Looking for a perfect photo-op with the fam? Head to these immersive experiences in NYC, featuring interactive art exhibits and pop-up museums, mind-bending illusions, and terrific tech
New York City is the place for fun, interactive experiences and pop-up museums, but how do you decide which one’s for you and the kids? (not to mention worth the cash?) From immersive, sensory experiences to fun museums and the latest interactive Instagram spots, these are the best places to get seriously selfie in NYC with the family now. What’s more, these immersive experiences—that feel like a cross between a museum and a hands-on art exhibit—have something for everyone, whether you’re a fan of rainbows, a slime sensationalist, or cuckoo for candy (who isn’t?). Bonus: every single one of them features fantastic photo ops for the whole family.
For more fun inside, check out our favorite NYC museum exhibits for kids or a family-friendly themed restaurant, and then hit up some of the best free things to do with kids in the city this month.
1. For Kids with a Sweet Tooth: Candytopia
This recently updated Instagram playground is dedicated to celebrating all things sweet (and sour). The experience is 24,000 square feet with 17 different interactive environments, Instagram-worthy photo opportunities, and delectable tastes of a variety of treats.
The candy museum includes 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. You’ll also find some new experiences added last year, like an infinity mirror room, Ring Swing Garden, Sugar High Theater, and an indoor zipline.
Tickets include a variety of sweets, all of which are nut–free. Plus, if anyone in your family has dietary restrictions, ask the staff for help and they’ll be able to work with your needs, offering options that are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, kosher, and vegan.
Cost: $36/adult; $29/kid, 4-12; Free kids 3 & under
111 West 32nd St.
2. For Slime Aficionados: Sloomoo Institute
The slime trend is still going strong, and the Sloomoo Institute invites guests to immerse themselves in sensory play 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.
For an added fee, you’ll be given ponchos and head into Sloomoo Falls, where you can experience getting slimed! Whether you opt-in for the full slime experience or just get general admission, wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
The institute is working with the Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology (CASE) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to come up with a way to responsibly dispose of slime. They’re currently in the middle of a study that will hopefully lead to the first slime recycling program! Plus, percentage of sales goes to mental health charities.
Cost: $48/general admission; $80/enhanced experience
3. For Crafting Your Own Candy: Cricket’s Candy Creations
Founded by chef, author, and educator Cricket Azima, Cricket’s Candy Creations provides hands-on sweets and candy making classes. Candy Coaches lead kids through candy-making experiences, making everything from fun seasonal treats (like candy hearts and edible love letters for Valentine’s Day) to candy frames and sugar shakers.
Classes are designed for all ages, so everyone from the youngest candy creators to the adults can enjoy the experience. The space also frequently hosts special events like “Candy After Dark”—a 21+ social night featuring candy cocktails—teen movie nights, school holiday camps, and more.
Cost: $65/general admission; $80/VIP experience; $45/companion adult ticket
200 Hudson St.
4. For a Magical Interactive Art Experience: Wonderland Dreams
Step through the looking glass into a wonderland full of art. The 26,000-square-foot space is covered by art by Alexa Meade, featuring some truly magical ways to interact with art.
Swirling colors and trippy visuals inspired by Alice in Wonderland fill 20 rooms floor to ceiling. There are giant playing cards, wonky chess board designs, a mad hatter tea party, a garden with red-painted white roses, and many different things to look and play with. Visitors are encouraged to touch and interact with the art, and, of course, take plenty of pictures.
Cost: $33-$39/adult; $27-$33/kids (3-12), veterans & seniors
Dates: Through April 2023
529 5th Ave.
5. For Fun with Colors: Color Factory
Color Factory NYC is a vibrant and interactive experience that celebrates hues of all kinds in myriad ways, and it’s 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, a walkable infographic leading you to your “secret color,” a palette of colorful treats featuring a custom ice cream scoop, a unique activity on color and human connection, and a luminous dance floor.
Color Factory collaborates with artists like Jason Polan, Lakwena Maciver, Molly Young, Tosha Stimage, and Tom Stayt to create unique rooms. The gift shop on the way out features quirky souvenirs made by the artist partners.
251 Spring St.
6. For a STEAM Crossroads: Artechouse
Artechouse combines art, science, and technology into an interactive space where STEAM subjects collide in a magnificent way. Projects rotate throughout the year, so you can explore different experiences every time you visit.
Currently on display at the NYC branch of Artechouse is Magentaverse, an exhibit that celebrates the Pantone Color of the Year 2023, Viva Magenta. Become immersed in the color and dive into a cinematic exploration of hue and healing that spans from the earth under our feet to the space above our heads with NASA—and beyond.
The space then takes it a step further with their “Extended Reality” experience: Download the app and use it in various locations around the exhibit to see the art come to life in incredible ways through augmented reality.
Cost: $25/adult; $17/kid, 4-15; Free, kids 4 & under
439 West 15th St.
7. For a Sweet Scoop: Museum of Ice Cream
The Museum of Ice Cream is an immersive walk-through experience dedicated to the sweet treat. You’ll leave the space knowing much more about ice cream than you ever did, and recovering from a sugar rush. That’s because the museum has 12 multi-sensory exhibits across three floors that teach the history of the sweet, as well as unlimited ice cream samples of five different types. Plus, take a ride on the animal cookie carousel, stop for a photo-op in one of the color-themed rooms, or take a dip in the sprinkle pool.
8. For a Dive into Kid-Favorite Franchises: CAMP
CAMP is a multi-sensory experience that places kids in the middle of their favorite franchises, from Paw Patrol to Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
At the moment, CAMP has opened its doors to visitors who want to explore the Casita from the hit Disney movie, Encanto. Visit the home of the Madrigal family in person and experience the different rooms—including Antonio’s rainforest to Isabela’s floral wonderland, and even, quite possibly, the room of He Who We Don’t Talk About…and more. Look for hidden passages, play with interactive magic, enjoy live music, and find many other magical surprises around every corner of this whimsical experience.
This installation was created with kids in mind, and is full of opportunities for playing, dancing, climbing, and more as they’re guided through the narrative adventure.
Cost: Starting at $44
Dates: Through early 2023
110 5th Ave.
9. For the Super Secret Spy Mission: Spyscape
Put on your best spy outfits and grab your gear: It’s time to transform into super spies at NYC’s Spyscape! Right now, you can take part in a Batman-themed interactive adventure where you help the caped crusader and other DC heroes save Gotham from nefarious villains. Use the special app on your phone to hack into security systems, solve riddles, and more.
While all are welcome, the Batman experience is recommended for teens and adults—and the adventure continues beyond Spyscape in your own neighborhood using GPS to create a real-time experience on your own turf. You can also enter Spyscape without participating in this exhibit, where you can also run surveillance, dodge lasers, and learn about real spy tech.
Cost: Starting at $58/adult; $44/kid
928 8th Ave.
10. For a Shift in Perspective: Museum of Illusions
Created in Zagreb, Croatia (with additional outposts in Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, and beyond) this 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’s 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.
Cost: $24/adult; $18/kid, 6-13; Free, kids 6 & under
77 Eighth Ave.
11. For the Theater Kids: The Museum of Broadway
Pay a visit to theaters throughout the ages at this Broadway extravaganza. This museum celebrates the rich history of Broadway, featuring defining moments in the famous street’s existence, behind-the-scenes peeks at its past, and a deep dive into the most iconic shows.
The space is interactive, a total immersive experience in NYC, giving visitors a chance to get hands-on with installations. And, of course, there are plenty of sweet spots for photo ops for the ‘gram.
145 West 45th St.
12. For a Thrilling Ride: RiseNY
RiseNY is part ride, part gallery, and all immersive 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.
Cost: Starting at $34/adult; $30/kid, 2-12
160 West 45th St.
13. For a Journey Through Art: Hall des Lumières
One of the newest additions to the NYC experiences roster, the Hall des Lumières merges art with technology. The inaugural exhibit will showcase its high-tech approach to classic art with an exploration of Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt. Digital renderings of Klimt’s artworks were custom-made and mapped to the space at the Hall des Lumières, making the imaging completely unique to this exhibit. Incredible wall-to-ceiling displays place visitors directly into the world of the paintings, while a special soundtrack completes the feel.
Tickets get you entry into the main exhibit, as well as smaller digital experiences. At the time of this writing, that includes a small installation on Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an audio-visual 5-minute experience titled “5 Movements,” and “Recoding Entropia,” a film about the human mind and the concept of endless void. Exhibits on display will change throughout the Hall des Lumières’ lifespan, so stay tuned for cool things in the future.
Cost: $30/adult; $15/kid, 5-16
49 Chambers St.