For me, the buzz around Wonderspaces started with one picture some friends on a date posted on Instagram. In it, they were in a room with a giant floating spiked balloon. And for whatever reason, I just assumed they were in LA. That's where all the cool artsy stuff happens, right?

But within 24 hours of that photo showing up on my feed, the buzz grew steadily. My friends Makena and Liz both texted me separately asking if I'd heard of Wonderspaces. My coworkers were sharing snaps from their own visits in the kitchen at work. And more and more photos began to pop up on my Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

By the end of the next day, I was almost paralyzed with FOMO.

Wonderspaces, a traveling pop-up art exhibit that's here through July 30th, is the coolest thing to happen to San Diego in a loooong time.  As they share on their website, "you can think of Wonderspaces as a pop-up museum of extraordinary experiences.  Those experiences range from room-sized interactive art installations to virtual reality films and include art enjoyed at the world’s biggest festivals and fairs."

You can also think of Wonderspaces as an Instagram staging area or as a way to justify weeknight drinks, since all of their alcohol sales go to local charities. Because as I finally found out for myself last week, Wonderspaces has got a little something for everybody...

Liz, Makena and I headed over on a Tuesday night after work to avoid the weekend crowd. The website shares that the experience usually takes about an hour and a half, so I figured we'd select a 7pm entrance time in order to experience the museum in both daylight and after sunset. The after sunset part is key: two of the exhibits are outside and lit up at night, giving you a completely different experience/new profile picture.

Entrance times run every 30 minutes on Tues-Thurs from 12pm-9pm, Fridays from 12pm-11pm, Saturdays from 10am-11pm, and Sundays from 10am to 8pm (they're closed on Mondays). The last entrance time is an hour before close and tickets range from $16-$24 dollars each.

We followed the directions to the middle of nowhere in Mission Valley (aka the brand new Civita Park) and parked for free next to the dusty lot where the white 20,000 square foot tent loomed unassumingly.

Unassumingly, that is, with the exception of a radiant crystalline archway and 30 or so dancing balloon men.

Inside, there's a small table with kids checking you into the museum and handing you your wristbands and a guide to the exhibits. And then almost immediately the art begins with a neon tunnel to the bar (where they serve beer, wine, snacks and La Croix) and the rest of the museum. 

There are 14 total exhibits to experience and 3 virtual reality experiences to enjoy. When you arrive, the best strategy is to head straight to the VR kiosk to put your name on the waiting list. If it's a busy day, you could wait up to an hour for your spot (they text you when your name comes up) and then you get to choose 1 of the 3 VR experiences. 

If you'd like to try all 3 VR experiences, I strongly recommend getting there earlier in the day so that you can add your name to the waiting list again after you complete each one. 

One of my early favorites was a piece called "The Last Word" where you could grab a blank, rolled up sheet of paper off of a wall of corrugated cardboard. On it, you're encouraged to write what you would have said to someone if you could have or if you had the chance now. Then you put it back in the wall, red side out, and can spend minutes or hours pulling out other people's papers to read what they would have said if they could get the last word in.

Another favorite was the "You + Your Shadows" room which almost exploded my little color addict brain. I should build one of those in my house.

When our names finally got called for VR, the museum was closing down, so after I finished my first one, "Transition," I was able to do the other 2 as well. Each one was very different. "Show It 2 Me" was an interactive music video where you could virtually paint the moving world around you. "Transition" is just a movie, featuring a boat ride through several landscapes. And "Sonar" is also a movie, albeit a little darker but with a lot to look at. Of the 3, "Sonar" definitely felt the most realistic.

Two hours later, with our VR experiences concluded, we headed out into the night breeze to dance with the balloons of "On Tilt" and snap some post-sunset pics in the Pulse Portal.

I absolutely love stuff like this and I'm so excited that it came to San Diego. So make sure to check it out while it lasts! It's a perfect way to spend a few summer hours whether you're rolling solo, hanging with the kiddos, ready for a girls' night or on a date.

Civita Blvd and Russell Rd
San Diego, 92108