Museum of Ice Cream Miami
Disclaimer: Experience spoilers lie ahead. If you want to be completely surprised during your visit to the Museum of Ice Cream Miami, do not read this. I'm telling you not just my experience, but what each room consists of and what it looks like. Additionally, these are my personal thoughts about MY experience overall, but it may not be what you encounter on your trip. It shouldn't act as a deterrent or a recommendation. It's just my ice creamy truth.
It's located on Collins Avenue, and if you are not familiar with Miami, Collins is a congested one-way street that only runs North. If you miss your turn it can quickly become a nightmare re-directing you into the traffic that Miami is famous for. Stay vigilant and pay attention. There is currently a lot of construction going on as you drive Indian Creek Drive (your only way South) so paid street parking is extremely scarce, although an option if you miraculously find a spot. If you plan on street parking download the PayByPhone parking app because you will need it. Set up your account now.
We did not want to street park, so we followed the directions on the MOIC website that said there was a public parking lot you could pay for on 35th street. Turns out that public lot was not public and was taken over by their valet and they charged us $25.
You are warned to not be late for your time slot, so we were afraid to take our chances getting stuck in traffic while still searching for parking so we paid the $25. I counted the tacos that could have bought me in my head as I reluctantly handed over my keys.
We arrived 20 minutes before our noon time slot and were told to go away quite literally (but kindly) by the front door staff. They do not form a line outside so everyone congregates near the steps and waits, and they were trying to understandably discourage that. Because there is no line outside formed, everyone hovers and then when they get the green light everyone dashes for the door. Brilliant. 'Merica. There is no reason to get in line first, so chill and be courteous.
THE SPRINKLE POOL
Once inside you fill up their indoor queue and wait to check in, group by group, and you are told the first experience is the sprinkle pool. The sprinkle pool that from all accounts of Instagram evidence looks like a luxurious sprawl on a bed of sweetness, with perfectly placed blow up accessories to allow for the perfect instagram worthy pic.
Uhhhh yeah no.
The TRUTH is, you are allotted about two minutes in this room. You are ushered in with a group of ten people, told to take off your shoes and place them in lockers and then take your pictures. Heaven help you if you don't have slip on shoes! The pool itself is very small, so obviously it creates a demand for prime real estate to get your shot. I got ONE shot that didn't have someone's child or someone's limb in it before we were told to get out of the pool and leave quickly because the next group was entering.
I am convinced that anyone with a good shot of them in that pool alone, was either the product of a staged photo by the staff, or someone that pushed people out of their way. Cute idea with near impossible execution unless you are a celebrity with the room to yourself.
Additionally, the sprinkles are not real, they are plastic, which has caused the MOIC to be fined multiple times because the plastic sprinkles are becoming a environmental hazard as people unknowingly carry them outside allowing them to end up in storm drains and ultimately into local waterways. I stepped in the pool briefly and still somehow had sprinkles in my car and hours later on the floor in my home. Shake your sprinkles off best you can!
Sprinkle pool tip: Don't get precious in this room. The lighting is a mixture of natural and artifical, so by time you adjust your DSLR just right, time is almost up. Grab your phone and get ready to snap quickly. And DO NOT wear complicated shoes. I wore slip-on shoes and people were literally walking over me to get over to the lockers when it was their turn. Also, there are a lot of bare feet in here, so whether or not you want to co-mingle with lord know what fungus or open wounds is up to you.
Once you leave the pool you enter a colorful courtyard where you can take your time sitting on pink benches or using the colorful walls to get some photos.
Courtyard tip: If you are patient, the courtyard is spacious and fills up and then empties. Take your time in this area and get creative with as many shots as you can here because there isn't a whole lot of pressure and you can't go back to it later.
The Shake Your Buns room is next, and it's where you get your first ice cream sample. I did not eat any ice cream during my visit because I'm not eating dairy right now. To my knowledge there are no non-dairy options to try.
Your main photo ops in this room is the cute bar area against the wall or the Shake your Buns wall. If it's full just wait til it clears out.
Back through the courtyard you walk up pink stairs that take you into the room filled with giant ice cream cones. While it's a colorful room there isn't really a designated photo area, so unless you pose with a giant ice cream you don't end up spending too much time in here. The main event is around the corner.
THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS
The most popular room BY FAR is also the most swelteringly hot and I don't think that's by accident. Every other room has a normal temperature but this one. The pink palm tree room (might not be the actual name) is home to three main photo ops, two Miley Cyrus wrecking-ball-esque swings and the tiny coconut cave.
The rules of the Museum of Ice Cream dictate that once you leave the sprinkle pool no one will monitor how long you spend there, but you cannot go back into past rooms. The pink palm tree room has the most photo opportunities, and therefore the room where people stay the longest. A line forms to enter the glittery door in the corner that lets you break your back in half by entering, or you can crawl. A thought may enter your mind "I paid $40 to crawl on my hands and knees to take a photo" and shame sets in briefly.
A member of MOIC staff keeps an eye (in-between handing out miniature ice cream cones) on how long people are in coconut cave. I did see her check on some people during my time in line. Good for keeping the line moving, bad for getting the perfect shot you literally got on all fours for.
Pink palm tree room tip: Don't fret over pictures on the swing. Eventually everyone gets in the coconut cave line and the swings are empty. There is plenty of time for do-overs if you feel pressure at first and don't get the shot.
Coconut room tip: All subjects getting their photo taken should enter first and go to the left. If you shoot someone to the right, the door will be in the shot and ruin the perspective. Beware overexposing your face by sitting directly under the florescent lights. Time is of the essence so check your face before entering and be ready to work it like Jennifer Lopez on her 48th birthday. Flawless and making everyone question their skin regimen.
The following rooms didn't do much for me personally, and it's clear why you don't see that many images of them in your IG feed.
In one room you can put your pre-determined ice cream name on a wall and get another sample of melted ice cream. In another room there are large colorful modular shapes you can stack on poles, lots of color but again, no real designated photo opportunity. If the room is empty you can take your time and play with patterns and angles. Oh, and you can grab some open-air gummies on your way out. I did not, because, germs.
There is also a "sandcastle dreams" room with a small station that allows you to play with sand for a minute or two. There are two large sandcastles in the room for looking, no touching. These rooms were all pretty much empty during my time in them which was brief.
The last stop for photos is the rooftop deck where you get your last morsel of ice cream (key lime during my visit) and you can leisurely sit back and enjoy the cool breeze off the ocean, play shuffle board or ping pong, and there you will find the popsicle wall. It was MUCH smaller than I expected and you are not allowed to touch it, so get creative with your angles.
Of all the floors, this was definitely the most peaceful, and if you wanted to spend some time there to take different types of shots or just hang out, it was clearly meant for just that.
There is a gift shop at the end with branded merch and $3 water that leads you back outside and poof, as quickly as an ice cream melts in Florida heat, you are done with your experience.
I would never tell anyone not to go, it's definitely an interesting experience. However in reality, you are paying almost $40 (not counting parking and travel) to get a few really good shots in key places that everyone else is clamoring for. If you take your time, surely you may be able to come up with a different take on a space or utilize an area that is ignored by the masses.
Truthfully, I didn't feel very inspired to do that, and I promised my rocks-star of a husband who went with me that we would hit up his favorite comic book shop on the way home, so I left.
I did however stop in Wynwood first because there is where you will find blocks and blocks of art and photo opportunities and it's free. If you are going to make the trek to Miami, carve out time for Wynwood. Take full advantage of being in Miami when it's not suffocatingly hot outside.
Let us all remember this time in history where we paid to go take pictures of ourselves, much like the time we were all suddenly into swing music, and never speak of it again.