10 Awesome Zoos Where You Can Spend the Night

We all know that kids love spending time at the zoo but did you know you can take things one step further and actually spend the night there? And hey, this experience isn’t just for kids. Many zoos all over the world are opening their doors after dark and are giving visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals. From bringing your own tent events to luxury lodges to sleeping beside the sea lions; here are 10 awesome zoos where you can spend the night.

10. Zoo Miami (Miami, FL)

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Zoo Miami, formerly known as Miami MetroZoo has a tragic past. In 1965 Hurricane Betsy dumped over three feet of water onto the zoo and killed 25 animals. Then in 1992 Hurricane Andrew came in and destroyed 5,000 trees, the 1.5-acre aviary, and all of its inhabitants. The zoo has worked hard over the past decade to restore it and one of the ways they have made themselves unforgettable is their sleepovers they offer. The best they offer is perhaps their Annual Big Cat-Nap Campout. This special once-a-year sleepover invites families to pitch their own tents in the grasslands for a real camping experience, complete with sounds effects provided by the very real zoo animals nearby. A favorite for kids and adults, make sure your kids are at least 6 years old and pre-register as this event is known to sell out fast!

9. Zoo Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)

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Zoo Atlanta is one of the best in terms of offering an abundance of overnight programs. Whether you want to bring 10 kids for a birthday party or want to have a family sleepover; this is the zoo for you. For families, there are two options for overnights. The first is to pick one of their theme nights, pack up your sleeping bag and join the fun as you have awesome animal encounters, themed games, a scavenger hunt, breakfast, and a private guided tour of the zoo. The second option is to join one of the deluxe family nights where you will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and actually feed the zoo residents. If you want to leave the kids at home, Zoo Atlanta offers an adult-only group experience where you and 10 of your friends get together for an epic after-hours scavenger hunt that lasts throughout the night.

8. Zoofari Slumber, Nashville Zoo (Nashville, TN)

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The Zoofari Slumber at Nashville Zoo allows anyone over the age of 4 to camp out overnight, specifically recommended for families with children aged 4-12. This is a bring your own tent experience that requires families to pack everything they would normally take camping, including camp food, chairs, and musical instruments. A variety of activities awaits families here including hayrides, inflatable castles, animal shows, and crafts. The evening hot dog and marshmallow roast is always a hit for the kids, as is the campfire songs. A full breakfast is served in the mornings. Sleeping under the stars just a short way from the snoozing animals, content in your own tent is something every Nashville family should experience.

7. Overnight Safari at the Bronx Zoo (The Bronx, NY)

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The overnight safari series at The Bronx Zoo sells out year after year so if you are planning on snoozing with the snow leopards, we suggest you register early. Children 5 and older are welcome at these fun nights where you will bring your own tents, sleeping bags, and picnic dinners. It is more like a summer camp experience packed all into one night here as the experience starts at 4pm and the zoo fills your night with never-ending activities. From the classroom where animals are brought in to the scavenger hunts and activities that are planned, there is never a dull moment until the 10 pm bedtime. The campsite is located between the Monkey House and the Sea Lion Tank, promising that the barking sea lions will wake you up in the morning. Plenty of snacks are provided, admission to the zoo the next day, and a whole bunch of surprises await you at this overnight safari.

6. Snore and Roar, Smithsonian National Zoological Park (Washington, DC)

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It is the best way to see the animals of the Smithsonian Zoological Park after hours and have the entire park to yourself, as well as falling asleep to the sounds of wolves howling. Your tent will be perched on Lion/Tiger Hill and the overnight experience begins with a keeper-led tour of the exhibits. There is a maximum of 12 participants on each of these sleepovers so it’s suggested you book early. Both of the family options and the adults-only nights offer games, activities and breakfast. Each overnight experience is catered to a different area of the zoo, from reptiles to cheetahs to small mammals. Expect wine and cheese on the adults-only nights and more family geared activities on the family nights, perfect for ages 6 to teen. Whatever experience you choose, this is one zoo that lets you get up close and personal with the animals of your choice at one of the best zoos in the world.

5. Adult Overnights at the Philadelphia Zoo (Philadelphia, PA)

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Leave the kiddos at home on one of these adults-only overnights at the Philadelphia Zoo. You have to 21 and over to attend this event and prepare to indulge in some happy hour drinks starting at 6:30 pm. What you will get on these overnights is a behind-the-scenes experience, up-close encounters with the animals, an after-dark tour of the zoo, meet and greats with the zoo experts, and a light dinner. There are a couple different options for adults overnights, including a throwback to summer camp bring your own tent option and a haunted overnight where you will sleep in the historic treehouse. The next morning breakfast is served and you will experience the opening of the zoo alongside the workers while visiting some adorable baby animals. An awesome night complete with beer, animals and ghost stories; you couldn’t ask for a better zoo experience.

4. Serengeti Bush Camp, Toronto Zoo (Toronto, Canada)

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You won’t have to bring your own tent to sleep here, nor will you be stuck inside a building. The Toronto Zoo offers something really unique at its overnights. Spend the night in an authentic African Tent, complete with cots as you experience the African Savanna. Activities are in abundance during the experience and include a walking tour of the African Savanna and interactive adventure at the African Rainforest Pavilion. Dinner is served at the Simba Safari Restaurant which overlooks the white rhino and zebra exhibits, as the sun sets in the background. There are a number of programs here including an adults-only night and a night for families with kids younger than 5; all planned with age-appropriate activities. This VIP experience is once in a lifetime and you will truly feel as you sleeping in the middle of Africa, amongst the animals.

3. Roar and Snore Safari, San Diego Zoo Safari Park (San Diego, CA)

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It is quite possible you will fall asleep to lions roaring and elephants trumping at this overnight safari experience at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. From February to November, you can combine the thrill of camping with the excitement of up-close animal encounters at one of the many themed overnights here. The campground, complete with your choice of canvas tent overlooks the 65 acres East Africa enclosure which features such animals as rhinos, giraffes, wildebeest, and antelope. As with many of the zoos, this one offers a number of different programs for families with young children, school-aged children, or adults only. Dinner, snacks, breakfast, crafts, activities and of course animals encounters are all included in the price. If you do feel like splurging try one of the adults-only experiences where you can get up close and personal with more animals than ever, and stay in the premium tents where wood floors, a queen-sized bed, and electricity await you.

2. Roar and Snore, Taronga Zoo (Sydney, Australia)

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The unique accommodation site sets this overnight experience apart from the rest. Nestled on the clifftop overlooking the stunning Sydney Harbor on one side, and lions, leopards, and meerkats on the other side; Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo is an extra special overnight experience. In the evening guests are privy to some of the amazing native Australian reptiles as well as the big cats who are most impressive at night. The mornings are when the cute and furry animals come out to play.  The full education experience include close up animal encounters, guided tours of the zoo after dark and behind the scenes experiences. The VIP treatment continues with refreshments, a feast with drinks and beautiful tent accommodations. Think beds, showers and electricity here. The Tarongo Zoo has created an incredible overnight program that should be the envy of many others around the world.

1. Jamala Wildlife Lodge, National Zoo and Aquarium (Canberra, Australia)

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Australia is at the forefront of delivering exceptional overnight zoo experiences and Jamala Wildlife Lodge at the National Zoo and Aquarium is a prime example of this. This all-inclusive luxury lodge experience includes overnight accommodation, all beverages and food, and a number of animal encounters. Accommodations range from lodge rooms, bungalows, and treehouses, each with its own unique animal encounter. How would you like to stay in a bungalow where you can take a bath and look into the lion’s den, or how about being able to feed the giraffe from your balcony? From an amazing dinner party to personal tours to pre-dinner drinks and an afternoon safari; this feels more like a vacation than just a simple overnight experience at a zoo.

8 Awesome Markets in Australia

In a country/continent as big and diverse as Australia they’re able to grow, produce and make many products themselves year round. The best place to find fresh home grown produce and unique local products is by visiting one of the many markets that take place all around the country in cities big and small. No matter where you are in the country there’s bound to be a market held close by. To help get you exploring here are 8 awesome markets in some of the major cities around Australia:

8. Capital Region Farmers Markets –Canberra, ACT

Held every Saturday from 7:30-11:30am at EPIC (Exhibition Park in Canberra), it’s worth the drive out to these markets which feature the freshest produce in the capital sold by local producers. You’ll find fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meat and seafood, nuts, gourmet foods, flowers and plants all from local area growers. Come for breakfast and be sure to grab a flat white from the coffee stand and a sizzling sausage from The Brathaus.

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7. Cairns Night Markets –Cairns, QLD

The Cairns Night Markets and Food Court is world famous and a must do if you’re in northern Queensland. There are 130 stalls selling a wide variety of items but the focus is mostly on souvenirs and other aussie-made goods. Bring your appetite to these markets because the food court has a lot to offer including a few Chinese buffets where you pay for a plate and load up as much as you can. These markets are located on The Esplanade in the city center and are open 7 days a week from 5pm-11pm.

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6. Adelaide Central Markets –Adelaide, SA

The Adelaide Central Markets are located in the heart of Adelaide city center and are conveniently open Tues-Sat. This place is a foodies dream with bakeries, delis, fresh foods, meat and seafood, cafes and more. You can have a meal and then shop for the rest of your week and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find whatever you’re looking for at one of the 80+ stalls. This market is an Adelaide institution and is South Australia’s most visited tourist attraction so make sure you check it out.

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5. Brisbane MarketPlace –Brisbane, QLD

The Brisbane MarketPlace in Rocklea is a unique venue with 2 distinct weekend markets: The Saturday Fresh Market and the Sunday Discovery Market. On Saturdays from 6am—noon you’ll find over 190 stalls selling everything fresh including fruits and veg, meats and seafood, bread and baked goods, gourmet products and deli items plus much more. Then, on Sundays from 6am-noon you can come to the Discovery Market to explore new and second hand items, collectibles, books and more…come early and be prepared to haggle!

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4. Perth Home Grown Markets –Perth, WA

Perth City Center is home to many fantastic markets but one that stands out in front is the Perth Home Grown Market happening every Sunday from 11am-4pm in Forrest Place at the Murray Street Mall. The aim of this newer market is to provide the best quality local produce and local made products to the people of Perth. You can expect to find tasty home baked goods, organic teas, oils, pickles, hand crated goods in addition to fresh local produce.

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3. The Night Market (Queen Vic Market) –Melbourne, VIC

Never wonder what to do on a Wednesday night again because the Night Market at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne is the place to see and be seen. These eclectic markets run every Wednesday night during the summer (Nov-Mar) from 5-10pm. It’s the perfect place for food, fashion, bars, music, shopping and more. While at these markets make sure you grab a glass of sangria, it’s legendary.

Photo by Jonathan Khee
Photo by Jonathan Khee

2. The Rocks Markets –Sydney, NSW

The Rocks Markets are nestled in the charming historic area of Sydney’s city center known as The Rocks and run every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. This quaint open air market consists of vendors lining the streets selling their wares in a very relaxed environment. The main highlights of these markets are the many artisan crafts including one of a kind clothing, handmade jewellery and original art. If you’re looking for souvenirs in Sydney, we suggest skipping the junky magnets and checking out these markets instead as you’re sure to find a timeless treasure.

The Rocks Markets

1. Mindil Beach Sunset Market –Darwin, NT

From the last Thursday in April to the last Thursday in October Mindil Beach is taken over by stalls and pedestrians all checking out the many offerings these markets have. Every Thursday night from 5-10pm and Sunday nights from 4-9pm most of Darwin heads to these unique evening markets which take advantage of the beautiful sunsets of the Northern Territories. Food is the biggest attraction here and you can find colorful cuisine like Thai, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian and more. This market also allows BYO so bring your cooler full of cold ones, grab some food and park yourself to watch the colors as the sun goes down.

sunset market