We love New York City, but sometimes it’s okay to want to step into another world! Immersive experiences have been popping up around the city for years now, and it’s because they’re so interactive and engaging! The beauty of these experiences though is the variation in how you’re actually “immersed.” From visual/audio presentations taking up massive walls, to theatrical performances, to even one-of-a-kind dining experiences, there’s so many ways to dive head first into a mind-blowing escape from reality.
With that said, here’s our list of the best immersive experiences in NYC to check out right now:
Astra Lumina is a totally magical journey through enchanted worlds that have come to life right here in NYC. When stars fall from above, their celestial energy doesn’t die. And to prove it, countless fallen stars are lighting up Queens Botanical Garden to light the pathway on this dazzling night walk. As the night unfolds, you’ll be dazzled by stunning projections that are illuminating the 39-acre gardens with countless colors and gleaming light.
📍43-50 Main St, Queens, NY 11355
For the fourth time, the popular Winter Lantern Festival has returned to NYC to celebrate the Chinese art of lantern making. Crafted by talented artisans, these lanterns are made using a variety of shapes, sizes and patterns. Some are inspired by traditional designs that date back hundreds of years, while others put a more contemporary twist on the conventional lantern. Over 1000 impressive lanterns await at this unique festival that’s paying homage to the beloved tradition.
📍73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens
Are you ready to feel like one of the FRIENDS™ crew members? Walk onto a recreation of settings from the iconic sitcom, which include sitting on the iconic orange couch, ordering a coffee from Central Perk, lounging in Joey and Chandler’s living room chairs, and so much more! View real props from the show, take pictures with friends, among other activities! It’s truly the ultimate immersion for any FRIENDS™ fan!
📍 130 E 23rd St
Immerse yourself into a miniature world where nearly everything needs to be looked at through a magnifying glass! The small works of art on display here will literally make you get on their eye level! We’re talking everything from tiny little pizzas to movie characters carved into pencil tips. The 130+ mini works and 80 photographs will shrink you down into an immersive world you never knew you needed!
📍 718 Broadway
Get ready for and out-of-this-world experience at Hall des Lumières, where you’ll take a journey through time and space. This visual and audio experience blasts you into the world of stars, planets, nebulae, and supernovae, allowing you to explore the Mars Rover, the scorching hot surface of the Sun, and more! Hang out on their first floor or sneak downstairs into their darker basement where you can lounge on beanbags, check out their mirrored room, and take pictures in a photo booth! It’s in partnership with NASA, so all of the visuals are top notch!
📍49 Chambers St
Seasonal drinks, tasty light bites and lots of holiday cheer await at this magical Santa’s Winter Wonderland experience. On entry, you’ll be treated to a delicious complimentary entrée and hot chocolate and get the chance to indulge in more delicious treats inside a heated igloo.
While surrounded by super festive decorations and Christmas trees, you can have some fun playing Christmas games and get stuck in with festive activities that both the kids and adults will love. And the best part is, you’ll even have the chance to get a picture with Santa in his grotto before he rushes off to the North Pole to get ready for the big day.
📍Watermark, 78 South Street, at Pier 15
Step into the world of famed artist Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner Gallery, where her iconic infinity room and new sculptures are now on display. You can expect an all new infinity mirrored room, life-size sculptures, paintings, and more! It’s only open through July 21st so get there while you can…and it’s free! Learn more here.
📍 525 W 19th St
Looking for a unique food-focused immersion? Head to Dining in the Dark, a tasting experience that will have your tastebuds tingling and your curiosity peaking! After you choose a specific style menu, you’ll be blindfolded, helping your other senses leap to new heights as you try out a delicious curated meal. Not to mention that the venue is darkened and candlelit, you’ll be walking into a culinary journey like never before!
📍 111 N 12th St, Brooklyn
Celebrate the season of giving and get into the holiday spirit at Santa’s Secret Immersive Holiday Experience! First off, you’ll embark on a festive journey through eight immersive installations featuring cheeky gingerbread girls, rugged lumberjacks and more. Once you’ve explored each installation, you’ll eventually arrive at Santa’s super secret speakeasy. Inside this clandestine bar, guests will fill up on tasty cocktails and delicious food while ballet and burlesque dancers put on a jaw-dropping show that’s sure to get hearts racing. Who says the holidays are just for kids?
📍350 11th Avenue and, Hudson Boulevard East
Experience an immersive exhibition devoted to the wonderful word of Asian lanterns inside American Dream. The lanterns you’ll find here have been handcrafted by talented artisans and made from the finest materials including traditional Asian silk cloth. These beautiful lanterns are truly a treat to look at, and you can watch them come to life as they’re lit before your very eyes. You’ll also have the chance to make your own paper lantern at the interactive crafting table.
📍1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford
Dive head first into a world of sweet treats, where you’ll find everything ice-cream focused you could ever imagine! We’re talking everything from a swimming pool full of sprinkles to a three-story indoor slide. Of course the immersion wouldn’t be complete without some ice cream to eat too, which you’ll snack on along the way! The museum is located at 558 Broadway in SoHo.
📍 558 Broadway
Where art thou Romeo?! Perhaps another drink Juliette? Join the Drunk Shakespeare Society for an immersive night of classic Shakespearean evening of revelry, cocktails, performances, and more! Each show is uniquely different and it’s a hysterical way to watch the actors give raucous performances while slamming down shots of whiskey.
📍 125 Pearl St
13. Gustav Klimt: Gold in Motion
From the same crew behind Destination Cosmos is this experience, which celebrates the life and works of Gustav Klimt. Using cutting-edge mapping technology and elegant soundtracking, they turn their historic venue into the canvas of Klimt’s greatest pieces. Experience his most iconic paintings like “The Kiss” and “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” like you never have before.
📍 49 Chambers St
There’s something incredibly magical about listening to live music by candlelight. Both the soothing sounds produced by talented musicians and the enchanting glow from a sea of candles is enough to leave you feeling enchanted, relaxed and ready for more. In NYC, the Candlelight series is paying tribute to a host of singers, bands and composers, from Taylor Swift and Coldplay to Vivaldi and Bach. Prepare to be dazzled by these spellbinding tribute concerts that celebrate some of the greatest artists in history.
The Museum of Sex always has something exciting going on behind closed doors! Their latest exhibition, SuperFunland: Journey into the Erotic Carnival, is an interactive indoor adventure perfect for everyone! Get ready to jump into their 4-D immersive “Tunnel of Love” ride, an erotic fortune-telling machine (modeled as RuPaul), a mechanical bull, and a lit-up climbing structure. This is the perfect way to take the edge off!
📍 233 5th Ave
Immerse yourself into the legendary Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral as you unlock age-old secrets during this exclusive catacombs tour! In this experience, a tour guide will lead you through the hidden and off-limit areas of the church, telling you all about the history and spooky stories along the way. You’ll see the final resting places of famous New Yorkers who have left their mark on Catholic, New York, and American history first hand, as well as connect with the church’s past in a truly unique and unforgettable way!
📍 263 Mulberry St