Pop-ups are a New York City favorite. Especially in the summer, pop-ups provide an exciting change of pace. They’re known to be Instagrammable with their carefully designed installations and bright colors. Yet many pop-ups are also educational, introducing new ideas or opening your eyes to parts of the world that you may not think about on a daily basis. With the assortment of pop-ups that roll through NYC, we want to make sure that you know about the kid-friendly pop-ups before they leave! After all, what makes pop-ups so exciting is that they’re only here for a short time. Last year, the iconic pop-up for kids was Candytopia, the interactive, Willy Wonka experience sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. But this summer has a lineup of unique, kid-friendly pop-ups just as fun and immersive as Candytopia. We’ve got the best pop-ups for kids going on right now, and even one sneak peek to later on in the year!
Looking for things to do in July? Check out our NYC July Bucket List for more family fun!
Only in NYC through August 18, head to Ocean Cube this summer before it leaves! Ocean Cube immerses participants into a futuristic under-sea world with five unique rooms. The Coral Tunnel encourages you to navigate through the flowing coral strands, which play with your perception of light and dark. Push past the coral in the shallow waters and into the deep waters. Net Guard, the second room, surrounds you with colorful fish nets that protect you from the polluted surface. Check out the Jellyfish Station in the third room with bright jellyfish floating around and a whale in the center. The Bubble Mall, in the fourth room, is the most popular with food, makeup, books, movies, and more. Each bubble represents a different brand, and people can go inside for shopping! The final room is Recycle Bank, where you can exchange your memories for something better. Write down your nightmare and leave it behind. Ocean Cube focuses on an appreciation for sea life, discouraging pollution. 10 am-8 pm, 60 Grand Street, Soho, Manhattan.
DreamWorks Trolls The Experience
Now in NYC, DreamWorks Trolls The Experience is the perfect pop-up for your little ones who loved the movie and are ready for an interactive experience with music, activities, and Poppy’s Best Day Ever Celebration! First, get trolled-out with a full makeover. With help from a team of Glitter Gurus, choose from Troll-themed cardboard headbands and Troll-inspired makeup. In Branch’s Musical Mash-Up, create a mini orchestra with the critters of the Troll Village, complete with colorful lights. At Caterbus, step inside a huge Caterbus filled with floating, glittery gems for you to collect. Critter Crack lets you play virtual tag and collect gems on an interactive wall. Finally, at Poppy’s Best Day Over, start with a big group hug, and then grab your 3D Glitter Goggles to follow Poppy along through singing and dancing in the rainbow world. Did we mention that there’s an After Party? Create a scrapbook to capture all of your memories at this pop-up. Afterwards, head to the Cupcakes & Rainbows Retail Shop & Cafe for Troll-inspired treats. Various times, 218 West 57th Street, Midtown Manhattan.
The Color Factory
The Color Factory is a true celebration of all the colors of the rainbow – and everything in between! Through a series of interactive exhibits with plenty of sweet treats and pretty colors, you’ll develop a new appreciation for the colors all around you. Kids love the iconic, huge blue ball pit and the infographic that leads you to your “secret color.” Check out the bright dance floor, the floating balloons with wishes for the world, and your custom-colored ice cream scoop. For more information about how to navigate the Color Factory with kids, check out our review of the Color Factory! 10 am-10 pm except Wednesdays- 9:30 am-9:30 pm. 251 Spring Street, Soho, Manhattan.
Just making its debut on June 18, The Nautilus is an interactive art experience that encourages you to touch the art! The 95 illuminated poles have sensors that respond to individual touch. So when kids touch the poles, they’ll create their very own art! The goal of the pop-up is to motivate the public to engage with the world around them and appreciate differences, as each touch creates a unique effect. Say goodbye to the museums where you have to constantly tell your kids: “Don’t touch that!”. The Nautilus lets you both appreciate art and interact with it at the same time. 89 South Street, entry of Pier 17.
The Giant Room
The Giant Room Pop-up is a place for kids to design the future! Designed for children ages 5 to 12, the pop-up is an approach to STEAM learning (STEM and arts) and soft skills. In June, the Giant Room brought Wave Makers, an interactive light and sound festival, to celebrate the start of summer. Now, in July, stop by the Code Robots to play music or make art. Kids will learn coding fundamentals and robotics with one hour open access to the Giant Room studio afterwards. At Campfire, children learn how to give and receive feedback without getting defensive through a collection of toys. In Spotlight, children get to share their stories with each other and develop the best approach to share their work, whether its publishing a book or giving a talk. In Blank Canvas, children participate in arts & crafts to imagine and create masterpieces. The Giant Room is truly a place for children with giant dreams to create, explore, and design in a unique setting. High Line Nine, Chelsea, Manhattan.
Leave this pop-up with more than Instagram-worthy photos. The ELEPOP is all about promoting elephant protection and conservation. Elephants run a risk of being extinct within 10 to 20 years with the current rate of poaching. Through a series of different installations, The ELEPOP seeks to educate visitors on the importance of elephants in the world and the dangers that they are facing. One room features a giant elephant sculpture, surrounded by hanging clocks to teach us about elephants’ sharp memories. Check out the large honey-comb, a technique that farmers use in Africa to keep the elephant habitat away from their crops and human villages. When you cross the honey-comb, you enter into the elephant habitat! The large yellow case filled with coins and jewelry represents how the ivory trade may produce beautiful products, but it actually negatively affects international security and, of course, hurts the elephants. There are also lots of elephant sounds that are touch-sensitive, encouraging kids to touch these sculptures to learn about how elephants communicate. The ELEPOP is leaving us on July 25, so head over soon! 10:30 am-7:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 am-8:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 321 Canal Street, Soho, Manhattan.
Poke Bar (Pokemon-Inspired Popup)
Coming to Williamsburg, Brooklyn this winter, Poke Bar is the soon-to-be must-see popup. For your Pokemon-loving children, whether they play Pokemon Go, trade Pokemon cards, or use the Pokemon characters in the new Smash Brothers Ultimate, they will love this exciting popup. Poke Bar will have a game similar to the old Pokemon game played on the Game Boy. The game is split into seven regions, and if you can finish all regions, you’ll be the ultimate winner! In addition to gaming, visitors are encouraged to dress up in Pokemon-inspired clothes and enjoy Pokemon-inspired treats. Dance it out to music by a DJ in between games. Tickets are already on sale for Sunday, December 1, so get your tickets now for this family-friendly, Pokemon party! 113 North 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Big Bounce America
Big Bounce America is the world’s largest bounce house! While we’d love for this bouncy attraction to stay forever in Brooklyn, the bounce house travels all around America, so it’s just a pop-up in NYC. You can choose from 4 sessions: Toddler (3 & younger), Junior (7 & younger), Bigger Kid (15 & younger), and Adults (16 & over). Play in the ball pits, jump on the bounce castle, race your friends on the inflatable obstacle course, and slide down the inflatable slides. This is a great pop-up for your whole family or get a group together with friends and neighbors. Want to know more about this epic bounce house? Check our guide to Big Bounce America!
Pop-Up Paint Party
Summer is all about getting crafty with your kids, but sometimes you don’t want to have to deal with the whole mess of arts & crafts. Kewl Kids Paint is in Laurelton, Queens for a Pop-Up Paint Party this summer! Your little ones will have an afternoon of creativity at this pop-up event designed for kids ages 5 to 10. No art experience is necessary! After painting, enjoy cupcakes as a special treat. Make sure you buy your tickets in advance for this artistic pop-up. 1-2:30 pm, 223-09 137 Avenue, Laurelton, Queens.
Murray's Mac & Cheese
Mac & cheese, the childhood classic food, is irresistible with its gooey, cheesy deliciousness. While kids surely love a bowl of mac & cheese, so do all ages, across all generations, which makes Murray’s Mac & Cheese pop-up a perfect destination for your family this summer. Choose from four sizes: snack, meal, hungry, and family. If you’re stopping by the neighborhood for a midday bite, order the snack size. Yet, if you’re looking for a family dinner, consider the family size to share together. Signature mac & cheeses include classic, french onion, caprese, BBQ, ratatouille, buffalo chicken, and lobster. Feel free to customize your own mac & cheese by choosing your cheeses, meat, veggies, and sauces. Ever wonder what pepper jack and NY cheddar cheese mac & cheese with grilled chicken, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and basil pesto taste like? Well now’s your chance to find out! 254 Bleeker St. & 43rd St. & Lexington