Sleepovers at the American Museum of Natural History

Inspire Kids' Dreams with the Ultimate Night at the Museum

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••• Sleep in the shadow of the AMNH's great blue whale. Photo credit: AMNH/D. Finnin

There's something about getting tucked in in the shadow of a 94-foot-long blue whale that inspires likewise larger-than-life dreams, in kids and adults alike. A sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History, via their after-hours "A Night at the Museum" program, running through summer and fall, is just the ticket for widening wee ones' horizons.

There's Plenty to Do Before Bed

The sleepovers, which are open to kids ages 6 through 13, kick off at 6 p.m. and run through 9 a.m. the next morning. Before bunking down for the night on a cot, just underneath the museum's legendary blue whale (in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life), kids will partake in a fossil fact-finding mission (led by flashlight), take in a film or space show at the LeFrak Theater, and check out a live animal presentation or exhibition (which in the past have highlighted bats, wolves, and birds of prey). Somewhere in between it all, little explorers will come face to face with their ancestors in the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, confront ancient dinosaur fossils (including the dinosaur king himself, T.

Rex), ogle dioramas in the Hall of African Mammals, and ponder geological wonders in the Hall of Planet Earth.

Guests will pretty much have the run of the Upper West Side museum, with access to its first, second, third, and fourth floors, as well as the lower level and the Rose Center for Earth and Space; the second and third floors of the main museum close after 8:45 p.m.

What to Know Before You Go

For grub, included in the admission rates are an evening snack (cookies, granola bars, juice, coffee, and tea) and light breakfast (fruit, muffins, yogurt, coffee, tea, and juice). Heartier fare can be purchased at the museum's food court, which stays open till 7:30 p.m.; there are also vending machines available. (Note that food must be consumed in the designated eating areas and no outside food is permitted in the AMNH.)

Participants -- up to 465 in all -- are advised to bring along sleeping bags and pillows, a flashlight, and an overnight bag (including a washcloth for a quick refresher). Pack, as well, some change for the vending machines, and ear plugs if by some odd chance, catching your z's in a room full of excited kids proves somewhat challenging. Note that one adult chaperone is required to accompany every one to three children.

Tickets cost $145 per person (though museum members can nab admission for $135/person), which must paid in advance (no walk-ins will be accepted). Spots sell out quickly; check out the museum website for contact information in order to confirm availability and to book.