Have you been to any NYC pop ups lately? Well, now’s your chance.
New York City is a city of pop ups. We’ve been to a few pop ups and there while living in other cities, but here you can visit a new pop up every week.
We love that they create a sense of urgency to check them out, and it almost parallels the fact that we set up shop in a city for a year. It’s like our home office is a pop up too!
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Last Updated: May 16, 2023
What is a Pop Up?
So before we get into the pop up shops here, let’s talk about what a pop up is in the first place. Essentially, it is a business that opens for a limited time with a clear start and end date.
They come in many different forms, but most of them are exclusive or special in some way. The goal is never to be permanent, and sometimes they are only around for a month or a year before moving to another city (sounds like us right?).
Technically homegrown pop ups are everywhere and are as simple as someone putting up an umbrella and selling products in a busy area.
They are also your Halloween stores, Christmas shops, and firework stands. But as their popularity has increased, much more extravagant pop ups are being used by companies for marketing purposes. Most of the time, they are aimed to be very Instagram friendly for marketing.
Because we’re always popping up in a new city, we’ve partnered with CORT during our time in NYC. It helps us worry less about our space so that we can focus on exploring the city! Plus, we think they helped us make our place looks really good.
See More: 101 Things to Do in NYC
Types of Pop Ups
- Pop Up Shops – Temporary stores. We see a lot of these, especially during the holidays.
- Pop Up Restaurants – Some are run by chefs who are trying something experimental while others are more traditional restaurants with plans only to stay open for a few months. Also you can check out this blog post CORT did about the Popularity of Pop-Up Restaurants.
- Pop Up Art Installations – They can be more traditional art installations, but often times now, they are also meant to create photo opportunities for Instagram. We also included some art exhibitions in this category.
- Pop Up Events – These cover the rest, and they can come in the form of an impromptu listening party to release a new album to a temporary themed bar. These are typically meant to create hype around an upcoming event, release, or product.
See More: Top Free Things to Do in NYC
Current Pop Ups in NYC
Color Factory in Soho
251 Spring Street, 10013, map
When: Ongoing. Mostly Thurs to Tues 9:30AM – 7:30PM
Unlike most pop-ups, Color Factory spent more time on the experience rather than setting up little studio spaces to take Instagram photos. Several rooms had a snack or dessert that complemented the room.
You don’t even need to ask people to take your photo. They have cameras set up in some of the more popular photos spots, and you get photos emailed to you immediately.
They do require temperature checks, face masks, and social distancing.
415 Broadway, map
When: Through August 1, 2023
Admission: $16.80 – $32 (get tickets)
Embark on an enchanting journey of self-discovery at INTER_, where ancient wisdom meets tech-enabled art. Immerse yourself in a labyrinth of otherworldly environments featuring two floors of interactive and generative exhibits. We offer guests of all ages the possibility to escape the chaos of the city at our location in Soho. While with us, we encourage you to stay fully present, be curious, and most importantly – have fun!
Malibu Barbie Cafe
19 Fulton St, map
When: Through September 15, 2023
Admission: $25+ (get tickets)
Welcome to the Malibu Barbie Cafe! We invite everyone to kick back and have fun while enjoying this immersive dining experience!
As soon as you step into our trendy cafe, you’ll be transported to 1970s Malibu California with a sea of poptimistic Barbie colors, laid-back beachy motifs, and lots of retro glam. Soak up the Cali vibes as you explore the immersive space and photo ops inspired by Malibu Barbie, including an iconic life-size Barbie Box, made for snapping photos with your best pose. Our menu, by Chef Becky Brown (Master Chef Finalist), was created with all tastes and preferences in mind, and features a delicious array of classics with a unique Barbie-inspired twist.
The Malibu Barbie Cafe allows guests to experience the ultimate form of Barbie-inspired dining. The Malibu Barbie Cafe will be a casual restaurant emphasizing friendly fare, delicious desserts, and a variety of drinks. The pop-up will also come complete with exclusive merchandise and a variety of signature photo moments for fans to interact with.
- Your choice of entree and side item
- 90-minute table reservation
- Full access to the Barbie Cafe experience
- Additional libations, shared plates, and desserts available for purchase
photos: Mattel / Malibu Barbie Cafe
439 W 15th St, map
When: Through May 29, 2023
Admission: $7 – $25 (get tickets)
ARTECHOUSE and Pantone invite you to step into MAGENTAVERSE and explore the boundless sights, sounds, feelings and inspirations of the Pantone Color of the Year 2023, Viva Magenta.
Step into a gorgeous cinematic journey through a euphoric color universe; an opportunity to explore installations that are inspired by the earth under your feet all the way to the depths of space, submerge yourself in creative energies, galvanize your spirit, and enhance your well-being.
The Pink Bedrooom
233 5th Ave, 10016, map
When: January 27 to July 26, 2023
Through her prescient drawings, paintings and signature maximalist installations, Portia Munson (b. 1961) centers the many, and often conflicting, expectations we put on the production and consumption of the female body. These ideas are showcased through her playful selection and presentation of objects including bulbous breasts, humorous crotch clenching nutcrackers, innocent dolls, sexy lingerie, and suggestive vessels. site-specific iteration of the Pink Project: Bedroom (1994 – ongoing) that skirts the line between empowerment and entrapment. By confronting us with the many plastic things we acquire, revere or discard, Portia Munson: The Pink Bedroom makes space for a pleasure that is complex and subjective.
The Roller Wave
625 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, map
When: Through June 4, 2023 | Wed-Thurs 12pm – 10pm, Fri-Sun 11am – 2am (Adults only after 8pm)
Admission: $19.50 for adults / $10 skate rental
A traveling pop-up roller skating experience, founded by Harry Martin, 33. He rediscovered his lost love of roller skating after unexpectedly having the time of his life at a company party held at LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park. The Roller Wave has held numerous sold-out events at The House of Yes, and has expanded to The Ludlow House in Lower East Side, Alpha Space in Crown Heights, Gantry Loft in Long Island City, Soho House in the Meatpacking District, Tao Restaurant for Alicia Key’s birthday party, and most recently The Williamsburg Hotel with Everyday People. The Roller wave holds seasonal pop-ups across NYC, Miami, Atlanta, and LA. Harry attributes the success of his events to his genuine passion for the culture and respect for the history of Roller Disco alongside the desire to introduce a lost art to a new generation.
Chinese Scholar Garden
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY, map
When: Through July 2023, Sat to Sun 11 AM to 4 PM
A compilation of different gardens in China. It is based on Ming Dynasty gardens (1368-1644 AD). All the architectural components of the NYCSG were fabricated in Suzhou, China, including roof and floor tiles, columns and beams, doors and windows, bridges and paving materials.
The garden features magnificent rocks resembling mountains that inspired the poetry and paintings of Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist monks, as well as other scholars. Visitors can explore eight pavilions, a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a Koi-filled pond, Chinese calligraphy, and a variety of Ghongshi scholar’s rocks including a 15-foot formation that towers over the central courtyard. A team of 40 Chinese artists and craftspeople spent a year in China creating the Garden’s components and another six months in Staten Island as craftsmen-in-residence at Snug Harbor to complete the construction.
111 West 32nd Street, map
When: April 29, 2022 to June 30, 2023
Admission: $36 for adults; $29 for kids 4-12; free for kids under 4
Candytopia, a deliciously fun interactive experience is officially reopening in NYC on April 29th, and tickets are on sale today!!
Candy Dreams are made of these! The immersive confectionary dreamworld experience includes colossal candy creations, interactive art installations, a marshmallow pit, an explosive confetti room complete with candy-farting pigs, and of course lots of candy samples!
And did we mention a zipline? Cause there is going to be a zipline!
56 Leonard St, 10013, map
NYC’s own version of The Bean. Rather than free-standing, like the one in Chicago, this one looks like it’s wedged underneath the building.
The Friends Experience
130 East 23rd St, map
The first flagship location celebrating the iconic TV show opens tomorrow! With two floors of interactive experiences, you can step inside the world of FRIENDS™. Pose on the iconic orange couch, explore newly added original props and costumes from the show like Chandler’s bunny suit, sit in Monica & Rachel’s living room or poke Ugly Naked Guy. There’s even a Central Perk onsite.
Museum of IceCream
558 Broadway, map
When: Thursday to Sunday
We’re so excited to welcome you to our first Flagship in NYC. MOIC NYC features our most imaginative, multi-sensory installations that bring to life your most delightful dreams: savor the sweetest treats on a floating table, ride our out-of-this-world pink “Celestial Subway,” slide down an epic three-story slide, and follow the sound of a buzz that will lead you to a giant “Queen Bee hive.” Taste our new signature ice cream flavors and ice cream treats along the way, before taking a dive into the largest Sprinkle Pool yet!
475 Broadway, New York, NY 10013, map
When: Every Weekend 10am – 5pm
A sensory playground centered around slime, Sloomoo Institute is an artistic universe made to intrigue, delight, and evoke your inner child. Slime inspires wonder and joy, regardless of age. More than a childhood memory or a satisfying social media trend, slime is artful, oozy fun. Even more, it is known to support stress relief as much as it does your imagination.
Jump for Joy: Bouncy Castle of Breasts
233 5th Ave, 10016, map
Admission: $3.50 in addition to museum admission
A bouncy castle made up of giant inflatable breasts makes for fun photos and video (adults only). We weren’t that impressed with the museum itself and opted not to pay the additional $3.50 for the photo, but plenty of people were taking advantage of it. The photo they promote uses studio lights, so you won’t get the same look.
Past Pop Ups
There have been some really cool pop ups over the years. Some of our favorites inlcude Rose Mansion, The Seinfeld Experience, 29 Rooms, Mickey the True Original Exhibition, Dream Machine, Museum of Pizza, Bob’s Burgers, and more. Here are some of the highlights.
General Tips for Visiting Pop Ups
- Best time to visit is weekdays during the day and right before it opens. Some of the more popular pop ups have a long wait.
- If shooting with a DSLR, don’t use auto white balance for many of these places especially if you’re in a room with a lot of unnatural colors (ie yellows at Egg House and blues at Dream Machine). We recommend using Kelvin and finding the right setting for your camera.
- Bring a versatile lens and a wide angle if you want to include more of the environment in the shot. A lot of these rooms are small, so the wide angle helps a lot. We couldn’t take certain shots with our DSLR (Canon 5D Mark IV + 35mm Lens), because it wasn’t wide enough so we just used our phones.
How to Find the Latest NYC Pop Up Events?
This one is tough! Most of them make announcements relatively last minute, so these are some ways to stay up-to-date.
- Bookmark this page since we’ll be updating this post as often as possible with new events.
- Set up Google Alerts to see what’s popping up in the news. If you’re not familiar with this, go to the Google Alerts page and enter “pop up new york, nyc pop up” into the Create an Alert section. You can then select how often you want to receive emails (as it happens, daily, or weekly). I do daily.
- Follow Instagram accounts that are constantly featuring pop ups and events. You can follow our accounts (EstherJulee & JacobTheFu). We post stories from pop ups immediately. Also, you absolutely need to follow our friend at FOMOFEED who does a ton of research to hunt down all the best art spots in NYC. For more events and happenings, follow our friend nycharlene.
We’re going to do our best to feature all our favorites in this blog post, but if you know of any pop-ups you think we should check out, send us a message at [email protected].
Best Places to Stay
- Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.
- Find a great deal on NYC hotels.
- Arrange a rental car for your trip.
- Book a tour for your visit.
- Get airport lounge access.
- Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.
- Get a new backpack for your trip.
- Buy a NYC travel guide.
- Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.
- Don’t forget your in-flight essentials.
Have you visited any of these pop up shops? Do you have something similar in your hometown?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.
Follow along on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.