I admit – much to my dentist’s chagrin – I love candy and ice cream. That’s why I jumped at the chance to visit two local delicious immersive experiences that will fill any sweet tooth. They’re both basically multi-sensory selfie installations, bursting with colors, playfulness and treats. So grab your camera and head on over. (Dress in bright colors or even all black or white for the best photo ops.)
Who Wants Candy?
Candytopia, is the latest interactive pop-up to the hit the scene. It made a stop in New York pre-pandemic, but then closed; only to return bigger and better.
With 24,000-square feet of fun, it’s a visit to the world of Willy Wonka on steroids. In fact, you are greeted by a top-hatted Wonka-esque character who welcomes you to the world of sweets.
Soon you’re walking down a rainbow-striped hallway into a living game of Candyland. Check out the portrait gallery where framed artwork of the Mona Lisa, Frank Sinatra, Frieda Kahlo and Biggie Smalls are made entirely of jellybeans and other confections. Each has a sign explaining just how many pieces were used and how long it took to create. (Marilyn, for example, was made in 82 hours, with almost 4,000 pieces of candy.)
Pose with Rodin’s “Thinker” or a giant gummy bear, but don’t try to eat the pictures or sculptures! There’s plenty of candy for the taking in almost every room, with treasure chests filled with candy necklaces, Tootsie Pops, chocolates, taffy and more. Bring a bag to collect your treats.
It’s an Instagrammable fantasy world with swings, optical illusions, giant balls, a bouncy room, zipline and even pigs who “fart” confetti (I’m still finding pieces in my handbag).
Enter a neon tunnel and jump into a marshmallow pit. It’s perfect for little ones under 10 and kids of all ages who love an opportunity to pose creatively for social media.
But hurry; Candytopia is only around until July 31.
We all Scream for Ice Cream
If you haven’t had enough sugar or gotten enough online “likes,” head downtown to Soho’s Museum of Ice Cream. Started as a pop-up, it’s now a permanent installation that’s open both day and night.
You’ll have your fill with five ice cream stations, starting with a cherry ice pop as you enter. (The nighttime experience comes with booze, too.)
A riot of pinks and yellows, the Museum of Ice Cream is a perfect indoor, warm-weather activity for kids. Enter an air-conditioned wonderland where you’ll get to sample treats at five ice cream stations. (I recommend the strawberry shortcake.)
You’ll learn facts and figures about ice cream (the average American eats 20 quarts a year) and pass an ice cream timeline (tracing the origins to the Chinese Tang Dynasty in 618 AD). Choose your own ice cream name (how about Taylor Split or Jimmies Fallon) and travel through a bubble gum pink subway car, a banana room and so much more.
Swing, play ping pong, and hop on an epic three-story slide. The highlight is the huge swimming pool turned sprinkle pit. Jump or slide in for fun pics. (Note: it’s easier to get in, than to get out!)
Come hungry; you can eat all the ice cream you want.
111 West 31 Street
$36 for adults, $29 for kids 4-12; free for those younger
Museum of Ice Cream
$36 weekdays; $44 weekends; free under 2
$49 nighttime experience (ages 16+)