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Overnights

Spend a wild night at Riverbanks!

The Zoo’s Overnight programs feature behind-the-scenes tours, games, and other exciting activities for ages 5 and up. Dates are limited, so register early.

Group Overnights

Available year round, any day of the week. Gather your class, troop, pack, youth group, or neighborhood friends for a one-of-a-kind evening exploration! Groups will enjoy an educational program with animal encounters, keeper-led tours, snack, continental breakfast, games and free admission the following morning to explore the Zoo on their own. Each participant will take home a free Riverbanks souvenir cup.

  • Cost :

    $45 per person. *Discount of $40 per person available on select dates.*

  • Dinner Option :

    Add dinner to your overnight for an additional $7/person. Meal includes 2 slices of pizza, chips and a drink. Arrival time for overnights with dinner is 6:15pm.

  • Capacity :

    Minimum 25 / Maximum 50.

  • Availability :

    Call for available dates. 6:45pm–9:00am.

  • Available Programs :

Habitats around the World (Grades 1–4)

From tropical rainforests to the freezing arctic tundra, the earth is covered in different habitats! Come explore the characteristics that make each of these places unique and learn how organisms make these habitats their homes.

1.L.5B.2*; 2.L.5B.2*; 3.L.5A.1*, 4.L.5

(*) Denotes partial completion of standard.

Night Creatures (Grades 1–6)

Nocturnal animals are not creepy, just misunderstood creatures with incredible adaptations to help them survive after dark. Join the fun as we dispel some common myths about animals that prefer night to day!

2.L.5A.2; 4.L.5B.3; 6.L.4B.2

Wildlife in Winter (Grades 1–6)

Surviving winter is no easy task. Join us as we uncover winter adaptations that local wildlife use to overcoming the challenges of cold weather and little food. Participants will also take away some fun ideas on how to reuse household items and help animals in their own backyard.

2.L.5A.2; 3.L.5B.2; 4.L.5B.3; 6.L.4B.2; 6.L.4B.3*

(*) Denotes partial completion of standard.

Web of Life (Grades 3–5)

Life is an intricate web of eat or be eaten! Groups will build their own South Carolina ecosystem food web, explore organisms’ roles in nature and learn to identify animal roles in ecosystems by studying skulls.

3.L.5A.2; 5.L.4B.1

Amazing Adaptations (Grades 4–6)

The key to winning the game of survival is adaptations. Discover the variety of body structures and behaviors that animals use for defense, movement, growth and to obtain food.

2.L.5A.2; 4.L.5B.3; 6.L.4B.2

Animals Have Class (Grades 4–6)

Clarifying classification: putting method to the madness of taxonomy! Students will discover how scientists group organisms, learn the characteristics of the 5 main vertebrate classes and use dichotomous keys to identify the Zoo’s education animals’ scientific and common names.

2.L.5A.1; 4.L.5A.1*; 6.L.4A.2*

(*) Denotes partial completion of standard.

Conserving Wildlife (Grades 5–8)

Each one of us can be an animal champion! Students will become familiar with the acronym HIPPO to better understand how human activity affects wildlife as well as the Zoo’s role in conservation and how they can individually help conserve species.

5.E.3B.3*; 5.L.4B.4*; 7.EC.5B.4*; 8.E.6B.2

(*) Denotes partial completion of standard.

Zooversity and Genetics (Grades 7–12)

Variety is the spice of life and the key to conserving wildlife. Students will learn the value of genetic diversity, ways it can be lost in nature and explore the challenges zoos face with captive breeding programs. Groups will also participate in a simulated Species Survival Plan (SSP) meeting where they recommend next year’s breeding pairs for a zoo animal.

7.L.4A.3*; 7.EC.5A.3; 8.E.6B.2; H.B.5.3

(*) Denotes partial completion of standard.

Wild Careers (Grades 9–12)

Did you know Accountants, Teachers, Chefs, Event Coordinators, Horticulturists and Animal Keepers all work at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden? Discover how these careers are all important to the Zoo’s mission and what it takes to be a part of the Riverbanks team.

Overnights for Small Troops and Packs

Looking for an overnight experience for a small scout troop or pack that does not meet our minimum for traditional group overnights, then this new opportunity is just for you! Select nights will be offered for Girl Scout troops and separate nights for Boy Scout packs to come together and enjoy the Zoo’s night life. Like traditional overnights, scout groups will enjoy animal encounters, keeper-led tours, a snack, continental breakfast, games and free admission the next morning to explore the Zoo on their own. Each participant will take home a free Riverbanks souvenir cup.

  • Note :

    Overnight programs are not written to meet specific badge requirements. A minimum of 25 individual registered participants is required to conduct all small scout group overnight programs as scheduled.

  • Scheduled Dates and Times

We currently do not have any events or programs scheduled. Please check back later.

Family on Safari—Zoo

Looking for a fun and exciting adventure for the whole family? Join us for Family on Safari themed events! On select nights, participants will enjoy dinner at the Zoo followed by an exciting program featuring animal encounters, behind-the-scenes tours, crafts and more! Settle down in our Discovery Center for the night, then wake up to a continental breakfast and a Zoo visit the following day!

  • Note :

    Children may not be left unattended. Individuals must be accompanied by an adult. A minimum of 15 individual registered participants is required to conduct all Family on Safari programs as scheduled.

  • Scheduled Dates and Times

We currently do not have any events or programs scheduled. Please check back later.

Family on Safari—Garden

Looking for a fun and exciting adventure for the whole family? Join us in the Botanical Garden for overnight themed events! On select nights, participants will enjoy a pizza dinner at the learning center at Waterfall Junction followed by an interactive program featuring games, nocturnal scavenger hunts, marshmallow roasting, crafts and more! Settle down in the children’s garden in a family-size tent for the night, then wake up to a continental breakfast and a Zoo visit the following day! *Each family of up to 4 will be provided with a 4-person tent and foam camping mats. Families over 4 participants will receive a second tent.

  • Note :

    Children may not be left unattended. Individuals must be accompanied by an adult. A minimum of 15 individual registered participants is required to conduct all Family on Safari programs as scheduled.

  • Scheduled Dates and Times

We currently do not have any events or programs scheduled. Please check back later.

Special Event Overnights

Celebrate the fall and winter seasons with one of Riverbanks’ special event overnights. Groups will have the opportunity to enjoy over an hour at Boo at the Zoo or Lights Before Christmas (fee-based rides and attractions not included) as well as keeper-led tours, animal encounters, marshmallow roasting, continental breakfast and free admission to the Zoo the following day.

  • Cost :

    $50 per person.

  • Capacity :

    Minimum 25 / Maximum 50.

  • Availability :

    Call for available dates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an Overnight program include?

Do boys and girls sleep in separate areas?

Yes, we will accommodate requests for separate sleeping quarters.

Where do we sleep? Are showers available?

Participants will sleep on the floor in the Colonial Life Discovery Center, either in the theater or education classrooms. Air mattresses are allowed and recommended for adults only due to space limitations. Sleeping mats are available for participants if desired. Bathrooms are located within the education complex; however, showers are not available.

What ages can attend?

All participants must be at least five years old. Younger siblings are not permitted.

Is dinner provided?

Overnights include a light snack in the evening and a continental breakfast with juice and coffee. Dinner is not included but can be added for an additional charge. Groups who have purchased dinner and an overnight must arrive by 6:15pm. Dinner will not be served to anyone arriving after 6:40pm. Food and drinks are not allowed in the Colonial Life Discovery Center theater or classrooms. Please do not bring additional food items unless someone in your group has special dietary needs.

What do we need to bring with us?

  • signed Consent Form for all participants (PDF)
  • sleeping bag and pillow
  • toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
  • sneakers or good walking shoes
  • water bottle
  • appropriate outerwear (i.e. rain coat, jacket, etc.)
  • flashlights (adults only)
  • cameras (please do not bring any other electronics)

Is there storage space for luggage/sleeping bags while the group visits the park following the overnight?

No; all groups will be escorted out of the Zoo at 8:45am to pack their vehicles/buses before being released into the park to enjoy their free day of admission. Please arrange for your transportation to meet you at Gate 3/Employee Entrance (right-hand parking lot after crossing the railroad tracks) at 8:45am promptly if they are not remaining at the Zoo overnight.

Can we buy souvenirs during the program?

While the gift shop will not be open during the program, we do have cool “I SURVIVED THE NIGHT AT RIVERBANKS ZOO” glow-in-the dark T-shirts available for purchase ($15 each). We also offer a specially designed Riverbanks logo patch for $4 each. You may purchase the shirts or the patches once you receive your confirmation packet. Credit cards will not be accepted during the Overnights. All items must be purchased by cash or check during the program.

How do we pay for the program?

  • The cost per participant (adults included) is $50 for event nights, $45 for regular nights, or $40 for discount nights.
  • Upon registering, each group will be charged a $150 deposit fee, due one month from the day that you schedule with us.
  • Last minute reservations will have a deposit due at the time of registration or no later than 3 weeks prior to the scheduled date.
  • All deposits are deducted from the final balance unless the group should cancel for any reason. Deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable should the group cancel or need to change a date within 3 weeks of the scheduled overnight.
  • Full payment is due one week before your scheduled overnight date. Groups can mail a check or call during normal business hours Monday–Friday, 8:30am to 4:00pm to pay with credit card.
  • No refunds will be given after the final payment is received.
  • Riverbanks Zoo reserves the right to cancel any scheduled overnight if final payment is not received one week prior to the program date.

Do you offer any discounts for Overnight groups?

Yes, but for regular group overnights only. To receive a $5 discount per person:

  • Register for a Sunday through Wednesday night (October – May) OR any day of the week (June – September).
  • Group coordinators will receive free admission to their overnight! (Limited to 1 Free Adult per overnight date. Groups of 25 or less are not eligible as all groups must pay for a minimum of 25 participants.)

What is the minimum and maximum amount of participants for each overnight program?

The group minimum is 25 and the maximum is 50 total participants (adults included). All groups are required to pay for at least 25 participants even if the group has less than 25. Groups of 25 or less will not receive one free admission. If you arrive with more than 50, your overnight program will be cancelled on arrival and no refunds will be given.

What if I have more than 50 participants wanting to attend the overnight?

Any Overnight group of more than 50 participants is considered a double overnight.

  • For overnight groups desiring to bring over 50 participants, a $300 deposit will be charged. The additional deposit will be due a month from registering.
  • Group leaders must receive prior approval from the Coordinator of Overnights at least three weeks before the scheduled overnight date to bring more than 50 participants.
  • Should a double group bring less than 50 people without notifying the Coordinator of Overnights, in writing, three weeks in advance of the overnight, the full deposit of $300 will be lost and not deducted from the total balance.
  • We are unable to accommodate groups over 50 for all Special Event Overnights.

Overnight Information Inquiry All Overnights must be scheduled at least three weeks in advance of a desired date. Dates fill up quickly so register today! Once your information is received, we will check availability and reply to your request in a timely manner. This request does not guarantee availability!

Group Information

Program Request Information

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Contact Information

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If Riverbanks cancels an event due to weather, overnights will be rescheduled or the deposit refunded.

Riverbanks is a non-smoking facility. Overnight instructors must remain with the group at all times and are not able to escort individuals outside the gates for smoking breaks during the overnight. We apologize for the inconvenience.