Night at the Museum: Sleeping Over in the Nation's Best Known Museums

Taking a road trip just to go on a sleepover probably isn’t something you’d think to do, but that’s about to change with the Smithsonian’s Sleepover Series. This summer, kids can experience an overnight adventure at one of three Smithsonian museums, each with its own adventure. Just a two hour drive from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. means you and your elementary- and middle school-aged children could solve a mystery, explore outer space, or sleep beneath a 50-foot whale.

Solve a Mystery at the National Museum of American History

Six valuable objects have gone missing at the museum and it’s up to the kids to find and follow the clues that will lead them to the missing articles and the villainous culprit who took them!

Children aged 8 to 12 years old will have a blast roaming the halls of the National Museum of American History after hours. Working as a team, they’ll collect clues and solve a mystery, all before the night ends.

Guests will get to spend the night near the original Star Spangled Banner. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Natural History

Besides sleuthing, sleepover guests will play games, perform experiments, and make history-related crafts.

Sleepover dates for the Museum of American History are:

  • Friday, May 11, 2018
  • Friday, May 25, 2018
  • Friday, June 15, 2018
  • Friday, August 10, 2018


Explore the World of Flight at the Udvar-Hazy Center

With a flight checklist in hand, children between the ages of 8 and 14 years will explore the two huge hangars located at this location of the National Air & Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia and learn the history of flight, from its pioneering days through today’s developing space program.

Games, activities, and crafts all will provide guests with hands-on experience in the midst of thousands of artifacts and displays, from commercial jets like the Concorde to military planes and outer space satellites. You’ll even get up close and personal with Discovery, the iconic space shuttle that made nearly 40 round-trip excursions outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

Dreams take flight at the Udvar-Hazy Center's summer sleepover. Photo courtesy of the Udvar-Hazy Center

This sleepover is sure to excite any young flight and space enthusiast! 

Sleepover dates for the Udvar-Hazy Center are:

  • Saturday, July 14, 2018
  • Saturday, July 28, 2018
  • Saturday, August 18, 2018


Adventure through the Halls of the National Museum of Natural History

For the budding anthropologist, paleontologist, or oceanographer, a night spent at the National Museum of Natural History is sure to make an impression.

Children aged 8 to 12 are invited to pack up their sleeping bags and toothbrushes and head into the halls of one of the Smithsonian’s most well-known museums for an interactive exploration filled with games, crafts, and activities.

Snuggle up with the sea life in the museum's Ocean Hall. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Natural History

When it’s time to say good night, guests will set up their sleeping bags in the Sant Ocean Hall, the museum’s largest exhibit, where they’ll sleep beneath a hanging 45-foot-long whale, named Phoenix.

Sleepover dates for the National Museum of Natural History are:

  • Friday, May 18, 2018
  • Friday, June 1, 2018
  • Friday, June 29, 2018
  • Friday, July 6, 2018
  • Friday, August 24, 2018
  • Friday, August 31, 2018


Keep in mind that all of the Smithsonian Sleepovers require an adult chaperone (21 years of age or older) for every three children attending, and adults are not allowed unless chaperoning a child. Siblings who are younger or older than the accepted age range for each sleepover are not permitted.

It’s also advised that guests fill up with a hearty dinner before arriving at the sleepover as only an evening snack and a continental-style breakfast will be served, and unless you or your young ones have food restrictions, no outside food is allowed. Finally, space is very limited and tickets can only be purchased over the phone. Visit the Smithsonian Sleepovers website for more information.

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