As summer winds down, the days are short and the nights are long, but that’s no reason to hibernate. Head out after dark and experience the kid-friendly activities that come alive at bedtime. Flip through our photo album and get to know our favorites, from painting to glow-in-the-dark bowling.

photo: Laser Quest Downers Grove

Be Overtaken by the Giggles at Laser Quest

Hide-and-seek meets tag -- in the dark -- at these suburban palaces. Duck around corners and surprise family members while lasers, fog and music stirs around you. Because so much darkness can be scary for little ones and players carry a pack, Laser Quest is recommended for kids who are at least 48 inches tall (although some parents have worn the pack for their kids).

4167 N. Harlem Ave., Norridge (708-457-2002); 1524-C Butterfield Rd., Downers Grove (630-705-0500) & 644 E. Rand Rd., Arlington Heights (847-222-9900). Cost: $9 per person per game. For tickets and more info, go to

photo: Waveland Bowl

Watch them Light Up with Cosmic Bowl at Waveland Bowl

Black lights, eye-catching neon and bowling pins come together for a real knockout at Waveland Bowl. During its regularly scheduled Cosmic Bowling, families enjoy glow-in-the-dark bowling, 80s music, hot dogs and pizza. 

3700 N. Western Ave., Lakeview (773-472-5900 or online at
KidZone Cosmic Bowing happens Fri., 3 p.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

photo: Shedd Aqarium

Make the Late-Night Fun Educational with Museum Sleepovers

What exactly does go on in Chicago's museums after dark? Bring your PJs and sleeping bag to find out. At the Field Museum’s Dozin’ with the Dinos, you get up-close with insects, dissect owl pellets and explore ancient Egypt in the dark (bring your flashlight!). At the Museum of Science and Industry, families participate in special science experiments and a scavenger hunt during the popular Snoozeum events. And at Shedd Aquarium's overnights, you play games and watch sea creatures before morning breakfast and a day at the Aquarium. These events sell out far in advance, so book your spot early.

Field Museum's Dozin’ with the Dinos happens Jan. 18 & 25; Feb. 8; Mar. 1, 8, 22 & 29; Apr. 6. Reserve online at

Museum of Science and Industry's Snoozeum happens Dec. 7 (with a special combo Apollo 8 and holiday theme!), Jan. 18, Feb. 22, Mar. 15 & April 5. Reserve online at

Shedd's Asleep with the Fishes is scheduled for Oct. 26, Nov. 9 & Dec. 7. Reserve online at

Get in Touch with Your Inner Child with Flashlight Tag

Before snow blankets the ground, huddle up at a park for a game of flashlight tag. We recommend Lincoln Square’s Welles Park for its manageable size and friendly neighborhood. When you're done, walk down Lincoln Avenue to Café Selmarie for homemade hot chocolate and cookies. If you don't know the rules of flashlight tag, here's a rundown: The person who is “it” holds the flashlight and counts while everyone else hides. You tag people by pointing the flashlight at them and saying their name. The first person found is the new “it.”

Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave., Lincoln Square. Open until 11 p.m. daily. (312-742-7511 or

Photo: Jikatu on Flickr creative commons

photo: Hollywood Palms

Plan a Family Date at Hollywood Palms

The whole dinner-and-a-movie thing has been done before -- but not quite like at Hollywood Palms Cinema in Naperville. Sit down in comfier-than-usual leather rocking chairs and order off a big menu of gussied-up favorites (Santa Monica shrimp and fries, Momma Mia pizza burgers). Dinner comes to you during the show. Allow enough time to explore the cinema before settling in. The owner flew to Miami to purchase real palm trees for the space and the entire lobby has the feel of an Indiana Jones film, bamboo-roofed box office, cascading waterfall and all.

352 S. Route 59, Naperville (630-428-5800). For tickets and info, go to

Get Creative at Glazed Expressions

Get a jump on holiday gift making at this paint-your-own pottery studio. Your petite Picasso can select a pre-fired clay piece and paint it using the studio’s materials. Make it even more personal by adding your child’s handprint or footprint on a plate or platter. Good news for really young ones: Finger painting is not only allowed, it's encouraged.

717 W. Armitage Ave., Lincoln Park (312-876-1792) & 5117 Main St., Downers Grove, (630-852-8700). Get more info online at

— Maria Chambers & Jen Peterson

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