Find an Overnight Field Trip

Several venues in and around Philadelphia host overnight field trips for schools or other groups.
Photo by Jeff Fusco
Night at the Museum at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

Overnight field trips give students an opportunity to see museums, zoos and aquariums in a new light. Private tours and special after-hours exhibits offer a unique hands-on learning experience that can be tailored to fit any curriculum. Kids can engage with material in new, creative ways while having the fun of a campout in a controlled environment.

Museum camp-ins

Overnight programs at Philadelphia museums offer kids options they might not have with a traditional school-day trip. Flashlight expeditions through galleries and exhibits, scavenger hunts and interactive live shows let campers engage with material. Kids (and chaperones) will need to bring their own sleeping gear and evening snacks, but the next morning free breakfast and admission for the day are often provided.

Penn Museum’s 40 Winks sleepovers include a live game show called What in the World, where kids can test their knowledge against one another. Guests can choose one of the museum’s galleries for their stay, though the famous Sphinx gallery and two others are closed for renovations until Nov. 16, 2019. Events are usually public, but private sleepovers can be reserved for groups of 120 to 175 people. Participants will receive souvenir patches that grant free admission to the museum for the rest of the school year.

The Academy of Natural Sciences’ Night at the Museum offers a live animal show and hands-on science experiments. Guests can pick their sleeping spots by lion, tiger or dinosaur bones. Groups of 100 to 300 can reserve private nights.

The Franklin Institute’s Camp-in features the live science show Make It Work, along with shows in the planetarium and IMAX theater. Guests can also participate in engineering-based cart activities and stargaze from the Joel N. Bloom Observatory. Private nights are available for groups of 200 or more. The Institute also offers souvenir patches that grant admission through the calendar year.

Sleep with the animals

Private overnight trips to the Philadelphia Zoo are ideal for smaller classes. The experience is open to kids ages 6-13 and can be held in one of two locations — the Shelley Classrooms, an onsite education center for 35 to 45 people, or KidZooU, an award-winning LEED-certified children’s zoo for 45 to 70 guests.

The night begins with exclusive after-hours visits to the zoo’s many animal buildings followed by a meet and greet with a real zookeeper; a late night hike through the zoo and a live-animal presentation. The private group experiences come with souvenir patches and include admission for the next day.

Adventure Aquarium’s Shark in the Dark program allows visitors to observe the after-dark behavior of its collection of aquatic creatures and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Camden, NJ facility. The evening also includes a Meet a Diver show.

Visitors can end the evening by falling asleep next to their favorite sea creature. In the morning, they will have access to the aquarium’s gift shop, shark bridge and 4D theater as well as a morning viewing of the Hippo Haven and African Penguin exhibits.

Sawyer Thomson is a MetroKids intern.

Categories: Early Education, Education Features, Elementary Education, Featured Education, Field Trips, Secondary Education