We've all scrolled through the images of people swinging in the banana room, diving into the sprinkle pool, and playing in the gummy garden.
But when it comes to visiting the Museum of Ice Cream (with locations in New York City and San Francisco), is it worth the $38 ticket to get that one snap for Instagram?
I know that these are the big questions in life, so I decided to try it out on a recent trip to San Francisco. I coughed up the money for four tickets, took a deep breath and got ready for what I hoped would be 45 minutes of pure joy for my two children.
Note: It's not as easy as showing up and buying a ticket, or purchasing online. You are given a specific time on a specific day - which was a little restrictive for a vacation. But by the time we got there and were figuring out our ice-cream nicknames (Sandae-Mix-A-Lot, Pralines-n-Scream, Choc-a-Holic and Nutty Chocolate), the pain of purchasing the tickets was forgotten.
Not shocking - the MOIC has won two Webby Awards for Best Overall Social Presence and was honored as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies for Live Events.
Instagram-worthy exhibits were everywhere we looked (no wasted photo opps here), complete with ice cream sampling stations. We saw the famous banana swings, but hustled straight for the sprinkle pool line.
This was probably the one exhibit, I had heard the most about and was equally as excited to see.
Let me preface this by saying the sprinkle pool is not filled with actually edible sprinkles but instead plastic ones.
Little know fact, right? And also, much more sanitary. Though I wonder how many kids have learned that the hard way...
Also - 'pool' might be too big of a term for this area. It’s more the size of a hot tub...with a time limit. We quickly threw our shoes and bags into the provided lockers and dove into the pool. My kids were screaming and throwing sprinkles as fast as I could take photos of them. We had to fight off other people who were trying to make the perfect photo but the dive into the pool ignited our excitement.
After a quick session in the air shower room to remove any errant sprinkles (great idea, btw), we lined up again to head downstairs. The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco is housed in an old bank and most of the museum’s exhibits are actually downstairs, near the old bank vault (now re-named the Ice Cream Vault).
At this point we were starting to loosen up and enjoying the fun of the museum. Then we turned a corner and saw there were ice cream samples to consume. Our excitement levels blasted through the roof. If there is something that makes my entire family happy, it is ice cream and samples of ice cream make us ecstatic.
We saddled up to Marye’s Dinner for our mini pink ice cream cone, but the best treat was the cotton candy machine, called the Cherry Cloud Spinner. It’s hard to resist pure sugar touted as a pillow of sweet candy (case in point: I even heard squeals of delight from grown women as they snagged some cotton candy).
From there the rooms continued in an absurd fashion that reminded me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The room filled with giant cherries, the ride-on toy in the shape of an circus animal cookie (pink and covered in sprinkles), the rainbow room with unicorns and the huge gummy bears in a room that reminded my husband of “It’s a Small World”.
We were invited to try creamy, fruity popsicles, mint mochi ice cream and more to name a few. We emerged from the museum in a full sugar daze, entirely lit up from the experience. Yes, parts of it were hokey and yet parts were quite amazing.
For me, it was an afternoon of play, something I don’t indulge in enough.
For my kids, it was their sugar dreams coming to life and,
For my husband, it was a departure from reality with fun design.
The Museum of Ice Cream is not something to scoff at and think too much about. At the core, it's simply about fun, and being a kid again - which we could all use in our lives! Yes, the cost is $38 a person but heck, that’s the cost of a good happy hour afternoon and this might be more fun.