Soak up Our National Treasures With Smithsonian Sleepovers

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Living around Washington, DC can sometimes be incredibly frustrating. But sometimes? I just have no words for how amazingly awesome it is.

I’ve written before about how there’s really not a shortage of cool, unique experiences in Washington, DC. Especially if you have kids, there are some truly one-of-a-kind experiences that should be on your itinerary. Sleeping over at the Smithsonian is one of those experiences. Because come on, who doesn’t want to sleep over at the Smithsonian?

For an idea of what you might expect, check out my report of a similar event at the National Archives, where you spend the night in the Archives rotunda and sleep beside the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Yeah. How cool is that?

The Smithsonian Associates runs their sleepover program in three different museums: the Natural History Museum, American History Museum, and the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. Each provides a different experience and focus, so which you choose really depends on your interests (and schedule).

It should be noted that these events are intended for children. Kids must be 8 to 12 years old, and there must be at least one adult for every three children in any group. No siblings younger than 8, and no adults without children. Sorry about that.

Regardless of which museum you choose, the itinerary has some similarities. The evening kicks off at 7 PM after the museum closes for the day, and various activities keep the kids occupied until bedtime, which is around midnight. Snack is included, as is breakfast the following morning before the museum reopens to the public.

  • At the Natural History Museum: Go on an interactive exploration of the museum, participate in hands-on crafts projects, and view an IMAX film. Plus everyone sleeps beneath Phoenix the blue whale in Ocean Hall!
  • At the American History Museum: Solve a Smithsonian mystery of historic proportions! The devious diva Miss Rose has stolen six valuable objects from the National Museum of American History—and you need to discover what’s missing before evening’s end.
  • At the Air and Space Museum: Sleepover guests are on a mission to explore the whole world of flight, from its pioneering days through the era of commercial aviation to the excitement of today’s space program.

Not many people can claim to sleep in the shadow of a space shuttle (Discovery) or inside 3 of the world’s 20 most popular museums. These three branches of the Smithsonian rank #2, #4, and #17, according to CNN.

Registration costs $135 per person ($120 of you’re a Smithsonian Associates member). There are several dates this summer for each event, so check here for the schedule and make your reservation!

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