Why not skip the hotel one night and bed down somewhere more unusual during your next family vacation? Since the 2006 release of the first Night at the Museum movie starring Ben Stiller, unique sleepovers have been springing up everywhere. These creative overnight outings allow kids to learn while having fun, and parents don't have to vacuum up the popcorn afterward. Here are five fun family sleepovers in Toronto.
Royal Ontario Museum
Pint-sized paleontologists will get a kick out of spending the night at the Royal Ontario Museum (a.k.a. the ROM) and exploring after it has closed to the public for the night. Sleepover guests gain special behind-the scenes access to some of the museum's galleries and get a chance to chat with ROM experts. Expect arts and crafts, a PJ karaoke party, and a late night snack of pizza and popcorn while watching a movie before bedtime, typically the original Night at the Museum or its sequel. Kids must be aged 5 or older to participate and there must be at least one adult for every five children. The ROM sleepovers are great for families, birthday parties or other group events and sell out very quickly.
Ontario Science Centre
Book a sleepover at the Ontario Science Centre for a fun indoor camping experience combined with learning through hands-on science activities. Girl Guides and Scouts can even earn badges for participating in this overnight program. The current sleepover theme, Bio Beats, includes a visit to the centre's new exhibition hall, the AstraZeneca Human Edge, where visitors learn how the human body works through interactive experiences. The sleepover also includes a pajama dance party with a DJ and screening of one an IMAX films on the centre's giant dome screen.
The Toronto Zoo‘s Serengeti Bush Camp experience provides an incredible opportunity to experience what it's like to camp in the African Savanna in the heart of Toronto. The Zoomobile transfers campers to and from the Serengeti Bush Camp where overnight guests gain behind-the-scenes access to parts of the zoo that daytime visitors never see. Campers embark on walking tours of the African Savanna and the Rainforest Pavilion before sitting around a fire to roast s'mores and tell stories. Participants even get to sleep outside in authentic African bush tents made from heavy, water-proof canvas set on raised platforms just as if they were really camping out in the Serengeti.
The Serengeti Bush Camp is open all summer, beginning during the Victoria Day weekend in May through Labour Day. The program is designed for children age 6 and older, but there are a few special days of the season set aside for families with children age 2-6, as well as adults-only camps.
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
At the recently-opened Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, families can Sleepover with the Sharks. This overnight adventure includes hands-on activities in the Aquarium classroom, a scavenger hunt, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium. After a bedtime snack, participants settle into sleeping bags on the floor of the shark tunnel where they can fall asleep while watching sharks and other fish swim overhead…and hopefully have sweet dreams anyway!
Toronto Botanical Garden
Nature-loving families can bed down near a bed of flowers at the Toronto Botanical Garden. The Night Critter Sleepover takes place in the Teaching Garden as part of the TBGKids program. Parents and kids go on a bat hunt, make raccoon masks and play other games before dining on pizza. The evening is capped off with stories by the campfire and roasted marshmallows. Guests must be age 5 or older and bring their own tent.
Here are a few more sleepovers at popular attractions across the U.S. Next time you're planning a party or looking for a fun family activity check what might be available in your area and throw a sleepover that the kids will never forget.
- A Night at the Museum sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
- Roar and Snore Sleepover at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park each May through October.
- Overnight adventures for various age groups at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Would you consider booking a family sleepover in Toronto or elsewhere? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!