



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