NYC’s Best Instagram Experiences for Kids This Summer

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NYC is the place for fun, pop-up experiences, but how do you decide which one’s for you and the kids? (And worth the cash?) From immersive, sensory experiences, to fun museums and the latest interactive Instagram spot, these are the best places to get seriously selfie in NYC with the family now. Read on to find your match! For more fun inside, check out our favorite NYC museum exhibits for kids, a super fun NYC themed restaurant then hit up some of the best free and fun things to do with kids in the city this month.

Candytopia

Candytopia

An all-new iteration of the Instagram playground dedicated to celebrating all things sweet (and sour) returns to New York City.  The updated 2022 experience is 24,000 square feet with 17 different interactive environments, Instagram-worthy photo opportunities, and delectable tastes of a variety of treats. Completely new experiences include an infinity mirror room, Ring Swing Garden, Sugar High Theater and an indoor zipline.  Returning favorites include the signature Candytopia marshmallow pit, a New York-inspired candy art gallery and a state-of-the-art candy confetti room—complete with confetti-farting pigs.

Opens April 29
Tickets: $36/adults; $29/ages 4-12, free/kids three and under
111 W. 32nd St.
Penn Plaza
Online: candytopia.com

Artechouse

Artechouse: Life of a Neuron

Ever wanted to explore the human brain Magic Schoolbus-style? Check out Artechouse: Life of a Neuron created in collaboration with the Society for Neuroscience. This immersive exhibition brings art, science and technology together to give audiences an unprecedented view inside that grey matter. As visitors walk through the cerebral cortex, they will encounter artistic renditions of a brain at the cellular level — including a larger-than-life neuron — while being enveloped by a captivating sound design. Enlisting innovative creative technologies and scientific research, Life of a Neuron enables audiences to learn about neuroscience in a whole new way, with technology-driven interactive artworks that explore how vision, stress and addiction affect the brain. (Hot tip: If you're an NYC or New Jersey resident, you can get $5 off on weekdays with proof of residence. 

Tickets: $25/adults; $17/ages four-15; free/ages four and under, $75/family four-pack, two adults and two children 
Opens May 14
ARTECHOUSE NYC at Chelsea Market
439 W 15th St.
Chelsea
Online: artechouse.com

Fever

The Fans Strike Back

The Fans Strike Back is an exhibition featuring more than 600 official items from the Star Wars Universe collected by fans and displayed for fans. It's more than 24,000 square feet of photos, posters, costumes, figures, and models of different types and sizes. Included: life-size Jabba the Hut, full-size podracer, Yoda, Starkiller Base command bridge, the Emperor's throne room and much more. A must for true Star Wars fans.  

Closed Tuesdays
Tickets: $30/adults; $20/kids
526 6th Ave. 
Union Square
Online: thefansstrikebackexhibition.com

Summit One Vanderbilt

Located at the top (the summit) of one of Midtown's newest skyscrapers, Summit One Vanderbilt is probably not for your family if anyone is afraid of heights. Otherwise, it offers some extraordinary, visually stunning and exhilarating experiences. "AIR," from digital artist Kenzo is a story-driven, immersive experience that's a mix of sound, mirrors, unobstructed space, silver orbs and light. (Not to mention incredible city views.) For the more daring, there's LEVITATION sky boxes that allow guests to step out from the envelope of the building and stand on transparent glass 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue. And for the extreme thrill-seeker, ASCENT, an all-glass elevator with a transparent glass floor, takes guests from the terrace level up the side of the building, nesting at the highest viewing point in Midtown Manhattan. To regroup and refuel, check out APRÈS, the sky-high lounge and café offering light fare and cocktails. Some helpful tips: bring sunglasses if you go during the day (things get bright; wear pants/leggings/tights to avoid any upskirt views, and skip the stilettos, steel toe boots and cleats, as they are not allowed due to potential floor damage.) 

Tickets: $39/adult; $33/ages five to 12, free/kids under five
Summit One Vanderbilt 
45 E. 42nd St. 
Midtown
Online: summitov.com

Edge

For even more hair-raising fun, head to Edge in Hudson Yards. (If you've ever been driving up the West Side Highway and spotted people standing on a big triangular platform outside a building, this is it!) Located at 30 Hudson Yards, Edge is the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. Suspended in mid-air, Edge gives you the feeling of floating in the sky and provides 360-degree views (as well as the view 100 stories below through the glass floor.) If you still need a hit of adrenaline, head over to the angled glass walls and lean out for another uncommon and incredible view.

Tickets: $38/adults; $33/ages six-12, $36/62 + ($2 discount for NYC residents)
30 Hudson Yards
Hudson Yards
Online: edgenyc.com

Arcadia Earth

Arcadia Earth takes you on an immersive, augmented reality journey through the planet Earth. Explore undersea worlds, fantasy lands and art installations all created to help underscore how small lifestyle changes can impact the future of the planet. If you want to take your experience to the next level, splurge for the Arcadia Lens enhanced experience ($59), which enables you to interact with holograms throughout the experience (swimming sharks, etc.) 

718 Broadway
Noho
Online: arcadia-earth.com

RiseNY

RiseNY

A new attraction celebrating NYC has arrived in Times Square. RiseNY is part ride, part gallery, part Instagram experience. Its centerpiece is a world-class, state-of-the-art flying theater that gives visitors a unique bird’s-eye view of the Big Apple and creates the sensation of flight. Seated guests are lifted 30 feet in the air and glide over NYC’s skyline and landmarks while inside a 180-degree, 40-foot projection dome.  Before the ride experience, visitors journey through seven distinctly themed galleries that show NYC's pop culture impact on the worlds of Finance, TV/Radio, Fashion, Music, Broadway and more with collectibles and photo-ready sets (you can be a guest of The Tonight Show, for example). RiseNY begins with an immersive film by award-winning documentarian Ric Burns and narrated by famed actor Jeff Goldblum.

Tickets: $28/adults; $26/Seniors 65+, $24/ages 3-12
160 W. 45th St.
Times Square
Online: riseny.co

 

The Friends Experience

We'd be very surprised if your young kids were into this one (presumably, your toddler is not binge-watching Friends yet.) But, The Friends Experience would make a great moms group outing or date night destination. Superfans of the long-running sitcom can enter into its world, visiting replicas of Central Perk, Monica and Rachel's living room, Chandler and Joey's place (yes, you can sit in the armchairs) and even the staircase of the famous "Pivot!" scene, complete with couch askew just so. In addition to the recreated sets with interactive elements, The Friends Experience features iconic props, trivia and unknown facts, and photo ops galore spread out over its two floors, including one on the orange couch by the fountain from the show's opening sequence. 

And yes, you can grab a coffee or pastry from Central Perk, which is open to the public for grab-and-go drinks and bites. (A visit to the coffee shop is included with admission.) The shop features treats from Breads Bakery and BCakeNY. Got Covid-19 concerns? Don't worry: it's "Monica clean."

Open Thurs. - Sun. & some holidays
Tickets: $45 and up (Private group reservations are available for $375.) 
130 E. 23rd St. 
Flatiron District
Online: friendstheexperience.com

Little Island @Pier 55

Little Island @Pier 55 is quickly becoming iconic, thanks its appearance in Instagram feeds ever since it debuted last spring. This free "floating" park in the Hudson River looks great whether you're on the shore or enjoying its undulating 2.4 acres. Little Island offers visitors green space for lounging, an amphitheater, varied food and drink at The Play Ground (finger food, sandwiches, salads, beer and cocktails), as well as performances of all kinds thanks to acts curated by Artists in Residence. (Those officially start June 14.) Ongoing programming for kids happens here, too, from local artists and museums such as The Children's Museum of Art and the New Victory Theater. Important things to know: Make a reservation for timed entry to avoid long lines. No bikes are allowed. It's open 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Hudson River Park
10th Avenue and W. 13th St. 
Meatpacking District
Online: littleisland.org

Sloomoo Institute

Sloomoo Institute

The slime trend is still going strong, and the Sloomoo Institute invites guests to immerse themselves and revel in the world of goo. Expect artisanal, scented slime, interactive activities, a massive DIY slime bar, slime experiments, an immersive ASMR tunnel, a lake of slime to walk on, and even your own slime to take home. Dress in your get-messy clothes and prepare to open your wallet: it's $39 a ticket. A percentage of sales goes to mental health charities.  

Sloomoo Institute 
475 Broadway
Soho
1-888-718-4253
Online: sloomooinstitute.com

Mimi O'Connor

Color Factory NYC

Color Factory NYC is a vibrant and interactive experience that celebrates hues of all kinds in myriad ways, and it is one of the first immersive experiences to bring a massive ball pit to NYC. This experience is all about creativity, play, joy, discovery and yeah — lots of color.  You'll explore 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 macaron, a unique activity on color and human connection and a luminous dance floor. Rooms are collaborations with artists and partners including OH HAPPY DAY, Leah Rosenberg, Erin Jang, and Roz Chast. Everyone gets to choose a quirky souvenir (made by the artist partners) on their way out. 

Tickets: $38; kids 3-12, $28, 2 and under are free (Timed tickets must be purchased in advance.)
Closed Tues. & Wed. 
251 Spring St.
Soho
Online: colorfactory.co

Museum of Ice Cream NYC

The Museum of Ice Cream

The Museum of Ice Cream is an immersive walk-through experience dedicated to the sweet treat. The MOIC opened a permanent NYC flagship in December of 2019, and paused during the pandemic. It's back, with its slides, samples, ice cream playground, sprinkle pool and lots of photo ops. It's a dreamy, fun and slightly trippy experience both kids and adults will enjoy. You must reserve tickets in advance. 


Tickets: $36 and up
Closed Tuesdays
The Museum of Ice Cream
558 Broadway
SoHo
Online: museumoficecream.com

Museum of Illusions

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.

Ongoing
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.
Chelsea
212-645-3230
Online: newyork.museumofillusions.us

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