Tired of the snow and slush covering New York City streets? You don't have to wait until spring to enjoy a day in the park. For just $1 you can picnic with friends, run your toes through green grass and listen to the sounds of birds chirping at Manhattan's Openhouse Gallery. This indoor pop-up park is open daily through February 13.
I visited the pop-up park on a recent Saturday after a fresh wave of snow blasted the city. January's record snowfall -- 36 inches in Central Park -- essentially trapped me in my apartment. Once I exhausted my Netflix queue and ruined my Timberland boots walking through gray slush, I was ready for an escape.
The crowd at the pop-up park is mixed; groups of 20 somethings circle around picnic baskets, moms chase toddlers across the bi-level gallery and couples sit against the walls, texting. (View the slideshow to see how New Yorkers are enjoying the park).
Savvy visitors bypass the expensive food carts (offering $15 lobster rolls) and bring their own meals. Pizza boxes and fountain sodas are a common sight, as are picnic lunches. When I visited, only the drink cart was doing steady business with its affordable $2 organic tea and $4 kombucha.
It's hard to find fault with a New York City indoor activity that is essentially free (the $1 entry fee is a "suggested donation"), but there are some drawbacks. Unlike the mobile gardens that have cropped up across the city, this pop-up park is built with artificial grass and trees. Environmentalists will shudder at the amount of plastic on display; the only natural materials I spotted were wood chips placed near the entrance.
Still, the Openhouse pop-up park is one of the few places in Manhattan where you can hang out for an entire day without buying anything. To get the most out of the experience, gather a group of friends, bring an assortment of bread and cheese and enjoy a winter-time picnic. It may be several months before you get this chance again!
Pop-up park at the Openhouse Gallery
Location: 201 Mulberry St, Manhattan, NY
Hours: 11am to 6pm daily through Feb 13, 2011
Cost: $1 suggested donation
The pop-up park is closed on select dates for private events. Check the Facebook page before you head out to make sure the park is open.
Visitors picnic at the Openhouse Gallery pop-up park in New York City. (Photo: Leslie Koch)
Most pop-up park visitors bring their own food instead of shelling out $15 for lobster rolls at this food cart. (Photo: Leslie Koch)
While the grass and trees at the pop-up park are made of synthetic materials, the wood chips appear to be the real thing. (Photo: Leslie Koch)
New Yorkers tired of gray slush, snow mounds and arctic temperatures relax at the pop-up park. (Photo: Leslie Koch)
You don't even have to venture inside to check out the crowd at New York City's pop-up park. (Photo: Leslie Koch)
The Kombucha tea is a relative steal at $4. (Photo: Leslie Koch)
With this many people in attendance, you'll have no trouble meeting an attractive, single New Yorker! (Photo: Leslie Koch)
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