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!
NOTE: Although life is far from being back to normal in NYC, some spots are starting to open up with limited capacities or specific rules. We’ve noted what we could find here, but be sure to call ahead or check for the most up-to-date information. As always, wear a mask and travel safely.
A big thank you to CORT for sponsoring this post. All opinions are always our own. This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.
Last updated: May 14, 2021
Your Essential Guide to NYC Pop Ups
In the Order of When They Leave NYC
- Grief and Grievance || Through 06/06/21
- The Floral Escape || 04/15/21 – 06/06/21
- Happy-Go-Lucky || 06/23/21 – 08/18/21
- The Greens || Through 09/21
- Immersive Van Gogh || 06/01/21 – 09/06/21
- Kaws: What Party || 02/26/21 – 09/05/21
- Kusama: Cosmic Nature || 04/10/21 – 10/31/21
- The Friends Experience || Ongoing
- Sweet Cats Cafe || Ongoing
- Color Factory || Ongoing
- Talking Heads || Ongoing
- Sloomoo Institute || Ongoing
- Museum of Ice Cream || Ongoing
- The May Room || Ongoing
- Story at Macys || Ongoing
- National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey || Ongoing
- Jump for Joy: Bouncy Castle of Breasts || Ongoing
- Museum of Illusions || Ongoing
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.
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.
Current Pop Ups in NYC
Color Factory in Soho
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.
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Jump for Joy: Bouncy Castle of Breasts
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.
When: June 23, 2021 – August 18, 2021
Admission: $31 – 35
The Happy-Go-Lucky Exhibit is an immersive and interactive art exhibition that inspires people to radiate happiness, confidence and positive energy from the inside out. The exhibition features eight specifically designed themed rooms, including the brand new 360 degree immersive installation The Kaleidoscope.
The Floral Escape
When: April 15, 2021 – June 6, 2021
Spring is in full bloom at the Garden State Plaza! The Floral Escape presents “Spring In Living Color” a series of 5 floral activations. Stroll through our blooming walkway and capture the essence of one of our favorite seasons.
Kusama: Cosmic Nature
When: April 10, 2021 – October 31, 2021
Admission: $35 (NYBG)
Contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is one of the most popular artists in the world, drawing millions to experience her immersive installations. Her artistic concepts of obliteration, infinity, and eternity are inspired by her intimate engagement with the colors, patterns, and life cycles of plants and flowers.
The Friends Experience
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.
Kaws: What Party
When: February 26, 2021 – September 5, 2021
Admission: $25 (Brooklyn Museum)
For twenty-five years, Brooklyn-based artist KAWS has bridged the worlds of art, popular culture, and commerce. Adapting the rules of cultural production and consumption in the twenty-first century, his practice both critiques and participates in consumer culture. KAWS: WHAT PARTY is a sweeping survey featuring more than one hundred broad-ranging works, such as rarely seen graffiti drawings and notebooks, paintings and sculptures, smaller collectibles, furniture, and monumental installations of his popular COMPANION figures. It also features new pieces made uniquely for the exhibition along with his early-career altered advertisements.
Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America
When: Through June 6, 2021
Admission: $18 (New Museum)
An intergenerational exhibition, bringing together thirty-seven artists working in a variety of mediums who have addressed the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America. The exhibition will further consider the intertwined phenomena of Black grief and a politically orchestrated white grievance, as each structures and defines contemporary American social and political life.
When: Through September, 2021
The installation acts as the physical centerpiece of Restart Stages, Lincoln Center’s initiative to help kickstart the arts sector and New York City’s revival. It features grass-like recyclable, biobased SYNLawn material, provided by SYNLawn New York. Books will be available for borrowing provided by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, a small snack bar is planned for the northeast corner, and pop-up performances of all kinds will be offered throughout the summer and fall—including music, dance, and a series of family performances and workshops. It’s designed so that people with different levels of mobility can access the space. Cane detection for people who are blind or have low vision is integrated into the architecture.
Immersive Van Gogh Exhibi
When: June 4, 2021 – September 6, 2021
Admission: $39.99 – $49.99
Experience art like never before – lose yourself in 300,000 cubic feet of flawless projections animating Vincent van Gogh’s oeuvre. Wander through entrancing, moving images that highlight brushstrokes, detail, and color – truly illuminating the mind of the genius.
You will be immersed in Van Gogh’s works – from his sunny landscapes and night scenes to his portraits and still life paintings. The installation includes the Les Mangeurs de pomme de terre (The Potato Eaters, 1885), La Nuit étoilée (Starry Night, 1889), Les Tournesols (Sunflowers, 1888), and La Chambre à coucher (The Bedroom, 1889), and so much more.
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!
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.
The May Room
When: Weekends 10:30am – 4:30pm
Admission: FREE with Limited Capacity
May YOU Enjoy, May you find your peace, May you be happy, May we be more compassionate, May we be kind, May YOU walk the path.” A new space at Governors Island where the artist created a labyrinthine installation spanning the floors and walls of the building, acting as a place of both quiet reprieve and shared discussion.
When: December 6, 2019 to January 26, 2020
Featuring over 120 lantern exhibits, live entertainment and interactive experiences, the first-ever Hello Panda Festival is designed to stir the senses and inspire imaginations. Our event celebrates the traditional Chinese art of lantern-making with magical displays of light and color, handcrafted by world-class artisans. Other attractions include cultural performances and arts experiences, a holiday market and 60 international food vendors curated by The World’s Fare.
2019-2020 NYC Pop Ups
When: June 1, 2019 – November 3, 2019
Admission: $45 (Happy Hour $35 2-4:30PM Mon-Fri)
Recommended Time: Weekdays
This pop up is all about Rosé, and you can walk through themed rooms, great photo ops, while sampling 8 or more wines. The popular area is the bathtub and if you go during daylight, it has decent natural lighting. Afterward, head to the Grand Tasting Lounge where you can buy an additional glass or bottle of wine as well as snacks.
Everyone must be 21 years old to enter.
Note: These photos were from last year’s pop up.
Friends Pop Up
When: September 7 to October 6, 2019
Relive some of the iconic FRIENDS moments with set recreations, photos ops, and more. Tickets are sold out, but our local friends said that you can wait in a standby line (the earlier, the better). Plus, there’s an entrance on 503 Broadway where you can buy coffee and muffins with no tickets.
When: December 6-15, 2019
Within our space, artists, partners, and visionaries bring ideas to life through interactive installations, performances, and activities rooted in storytelling and self-expression. At 29Rooms we aim to unlock your imagination, provoke thought, and dare you to dream bigger.
Mickey the True Original Exhibition
When: 11/08/18 – 02/10/19
Admission: $38, buy tickets here
Celebrate 90 years of Micky Mouse through multiple themed rooms in the 16,000 square-foot space. There is both, historic and contemporary work from well-known artists.
Sculpture by Other Means at the Noguchi Museum
When: 02/28/18 – 01/27/19
Experience ways that lightweight, collapsible paper lanterns can create and transform space.
Candytopia in Midtown
When: 08/15 – 01/06/2019
Admission: $34, get tickets here
Candytopia celebrates all things candy! Maybe we should let the families have this one, since there were tons of kids (at least the time slot we went to – the first one in the morning). They all ran straight for the confetti and marshmallow pit, and at one point there was a kid crawling over me with no parents in sight.
Needless to say, it was extremely difficult to get any photos. Luckily, when it was time for everyone to get out of the pit, we asked if we could have an extra minute for a photo, which the lackluster employees did not seem happy about. Gotta do what you gotta do for the gram (or in my case, the blog).
2018 NYC Pop Ups
- 29 Rooms || 09/06 – 09/09/18 and 09/13 – 09/16/18
- A. Human || 09/05 – 09/30/18
- Deadpool 2: Believe In Your Selfie Museum || 08/08 – 08/11/18
- Dream Machine || 04/05 – 09/09/18, $38
- The Egg House || 05/2018
- Google Hardware Store || 10/2018
- Grown Up Flowers by Playlab – 5/2018
- Human’s Best Friend || 09 – 11/2018
- InVisible NY || 11/08 – 11/25/18
- Kaws: GONE || 11/08 – 12/19/18
- Mad Hatter’s G&T Party || 5.25.18 – 12.31.18, $45
- Magnum Ice Cream Bar || 6/1 – 9/3/2018
- Museum of Pizza || 10/13 – 11/18/2018, $35
- New York Magic Lab || 9/28 – 10/28/2018
- Nightmare Machine || 10/03 – 10/31/18, $38, tickets
- Pint Shop by Museum of Ice Cream || 6/6 – 8/2018, Free to Enter, Tasting Room $28
- Raquel’s Dream House || 05/2018
- Room for Tea, TriBeCa || 08/28 – 9/22/18, $23 includes free Boba. $33 includes tea ceremony
- POP BAG NYC || 12/19 – 12/20/18, Free
- Sugar & Spice, BK || 12/01 – 12/31/18, $25
- Wonder World, Soho || 8/24 – 11/04/18, $2
The Egg House, Raquel’s Dream House, Grown Up Flowers by Playlab, Nightmare Machine, Pint Shop by Museum of Ice Cream, Room for Tea, Museum of Pizza, Dream Machine, Wonder World, Sugar & Spice
2017 NYC Pop Ups
Festival of Life by Yayoi Kusama
We had to wait in a crazy line in the cold. I can’t remember how long we had in each room, but we were grouped in with some other folks, so we had a hard time taking photos in the infinity room.
Bob’s Burgers Pop Up
We’re both obsessed with Bob’s Burgers, so when we heard about a Bob’s Burger Pop Up, we were willing to wait hours in line to try the burger of the day. They served a different burger from the show every day for a week, and it also included some goodies, which was a nice surprise.
Google Pop Up
This is probably still our favorite pop up. Google had photo opportunities set up and a truck outside where you could print your face on a marshmallow and then drink it. They had stations to learn more about products and a shopable section for Google Home products.
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?
- 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 instagram spots in NYC.
Best Places to Stay in NYC
Have you visited any of these pop up shops? Do you have something similar in your hometown?
SEE MORE IDEAS FOR NYC
“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust