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Your Essential Guide to the Best NYC Pop Ups

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!

How to Find the Best NYC Pop Up EventsPin

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Last Updated: January 5, 2024

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

Inter_

415 Broadway, map

When: Through December 30, 2024
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!

INTER_ Best NYC Pop UpPin
photo: inter__iam 

Balloon Museum

19 Fulton St, map

When: Through January 14, 2024
Admission: $59 Adults (16+), $49 Children (get tickets)

Following acclaimed runs in Rome, Paris, Milan and Madrid, the Balloon Museum makes its highly anticipated North American debut this fall at Pier 36 in New York City. Featuring mind-blowing inflatable installations created by 18 renowned international artists, the museum immerses visitors into a world of contemporary art that is meant to be touched, moved, and felt.

photos: meganmasako x fomofeed

Mean Girls Experience

TBA

When: TBA 2024
Admission: $35 (get tickets)

Prepare to experience the phenomenon as we make Fetch happen! It’s time to embrace the drama and immerse yourself in the grool-est experience of the year. Sign up for the waitlist to enjoy early access to reservations before they open to the general public!

Each reservation comes with your choice of entree and side item, a 90-minute table reservation, access to all photo ops, and a Candy Cane Gram.

The Bean

56 Leonard St, 10013, map

When: Ongoing
Admission: FREE

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 Bean | The Best NYC Pop UpsPin
photo: fomofeed 

The Friends Experience

130 East 23rd St, map

When: Ongoing
Admission: $45

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.

The Friends Experience - The Best New York Pop Up Shops You Must Visit | LocalAdventurer.comPin
photo: fomofeed 

Museum of IceCream

558 Broadway, map

When: Thursday to Sunday
Admission: $39

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!

Museum of Ice Cream NYC Pop UpPin
photo: fomofeed & sixteenstone

Sloomoo Institute

475 Broadway, New York, NY 10013, map

When: Every Weekend 10am – 5pm
Admission: $39

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.

Sloomoo Institute NYC Pop UpsPin
photo: fomofeed & shaylafrandsy

Jump for Joy: Bouncy Castle of Breasts

233 5th Ave, 10016, map

When: Ongoing
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.

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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].

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Have you visited any of these pop up shops? Do you have something similar in your hometown?

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Esther and JacobPin

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 on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.