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Luke, a male African lion, wakes up at the Smithsonian National Zoo. / Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian Institution

NEW YORK - Cots, champagne, fossils and fancy food all converged as the American Museum of Natural History hosted its first adults-only sleepover Friday night.

For a $375 fee - discounted to $325 for museum members - guests ate a three-course meal, checked out exhibits on poison and spiders, roamed artifact-filled rooms and slept under the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life's famed 94-foot-long blue whale.

Many of the approximately 150 paying visitors took full advantage of their private run of the museum, with some roaming until after 4 a.m. Attendees snapped selfies with T-Rex bones, caught a late-night Hayden Planetarium space show and got close-up views of live creatures such as a tarantula, python, owl and lemur.

Some visitors even had the energy to embark on late-night singing and cartwheeling down empty halls.

The museum launched its first family-oriented slumber party in 2006 when actor Ben Stiller came for the premiere of his movie Night at the Museum. Since then, more than 62,000 people have spent the night there.

Friday night's event has some similarities to past overnight adventures. For instance, guests viewed exhibits and slept on cots.

But the party also had some elements designed to better suit grown-up tastes. There were about 300 fewer attendees to make for a more private event.

While child attendees snack on fruit, granola and cookies, adults were served a dinner of chicken Francese, risotto and California wine.

For those with energy to keep going after a night with limited shut-eye, the museum offered a continental breakfast and a morning tour of the Hall of North American Mammals.

The museum plans to host five more adult sleepovers in the next year. And if the museum's price tag is a bit steep, here are some other options for adventurous adult night owls:

Go back in time. History buffs can spend the night on the USS Hornet, a retired U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in Alameda, Calif., that saw action in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was also used in the Apollo space program to recover astronauts returning from the moon. Guests get to sleep in the same compartments where more than 3,500 crew members lived, tour the ship exhibits and take a ride in a flight simulator. Tickets are $100 and include breakfast and dinner.

Have an after-hours animal adventure. During the "Snore & Roar" overnight trip at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., a zookeeper leads guest through one of four exhibits: the American Trail, Asia Trail, Cheetah Conservation or Great Cats/Farm. Visitors can snack on hors d'oeuvres and wine, can gaze at the animals and then camp out under the stars. Folks can wake up to the sound of the zoo's great cats and then grab breakfast. Tickets are $130 for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) members and $162.50 for non-members.

Sleep with the fishes. Adults who stay overnight at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta can fall asleep beside whale sharks - the largest fish in the world - or snooze in a tropical-themed gallery. Up to 150 guests get a VIP tour of the aquarium's six galleries, dinner and a Q&A session with a marine animal expert. Dinner is included. Tickets are $90.95 for members and $99.95 for non-members.

Get in touch with your wild side. The San Diego Zoo's Roar and Snore Safari offers three overnight themes: Critter Connections, Creepy Camp and Summer Winemaker. Visitors get dinner as well as a walking tour through the Escondido, Calif., zoo. In the morning, visitors can hop on the first Africa Tram to see the animals wake up. Tickets are $140 and up, depending on selected sleepover options.

Dream on. The Rubin Museum's annual Dream-Over in New York City caters to art lovers and deep thinkers - and sells out each year. Guests sleep under individual artwork and can couple up, with two to a piece. At this year's Dream-Over in May, visitors learned about Tibetan medicine and heard bedtime stories and lullabies before dozing off. Upon waking, a team of "Dream-Gatherers" interpreted guests' dreams. Tickets are $108 per person.



Copyright 2014USAToday

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