If you have an Instagram account and you live in the Bay Area, then you have most likely heard of Color Factory. Part museum part art exhibit, this pop-up experience is a unique destination. Since Color Factory opened in August 2017 it intrigued me. The pictures my friends post on Instagram often highlighted the giant yellow ball pit or the 10,000 ribbon forest. I knew this would be a fun place to take pictures and spend maybe an hour, but I wasn’t sure what my toddler would think of it. Finally, I decided to purchase tickets (which are not easy to come by, more on that later). I brought along two of my best friends and former bridesmaids, and my 18-month-old daughter. The experience was fantastic and thoroughly surprised me.
Address: 575 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: Everyday except Wednesday 10 am-9:30 pm (currently scheduled to be open through April 2018)
What can I say? Color Factory is located in the heart of Downtown San Francisco, so parking is not going to be easy or cheap. If you don’t want to drive Color Factory is only five blocks from Powell Bart Station. Since I was bringing along my toddler, I decided to drive. This way she could nap comfortably in the car on the way home. My friend who lives in San Francisco recommended the parking garage at Stockton and Sutter (444 Stockton St). I am glad she did because it was very easy to get to and there were plenty of spots available. There is another garage even closer to the museum at 333 Post Street. Being so close to Union Square and Chinatown, garages are your best bet for parking but do expect to pay the price. Parking for 5 hours cost us nearly $20.
This is what makes Color Factory stand out from other museums. The artists who created this place put a lot of time and energy into making the exhibits not only visually appealing but hands-on and experiential as well. When you first enter, the staff gives you a card to register with your email. You scan the card at each of the six photo booths scattered throughout the museum and pictures are sent directly to your email. The first room is full of iPads to register the cards but also a rainbow room with a wall full of scratch and sniff circles. They also give you a tasty macaron to start your adventure. You then realize that this will be a feast for all of your senses.
My daughter, Adeline, loved everything that was hands-on. Not all of the exhibits are meant to be touched, but many are. This includes a giant lite-bright room, where you can create your own designs. Another favorite of ours was the confetti room, where there is just a constant shower of confetti. We spent about 45 minutes working on getting the perfect shot of it raining down on us. One of the most eye-catching and iconic exhibits is the huge yellow ball-pit. This monochrome feature is the last stop through the experience, and good thing because it leaves you sweaty after wading waist deep in yellow balls. I loved reliving my childhood by falling backward in the balls, or burying myself so that just my face was showing. Addie liked it too, although she would have preferred to be tall enough to stand in it.
I honestly wasn’t sure if Color Factory was going to be a good fit for young children because of its reputation as being an Instagram lovers paradise. I hardly ever saw pictures of small children, but surprisingly it was perfect for families. First of all, there were tons of children and families at the museum. From small babies in carriers (no strollers allowed inside the experience) to older children, half the groups we saw included kids. As I mentioned earlier, some of the exhibits are hands-off (like the blue room that was lined with hundreds of blue balloons), but many encourage interaction. Addie loved trying to pick up the giant marker and color on the walls, because you know I am not letting her do that at home!
Also, the staff throughout the museum were very understanding and polite to my daughter. I never felt rushed along or that we weren’t welcome. I was happy to find a changing table in the bathroom at the end. The best part about Color Factory is that it offers something for everyone, so while it is very kid friendly, groups of adults would love it just as much, if not more. My two girlfriends, who don’t have kids, had just as much fun as Addie and I did.
If you aren’t familiar with Color Factory, then you probably don’t know about all the hype that surrounds it and its ticketing policy. Every few months, Color Factory releases just a limited amount of tickets, and potential visitors need to be on the website right when they go on sale to ensure that they get what they want. I was a little intimidated by this process and wondered if it was even worth it. When you purchase a ticket, you are reserving a specific date and time for your visit. You can not arrive more than 15 minutes late for your reservation. This guarantees that the museum never becomes overly crowded, which I really appreciate. I took my time to experience each exhibit without being rushed or pushed out of the way. Because of this, I think the complicated ticketing process is well worth it.
The price might also be a little shocking at first, being nearly $40 a ticket. But I believe that Color Factory is worth the price. The staff said that it would take about an hour to experience all of the exhibits, but we stayed for over two hours! Not only did the cost of admission include the exhibits, but also tasty snack along the way. My favorite was the miniature yellow ice cream cone at the end. Also, children under two don’t require a ticket. So, Addie got to go for free, but the staff still treated her like any other guest, even giving her an ice cream cone as well.
Color Factory offers a unique and family-friendly experience in the heart of San Francisco. If you are from the Bay Area or visiting the City, I highly recommend planning a trip. Right now Color Factory is scheduled to be open through April 2018, but I am hopeful that they will extend their duration. Make sure to sign-up for their mailing list so that you know exactly when tickets will go on sale again.
Have you visited Color Factory? I would love to hear what you thought of it below in the comments. Also, make sure to share this article with your friends using the social share buttons!
Wonderful Blog Allison! Congratulations!