Night at the Museums

New York City, N.Y.

Did that stuffed bear just move? Spoil your kids (ages 6 to 13) with a sleepover in the museum featured in the movie Night at the Museum. The American Museum of Natural History’s nighttime events include live animal demonstrations with birds of prey, fossil hunts by flashlight, a special bioluminescence exhibition and a screening of an Imax movie. Afterwards, curl up in the provided cots under the 28-metre blue whale.

A pizza party, movie and hot breakfast? Sounds like your average sleepover. But add a laser race and a scavenger hunt and you have Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Time Square Extreme Sleepovers. Rest your head among dinosaur bones, shrunken heads and mummies, if you dare.

Fright Nights

Ottawa, Ont.

The Hi-Ottawa Jail Hostel functioned as a jail for more than 110 years. Nowadays, guests can stay in bare-bones cells that are supposedly haunted—some guests even pack up in the middle of the night out of fright. The hostel also functions as a museum with its original death row and scaffolding on the eighth floor, though that area is deemed too haunted to sleep in.

Cat Naps

Tampa Bay, Fla.

From June to August, sign up for “Summer Nights Family Fun Sleepovers” at Busch Gardens. Get front-of-the-line access to thrill rides in the dark, world-class food, reserved seating to the acrobatic and pyrotechnic show Kinnetix and get a sleepover spot in the Tiger Lodge. Watch the tigers take a dip in their pool and wake up to the roars of lions from across the gardens.

Berth Beds

San Diego, Calif.

Spend a night on the deck of the world’s oldest active sailing ship, The Star of India and join an overnight crew as they take you back to immigrant life in 1874. The living history demos include the original methods of steering and star-led navigation. Kids can hunt for rodents in the underbelly of the ship before being served “rat stew” (actually beef). The 149-year-old ship is docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Counting Hippos

Vancouver, B.C./Calgary, Alta.

Zoo sleepovers offer you a chance to see the mysterious nighttime behaviour of animals. Families can search for glowing cat eyes in the dark at the Greater Vancouver Zoo or doze next to the hippos at the Calgary Zoo. Many zoos across North America offer sleepovers that generally include snacks, guided tours, breakfast and passes for the next day. Private and public events can be customized and themed.

Science of Sleep

Toronto, Ont.

Staying up all night eating candy can rot the mind. At the Ontario Science Centre, children can improve their brain function with a science game show, hundreds of exhibits and hands-on activities like scavenger hunts. After storytelling around an indoor virtual campfire, guests bunk down among the exhibits. The sleepovers run from February to April.