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Summer Sleepovers Give Midnight Peeks to New York's Best Attractions

Space-obsessed kids will have a chance to spend the night on the space shuttle Enterprise in summer 2012 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Space-obsessed kids will have a chance to spend the night on the space shuttle Enterprise in summer 2012 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
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Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

MANHATTAN — School's out, and it's left vast amounts of time in kids' schedules that New York City parents have to fill. 

Moms and dads looking for fun activities for their little ones can add sleepovers to their list of options.

Overnight excursions to museums are like the Ben Stiller movie "Night at the Museum" come to life, said Brad Harris, senior director of visitor services for the American Museum of Natural History. 

"You have the feeling that you're in the museum all by yourself," he said.

"The imaginations of kids and the thought that things may come to life is exciting. It's not every day that you can hang out in a museum overnight with the dinosaurs." 

The Staten Island Zoo in West Brighton will host summer slumber parties in 2012.
The Staten Island Zoo in West Brighton will host summer slumber parties in 2012.
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Facebook/Staten Island Zoo

A number of museums and other sites citywide will let families explore them all night: 

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Hell's Kitchen 

Space-obsessed kids will have a chance to get up close and personal with the Space Shuttle Enterprise this summer. 

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, located on Pier 86 off West 46th Street, will be open overnight to families and youth groups July 28, Aug. 4 and Sept. 22, when kids ages 6 to 17 will get to walk around and underneath the Enterprise. 

"[Families] will be nose-to-nose with the space shuttle," said the museum's director of group sales, Jim Deliman.

Kids may be disappointed to hear, though, that NASA does not allow visitors to go inside the Enterprise.

The evenings — which will include a flashlight tour of a flight deck, a scavenger hunt and rides on the museum's virtual-reality XD Theater Cosmic Coaster — give space and aircraft fans a chance to go "behind the scenes and behind the ropes," Deliman said. 

"The sleepovers give [families] a more relaxed time to see more in the museum," he said. "Who doesn't want to spend the night in a museum?" 

The 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. events, which cost $120 a head, include dinner, a snack and breakfast. 

At least one adult must supervise every five children. 

American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side 

Kids ages 6 to 13 can catch some zzz's beneath the American Museum of Natural History's famous blue whale, among the elephants in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals or in an exhibit on the history of Earth on three special "Night at the Museum" events this summer. 

The sleepover fun will start at 6 p.m. June 30 and July 21 — plus August 11 for museum members — and last until 9 a.m. the next day, according to the museum's website. 

The evenings will include a flashlight tour of the dinosaur hall and IMAX screenings of "Born to Be Wild," a movie about orphaned elephants and orangutans and their caretakers. 

Kids will also get to see a live animal, Harris said. Previous sleepovers have been visited by a baby bear, raptors and a wolf.

Participants, who will sleep on cots, are asked to bring their own sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight and pajamas. 

Children must be accompanied by at least one adult age at least 21 for every three children.

Tickets cost $129 per person, with a $10 discount for museum members, and include an evening snack and breakfast. 

Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island 

The "living history village" on Staten Island gives modern-day visitors the 17th century experience and will offer young history buffs "Mystery, Murder and Mischief" sleepovers this summer. 

The custom-made overnight events for children in grades 3 through 6 begin at 7 p.m. with kids making their own candles to carry back to the historic Guyon Lake Tysen House. Once in the house they will churn butter and make popcorn over a fire. 

At the town's courthouse, kids will learn about a famous 1834 murder trial and work toward their own verdict. 

In the morning, kids and their parents will make corn meal pancakes and participate in a scavenger hunt. The fun ends at 11:30 a.m. 

The event can be scheduled for groups of up to 20 children and costs $45 per child and $40 per adult chaperone. 

Bronx Zoo, The Bronx

Ever thought about catching some zees in the company of zebras? How about snoozing with the snow leopards?

The Wildlife Conservation Society will host two Family Overnight Safaris at the Bronx Zoo this summer, where children age 5 and up will snooze with the animals.

A writer for the parenting website Mommy Poppins reported that her family got to pet an armadillo, sing like various animals and camp under the stars. 

"Expect night time lullabies barked out by swimming sea lions, and your wake-up call will be the sound of a braying peacock," she wrote. 

Participants for the Sept. 8 and 22 events, which currently have waitlists, are instructed to bring their own tents, sleeping bags and picnic dinners. 

Dessert, beverages, an evening snack and breakfast will be provided. 

Staten Island Zoo, West Brighton, Staten Island

The Staten Island Zoo is offering customizable "zOO snOOzers" evenings that can be specially scheduled for groups of kids age 6 and up. 

The tailor-made overnight zoo trips will include an exclusive midnight tour of the 8-acre zoo — which houses the groundhog Staten Island Chuck — screenings of videos on animals and a chance for kids to read up on their favorite animals, the zoo's website said. 

The evenings will begin at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday evening and last until 9 a.m. the next morning. 

Each youth participant must be accompanied by an adult. 

Admission costs $80 for each child/adult pair, plus a $100 deposit for the group. 

New York Hall of Science, Flushing, Queens

The interactive science museum in Queens has more than 450 hands-on exhibits that groups that book for all-night adventures. 

Hall of Science sleepovers, which are open to community groups, will outfit kids with lab coats and magnifying glasses for a science scavenger hunt at 6:30 p.m. before the 3D pajama party starts. Kids will snack on milk and cookies while watching films on tornadoes, sea creatures and dinosaurs. 

Groups and families will sleep among the museum's exhibits on sleeping bags they are asked to bring along with them. 

In the morning, sleepyheads will get to eat breakfast and check out the museum's exhibits before the doors to the public are opened. The events end at 9 a.m. 

Tickets cost $69 per person, and every five children need at least one adult supervisor.