Spice Up Your Instagram With These 10 Crazy-Fun Pop-up Events

If your feed is feeling drab, it’s time to visit one of these crazy-colorful pop-up events.

Man taking a selfie in front of colorful wall
Updated June 14, 2024
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Whether you love it or hate it (or love to hate it), the world of selfies is here to stay. In fact, a FinanceBuzz study found that the average millennial will spend 38 hours per year taking selfies. And part of taking the perfect pic involves finding a cool background for the shot.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the art and museum world caught onto the trend, but suffice it to say, the U.S. is rife with exhibits and pop-events that were created for exactly this purpose — that is, getting the perfect selfie. So if you want to see something cool but also snag one-of-a-kind photos of yourself doing it, well, there’s a pop-up for that. Keep scrolling for our favorite selfie-inspiring events around the country and beyond. And you might want to have one of the right rewards credit cards on hand so you can enhance your experience.

10 Insta-worthy pop-ups that live up to the hype

Whether you have the luxury of living near one of these top pop-up destinations or are just passing through, be sure to check out a few of these exhibits this winter and give your phone a full charge before you visit.

1. Museum of Ice Cream

The Museum of Ice Cream is an interactive pop-up that celebrates — you guessed it, ice cream. So what does this mean exactly? Think giant unicorns, throwback diners, a rainbow room that celebrates Pride, and last but certainly not least — an enormous sprinkle pool.

With two locations, its seasonal shows will be running in San Francisco from November 8 to January 12, and in NYC from December 14th through March 1st. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and start at $38 per person (free for kids under 2). Your ticket includes free admission to the cafe, which is open to the public, where there’s actual ice cream for purchase.

2. Color Factory

What started as a temporary exhibit in San Francisco in the summer of 2017 has quickly become a permanent expo in not one, but two major U.S. cities — New York and Houston.

By combining the creative talent of artists, designers, and other creatives, Color Factory installations are sure to inspire your own imagination, plus offer you the chance to experience color in a whole new way. Whether you’re trying to up your game on Instagram or are just looking for an excuse to jump into a ball pit, the Color Factory is sure to deliver on ample selfie opportunities.

Tickets must be purchased in advance online and start at $35 for adults, and $28 for kids ages 3-12.

3. Arcadia Earth

If you liked trips to the planetarium as a kid, you’re going to love snapping pics in Arcadia Earth. This immersive Manhattan-based art installation is inspired by planet Earth but includes fantastic elements from underworld worlds and imagined places. Translation: It’s pretty freaking cool.

But probably our favorite part of this unique exhibit is what it’s doing for the environment. With the goal of educating visitors about plastic waste and pollution, the museum was also built in a sustainable way, with nearly everything inside being either upcycled or biodegradable. As if all that wasn’t enough, proceeds of your ticket will go towards planting a tree and the museum’s nonprofit partner institution, Oceanic Global.

Because the experience also includes an augmented reality twist, you’ll want to download their iOS app before you arrive or just ask to borrow an iPad (no extra charge) at the door. Tickets can be reserved online and start at $33 for adults.

4. Happy Place

Happy Place is as awesome as it sounds, not to mention quite possibly the perfect place to launch your Insta-celeb career. With past events in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and Boston (all of which sold out), Happy Place is currently on display now through mid-February at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and through early January in the King of Prussia Mall in Philadelphia.

Past Happy Place highlights included things like the world’s largest indoor Confetti Dome and a seven-foot candy-made stiletto heel, with this year’s installations sure to include plenty of fresh decor that will make your followers swoon. Tickets should be purchased online in advance, and start at $30 for adults and $23 for kids ages 4-12.

5. Meow Wolf

Meow what? You heard us right, and we’re just going to be a little biased and say it outright— Meow Wolf should be obligatory for anyone planning a trip to Santa Fe.

This immersive art experience is one of the trippiest (and most unique) we’ve seen yet, with rooms upon rooms that correspond with a mystery narrative that’s up to you to solve. You’ll do things like walk through a refrigerator, sit in a luminescent tree house, find hidden compartments and interactive light displays, and probably take the best selfies on Instagram doing it.

Although Meow Wolf has plans to open more locations in Las Vegas and Denver, for now it’s just Santa Fe. Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased online or at the door.

6. Candytopia

With two pop-up locations in Philadelphia and Scottsdale (and opening in Miami at the end of November), getting your candy-themed pic fix has never been easier. Candytopia is the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory #irl, although we don’t recommend taking a bite out of the displays.

Featuring marshmallow pools, candy sculptures, and giant sweet-inspired installations, these backdrops are the perfect setting for your next gram, with tickets on sale ($28 for adults and $20 for kids) for Philly now through early January and in Scottsdale through the end of December.

7. 29Rooms

First launched in September 2015 for Refinery29’s tenth anniversary, this alternative and edgy pop-up had one simple goal: to disrupt the exclusivity of New York Fashion Week. That they did, and have since been going strong offering seasonal pop-ups major cities, including Los Angeles (November 8-17) and New York (December 6-15).

But 29Rooms isn’t just the perfect place to snag your next profile pic; it also offers visitors hands-on creative experiences that can include all sorts of creative expression such as dancing and painting. Since these exhibits are running for a short period of time and do sell out, buying your tickets in advance is highly recommended. Tickets start at $25 plus online processing fees.

8. Museum of Selfies

Pose in a striped room, jump into a pool of yellow emojis, or sit in a tub of (fake) cash. The choice is yours, and the options for snagging the perfect selfie are endless in LA’s Museum of Selfies.

Smack dab in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, this permanent exhibit allows you to experience (and pose) in a myriad of fun and pop-art inspired displays. Walk-ins are welcome and admission is free for kiddos under 5, $20 for ages 6-12, and $25 for adults— although occasional promos can take a few bucks off this price.

9. Tacotopia

Tempe, Arizona’s Tacotopia is a food lover’s dream. With over 30 interactive exhibits, you can ride a mechanical bull shaped like a taco, play on the taco seesaw, or lounge in an avocado chair. Be sure to arrive hungry, as each ticket comes with a free taco, chips and salsa, and a bottle of Jarritos.

It’s recommended to buy tickets ahead of time, and entry prices start at $25 for adults. On Taco Tuesdays, however, you can get two tickets for the price of one. While just the Tempe location is open for business now, Tacotopia will soon be opening in Miami, New York, and Chicago.

10. HideSeek

Montreal is joining in on the immersive museum fun with this pop-up inspired by themes of childhood nostalgia. Satisfy your sweet tooth next to the cotton candy machine, or stage your very own high school reunion in front of the pink life-size school lockers.

Just be sure to swing by HideSeek before this pop-up ends mid December. Tickets can be purchased online and start at $25 for adults and $20 for kids ages 4 through 12.

Looking for even more places to stage your next Insta post? Get all the details on how you can score free trips to major museums, and see our list of tourist attractions to skip (and what to see instead). And if you're traveling or dining out as you attend one of these events, make sure you check out the best travel credit cards to earn some points. 

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Author Details

Larissa Runkle

Larissa writes for FinanceBuzz and divides her time between a cabin in the San Juan Mountains and traveling in a van. She enjoys writing about travel, debt relief, personal loans, and mortgages. Her work has been featured on MagnifyMoney, LendingTree, and Realtor.com. Outside of finance and real estate writing, she’s also at work on several fiction projects. When away from the computer, you’ll find her reading, exploring local trails, and climbing rocks.