Leave it to Hollywood to make museums the hottest family ticket around. The "Night at the Museum" series have inspired a series of museum overnights in Chicago. These activities aren't cheap, but they offer a new perspective on some of the city's cultural gems.
Overnights let your little knowledge hunters explore the museums at the their own pace. Note: most museums require that children be at least kindergarten age because, as the Field Museum's Beth Crownover says, "anybody younger than 6 is going to freak out when the lights go out and you have animals in cases around you."
Its name might be reminiscent of Chicago's great gangster culture, but Shedd's overnight experience is more good times than Goodfellas. Swap your own bed for the sea bed and rise with the sun over the lake. Select Friday nights October through March, $50 per person for members, $55 for non-members. More information
Sleep under the stars without pitching a tent at Adler's Astrovernights. You'll get a telescope viewing, demonstrations, hands-on activities and shows in the Sky Theater, along with a late-night snack before sleeping in the galleries. Wake up to a continental breakfast in Galileo's cafe. Recommended for kids ages 6-10. $50, or $25 for an evening-only options.
2011 dates: March 18, April 8, May 6.
This one comes the closest to the "Night at the Museum" movies that took museums from creaky to cool. Sleep with Sue the T. Rex and the rest of the Field Museum's furry, fun and freaky artifacts. Recommended for kids ages 6-12. $51 per person for members, $63 for non-members.
2011 dates: May 6, June 10
Bunk up next to Notebaert's winged denizens at one of the museum's Bunking with Butterflies overnights. Recommended for kids ages 6 to 11. $45 kids, $40 member kids, $35 member adults
2011 dates: Friday, March 25.
Sleep nose-to-nose with a Boeing 727 jet or steps away from a giant heart at the Museum of Science and Industry's overnight option. $45 per person fee, with reduced-price tickets to one of the current Omnimax films.
2011 dates: Saturday, March 12, Friday, April 15