Rainbow City Adds a Bouncy Splash of Color to the High Line

I’ve said it before: New York’s High Line elevated park is best when it rains. No, you’re not going to visit during a monsoon, but a touch of ambient moisture is usually all it takes to keep the wimps away, leaving more room for the true aficionados to explore the world’s finest example of industrial repurposing. My rain rule also extends to the new Rainbow City project, which occupies a lot next to the 30th Street terminus of the High Line’s newly-opened Section 2. You’ll definitely need some kind of weather event to keep the crowds at bay, because it’s pretty amazing.

Rainbow City, which is sponsored by AOL, is the brainchild of FriendsWithYou, a Miami-based art collective founded by Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III. For this project, the duo took over a 16,000-square-foot outdoor space at West 30th Street and 10th Avenue and filled it with more than three dozen massive, pastel-striped balloons and other inflatable sculptures. There are three moon walks to bounce around in, as well as a whole bunch of floating sculptures tethered to the ground that you can bat around and try to whack your friends.

We visited last Saturday, and the light rain kept what would otherwise be an insane crowd manageable. The exhibition is ostensibly targeted to kids, and our wee ones were over the moon with the fantastical, Dr. Seuss-like world, running around like madmen and bouncing around inside the giant mushroom over and over again. Yet there were plenty of adults there on their own, admiring the impressive art forms and marveling at the ease of which the space was converted into an impromptu fantasy land. And, in an odd, NSFW twist, one of the moon walks has an exit designed to mimic the experience of being born. I’ll let your imagination take it from there.

But if that’s not enough to convince you that you needn’t be a breeder to enjoy the art, dig this: there’s a beer garden right next to the thing. Yes, Colicchio & Sons just opened The Lot on Tap, an open-air swilling spot just steps from the trippy fun. Delicious draft beers are just $7 per (reasonable for Manhattan) and there are numerous well-regarded food trucks nearby to satisfy your taco fix.

For the sake of research, we took a beer break before returning to Rainbow City, just to see if it’s more fun with a dose of suds in us. It is. The clouds parted, the balloons dried a bit, and we had a few more blissful moments bopping around the massive, lighter-than-air sculptures. Rainbow City is definitely worth a visit. Pray for rain this weekend.

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