Right behind Golden State Warriors games and the Orpheum’s Aladdin, the hottest ticket in the Bay Area since September has been the Museum of Ice Cream. The first round of tickets sold out in twenty minutes, and despite being in the digital “line” right when they went on sale, I was left out in the cold. Fortunately for me, the creators of the highly popular museum saw the potential and extended their stay until February and I was able to visit on the last weekend of December. Nestled away just off of Union Square in an old banking building, a big pink banner leads the way to the magical creamy wonderland.
First things first let’s call the Museum of Ice Cream what it really is – a giant $38 instagram photoshoot slash low key art installation. I don’t hate it, in fact, I think it’s a pretty cool place, but as someone that really loves ice cream and am fascinated by its creation, history, and place in society, I wish there was more of an informative aspect. There are a couple of facts that start the tour but we got scurried along so quickly I didn’t even get a chance to read them all. After setting the stage and explaining how the museum works with a sugar boost from some complimentary Dove chocolates, we made our way through whimsically decorated rooms with tastes of ice cream and candy along the way.
Walking down into the Museum of Ice Cream is like walking into a bubbly pink vortex. It’s not a place where you go to learn how ice cream is made, but rather, a place that embodies the nostalgia and good feelings created by a great cone of dessert’s finest. Most of the rooms are themed around an element of ice cream, like the ring toss carnival game on whipped cream canisters, or a related childhood sweet treat like the cherry cotton candy room.
The featured scoop of the day came courtesy of Berkeley’s Cream, and was a sneak peak of their yet-to-be-released Peach Bellini, garnished with gold sprinkles. The ice cream had a great heavy and creamy consistency with a slight booziness that channeled champagne in both its flavor and effervescence. The gold sprinkles on top added a nice crunch that matched the presentation-heavy museum well.
In a room full of magnetic letters you’re encouraged to spell out any inspirational or funny thing you want to bring to the museum. The giant fridge-esque experience is highlighted by a sample of strawberry mochi. Sugar vibes elevating into overdrive!
With the sugar high in full effect you’re lead into the Gummy Garden (or forest? I can’t remember exactly) where you can take pictures with giant bears and macarons. I found the slowly spinning pinwheels and bright colors to be very calming in here, which reminded me a bit of the stripped down charm of Disneyland’s It’s A Small World.
It’s time for more ice cream, this time in the form of unicorn soft serve. What exactly is being served was kept a secret, although it was implied that it was ice cream made with unicorn milk. To my taste it seemed like a mellow cereal milk kind of flavor, or, a slightly more sweetened vanilla with a hint of fruitiness.
The land of unicorn milk leads into a room paying homage to the ice cream truck, and then into the Pop Rocks cave, where you’re handed a bag of Pop Rocks in, you guessed it, a pink cave.
Finally, after removing shoes and any loose dangling items of clothing, you’re lead to the now-infamous Sprinkle Pool. The Instagram Boomerang darling really is a lot of fun, and sinking your feet into a giant pool of plastic sprinkles was more engaging and oddly relaxing than I had anticipated. Groups of fifteen or so people are let into the pool at a time. I know it’s impractical but I wish it was closer to ten. It was great being submerged in the rainbow magic but I wish I had more room to swim about and get all Peter Pan with my one true love.
After getting a nice blowing in the sprinkle shower to remove any sprinkle stragglers, there’s one last photo opportunity with swings and bananas before being ushered into a gift shop with the opportunity to buy more scoops of ice cream.
The Museum of Ice Cream is a fun place and I’m glad I went, but I wouldn’t rush back for a second visit; which is no problem since all extension tickets are currently sold out. If you love ice cream the way I do, you’ve gotta check it out, but you might be letdown by the lack of actual information. If you’re looking for a cool visual treat and some great social media buzz you’ll be very happy, and at the very least you’ll leave pretty damn sugar high.