1. National Aquarium, Baltimore
Children ages 8 and up are invited to a "Sleepover with the Sharks" or "Sleepover with the Dolphins" at the Baltimore Aquarium, which runs through mid-September. You can actually unroll your sleeping bag in an underwater viewing area and watch wildlife glide by! The program begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 9 a.m. the following day, and includes a behind-the-scenes tour, reserved seating in the dolphin amphitheater, a 4D immersion film, dinner, and breakfast. The zoo sleepovers are $120 per person.
2. Smithsonian's National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
Okay, so maybe you can't overnight in a Washington, D.C. museum like Ben Stiller did in "Night at the Museum," but the National Zoo welcomes families for sleepovers through September. The "Snore and Roar" program includes a two-hour tour of an exhibit area, a flashlight hike through the zoo at night, and breakfast paired with a morning activity. Guests also get a four-person tent provided by the Friends of the Zoo (FONZ) on Lion/Tiger Hill. The zoo sleepovers, which begin at 6 p.m. and end at 9:30 a.m. the following day,start at $163 per person. At least one adult must accompany every three children at the sleepovers, and a maximum of six people may register together. Children must be at least 6 years old to participate.
SeaWorld, with locations in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego, offers family sleepovers during the summer and holidays. Summer programs provide families with a fun-filled night of activities, allowing them to sleep right next to the aquariums. During holidays, kindergarteners through eighth graders (depending on the park) can enjoy a family event that includes an activity, animal interaction, pizza dinner and continental breakfast. The prices of these zoo sleepovers vary by park and season.
4. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida, features a number of overnight opportunities and zoo late nights that begin at 6 p.m. and end the next morning at 9 a.m. Guests receive dinner, breakfast, a water bottle and a Camp T-shirt, with themes like Survival of the Fittest, Serengeti Safari, Nights Tales and Physics Sleepovers. Rates for these zoo sleepovers start at $78 per person and do not include park admission, which is discounted to sleepover participants for the day of or day after.
5. Philadelphia Zoo
Special overnight programs are also available at the Philadelphia Zoo, giving families a glimpse of animal life at night. The most popular program is its Night Flight, for children ages 5 to 12 and their parents. Special themed programs, such as Critters of the Night, showcase particular animals and seasons. Night Flights run every Friday and Saturday night, January through June and October through November, as well as the first two weekends in December. Admission includes games, activities and a snack, and dinner and breakfast are available for purchase. Families check in at 5:30 p.m. and stay until the zoo opens the next morning at 9:30 a.m. The event is $55 per person.
6. San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park provides a unique experience without a long -- and costly -- flight to Africa. The Roar and Snore Safari program provides luxury tents in campgrounds overlooking the park's African Plains field exhibit. Programs include accommodations, camp activities, an after-hours look at the animals, guide walks, a campfire program, dinner and hot breakfast, as well as a souvenir. Families can select the Family Night Sleepovers for children 3 and older, which begin at 4:15 p.m. and end at 9:30 a.m. Families can select Premium, Vista or Classic tents, with rates for these zoo sleepovers starting at $140, not including admission to the park.
7. Zoo Atlanta
Join the NightCrawlers at Zoo Atlanta for a nocturnal adventure that includes behind-the-scenes experiences, up-close encounters with zoo animals, and the use of night-vision scopes. Private guided tours are led by zoo rangers, and families can sleep in a climate-controlled facility. The program begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 10:30 a.m., and is available year-round. Only continental breakfast is provided, so families should bring snacks and dinner. Themes include Awesome Aldabra Tortoises, Terrific Tigers, The Veterinarian Is In, Outrageous Orangutans, and Giant Panda Birthday Celebration for the twin pandas. Overnights start at $65 per person.
8. Nashville Zoo
The Night Owls program at the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere gives kids a chance to learn about the animals through live animal presentations, a night tour, games and crafts. The program is recommended for families with children ages 4 to 12 and takes place throughout the year. Groups of up to 15 are needed, with a cost of $525 total.
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10 Fun Zoos for Families
12 Resorts That Get You Close to Animals