How about pitching a tent in a ballpark or a zoo?
Sleeping under the stars takes on new meaning when you do it on a suburban ball field or doze off to the sound of howling red wolves.
Thanks to family overnights at a host of fun locations, you can do both — and a lot more.
Many museums plan sleepovers during the fall, winter and spring months. But summer sleepovers offer something different.
The Schaumburg Boomers and Kane County Cougars, for example, allow families on select nights to pitch their tents in the outfield and watch a movie on the scoreboard. Animal lovers, meanwhile, can hike and snack on s'mores at either Lincoln Park or Brookfield Zoo.
"It's fun to see the things that happen at the zoo at night when other zoo guests are at home asleep," said Mark Freedlund, Brookfield Zoo's acting camp and overnight supervisor. "We see what the nocturnal animals are doing. We can hear bats fly overhead, and hear owls. It's really a magical time."
See for yourself, but be sure to register in advance. Some sleepovers fill up quickly.
Schaumburg Boomers Stadium Campout
1999 S. Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg, (847) 461-3695 and ask for Carly, boomersbaseball.com
Dates: 6:30 p.m. Fridays June 15, July 27 and Aug. 3
Cost: $27, includes ticket and overnight events
Details: After the Schaumburg Boomers baseball game, families are invited to set up their camping gear on the outfield and stay overnight. There aren't any woods to hike in, but there's a fireworks show, a movie on the video scoreboard, s'mores over an open fire in the concourse areas and breakfast the next morning. Families are invited to go along on the designated nights where Boy and Girl Scout troops camp out. For more details, email Carly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kane County Cougars Stadium Campout
One Cougar Trail, Geneva, (630) 232-8811, ext. 1234, kccougars.com
Date: 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 27
Cost: $22-$30 per person, depending on package
Details: Even though the night is designated for Girl Scouts, local families also are welcome at the Cougars' overnight campout. Admission includes a ticket to the game, postgame fireworks, a movie on the big screen, camping in the outfield and hot breakfast the next morning. For more details, email Jenni Brechtel at email@example.com.
Chicago White Sox Campout
U.S. Cellular Field 333 W. 35th St., Chicago, (312) 674-1000, mlb.mlb.com/cws/community/campout.jsp
Date: 5:30 to 7 p.m. check-in Friday, June 29, until after the 6:30 a.m. breakfast on Saturday, June 30
Cost: $125 for children ages 13 and younger; $200 for adults
Details: Watch the Chicago White Sox play the New York Yankees from Yankee Stadium on video boards. Games and other activities are highlights. The event features dinner, a late-night snack and breakfast in the morning. Tents are permitted, but they must be free-standing without any tent stakes. Bring a sleeping bag, but note that chairs, cots, inflatable mattresses, campfires and coolers are not allowed. All food and soft drinks are provided. Campers receive a special goody bag and a chance to win raffle prizes. All campers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited.
Brookfield Zoo's "Xtreme BUGS" Overnight Sleepover Safari
First Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield, (708) 688-8000, czs.org
Dates: 6:30 p.m. Friday to Saturday, July 27-28, and Friday to Saturday, Aug. 17-18
Cost: $70 per person; $60 for members
Details: Guests ages 6 and older (with an adult) are invited to a nighttime hike on the grounds of Brookfield Zoo, with a special tour of the zoo's "Xtreme BUGS" exhibit. A pizza dinner will be served, followed by an ice cream sundae buffet. Guests can bring their sleeping bags or air mattresses to sleep in the zoo's Discovery Center. Breakfast in the morning includes scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, toast and more. Then, Sleepover Safari guests are invited to stay at the zoo for the day, when the zoo opens to the public. Zoo admission is included.
Lincoln Park Zoo's Sleep Under the Skyscrapers
2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, (312) 742-2000, lpzoo.org
Dates: 6 p.m. June 29, July 20, Aug. 3 and Aug. 17
Cost: $70 per person, $60 for members
Details: Fall asleep to the sounds of howling red wolves and awake to the roar of a lion at Lincoln Park Zoo's Sleep Under the Skyscrapers: Family Campout. The fun starts at 6 p.m. on select Fridays as guests pitch zoo tents and gather for dinner, included in the cost. Highlights include a Nature Boardwalk hike, a campfire and s'mores. Zoo experts share stories before ending the night with movie and a snack. For families with children 5 to 12 years old.
Morton Arboretum's Children's Garden Campout
4100 Route 53, Lisle, (630) 719-5768, mortonarb.org
Dates: 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 29, to 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 30 (severe weather makeup dates are June 30-July 1) and 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 20, to 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21 (severe weather makeup dates July 21-22)
Cost: $37 per person; Arboretum members $30
Details: Families are invited to a summer night campout in the arboretum's Children's Garden. Highlights include activity stations, night hikes, stargazing, bedtime stories and snacks. A light breakfast will be served in the morning. Then, camping guests are invited to tour the Children's Garden before it opens to the public. Guests must provide their own tents.
Chicago Botanic Garden's Family Campout
1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org
Date: 5 p.m. Saturday, July 28, to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, July 29 (Rain date is Friday, Aug. 3)
Cost: $50 for nonmember child; $20 per nonmember adult. Chicago Botanic Garden Plus Members receive 20 percent off the cost.
Details: For families and guests of all ages, with activities geared for kids ages 4 to 9. Highlights include a picnic dinner, a hike through the garden's Dixon Prairie area at dusk, a campfire, s'mores and a bedtime story. A breakfast of bagels, cream cheese and orange juice is served in the morning. Guests should bring their own tents, sleeping bags, flashlights, camping gear and picnic dinner. At least one adult is required to accompany every three children.
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