New York City’s gone pop-up crazy! So many fun, immersive Instagram and selfie-friendly experiences have popped up, out, in and around NYC, it’s incredibly hard to keep track of all of them—or know which ones are best for kids (and worth your cash, ‘cause those things can add up). We hit up the latest and best Instagram spots for families in New York City so you know which ones are the best match for your clan. (Some of them are actually here to stay!) Here’s our guide to where you and the kids can get seriously selfie.
To the Moon
Really for older kids 11 and up (due to the size of the headsets involved) and not something you can capture on an Instagram feed, To The Moon, is just passing through for a week and a must-do if you can manage it. Created by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang as part of an exhibit marking the anniversary of the moon landing, the virtual reality experience takes viewers, as the title promises, to the moon, for an incredible 15-minute experience. The VR piece enlists images and themes from Greek mythology, literature, science, science fiction, and politics. Fly, walk on the surface of the moon, stand atop a lunar mountain, and roam among dinosaurs with skeletons made from DNA sequences. To the Moon is included with admission to the museum. (Spots reserved online are booked up, but we're told there will be walk-up spots available as well.)
Through July 28
American Museum of Natural History
Tickets: $23/adults; $18/students/seniors, $13/children ages 2-12. (Tickets bought at ticket counters are pay-what-you-wish.)
Central Park West & 79th St.
Upper West Side
Beyond the Streets
More an exhibit than a "pop-up"—although it is here just for the summer, and features plenty of fodder for the 'gram—Beyond the Streets in a must-visit in our book. (Full disclosure: We're a bit in the tank for the Beastie Boys and Guerilla Girls.) Curated by graffiti historian and urban anthropologist Roger Gastman, Beyond the Streets takes over two massive floors of Twenty Five Kent on the Williamsburg waterfront, and showcases more than 150 premier practitioners of graffiti and street art, from pioneers to artists pushing the genre forward today. Beyond highlighting the different forms and applications of street art, the show explores its expression in different regions and groups, such as west coast, east coast, surf and skate culture.
It's all great, but highlights include a gallery dedicated to the Beasties, (and collaborators/tour buddies RUN-DMC) filled with 40 years of ephemera, an interactive cartoon drawing room from Danish artist HuskMitNavn, a comprehensive retrospective of Shepard Fairey's work, puppets from Paul INSECT and BAST, a studio where everything (everything) is made from cardboard by Bill Barminski, a functioning tattoo parlor by Bert Krak and Alexis Ross, work from Jenny Holzer, and so much more. Plus, a walk-in "record store" like back in the day, with albums for browsing (and playing), gig posters, Yo! MTV Raps trading cards, etc. (Note: there is some mature content, so be on the lookout. Polaroids from Dash Snow feature nudity, and near the INSECT/BAST puppets there's a peep-show installation with oversized models of male and female genitalia.) Still: Go go go!!
June 21-August 2019
Tickets: $25/adults; $12/kids 6-11; free/kids 5 and under
Wed.-Sun., 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Beyond the Streets
25 Kent Ave.
Described as a surreal "underwater" experience, Ocean Cube promises to "drive participants into a futuristic 3D space of human beings who live under the sea." Featuring five rooms and 20 additional insta-bait spots, Ocean Cube features a Coral Tunnel, "Jellyfish Station" (pictured), and a "Bubble Mall." The entire journey ends in a colorful, but "polluted" bottle room (lots of plastic bottles on the wall), reminding visitors of the current environmental problems on earth.
Opens June 8
60 Grand St.
While CAMP is permanent, it does change themes every few months. The current theme is "Cooking Camp," which follows the journey of food from farm to table. And while it is ultimately a store, it's also a really cool experience tailored to kids that provides plenty of photo ops. A Flatiron District storefront filled with lots of cool toys and goods, as well as a Milk Bar location, CAMP also contains a bookcase that opens into a much larger space. (Going through this "secret" entrance is a pretty magical way to start a visit.) In this second space you'll find play areas, workshops, performances, and lots more toys for browsing. Free fun includes jumping on a mini trampoline, get down in the ice box disco, climbing aboard a truck to ferry some "food", and cooking it up in a deluxe play kitchen. You can also sign-up in advance for workshops and shows, and if you're really into CAMP, you can become a member. Read our review from when it opened here!
.- 8 a.m.-8p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sun., 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
110 Fifth Ave.
Found in the brand-new, blockbuster luxury development Hudson Yards, Snark Park a monochromatic mashup of art, design, playhouse and yes, unique Instagram-friendly immersive experience. Created by New York-based design studio known as Snarkitecture, Snark Park is the first entirely Snarkitecture-designed experience, and it will change three times a year. The first installation, Lost and Found, is described as a "modern-day enchanted forest" – built from a series of massive, inhabitable columns, each offering a unique, tactile experience. A series of totems lines the space and many of them are inhabitable and built with custom materials: EPS foam, mirror tile, acoustic paneling, cork, latex, ping-pong balls, faux fur, among others. Deeper into the installation, visitors discover a hidden, two-way mirrored room. (It is worth the high price tag? We've yet to experience it, as it was closed during the Hudson Yards preview, but plan to visit soon.)-
Rounding out the high-concept experience, Snark Park will also sell its own KITH Treats ice cream flavor "Snark Bite", with traditional KITH menu items. (Lots of sugary cereal mix-ins.) And of course, you can purchase a Snark Park souvenir, including the stuffie mascot "Snarky."
Tickets must be bought online for a specific time slot.
Tickets: $28/adults; $22/kids; free/kids four and under
Trolls: The Experience
If you've got a Troll-loving child in the house (and who doesn't?) then Trolls: The Experience should be on your radar. Produced by Feld Entertainment and taking over 12,000 square-feet of space in midtown, this colorful journey into Queen Poppy's world invites guests to the "Best Day Ever Bash." Visitors get to help prep for the party in a variety of ways, and collect badges along the way. (Those badges are incorporated in a scrapbook at the end of the journey.) Kids get to make music on out-of-this-world instruments, ride a confetti-filled Caterbus, play a Trolls version of whack-a-mole, and more. For the deluxe Trolls experience (and additional $40 fee), kids can get a "Troll transformation" in the "Hair We Go" salon; here, they can pick the Troll they want to be and get some facepaint and the matching Troll hairdo to match. For those not wanting the full makeover, cardboard "wigs" are available, and they actually look pretty good. The Experience ends with a rousing dance party (facilitated by special glasses and digital special effects), and of course, a chance to meet Poppy herself on the way out. Be forewarned: you will hear the song "Best Day Ever" a lot, and it will be hard to make it out of the gift store without dropping some cash. Tickets are timed entry and should be purchased in advance online; if you buy the "Hair We Go" salon treatment, make sure your general admission ticket and salon ticket are for the same time. Note to those with winter babies: they do birthday parties (rates start at $1,200.)
Tickets: $25/person until Nov. 9; $40/person Nov. 10 and after
218 W. 57th St.
Museum of Illusions
Unlike the other installations featured here, The Museum of Illusions is not passing through. Created in Zagreb, Croatia (with additional outposts in Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, and beyond) the museum is less technicolor extravaganza, and more exercise for your brain (in a good way). But don’t worry: fun photo ops still abound.
Visitors can explore more than 70 elements and experiences that include "illusionistic rooms", optical illusions, and puzzles. Every "piece" in the museum is accompanied by a clear and concise explanation of what is causing or creating the illusion; mathematical, biological, and psychological concepts are all touched upon, as are perception, vision, and how the human brain works.
This museum is an outstanding (and very fun) way to engage kids with complex scientific principles, and help them understand through experience. The well-curated gift shop allows you to take home some of the brain-bending fun. PS: Looking for a fun indoor birthday party idea? You can host one here.
Tickets: $19/adults; $15/kids six - 15; $17/students, seniors, military; $53/family of four
Daily, 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
77 Eighth Ave.
The Color Factory
Color Factory is a vibrant and interactive experience that celebrates hues of all kinds in myriad ways. (And while something like Candytopia does have that candy X-factor, we found Color Factory to be not only fun, but thoughtful, thought-provoking, and even a bit magical; any kid will have a blast, older ones will have an appreciation for its sophistication, and you'll probably love it.)
After a wildly-popular run on the west coast last year, Color Factory NYC features new collaborations with artists and partners including OH HAPPY DAY, Leah Rosenberg, Erin Jang, and Roz Chast. It’s 20,000 square feet and 16 installations of Technicolor, Instagram-friendly fun, such as ombré floating balloons with wishes for the world written by students at 826NYC, a walkable infographic leading you to your “secret color”, a palette of colorful treats featuring a custom color ice cream scoop, a unique activity on color and human connection, and a luminous dance floor. And of course, there is (a very large) ball “pit” — but it’s more like a ball room. (Everyone will love that.)
Through August 20, 2019
Tickets: $38; kids 2 and under are free (Tickets must be purchased in advance)
Daily, 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.; closed Wednesdays
251 Spring St.