Sleepovers are all the rage—even Governors Island is getting into the overnight game—but while a night of glamping might be 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, there's a sleepover to fit any interest and you'll earn some serious cool parent cred with one of these overnight adventures so extravagant, they landed on our splurge GoList.
As you might have guessed, these NYC-style 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 are exclusively for scout groups.
Sleep near the polar bears at American Museum of Natural History. Photo courtesy fo AMNH
A Night at the Museum – Upper West Side
American Museum of Natural History
$145 per person; book via phone: 212-769-5200
The popular Night at the Museum Sleepover invites children and chaperones to explore the halls of the American Museum of Natural history 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 Mommy Poppins review for more details.
Sleep in the grassy field at the Bronx Zoo's Overnight Safari. Photo by Veronica Barnes
Family Overnight Safari – Bronx Park, the Bronx
Ages 5 & older
$145 per person; book online
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 wakeup call, courtesy of the hungry sea lions. 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 Mommy Poppins review. For more zoo-themed sleepovers, consider the overnights hosted by the Queens Zoo.
Operation Slumber – Hell's Kitchen
The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
$130 per person; book via phone: 646-381-5010 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Nights at the Museum – Richmond, Staten Island
Historic Richmond Town
Groups only: $900 for up to 15 children; $60 per each additional child; $50 per adult chaperone; book via phone: 718-351-1611, ext. 280
Step back in time at this Staten Island sleepover, only available for private parties. Guests take a candlelit tour of the early American town and witness a mock murder trial at the 1837 courthouse, where they bunk down for the night, before rising in the morning to griddle their own cornmeal pancakes.
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Girls Scout troops, as well as all kids, are invited to an NYSCI sleepover. Photo courtesy of NYSCI
NYSCI Sleepovers – Flushing Meadows, Queens
New York Hall of Science
Open only to groups
$85 per person; book via phone: 718-699-0005 or visit the website
Make your own discovery at these overnight science parties offered to community groups and scout groups only at the New York Hall of Science. Kids grab their lab books for an evening of scientific exploration, culminating in a pajama party—complete with milk and cookies—in the 3D theater before it's time for lights out. A light breakfast is served in the morning and kids get to play in the Science Playground, weather permitting.
Dress in your best medieval costume and sleep in the world's largest Gothic Cathedral. Photo courtesy of Saint John the Divine
Knightwatch Medieval – Morningside Heights
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
$135 per person; book via phone: 212-316-7518
Take a trip back to medieval times at the world's largest Gothic cathedral, where kids will transform into knights, princesses, kings, and jesters for this all-night affair. There will be (foam) sword-fighting workshops, time to craft a gargoyle inspired by the church's architecture, a scavenger hunt, and plenty of stories as kids drift off to sleep in the church's nave. Bring your own sleeping bags, pillows, and flashlights. Late-night snack and breakfast are included.
Extreme Sleepover – Midtown West
Ripley's Believe It or Not
$99 per person; book via phone: 212-398-3133
A freaky, fun offering, the Extreme Sleepover starts with a guided VIP tour, before kids are sent searching for oddities during a scavenger hunt at Ripley's Believe It or Not in Times Square. Then they settle down for a movie. Enjoy dinner and snacks while you're there and nab both a goodie bag and an official "survivor certificate" before you exit. Read our Mommy Poppins review.
Tips for Before You Book
- 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.