5 Fun American Pop Ups For Your Bucket List!

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Pop-ups offer a fun and spontaneous opportunity for people to have unique experiences in fashion, food, art, music and more.  Traditionally, these events utilize empty shops or spaces for performances, exhibitions or restaurants, sometimes bringing life back into areas of town that might have been forgotten.

The informal nature of these spontaneous shops often make these events a social occasion, strengthening the local community.  They could last for a few hours, a few weeks or in some cases have gained enough popularity to become permanent fixtures.

We collected some of the best pop-ups in the U.S., featuring everything from temporary exhibits honoring hot dogs to street parties to surprise dinners at random outdoors locations at a hotel in the Maldives.  All these pop-up events occur over an extended period of time, or seasonally so you have more than one opportunity to take advantage.

Hot dog fest in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Foodseum.

Hot dog fest in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Foodseum.

1. Interactive Exhibits Commemorating Chicago’s Signature Bite (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Chicago’s first museum dedicated to food, Foodseum opens its doors as a three-month pop up on Saturday, September 19 at Block 37, 108 N. State St. The first exhibit, “The Hot Dog and Encased Meats of the World,” appropriately pays tribute to its hometown. Since food is such an important part of the human existence, Kyle Joseph, the executive director thought it would be important to provide some insight into what’s behind it all. Foodseum aims to engage visitors in interactively exploring food through smell, touch and taste, in the hopes of build a community that will support the eventual opening of a permanent location. The temporary museum will run until December 20, 2015.

Pop Ups

Mingling at the gallery. Photos courtesy of Conception Events

2. Intimate Interactions With Artists (New York City, USA)

Join Conception Events for memorable, bimonthly pop up art events in New York City and around the world. Their happenings showcase art, design, photography and film in a variety of informal locations where collectors can meet and purchase direct from the artist, avoiding heavy gallery commissions. The nights feature the popular “Art Clash” where guests paint onstage in a race against the clock. A full bar and music will keep attendees entertained until late. Past performances have included an all female Brazilian drum group and Philadelphia-based rock band, Skyline Beat. You can find these events at diverse and fun locations throughout the Big Apple including TriBeCa Cinemas, Warehouse Spaces and various bars and restaurants — although these events have started “popping up” in Miami, Philadelphia and the United Kingdom.

pop ups

Musical Pairing event in NYC

3. Music & Food Pairing Dinners (Assorted USA Locations)

Are you a foodie eager to take dining to the next level? Musical Pairing may be exactly what you need. Join Barbara Warner, classically trained chef, owner and author of the book series “Musical Pairing: The Art of Harmonizing Music to Your Meal” for pop up dinners around the country.

Barbara teaches a simple mathematical formula and process behind Musical Pairing in a theatrical meal. Dinners are typically held in existing restaurants with a BYOH (bring your own headphones) twist. Familiar foods are typically chosen so attendees can recognize how music elevates the dining experience.

If you would like to attend a Musical Pairing dinner, upcoming 2015 dates include October 2, October 22 and November 5 in Manhattan. Also check out the Musical Pairing app to create your own tunes tasting menu at home.

Pop Ups

Foothill dinner. Photo courtesy of P.O.P. Art theatre

4. Pop Your Shop (Malibu, California, USA)

Los Angeles-based *Pop Your Shop* offers a seasonal shopping, wine and music experience at the Rosenthal Winery in Malibu, California. You can find them 12-6 PM every other Saturday afternoon from mid April through the beginning of September to prepare you for festival season (Coachella), POPping all the way to Labor Day.

J.D. Luxe Mobile Boutique, the first mobile shopping truck to hit the streets of L.A., provides fashion and accessories for visitors to peruse. Break up shopping with sipping Rosenthal wines, listening live music by local bands, munching on food truck meals, grape stomping and more. Each weekend has a theme and the participating brands are chosen accordingly.

Jump Up. Photo courtesy of Susan Mills.

Jump Up. Photo courtesy of Susan Wall.

5. Jump Up, Pop-up Street Festival (St. Croiz, US Virgin Islands)

Caribbean locals love to dance, but here they often refer to this favorite past time as a “jump up.” Jump Up is a quarterly, pop-up street party in Christiansted, the main town of St. Croix. This tradition started as a way to boost the economy and spread island cheer but has continued as one of St. Croix’s favorite social events for locals and visitors alike. Christiansted comes alive with music, dancing, food, drinks, street vendors and shops staying open late.

Mocko jumbies — costumed dancers — jump around the streets in six-foot stilts navigating crowdsy. Jump Up occurs four times per year, each with a special theme: Valentine’s Day in February, St. Croix Triathlon in May, Alexander Hamilton Day in July and a Holiday celebration in November.

Pop Ups

Dessert Pop Up at Troy Boston rooftop.  Photo courtesy of Modern Gramma.

What pop ups have we missed? Please share in the comments below.

By Katie Foote 

Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor's, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn't really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.
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