Let me tell you—we reached the limit of the Museum of Ice Cream’s unlimited sample policy

We took the Museum of Ice Cream’s unlimited sample policy to the max.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Things to Do Editor
Time Out New York at the Museum of Ice Cream with Let Me Tell You logo
Photograph: Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out New York

“Let Me Tell You” is a series of columns from our expert editors about NYC living, including the best things to do, where to eat and drink, and what to see at the theater. They publish each Tuesday so you’re hearing from us each week. Last time, Things to Do Editor Rossilynne Skena Culgan explored whether we’re ready for The Portal’s ’pure window’ into different cultures.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. The saccharine aroma enveloped me as if I was trapped at the bottom of a Duncan Hines vanilla frosting container. 

I arrived at the Museum of Ice Cream, lured by the promise of unlimited ice cream with every ticket (tickets range in price from $36-$105). When I heard about the “unlimited” offer, I had to know just how unlimited, especially as a person with a big sweet tooth. So I grabbed a few coworkers (thanks, Sarah Iandoli and Avery Porges!) and headed to this experiential museum in Soho to put it to the test. Little did we know, we’d face a towering slide, an Ice-A-Bagel, brain freezes aplenty and even parkour on this Herculean challenge.

Here’s a minute-by-minute account of our adventure, our triumphs and our failures. 

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3:15pm Wednesday, June 12

Our journey began on the 6 train. We debated how big the samples would be—tiny plastic spoons or larger scoops? We wanted to place bets on how much we could eat, but it was tough not knowing exactly what to expect in terms of size and flavors. Who could eat the most ice cream? Our coworkers sent us encouraging messages, with some betting on me, some thinking Sarah would take the win, and others cheering on Avery. 


Once we arrived at the museum, we were able to skip the line thanks to our VIP passes, so we quickly headed inside the pink-hued palace. Icy air-conditioning blasted our warm bodies. Music blared into our ears. It’s like we were at a club, and the DJ was a 12-year-old girl high on Mountain Dew.

It’s like we were at a club, and the DJ was a 12-year-old girl high on Mountain Dew.

A bubbly staff member escorted us inside and asked us to write our “ice cream name” (think “Strawberry Sean” or “Vanilla Veronica”) on nametags. Within moments—even before we had our first lick of the sweet stuff—we were offered a free cocktail, but we demurred. First of all, it was 3:45pm on a Wednesday. Secondly, we needed to keep our stomachs primed for ice cream, not booze. 

A lobby with pink designs.
Photograph: Courtesy of the Museum of Ice Cream


Finally, we arrived in the first room, which was decorated with light pink and dark pink patterned walls, plush burgundy seating areas, and a neon pink bar that offered us two more free cocktails, which we again declined. We had the choice between a pastel pink vanilla soft serve or a bright pink pomegranate soft serve—and quickly realized that the sample sizes here are actually full-size ice cream servings in either a cup or a cake cone. 

We debated whether the cone would help or hurt us in our quest. On the one hand, it would fill our bellies more quickly, but on the other hand, it might cut the sugary sweetness a bit. 

You see, New Yorkers are spoiled with an abundance of incredible ice cream

I opted for the vanilla soft serve in a bowl and immediately realized I’d made a mistake in thinking I could win this quest. It was hard for me to finish one bowl of the cloyingly sweet soft serve, let alone keep going. You see, New Yorkers are spoiled with an abundance of incredible ice cream. Just two nights ago, I’d devoured the olive oil gelato at L’Industrie. A few weeks back, I tried a spicy scoop from Sugar Hill Creamery.

The soft serve I received in a pink (of course) cup did not fit this bill. Neither did the pomegranate I sampled. My 8-year-old self would’ve gone HAM on this ice cream. My more refined, 35-year-old tastebuds struggled. 

My coworkers Avery and Sarah were equally astonished by the extreme sweetness, but they destroyed several samples, proving to be much stronger souls than I.

Ice cream count: Rossilynne 1.5; Sarah 3; Avery 6.

A woman in a pink subway display.
Photograph: By Sarah Iandoli for Time Out | If only the actual subway was this cute.


Amply sugared up, we headed into the museum’s dozen immersive experiences, including the Celestial Subway (also pink), which we loved, as well as the Banana Jungle where we strolled through an array of dangling plastic bananas (many of them pink). After a stop in the Sprinkle Cave, we made it to our next ice cream spot. This one served hard ice cream, my personal preference.

Here, we tried an orange vanilla kosher ice cream from Klein’s and a strawberry cheesecake variety from Leiby’s, which was by far our favorite. This creamy scoop included a ribbon of strawberry jam swirled through creamy ice cream, and we all went back for seconds. I’d love to see more local dairies represented at the Museum of Ice Cream with interesting flavors like this one. And maybe even something not pink—give us some chocolate, please! 

At this point, we leaned into the chaos, acting like kids as we posed with a giant ice cream scoop and parkouring along the “scoop” in the wall for videos—our sugar highs fully kicking in.

Ice cream count: Rossilynne 3; Sarah 5; Avery 10.

A woman poses inside a scoop of ice cream.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out | Parkour scoop.


We then looked through the most “museum-y” part of the Museum of Ice Cream—a timeline about ice cream’s history, along with a historical display and an interactive wall showing different types of ice cream.

The timeline explained that in 1500, Mughal emperors from India created kulfi, a fruit sorbet popular in India. It also noted that the first dairy-based ice cream can be traced back to 200 BC when Chinese emperors mixed buffalo milk, rice, and spices into snow. I’d love to see the museum provide versions of these ice creams (and more) for visitors to try. Perhaps the museum could collaborate with a local South Asian chef and the NYC-based Museum of Chinese in America to offer visitors a taste with substance. 

There’s also a perfect opportunity here for the museum to explore the history of frozen treats in America—from old-school Klondikes in the Midwest to soda fountain culture across the nation to piragua carts in East Harlem.

Ice-A-Bagel from Museum of Ice Cream and Ess-A-Bagel
Photograph: Museum of Ice Cream | Ice-A-Bagel from Museum of Ice Cream and Ess-A-Bagel


Offering a fast-moving, twisty slide in a place with this much dairy is a wild choice, but there is indeed a three-story slide, and we all braved it. I wasn’t feeling great before the slide, and spinning in darkness sure didn’t help.  

We emerged in what’s called the “Melting Cave,” a trippy basement exhibition where we encountered our biggest and most divisive challenge yet: The Ice-A-Bagel. It’s a pink (obviously) Ess-A-Bagel filled with cream cheese gelato and everything bagel seasoning. I was so happy to see salt and sesame seeds that I didn’t mind the concoction, though my colleagues weren’t into it. 

We spoke about our dreams: A cup of black coffee, a handful of spinach, fresh air.

At this point, we sat in a daze, perched atop pink (again, obviously) metal chairs. We spoke about our dreams: A cup of black coffee, a handful of spinach, fresh air.

These three soldiers had suffered enough. I called it quits after half of the Ice-A-Bagel, but Avery and Sarah powered through some more pineapple sorbet. 

Ice cream count: Rossilynne 3.5; Sarah 6; Avery 13.

A man eats ice cream.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out | Avery the Ice Cream King.


We summoned our strength to exit the museum—or so we thought. Instead, we walked through a carnival section where we were offered pink cotton candy. Dear god, no. We played Whack-A-Mole for a few moments, before passing the iconic sprinkle pool. Though adorable, we couldn’t bring ourselves to hop in, fearing what might happen if we jostled our intestines too much.

Languid, we passed off our tokens for a free ice cream or cocktail to fellow guests as they entered, unaware of the saccharine overwhelm that awaited them. We walked out into the sunshine, the smell of sugar wafting behind us. 

Avery won, of course. But after consuming a truly vexing amount of ice cream, did he really win? Sarah felt dizzy on the train home. I needed to walk a solid hour to feel human again. We later found out that our coworkers had only rooted for Sarah and me out of pity; they all knew that few can surpass the ice cream-eating powers of a newly minted college grad like Avery.

The bottom line

Kids will love this place for its carnival vibes and sugary treats. Influencers will love this place for its gorgeous design and delightful installations. But for me, a day at The Met without a single bite to eat would provide more sustenance than the three-and-a-half ice creams I ingested.

Time Out Tip

Save your appetite for the hard ice cream section where you can taste high-quality scoops. Also know that at the end of the experience, you can buy your own ice cream treat, and there are a lot more flavor options there (not just pink ones!).

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