Cheaper than a hotel
Have you ever slept beneath the bones of a T-Rex? What about next to the Declaration of Independence? It's been nearly three decades since I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but the plot—two kids run away from home and take up residence at the Met, eventually solving a mystery, natch—has stuck with me. It's also totally possible to make that dream come true.
It turns out that museum sleepovers are actually a thing! Lots of institutions offer organized all-nighters. Most are, somewhat predictably, geared towards kids (think youth groups, scout troops, and schools), but there are actually some for adults, too (thanks, California Academy of Sciences!).
We've rounded up eight sites that offer overnights. Holler in the comments if you know of any other good ones, and anyone who's actually gone, sleeping bag in hand, and done one of these should definitely share in Kinja below. Do the displays really come to life after everyone else leaves?
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California
Not only does this SF hotspot host Penguins + Pajamas for the younguns, but it also has grownup-only all-nighters complete with live animal demonstrations and pajama contests. Wild. Here's the page with the dates—I might have to give this one a go this year.
The National Archives, Washington D.C.
On January 25th, the National Archives will host History, Heroes, and Treasures, its very first sleepover. After what sounds like a busy evening—"decoding Civil War ciphers, writing a letter to the President, dressing up in period clothing, learning how to write with a quill pen, and playing with historic toys and games from the patent collection..."—guests get to roll out a sleeping bag under the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, next to the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and US Constitution. Nbd. Sorry to say that it looks like this inaugural event is sold out, but there's a waiting list, and East Coast folk can cross their fingers that if it's a success, The National Archives will plan another one.
Natural History Museum and La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles County
Aspiring archaeologists, this one's for you. The NHM offers boys, girls, and co-ed sleepovers with names like Camp Dino and Camp Butterfly, white the Tar Pits have the delightfully dubbed Camp Goo coming up. There are actually quite a few dates scheduled for 2014, all listed here, with more to be added in March.
The Field Museum, Chicago
It's kids and families only here at the Field Museum, but Dozin' With the Dinos sounds great.
The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, California
This place includes a screening at the onsite Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater! There isn't a 2014 schedule posted, but you can check here for updates.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Escondido, California
Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco, California
"Your group will sleep in the tunnels of our "Under the Bay" exhibit as thousands of fish including sharks, skates and bat rays swim overhead." YES. Organize your own youth group sleepover, more info here.
Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland, California
Okay, this sounds amazing. A laser light show set to The Beatles, private telescope viewing with an astronomer, plus a little breakfast in the morny? Fun. Looks like it's coming up on January 17th! More dates here.