If you’re looking for an alternate reality, you’re not alone. Immersive experiences have exploded in recent years, allowing us to plunge ourselves into different times, elaborate locations and even surrogate storylines. From art to entertainment, music to play, these fully immersive art exhibits and events can be accessed around the world and promise a well-needed break from the norm.
Interested in finding a journey to take you away from the travails of every day? These experiential, event-based experiences are the perfect way to forget your worries in a different kind of travel experience. Most take between 60 and 75 minutes to properly explore. Here are our favorite immersive experiences you can buy tickets for right now.
Money Heist, The Experience
Netflix is not playing with its theatrical and interactive event based on its popular Spanish-speaking drama “Money Heist” (“La Casa de Papel”). The event, which is open now in Downtown Brooklyn as well as in Mexico City and London, drops you into the action direct from the series, where the mysterious and ingenious mastermind thief The Professor assembles a ragtag group of criminals, named after cities around the world, to rob a vault full of gold.
Donning red jumpsuits and Salvador Dalí masks just like the original characters, you’ll be recruited to pull off an international heist and hauled into the action. After you’re done with the robbery, you can do what most thieves do after a successful heist: have a drink at the on-site bar.
Tickets start at $49, and kids must be 14 and over to attend. It may be worth noting that a similar “Stranger Things” experience from these same co-creators will be coming to New York and San Francisco beginning May 2022, though you may want to book now — tickets are already going fast.
Museum of Ice Cream: An Immersive (and Delicious) Experience
Fun for the whole family, this immersive experience is a treat for all your senses. The pink-hued Museum of Ice Cream, with flagship locations in New York, Austin and Singapore (Chicago is coming soon), is a perfect place to reset and recharge. A sweet space filled with 13 different interactive exhibitions, you can join for the daytime family-friendly journey (tickets start at $36) or book the Night at the Museum experience (recommended for ages 16 and older).
Installations include yummy, interactive rooms filled with Instagram-ready scenes and seasonal themes like the Rainbow Tunnel and a multicolored Sprinkle Pool. For more targeted experiences, the NYC location offers a three-story Ice Cream Portal slide, while you can explore the Banana Forest in Austin and the Dragon Playground in Singapore. And did we mention there will be dessert?
Dinos Alive Exhibit: An Immersive Experience
Take a walk in this interactive Jurassic Park and you’ll be able to meet and greet more than 80 life-size dinosaurs and creatures, including a T. rex, velociraptor and stegosaurus. Unlike a traditional museum, Dinos Alive offers an immersive experience with a mix of moving replicas, a jungle environment and virtual reality technology, which let you explore the creature’s habitats in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
A virtual aquarium uses video mapping to introduce you to ancient digital sea creatures, and a kid-friendly “Budding Experts” space allows the younger set to gather even more information on their favorite dinos. A companion app is available for iOS and Android for budding archeologists and paleontologists to easily follow along.
Dinos Alive Exhibit: An Immersive Experience is open in Los Angeles and you can grab tickets starting at $20.
Mad Hatter’s (Gin &) Tea Party
Scurry down the rabbit hole to this immersive “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired party. The whimsical affair, which is hosted by the eponymous fellow himself, offers a mix of tea and adult libations and includes your very own mad hat for into-the-mirror selfies.
You’ll be able to explore the many rooms with mischievous props and peculiar characters before you sit down at the table for refreshments. Of course, you’ll receive a “Drink Me” welcome potion before you and your fellow guests create and imbibe three intriguing teacup-ensconced gin drinks — alcohol-free drinks are also available.
You can join in the fun now if you’re 21 and over in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston and Dallas. Tickets start at $64.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
Instead of a traditional museum, visit this oversize, fully immersive exhibit. The experience begins with an introduction to many of van Gogh’s most famous works mounted on canvases accompanied by helpful explanations as well as alcoves filled with glowing digital renditions of his paintings. Once you enter the main area, you’ll be amazed by the stunning, multimedia re-creation of the Dutch master’s landscapes.
Here, you’ll be enveloped in shimmering 360-degree visions of masterpieces like “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” as well as soothing sayings and sound effects pumping from surround speakers. The experience lasts just more than 30 minutes before you arrive in a coloring room, gift shop and optional “A Day in the Life of the Artist in Arles France” virtual reality experience for an extra $5.
The Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience can be visited in cities around the world, including Atlanta, New York, Seattle, Raleigh, New Orleans and more. Tickets start at $36.
Army of the Dead: Viva Las Vengeance
If there were ever a time to battle zombies, now may be it. So why not immerse yourself in this action-packed virtual reality experience based on Zack Snyder’s original Netflix flick “Army of the Dead”?
This 30-minute experience set in Las Vegas lets you choose your own avatar and weapons, then sets you inside a taco truck to make your last stand. You’ll get your tactical talking-to from crew members before you begin on a virtual reality rescue mission. Once you’ve gotten past your share of the walking dead, you can pose for photos and browse “Army of the Dead” merchandise.
Viva Las Vengeance is currently operating at the Plaza at Tysons Corner in Washington, D.C. Tickets start at $24 and are recommended for ages 13 and older.
Banksy: Genius or Vandal?
If you haven’t had a chance to see the infamous street artist’s exhibits in person, this interactive show brings new life to the Brit’s work. Here, you can find 80 different pieces from private collections, including signed prints of Banksy’s most famous works like “Balloon Girl” and “Riot Copper” as well as sculptures, installations, videos and photos.
The family-friendly experience is set in a gritty scenario with graffiti paintings by animated Banksy-like artists. Of course, a conventional biography isn’t possible, but it does dutifully re-create the artist’s studio from their film “Enter Through the Gift Shop.” The immersive aspect also includes a virtual reality experience, props and scene settings, a video montage and a reminder of how the reclusive artist raised cash for causes close to their heart.
Of course, it’s important to note that Banksy has nothing to do with the exhibit, but if you have a hankering to get up close with Banksy’s work, this is a must-see.
You can visit Banksy: Genius or Vandal? in New York until Feb. 27 and in Los Angeles until April. Tickets start at $29.50, or you can purchase a Family Pass for $78.80.
Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access
The Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access is an in-depth, in-person, interactive documentary. The accredited exhibition spans four decades of the beloved princess’ life, and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in a collection of images, murals and original, never-before-told stories from Diana’s lifelong photographer, Anwar Hussein.
The experience includes eight themed sections that span Diana’s life. Each specific area has its own enveloping multimedia installations created by artist Pauline Loctin to underline how she endowed a legacy of fashion and humanity to the crown.
Tickets for Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access in either Los Angeles or Chicago start at $25.
The Office Experience
Do you miss “The Office”? You’re not alone. So why not spend a few hours tooling around a re-creation of the Dunder Mifflin set? The Office Experience gives you an inside look at all your favorite characters, scenes, costumes and laughs from the beloved TV show, all while letting you personally engage with your favorite facets.
Not only can you get your own Dunder Mifflin employee badge with your photo, but this immersive experience allows you to wander around a total of 17 rooms filled with paraphernalia, including a timeline of Jim and Pam’s relationship as well as specific bios and fun facts. Interactive details include listening to recorded messages on phones, reading lines from cue cards and trying to finish Stanley’s giant crossword. And, of course, photo opportunities abound.
Tickets for Chicago’s The Office Experience start at $37.50, though you’ll have to pay more for a personalized Dunder Mifflin badge.
Klimt: The Immersive Experience
Get your Klimt on and be wowed by this immersive experience featuring the artist’s gorgeously romantic work. Here, you’ll be surrounded by a stunning, 20,000-square-foot exhibition featuring lights, sound and, of course, lots and lots of art. Explore a digital, hands-on interactive world full of whimsical, gold-dusted color and shape all while being fully encompassed by two-story projections of Gustav Klimt’s most famous pieces, including “The Kiss” and “The Tree of Life.”
In separate galleries, you’ll also be able to explore little-known facts about Klimt’s life as well as his techniques and influences with re-creations, large-scale panels and interactive activities. A 10-minute virtual reality experience takes you through a day in the life of the artist, chronicling his career and eight of his iconic works.
You can get tickets for Klimt: The Immersive Experience in London starting at £19.90 (about $27), though the exhibit doesn’t open until July 2022. There are also locations in Los Angeles, Miami and Las Vegas.
The Friends Experience
If you couldn’t hold back the tears during last year’s bittersweet “Friends: The Reunion,” you simply can’t miss this interactive “Friends” experience, filled with props, original scripts, costumes and Instagrammable memories. You’ll also be able to explore set re-creations so you can peek around Monica’s apartment door or stand in at the Las Vegas wedding chapel where Ross and Rachel got hitched. And, of course, there’s Central Perk.
True “Friends” fans are going to love the details here, including a blown-up version of the 18-page letter Rachel wrote to Ross, a chance to pat Joey’s white ceramic dog and a wall of fake posters filled with references from the show like an advertisement for Rachel’s sphynx cat show. And did we mention you can even poke the ugly naked guy?
Tickets start at $45 for The One in New York or $32.50 for The One in Dallas.
The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience
Ladies and gentlemen, lords and ladies, get ready for a ball to end all balls. The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience is a time-hopping, immersive party that will transport you directly to the home of Netflix’s popular Shondaland drama. The interactive experience is timed to coincide with the release of the show’s second season this spring and takes place in a Regency-era-inspired space.
Here, you’ll find all the trappings of 1813 Mayfair, London, with actors dressed in their finest period costumes and partaking in a ball dance accompanied by a string quartet as well as acrobats and interactive “Bridgerton”-based experiences directly from the show. You’ll be able to chat these characters up and maybe even be chosen to participate in the performance. As a guest, you can come as you are or dress up for the ball, and there will be drinks available to purchase at the bar.
You must be 21 and over to attend, and you can preorder tickets now starting at $56 for Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2022.