Unless you have been living a social media-free existence, you know that Candytopia has arrived in San Francisco and it is THE place to be. This immersive experience will bring you back to the Willy Wonka land of your childhood dreams and send you right into a sugar coma. We checked it out and think you should, too—here’s why!
Candytopia opened its San Francisco doors on September 6 after massive success in both Santa Monica and New York. The 16,000-square foot space is located on Market Street, right across from the Museum of Ice Cream. Scheduled to be in town through November, this pop-up candyland was tastefully curated by Hollywood Candy Queen Jackie Sorkin and realized by master fabricator Zac Hartog.
Tickets are available online and cost $34 for adults and $26 for children 4-12. Little ones 3 and under are free (no ticket needed). You choose a day and time for your ticket and entrances are staggered at 15-minute intervals to keep the crowds manageable. As you are welcomed into the exhibit, you are encouraged to touch the candy art as you wish. Licking is prohibited as you’ll get a mouthful of shellac.
Before you leave each room, make sure to crab the candy treat that is being given out. Pro tip: Bring a bag as there’s more free candy available than you and the kids can possibly eat while you walk through.
Traveling through the exhibit brings you from the Library (with the gummy bear-covered suit of armor) to the Art Gallery. Here you’ll find amazing portraits of iconic figures like Steve Jobs and the candy man himself, Willy Wonka. Pose next to the golden replicas of the Golden State Warriors’ winning trophies. Practice your best scream face and snap a pic in front of the depiction of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
Want more info on the art? Peruse the Candy Facts card that is included with each art piece. Here you can find out how many gummy bears or jelly beans went into making the sculpture, how many hours it took to complete the creation and how many calories you would consume if you ate it!
A particularly fun spot for the kids to get rid of some of their candy-induced energy is in the Candy Wonderland room. Here you can swing from the ceiling and slide down a playhouse slide that’s sized just for little ones. Pop your head into the half spheres hanging from the ceiling for some auditory entertainment and rest for a bit on the candy-coated toadstools.
San Francisco Touches
Even if you have been to Candytopia in NYC or SoCal, this newest installation has a local flair that makes it unique. The Golden Gate Bridge see saw and the cable car installation are just a few of the spots you’ll want to check out.
Make sure you watch along the way for the opportunity to download the Candytopia app and have special photos sent to your phone (for free!). The Candytopia staffers are also more than willing to take that perfect shot for you so that you can include your whole gang in your Instagram story.
A Pool of Marshmallows
Perhaps the most fun for all ages is the pool of marshmallows that you can literally swim in. Don’t fear, these are foam replica marshmallows and not the sticky-sweet treats themselves. Take off your shoes and empty your pockets before you get in as it would be easy to lose your keys or cellphone in the fray. Staffers limit the number of people in the marshmallow pit to keep the crazy under control.
Our verdict? Candytopia is a multi-sensory experience that kids of all ages (and parents, too) will thoroughly enjoy. There’s enough there (swings, slides, giant beach balls, CANDY TO EAT) to keep the wee ones busy and tons of interesting exhibits for the older crew. Follow these tips to make the most of your visit:
- Get your tickets now! Candytopia won’t be here forever and most weekends are already sold out.
- Strollers are not allowed to be used throughout the exhibit but you may park them inside while you go through.
- The only bathroom is located in the Art Gallery so use it then if you need to!
- You can only proceed through the exhibit in one direction so make the most of each room while you are there.
- Got long hair? Bring a brush as you will likely get a head full of confetti in the Rainbow Room (consider yourself warned).
- Arrive 15 minutes before your ticket time. It takes about an hour to make it through all of the rooms.
- The closest parking can be found at Jessie Square, 233 Stevenson Street. Walk through the alley towards the Contemporary Jewish Museum to get to Candytopia.
767 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
—story and photos by Kate Loweth