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!

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: October 26, 2020

Your Essential Guide to NYC Pop Ups

In the Order of When They Leave NYC


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

251 Spring Street, 10013, map

When: Through Dec 31. Mostly Thurs to Tues 9:30AM – 7:30PM
Admission: $38

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

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.

Randall’s Island Park, map

When: November 27, 2020 to January 10, 2021
Admission: $22-38

An immersive wonderland of lights covering 10 acres with plenty of photo ops. They will have strict timed tickets, temperature checks, require masks, and social distancing.

photos: Luminocity Festival

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!

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.

About Time: Fashion and Duration

1000 5th Ave New York, NY 10028, map

When: October 29, 2020 to February 7, 2021; Thurs-Fri 12pm – 7pm Sat-Mon 10am – 5pm
Admission: Pay As You Wish for Residents of NY, $12-25

The Costume Institute’s exhibition About Time: Fashion and Duration traces 150 years of fashion, from 1870 to the present, along a disrupted timeline, in honor of the Museum’s 150th anniversary. Employing philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée—the continuity of time—the exhibition explores how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate the past, present, and future. The concept is also examined through the writings of Virginia Woolf, who serves as the exhibition’s “ghost narrator.

Times tickets to control capacity.

photos: fomofeed 

Celestial

439 W 15th St New York, NY 10011, map

When: October 22, 2020 to January 3, 2021; Mon-Thurs 2pm – 9pm Fri-Sun 10am – 10pm
Admission: $17-24

Immersive Installation Inspired by Pantone Color of the Year 2020. “PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective, open the flow of communication and connect to others.

photos: fomofeed 

Solo Show

909 Madison Ave New York, NY 10021, map

When: October 14, 2020 to January 9, 2021; Mon-Sat 10am – 6pm
Admission: FREE but make an appointment online

It will take visitors on a journey through one of the most influential and enduring artistic practices to unfold from the postwar period to the present. Lévy Gorvy’s exhibition will resonate with the themes that have animated Pistoletto’s body of work for over six decades: perception, time, history, tradition, and the relationship between art, artist, and viewer.

photos: levygorvy

Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test

220 W 18th St New York, NY 10011, map

When: Through November 15, 2020; Daily 1pm- 8pm
Admission: FREE but make an appointment online

Red Bull Arts New York presents Akeem Smith: No Gyal Can Test. In his first-ever solo show, Akeem Smith debuts an installation of new sculptures and video centered upon his extensive archive accumulated over the last decade as a monument to the promise and legacy of dancehall. Part poem, part anthropological homage, No Gyal Can Test forms a layered exploration of spectral coloniality, diaspora, and the voyeurism that results from transposing these artefacts across cultural, economic, and temporal divides.

photos: fomofeed and sixteenstone

Mystic Parallax

545 West 25th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY, map

When: Through November 14, 2020; Wed-Sat 11am – 5pm
Admission: FREE by Appt Only

Erizku engages an Afrocentric perspective in a new body of photo-based works, sculpture, drawings made from incense smoke and ash, and a series of short films, which act as a counter-narrative to the historically westernized discourse on African and African American culture.

Where Can We Live

New York City Building, Corona, NY 11368, map

When: Through Janaury 17, 2021; Wed-Fri 12pm – 5pm Sat-Sun 11am – 5pm
Admission: FREE with Timed Tickets

An exhibition of twelve artists and artist groups with roots in New York City asking critical questions about home, property, and the Earth, and who has access to these things under capitalism.

photos: artworldnyc of spakx

The May Room

12 Evans Rd, New York, NY 10004, map

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.

photos: fomofeed and sushininja

Citi Field, map

When: December 6, 2019 to January 26, 2020
Admission: $28/$25

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.

photos: fomofeed

2019 NYC Pop Ups

Rosé Mansion

445 5th Ave, 10016, map

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

76 Mercer Street, map

When: September 7 to October 6, 2019 
Admission: $25

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.

photos: nycharlene

25 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, map

When: December 6-15, 2019
Admission: $25

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.

photos: fomofeed of meganmasako

Mini Mart

230 Lafayette Street, map

When: Through September 11, 2020
Admission: FREE

Gelareh Mizrahi has transformed the Iconic Magazine bodega for New York Fashion Week. and will stay around until 2020.

Mickey the True Original Exhibition

60 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10014, map

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.

photos: nycharlene

Sculpture by Other Means at the Noguchi Museum

9-01 33rd Rd, Queens, NY 11106, map

When: 02/28/18 – 01/27/19
Tickets: $10

Experience ways that lightweight, collapsible paper lanterns can create and transform space.

Candytopia in Midtown

145 W 32nd Street, map

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

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 III + 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 instagram spots in NYC.

With so many pop ups in the city, we’re going to do our best to feature all our favorites on 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 in NYC

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

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ESTHER + JACOB

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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