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Date Night at the Museum

Six museums with unique after-dark programs for adults

spinner image live entertainment at the california academy of sciences
Live entertainment is part of the after-hours fun at the California Academy of Sciences.​
Photo courtesy of California Academy of Sciences

Whether you want to rekindle the romance or are just looking for a fun night out, schedule your next date night at a museum. 

Across the country, museums host a variety of adults-only programs after hours. Here are six museums with exciting exhibits and events that are sure to make for a memorable night out. 

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spinner image visitors at an adults only nightlife event at the california academy of sciences
The California Academy of Sciences hosts adult-only NightLife events every Thursday.​​
Photo courtesy of California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Thursday nights at the academy are reserved for NightLife events. Guests can explore the four-story Osher Rainforest with butterflies and birds (note: last entry is 7:30 p.m. because the animals have to sleep) and watch divers swim among starfish and eels inside the Philippine Coral Reef tank. But you don’t have to call it a night: Gaze up at the stars inside at the Morrison Planetarium. Speakers and themed activities such as live tattooing make each NightLife unique. Tickets start at $20. Planetarium shows cost an additional $5.

spinner image adult night at explora museum in albuquerque
Attendees have full access to the museum during Adult Night at Explora in Albuquerque, New Mexico. ​​​​
Photo courtesy of Explora

Explora, Albuquerque, New Mexico 

The Explora, a science center and children’s museum by day, introduced Adult Nights at the museum nearly 20 years ago. Each monthly event features a new theme such as magic and craft brews. Attendees can brave a full bed of nails or sample beers while learning from local brewmasters. With access to more than 250 exhibits and activities in science, tech, engineering, art and math, there’s ample opportunities to play. Jump in line to create giant soap bubbles at the bubble station and ride the high-wire suspended bike over the first-floor exhibits. Adult nights are usually held on the third Friday of the month. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for 65 and older. 

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Art After Dark events at the Cincinnati Art Museum are free.
Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati 

The Cincinnati Art Museum draws a fun crowd after hours with the Art After Dark program. A recent Georgia O’Keeffe theme party hosted 2,000 guests. There’s always live entertainment, docent-led tours of the galleries, cash bars and food for purchase. Don’t miss the impressive outdoor sculptures around the grounds and sip a cocktail while relaxing in the gorgeous Alice Bimel Courtyard. Art After Dark is on the last Friday of the month. Admission is free. 

spinner image adults playing outdoor games at the perot museum of nature and science
Thursdays on Tap events include outdoor games and other hands-on activities at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.​​
Photo courtesy of Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas

Kick the weekend off early with Thursdays on Tap at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Held weekly through Oct. 26, the atmosphere is casual with rotating food trucks, live music and outdoor games. Guests have full access to the museum and traveling art exhibits, including the current “The Science Behind Pixar.” Explore five levels and delve into everything from dinosaurs to DNA. Admission is $25. 

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The Orlando Science Museum hosts Live Science Nights for adults. 
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Orlando Science Center, Orlando, Florida

About 1,500 people attend Science Night Live at the Orlando Science Center. The five-times-a-year event (February, April, June, August and October) features guest speakers, hands-on experiments, do-it-yourself crafts and competitive trivia. Themes are based on current exhibits — this summer it’s “Dogs! A ScienceTail.” Cash bars are located on all four floors and food from the Hard Rock Cafe is available for purchase. Admission is $19.

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The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is located on the banks of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.
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Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, Oregon

The wacky and wondrous OMSI After Dark themes change every month at this Portland museum. June’s “Pickle It!” features science experiments focused on fermentation as well as various vendors with pickled products to taste. The ocean-themed July program “Making Waves” ties nicely into the museum’s current exhibition — “Orcas: Our Shared Future.” The museum’s exhibits, planetarium, Empirical Theater, gift shop and onsite restaurant, Theory, are open during After Dark events. DJ sets, artisan bites, cash bars and science demonstrations are part of the fun. OMSI After Dark is the last Wednesday of the month. Admission is $25. 

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