Museum Sleepovers in NYC

Bring your sleeping bag and join the New York Aquarium after hours to explore the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit in Sharks After Dark. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher.
Bring your sleeping bag and join the New York Aquarium after hours to explore the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit in Sharks After Dark. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher.
4/14/23 - By Allison

Museum sleepovers were all the rage before the pandemic and are making a comeback in NYC. And while a night chaperoning a group of small night owls might not rank high on your to-do list, kids will get a big kick out of sleeping over at one of their favorite cultural institutions. From the Bronx Zoo to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to the Sharks! exhibit at Coney Island, there's a museum sleepover to fit every kid's interests. And you'll earn some serious cool parent cred—some of these overnight adventures are so extravagant, they landed on our list of NYC splurges worth doing at least once.


As you might imagine, these only-in-NYC pajama parties aren't just cool, they can also be expensive, and sometimes tough to get into. So if you want to splurge on an amazing overnight experience for your child this year, book early as spaces fill up fast. Each of our picks includes meals or snacks and requires adult chaperones to take part. Note that some museum sleepovers are exclusively for scout groups, school groups, or large parties.

Sleep near the polar bears at American Museum of Natural History. Photo courtesy of AMNH

1. A Night at the Museum – Upper West Side

Note for 2023: All sleepovers are canceled until further notice.
American Museum of Natural History
Ages 6–13, Scout nights 6-16 
Visit the website for information and call 212-769-5200 for further updates.
When re-opened to the public, the popular Night at the Museum Sleepover invites children and chaperones to explore the American Museum of Natural History halls after hours and then camp out in one of them. You'll head out on flashlight-fueled expeditions, catch a show in the LeFrak 3D theater, and drift off under the blue whale, in the Hall of African Mammals, or in the Hall of Planet Earth. Sleepovers include an evening snack and breakfast in the morning. Pack change for the vending machine if you want midnight goodies. Read our editor's review for more details.

Sleep in the grassy field at the Bronx Zoo's Overnight Safari. Photo by Veronica Barnes

2. Family Overnight Safari – Bronx Park, the Bronx

Note for 2023: All sleepovers are canceled until further notice.
Bronx Zoo
Ages 5 and older
To look forward to in the future: A slumber party with lions, tigers, and bears—oh my! See for yourself what the animals are up to after the sun goes down at the Bronx Zoo's Overnight Safari. Families have a front-row seat for some interesting (and perhaps noisy!) creatures. Bring your own tent to pitch on the lawn near the Zoo Center, and await your morning wake-up call, courtesy of the hungry sea lions. The price includes evening dessert, late-night snacks, and breakfast. Guests also get early-morning access to the Children's Zoo and Nature Trek. Sleepovers take place on Saturday nights. Read our editor's review for all the details, and for more zoo-themed sleepovers, consider the overnights hosted by the Queens Zoo.

Sleep among the aircraft at Operation Slumber Intrepid Museum
Sleep among the aircraft at Operation Slumber! Photo courtesy of the Intrepid Museum

3. Operation Slumber – Hell's Kitchen

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Ages 6–17
Book via phone: 646-381-5010 or email:
Try out your sea legs and spend a night aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, docked on Manhattan's West Side. Overnight guests make like the sailors who once called the ship home and sleep on cots throughout the hangar deck. Before lights out, though, you'll be able to explore the Space Shuttle Pavilion, as well as the exhibits throughout the ship. You'll have access to unlimited flight simulator rides, watch pop-up planetarium shows, and be served dinner, snacks, and a morning breakfast. Bring your own sleeping bag, pillow, and flashlight; cots are provided.

4. Sharks After Dark – Coney Island, Brooklyn 

New York Aquarium 
Group bookings only (must have a minimum of 40 participants) 
Ages 5 and up, with an adult 
Book via phone at 1-800-433-4149 or email
Planning a special experience for either your family or a school, scout, or youth group? Look no further than NYC's aquatic sleepover experience. New York Aquarium's exhibit Ocean Wonders: Sharks! allows participants to discover the marine life of the Hudson Canyon with complete behind-the-scenes access, a live animal encounter, and fun, educational activities. Pricing includes admission, parking, after-hours access to Ocean Wonders, and more. Bring your own pillow and sleeping bag. While this season's family and group overnights are currently sold out, you can start planning ahead for next season's overnights, as tickets sell out very quickly.

RELATED: Indoor Water Parks Perfect for a Warm Getaway Near NYC


5. Family Overnight Adventure: Snooze at the Zoo – Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens

Queens Zoo
Ages 4 and up, with an adult
Book via phone: 1-800-433-4149 or email
Get up close with some of your family's favorite animals at the Queens Zoo Family Overnight. The price of admission includes animal encounters, access to select exhibits, a morning scavenger hunt, and more. Late-night snacks and a continental breakfast are provided. Bring your own tent, sleeping bags, and pillows to snuggle into after an exciting night hike and games. This will be one family adventure that you'll remember for years to come.

What to Know Before You Book a Museum Sleepover in NYC

  • Be sure to inquire about group or member discounts.
  • Activities often drift into the wee hours. If you have younger children in your group, you may want to have an extra adult to go to bed when they burn out.
  • A museum sleepover makes a super snazzy birthday experience. Ask if your chosen venue will serve your cake during snack time for a small fee.

A version of this article first published in 2012, but it has since been updated and revised.

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