Forget sleepovers with spooky stories around a campfire -- how about sleeping underneath the American Museum of Natural History's blue whale, or getting woken up by the barks of sea lions?
For the ultimate zoo or museum experience, here's a look at overnight programs for families at New York City's cultural institutions.
FOR BUDDING SCIENTISTS
New York Hall of Science
On the agenda: NYSCI Sleepovers typically feature science activities, from studying optical illusions to how ants communicate to a scavenger hunt, and a pajama party in front of the museum's 3-D theater, before bed. In the morning, kids can further explore the museum's exhibits.
Where you sleep: Among NYSCI's exhibits
Geared toward: Community groups, scout councils and service units (not available to individuals)
Upcoming available dates: April 25 (for Girl Scouts)
Cost: $69 per person
Also includes: Parking, 3-D theater show snacks, breakfast, special NYSCI Sleepover badge
Info: 47-01 111th St., Corona, 718-699-0005, nysci.org/nysci-sleepovers
FOR MILITARY AND MARITIME BUFFS
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
On the agenda: During Operation Slumber, overnight guests can experience what it's like to live aboard the Intrepid while participating in scavenger hunts, ride the XD Theater Cosmic Coaster and explore the Space Shuttle Pavilion, which details the history of the Shuttle program.
Where you sleep: Among the planes and exhibits in the Hangar Deck
Geared toward: Families, organized youth groups such as scouts troops and camp groups and their chaperones, youth ages 6-17 (ideal for ages 8-12)
Upcoming available dates: April 25, July 25, Aug. 8, Sept. 26, Oct. 17 and 24, Nov. 7 and 21, Dec. 5 and 12
Cost: $120 per person
Also includes: Dinner, snacks and breakfast, cots, goody bag, complimentary voucher for museum admission good for 60 days
Info: Pier 86, W. 46th Street and 12th Avenue, 877-957-7447, intrepidmuseum.org/groups/overnights.aspx
FOR NATURAL HISTORY FANS
American Museum of Natural History
On the agenda: After hours during the museum's sleepovers, guests can go on a fossil fact-finding mission by flashlight, explore the live-animal exhibitions or meet live animals and watch a 3-D show in the LeFrak Theater.
Where you sleep: Either the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life under the blue whale, in the Hall of African Mammals beneath the dioramas or in the Hall of Planet Earth among the geological formations
Geared toward: Youths ages 6-13 (Scout nights, 6-16)
Upcoming available dates: July 17, Aug. 7, Oct. 9, Nov. 7 (Boy Scouts night), Nov. 13 (Girl Scouts night)
Cost: $145 per person
Also includes: Evening snack, breakfast, cots, take-home activities
Info: Central Park West at 79th Street, 212-769-5200, amnh.org/plan-your-visit/amnh-sleepovers
FOR ANIMAL LOVERS
On the agenda: Pack a tent, sleeping bags and dinner and experience the zoo's Family Overnight Safari. The experience includes activities like a scavenger hunt, crafts and sing-alongs, as well as visits to exhibitions. The wake-up call comes courtesy of the sea lions.
Where you sleep: Southern Boulevard section of the zoo, near the Sea Lions and Peacock Garden
Geared toward: Ages 5 and up
Upcoming available dates: May 2, June 13, Sept. 12 and 26
Cost: $150-$185 per person
Also includes: Beverages, dessert, late-night snack, breakfast, commemorative T-shirt
Info: 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, 718-220-5100, bronxzoo.com/programs
On the agenda: The Queens Zoo offers a similar experience to the Bronx Zoo with its Family Overnight Adventures. Bring a tent, sleeping bags and picnic dinner for a night under the stars among the zoo animals. Educational activities include working with the staff to prepare animal treats, a night tour of the zoo, meeting the animals and, in the morning, a bird walk.
Where you sleep: On the lawn by thick billed parrot exhibit
Geared toward: Ages 4 and up
Upcoming available dates: May 16, June 6
Cost: $125 per person
Also includes: Beverages, dessert, late-night snack, breakfast
Info: 53-51 111th St., Corona, 718-271-1500, queenszoo.com/programs