The Affordable and Accessible Alternative to the Color Factory
Entry to the Color Factory, a new 12,000 square foot pop-up exploring color as experience, sold out within seconds to the disappointment of many San Franciscans. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket and check it out (see previous post). Although I thought it was a fun experience, I was intrigued by the Color Factory Neighborhood Map they handed out at the end.
Billed as a way to extend your Color Factory experience past its painted doors, the Color Map shows locations of neighborhood businesses who have partnered with the Color Factory to provide curated surprises, secret menu items, and hidden murals. I thought it was a genius idea - a way to not only continue to market the business but also bring business to local markets.
On a rare sunny San Francisco day, my cousin Isabella and I roamed the streets of the Downtown and Chinatown areas in search of colorful surprises. We managed to hit 13 of the 17 locations, and the out-of-order route only took about 2.5 hours. It was one of the funnest scavenger hunts I’ve been on in the City and exposed me to businesses that I had never heard of despite living in the City for 28 years. I’ve detailed our route and each spot in case you want to recreate the route with your own loved ones. Happy color-ing!
Color Spot 4. 600 Mason Street
We started in front of the Color Factory for our color adventure. It wasn’t hard to find a yellow star to stand on the corner of Mason and Sutter. When we looked up, we saw an even brighter star!
Color Spot 5. Hotel Rex - 562 Sutter St.
We entered the lobby and made our way toward the armchair by the front windows. We found a book with a color in the title and found a special message!
Color Spot 6. Sutter Nails - 539 Sutter St.
We requested the special $20 technicolor Color Factory manicure and ended up with a rainbow on our nails. It made us want to do spirit fingers down all of the streets.
Color Spot 8. Boba Guys - 429 Stockton St.
Before we scaled the steps up to Bush Street, we stopped by Boba Guys for their limited edition Strawberry Cream Boba. It was perfectly refreshing before tackling the San Francisco hills.
Color Spot 7. Moth & Dagger Tattoo Studio - 610 Bush St.
Isabella and I weren’t interested in permanent body art, but we did select one of the temporary tattoos offered in a vending machine in the front lobby. Isabella picked one with different emotional faces, and I chose the Color Factory logo.
Color Spot 15. Mural by Erin Jang - Grant Ave. and Vinton Ct.
We were so angry to see this touching mural defaced by graffiti! Luckily the steps that depict all of the muralist’s favorite childhood foods were left untouched.
Color Spot 12. Chinatown Kite Shop - 717 Grant Ave.
The special display at the top of the shop and the colorful kites definitely made us want to take a break and go fly a kite! But we had several more stops to go so we’ll definitely be back!
Color Spot 11. Mister Jiu’s Secret Back Door - 731 Grant Ave.
In the doorway of the old Four Seas restaurant (where I’ve been to many banquets), the Color Factory installed a truly ingenious machine! Press any button to hear a song with that color in the lyrics. It got us dancing in the streets!
Color Spot 9. Fortune Cookie Factory - 56 Ross Alley
This is one of the spots that tourists know well, but as someone who grew up in the City I have never been to or the hidden alley it’s situated in. The tiny factory and the speed of its workers is mesmerizing. Write your own fortune and watch it be sealed in your personalized fortune cookie!
***At this point, we were getting pretty hungry and stopped by one of the numerous and delicious dim sum shops in Chinatown. Lunch for two cost a grand total of $6!***
Color Spot 13. Legion - 678 Commercial St.
We took a rest on the colorful bench in front of this adorable shop and tried on one of their unique “hats.”
Color Spot 14. Method - 637 Commercial St.
We almost missed the orange button embedded in the column next to a restaurant. We had to press it for a minute before colorful objects started floating through the air!
Color Spot 17. Little Giant Ice Cream - 214 Sutter St.
Talk about BIG flavors in a little shop! We ordered the Color Factory special ($6) which consisted of a green cone, green sprinkles, and Thai Green Curry ice cream (definitely an interesting flavor).
Color Spot 16. Murals by Jessica Hische - Corner of Sutter St. and Claude Ln
We took our ice creams into the alley next door, sat one of the brightly painted stools, and admired the commissioned mural by type designer Jessica Hische. We had definitely Painted the Town, and had a great time doing it!
***Color Spots we couldn’t make due to distance or opening times:
Color Spot 1. Jane - 925 Larkin St.
Pick up a hot pink dragon fruit bowl and look down Cedar St. for a pop of pink on the wire.
Color Spot 2. Hero Shop - 982 Post St.
Check out the storefront for some serious color infusion and then purchase a surprise from the indoor vending machine.
Color Spot 3. Market Mayflower & Deli - 985 Bush
Find the row of postcards in the rack in front made by Leah Rosenberg exclusively to Color Factory.
Color Spot 10. Mister Jiu’s - 28 Waverly Place
Try the creamy blue-green pina colada specially made for the Color Factory (there’s also a liquor-less version).