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Museum of Ice Cream: A Kid-Friendly San Francisco Pop-Up

Museum of Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!

Growing up in the hot Northern California summers, we ate a lot of ice cream and spent a lot of time in the pools. When it's 105 degrees out, you don't want to each much else besides watermelon or ice cream. Or the popsicles from the Ice Cream Truck.

So when my friend Heather told me about the Museum of Ice Cream, which originally opened in Los Angeles, I knew I had to check it out.

Museum of Ice Cream, San Francisco

And like the popular Color Factory, also in San Francisco, the Museum of Ice Cream takes knowledge, strategy and patience to get tickets.

Knowledge -- tickets for January 10 through February 26 are going on sale tomorrow, Tuesday January 9th at 11am. Tickets are $38 a pop and children under 3 are free. Strategy -- set a timer (seriously), know which dates you can go (they are closed on Tuesdays), how many people will be in your party (one person's name on the tickets must match), click on the window and wait (here's where the patience comes in).

Also like the Color Factory, tickets for the Museum of Ice Cream sell hour in a matter of hours. 

So you have your tickets for the San Francisco's Museum of Ice Cream? (It's kind of like winning the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket). CONGRATS!

San Francisco's pop-up interactive experience, the Museum of Ice Cream

We took the whole family to the Museum of Ice Cream, located at 1 Grant Avenue, San Francisco. We parked in the Sutter Stockton Garage, located at, you guessed it, Sutter and Stockton Streets. It's a brightly colored garage (each floor is a different color) that has ample parking and is a quick walk to the Museum of Ice Cream. 

Tickets for the Museum of Ice Cream permit you to enter during a specific window of time, so it's important not to be late otherwise you may forfeit those tickets you fought so gallantly for.

Pro Tip: Leave the stroller at home and if you have a little one that may get tired of walking, babywear. Also bring water to wash down all that ice cream you're going to enjoy shortly!

Now get ready for an Instagram-worthy candy-packed, ice cream and sugar rush! 

Museum of Ice Cream, Ice Cream Vault

Unlike the Color Factory, you move through the Museum of Ice Cream with a group for the most part. And be prepared to wait. They try to fill the waits with fun pieces of information, banter and interaction. But waiting with two toddlers is still waiting with two toddlers. 

The Museum of Ice Cream is more of an eye candy ode to pop-art, Lisa Frank and bubble gum and less interactive than the Color Factory.

There's a carnival-style ring toss game at the beginning, but of course our toddler wasn't interested.

Museum of Ice Cream, Soda Fountain

There's a 1950s soda fountain type set up with juke box and stools at the counter. They served large portions of peach ice cream topped with golden glitter sprinkles. The ice cream was courtesy of CREAM and is good. Maybe I'm spoiled but we frequent actual soda fountains  -- Vic's Ice Cream in Land Park and Gunther's Ice Cream in Oak Park, so the whole 1950s soda fountain vibe wasn't as unique of an experience.

Museum of Ice Cream, What Do You Scream For, Interactive Play

The What Do You Scream For room with white walls covered with pink alphabet magnets was a fun throw-back to what every parent has coating their refrigerator. Make your mark or just observe some of the witty things people have spelled out.

Museum of Ice Cream, Unicorn and Rainbows

Several rooms were cool art installations, but not really participatory. The Pop Rocks room (they gave out Peppermint Pop Rock candy in December), the giant fluffy white clouds and red cherries (they have out pink cotton candy), the giant brightly colored gummy bears and lollipops, the white and gold unicorn in front of rainbow backdrop (they have out mini unicorn milk soft-serve), and the mirrored disco-ball box (which is a little claustrophobic).

Museum of Ice Cream, Mirror Disco-Ball Room

Pro Tip: There's one bathroom, use it. It's after the Pop Rocks Room, before you head upstairs.

Museum of Ice Cream, Pop Rocks

Then there's the sprinkle pool... 

Museum of Ice Cream, Sprinkle Pool

Oh the sprinkle pool. How I want to love you. But since this is such a popular exhibit, this is a "timed experience" and we all know how "timed experiences" and toddlers go together....

Sprinkle Pool at the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco

But in order to get your kids out of the sprinkle pool (which notable is filled with little plastic pieces that look like sprinkles but aren't edible), lure them to the air sprayers that you use to "wash" off the sprinkles. This was easily my toddler's favorite room of the whole museum. Good to know I can just take him to the gas station and let him at it with the air pump. 

Another unanticipated perk of the Sprinkle Pool... you will find sprinkles for days and week afterwards. In your baby carrier, down your shirt, in your shoes, in your pockets. It's a nice little reminder of the fun you had at the MOIC.

And to cap it off there are some fun swings at the end, enjoyed by both kids and adults. Because who doesn't like to swing?

Museum of Ice Cream 

Overall it was a fun, sweet, colorful, Instagram-worthy hour, but I wish there was more time to enjoy the experience (so goes life with a toddler). 


  • Museum of Ice Cream? Are you serious? Shut up and take my money! This is awesome! My kids would be in heaven! Love the fun photos too!

    Lynn Marie
  • I feel like I stepped back into the 70’s! I love it. Who thinks of a Museum of Ice Cream? Someone apparently very smart.

  • wait.. is that a sprinkles pool? Oh my god. I would absolutely love to eat everything in it! You look like you had such a great time i’m so jealous

  • Ummm I need to live here. This place looks incredible! I never even knew there was a Museum of Ice Cream

    Sarah F
  • I have seen so many people visit the Museum of Ice Cream in 2017! I know my husband would have a blast there and any kid we take in there!


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