Chicago Museums at Night

Six Chicago museums offer after-dark events for families, singles and date nights.

In Ben Stiller’s 2006 kid flick “Night at the Museum,” closing time is anything but calm. We liked that notion of the unexpected after-hours, so we poked around to find out what happens in Chicago after the daytime crowds head home. There’s just something about summer in the city that makes us want the days to last all night—luckily, they do.

Shedd Aquarium's Jazzin' at the Shedd
Jazzin' at the Shedd (Courtesy Shedd Aquarium)

Reefs and Riffs

Some of the most beautiful photos of the city skyline are snapped from outside the Shedd Aquarium. Which makes a stunning, breezy backdrop to Wednesday eve concert series, Jazzin’ at the Shedd, celebrating its 20th season. Pop inside to wander the aquatic exhibits until the sun sets, then watch Navy Pier fireworks glimmer over the lake. June 25-Sept. 3. Tickets $18.95. 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312.939.2438,

This Old House

See a textbook example of refined, Gilded Age living at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. Visit on June 3 and 17 for the hour-long “Tiffany Girls” Studio Tour, which takes guests around the impressive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps, windows and iridescent glassworks amassed by the owner. At dusk, the shimmery panes take on a magical glow. $18; children 10-17 $8. 40 E. Erie St., 312.482.8933,

Pop Art Picnic

The Museum of Contemporary Art’s weekly Tuesdays on the Terrace bring a lounge-y cookout feel right to its own back yard (a.k.a., the sculpture garden). Pull up some lawn or rent a chair for a free listen to a rotating schedule of local jazz singers and bands. Buy burgers and fresh salads from the outdoor grill. The museum's open till 8 pm, so take advantage. Free. 5:30-8 pm. Tuesdays through Sept. 9. 220 E. Chicago Ave., 312.280.2660,

Fan Fun

How does your jump compare to Air Jordan’s? Can you shoot as well as MJ? Or hit a homer? After hitting Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch for a Holy Cow! burger and Harry’s Punch, give it all a try at the Chicago Sports Museum, also filled with memorabilia and stories of Chicago sports teams and legends. Open M-Th 11 am-8:30 pm; F, Sa 11 am-9 pm; Su 11 am-8 pm. $6; seniors $3; children under 3 free; free with minimum purchase at 7th Inning Stretch. Water Tower Place, 835 N. Michigan Ave., 312.202.0500,

Run it Off

For tots, there’s nothing quite like running free in colorful, yet contained spaces sized just for them—like Chicago Children’s Museum, free on Thursdays 5-8 pm. Little ones can hammer, drill and saw in the Tinkering Lab; run errands and wash cars in Kids Town; and step into the boots of a firefighter inside the Play it Safe exhibit. Regular admission $14. 700 E. Grand Ave., 312.527.1000,

Starry Nights

In this metropolis, it’s easy to forget the worlds far above the skyscrapers. Scout the stars at the Astro-Overnight slumber party at Adler Planetarium, June 6. For kids 6-10 and parents, these “playdates” include sky shows, telescope observations and a reading activity sponsored by Scholastic. ($60; light snack and continental breakfast). For adults, the Planetary Prom (June 19, 6-9 pm; $20; $15 in advance) is a throwback to the “greatest night of your life.” Prom dress encouraged. 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, 312.922.7287,