On the last Friday of July (the 25th in 2014), strange objects can be seen hovering over the parcel of land that the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium calls home. Visitors from far away galaxies arrive at this museum in West Palm Beach for what is known as Alien Invasion Night.
Starting at 6 p.m. and running through 9 p.m., Alien Invasion Night is a chance for children and their families to come and learn about the night sky; outer space; and green, tentacled, (possibly) fictional creatures.
Alien Invasion Night is a big hit with kids — Photo courtesy of Interdimensional Guardians
Have you ever made Galaxy Goo? Do you even know what it is? Assuming the answers are "no" and "no," you can learn about and make your own at this fun theme night (and then take it home). Other activities include moon sand creation, miniature golf, face painting and gem panning. The kids can help each other create flying saucers, dress in costumes (E.T. anyone?) and gain experience using Ham radios.
With the price of attractions/activities for kids skyrocketing in Florida (See recent Disney price bump.), events like these provide families with a lower-cost alternative without sacrificing fun or excitement.
Kids get in for nine bucks. If your kid is under three years of age, they get in for free. (Make sure to dress them up, possibly as alien babies, for a chance to win a special prize.) Adults get in for $12. If you want to become a member to the museum, the prices for you and your group move drastically in your favor.
The three-hour time period will fly by, with everyone learning and generally just having a blast. The 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. time block is smack in the middle of most family dinner times. Don't worry, as there is a Subway onsite for nourishment needs. Though the event ends at 9 p.m., the observatory stays open until 10 p.m., so don't feel overly rushed.
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium exists mainly to "open every mind to science." They achieve this through amazing hands-on exhibits, presentations and exciting themed rooms. There is an 8,000-gallon aquarium showcasing exotic and local marine life, a fascinating digital planetarium for gazing into space and the ever-popular Everglades exhibit.
The museum keeps typical business hours during the week (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends. Admission for adults/kids is $14.50/$10.50, with the planetarium show add-on costing a few bucks more. The museum advises on its website that the summer months are extremely busy with camps and groups, so plan accordingly.