Ever wished you could spend a night at the museum, roll out your sleeping bag in an aquarium or set up your tent under the lights of the Giant Dipper? From Sausalito to Santa Cruz, we found 14 special sleepovers that are perfect for families. Pick your fave and sign up soon—they are very popular!

San Francisco

photo: California Academy of Sciences

Penguins + Pajamas Sleepovers at the California Academy of Sciences

If your camper wants to experience both a rainforest and an aquarium, then head to the California Academy of Sciences for Penguins + Pajamas. The night includes live animal demonstrations, access to the Osher Rainforest until 8 p.m., planetarium showings and hot breakfast in the morning. Campers can choose to sleep in the African Hall, Aquarium or Lower Swamp area. You also get access to the Academy for the whole day after your overnight.

Cost: $95.20/member; $119/non-member
Requirements: Participants must be five or older. One chaperone for every five children.
Dates: Feb. 21, Mar. 20 (Boy Scouts), Apr. 3 (Girl Scouts), May 2, May 22, June 5

photo: Kate Loweth

Sleep Aboard a Submarine at the USS Pampanito

Docked at Fisherman's Wharf, the USS Pampanito allows visitors to go back in time to World War II when she patrolled Japanese waters searching for enemy ships. Spend the night in the same bunks used by the submariners, enjoy a personalized tour from bow to stern including the engine room, Torpedo Room, Control Room, and Conning Tower, and take in the sights of the San Francisco waterfront. 

Cost: flat fee of $1,250 for up to 25 participants
Requirements: open to all organized youth groups with an adult to child ratio of 1:6, ages six and up
Dates: contact to schedule
Online: maritime.org

photo: Kate Loweth

All Aboard the SS Jeremiah O'Brien

Come and spend the day or night on the historic WWII ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien located on Fisherman's Wharf. Kids will love visiting this living memorial to WWII history that was built in only 56 days! The program includes a complete tour of the ship and a playthrough of the board game Convoy, where the kids learn how WWII convoys maneuvered through packs of German submarines to bring desperately needed supplies to the troops. Pizza dinner and breakfast are included.

Dates: Contact with preferred dates to book
Online: ssjeremiahobrien.org

photo: Aquarium of the Bay

Underwater Overnight at the Aquarium of the Bay

Gather up your friends and spend a night at the Aquarium of the Bay. Located on PIER 39, the Aquarium of the Bay offers groups of 25-45 the opportunity to sleep in the tunnels of the “Under the Bay” exhibit as thousands of fish including sharks, skates and bat rays swim overhead. Invite your friends for fun and games, and meet some creatures who aren’t afraid of the dark.

Cost: $75/person
Requirements: Ages six and up with chaperones
Dates: email the Aquarium with your preferred dates to schedule
Online: aquariumofthebay.org

photo: Kate Loweth

Overnight at the San Francisco Maritime National Park

Avast, me hearties! Spend a night going back in time and experiencing first-hand what it was like to work and sleep aboard a permanently moored turn-of-the-century tall ship. Try your hand at one of the traditional maritime tasks such as raising a sail, swabbing the deck, rowing a longboat or riding a bosun’s chair into the rigging.

Cost: $900 for up to 25 participants
Dates: available Saturdays except the first Sturday of the month
Online: maritime.org

East Bay

photo: Chabot Space and Science Center

Slumber with the Stars at the Chabot Space and Science Center

The Chabot offers both public and scout sleepovers for kids who want to learn about science. You get exclusive access to the science center after 6 p.m., telescope viewing, new planetarium shows and even a scavenger hunt. All participants go home with a souvenir patch. Dinner and breakfast is included with dairy-free and vegetarian options available. 

Cost: $95/non-members, $90/members
Requirements: minimum age is 5
When: May 30-31

photo: Oakland Zoo

Family Sundown Safari at the Oakland Zoo

Families looking for a wild (animal) night should make their reservations for this popular event at the Oakland Zoo. Set up your tent and then enjoy dinner before you take a twilight tour through the Children's Zoo. Watch a wildlife show and enjoy s'mores before you settle in for the night. The morning brings breakfast and a special encounter with an animal not on exhibit at the Zoo. After you pack up your tent, you are welcome to stick around for the day as your ticket includes admission to the Zoo.

Cost: $80/member, $90/non-member with group 
Requirements: geared towards ages 4-10 but older siblings welcome
Dates: egistration opens in March and sundown safaris happen every Saturday in July and August

photo: Kate Loweth

Live Aboard the USS Hornet

Always wondered what it was like to live on a World War II ship? Then head to Alameda to spend the night in an authentic crew bunk aboard the USS Hornet. Surrounded by vintage and modern aircraft, participants get to experience what it was like to live aboard a floating city. Dinner and breakfast are served in the crew’s mess and all attendees get to participate in a thrilling flight simulator ride.

Cost: $100/person
Requirements: Ages 5 and older. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Dates: Events are offered monthly throughout the year

Summer Sleepovers at Children's Fairyland

This sleepover is perfect for the youngest campers. Check in and enjoy some dinner at 6:30 p.m. The rides stay open until 9 p.m. and there is special entertainment for campers before lights out. Morning brings a continental breakfast before everyone heads home.

Cost: $45/person
Requirements: no minimum age requirements
Dates: July 11 and 25, Aug. 8 and 22

South Bay/Peninsula

photo: Happy Hollow

Zoo Snooze at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

If your idea of a fun camp out includes nocturnal animals, then Happy Hollow is the place for you! Zoo Snooze participants get to have hand-on interactions with the many animals that make their home at Happy Hollow. The night includes a flashlight tour of the grounds, zoo-themed games and a hot breakfast in the morning. 

Cost: $60/person
Requirements: Participants must be five or older. 
Dates: July 11 sleepover and Howl-o-ween Sleepover the weekend before Halloween

photo: Gilroy Gardens

Family Camp Night at Gilroy Gardens

Camp overnight at this theme park with a horticulture theme. Arrive in the afternoon, set up your tent and enjoy a dinner under the stars. The next day grab some breakfast before you spend a day in the park. When the sun is out you can enjoy the expanded Water Oasis so make sure you bring your swimsuits and towels. Take a ride around the park on the train and make sure to look for all the circus trees in the park.

Cost: $60/non-members ages 3 and up, $35/members, age 2 and under are free
Dates: May 25, June 15, July 6 and 27, Aug. 31

photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sleepovers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sleep next to the sea anemones at the Monterey Bay Aquarium! Set up your sleeping bag in your favorite exhibit while you enjoy some time in the aquarium without all of the crowds. And for kids 8 and up, there is even the option to take a scuba diving excursion (no experience necessary) right there in the Bay! All overnight guests get access to the aquarium for the day after the sleepover.

Cost: $125/non-member, $95/member
Requirements: Ages 5 and older. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Dates: Feb. 22, Mar. 21, Apr. 18, July 11 and 25, Aug. 8 and 22, Oct. 17

photo: Kate Loweth

Boardwalk Overnights

Cruise on down to Santa Cruz for an overnight by the beach. In addition to Boy and Girl Scout overnights, the Boardwalk hosts a fall overnight for all families that benefits the American Caner Society. Camp under the stars, enjoy a movie on the beach, dinner and breakfast and an all-day wristband for Saturday.

Cost: $89.95/person
Requirements: All participants under the age of 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult. One adult chaperone is required for every group of five minors.
Dates: Sep. 11-12


photo: Slide Ranch

Family Campout at Slide Ranch

Family campouts at Slide Ranch offer the very special opportunity to pitch your tent at this campsite overlooking the ocean. On Saturday, join Slide Ranch teachers for an afternoon of farm activities, crafts and nature exploration. At night, gather for a family potluck dinner, a cozy campfire and camping under the stars. On Sunday morning, enjoy a breakfast buffet, morning farm chores and preparing homemade treats harvested from the organic garden.

Cost: $95/person, ages 36 months and under are free
Dates: May 9-10, 16-17
Online: slideranch.org

—Kate Loweth


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