Where to go now

The Go List

5 Pop-Up Dinners in Stunning Locations

Pop-up dinners are great—they’re even better when they take place in the great outdoors

Can't beat dinner under the northern lights. (Raw-Churchill)

Pop-up dinners are great—they’re even better when they take place in the great outdoors

Most pop-up dinners take place in restaurants or event spaces, but we’ve pulled together our favorites dinners that have risen in striking locales outside. Get ready to enjoy a hand-crafted feast alongside new friends in a picturesque field, frozen tundra, or the middle of an oyster farm. 

Adventure Dinner, Various Locations Around Vermont 

(Jeff Weeks)

For a recent edition of Vermont’s speakeasy-style Adventure Dinners, guests got a text 24 hours ahead of time letting them know to meet at a marina on Lake Champlain. They took a cruise, accompanied by craft cocktails and appetizers, to a secluded rocky point and enjoyed a lakeside dinner cooked over an open fire by a local chef. The next dinner is slated for a flower farm in southern Vermont in July, complete with a treasure hunt and a lamb roast. 

Outstanding in the Field, Various Locations  

(Outstanding in the Field)

Outstanding in the Field calls itself a “roving culinary adventure.” Since 1999, they’ve been hosting farm-to-table dinners with local chefs in outdoor locales from islands to vineyards to mountaintops. This summer, you can sign up for a hosted communal dinner at an oyster farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, a cattle ranch in Jackson, Wyoming, a dairy near Lincoln, Nebraska, or a fruit orchard in New York’s Hudson Valley.

The Gardens, Tulare, California 

At the Gardens, a shop and event space in Tulare, California, by day, you can buy succulents or gourmet kitchen items or sign up for a workshop on making driftwood art. By night, join for one of their outdoor pop-up dinners in a lush garden setting under string lights, where you’ll be treated to cocktails and appetizers, followed by a three-course dinner and an outdoor movie, complete with buckets of popcorn and a wine bar.

Raw-Churchill, Manitoba, Canada  


Frontiers North Adventures leads guided trips through the Canadian subarctic, including a special dinner event they call Raw-Churchill. You’ll take a ride in a heated tundra buggy usually used for polar bear sightings across the frozen Churchill River to the Prince of Wales Fort, a Canadian historical landmark. There, you and 20 others will enter a tent structure with a clear roof for viewing the northern lights and an open kitchen, where a top chef whips up a multi-course meal. The event began last March, with the next slated 10-day run happening in March 2017.

Handmade Events, Various Locations 

(Handmade Events)

Flash picnics from Handmade Events started in California’s Bay Area in 2011 and they now take place around the country, from Brooklyn to Chicago to Sonoma Wine Country. At 3 p.m. on the day of the event, you’ll be notified of the specific location, often held in a park, field, or open space. Bring your own picnic dinner and dress all in white: Those are the only rules. After dinner, there’s live music and an impromptu dance floor. By 10 p.m., everything disappears and the canvas is blank again.

Filed To: Food and Drink / Travel
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.