Tourism for Locals: Musée Mécanique Revives Past with Family Fun

Fisherman's Wharf is already a circus show that most of us want to avoid, but there's one attraction along the Embaracadero that makes pushing through the crowds of tourists worth it.

With the drop of a coin, the Musée Mécanique has the power of bringing the past to life and entertaining our childhood euphoria. It aids us in finding the classic joy in playing with the quarter-clunking, old-school arcade games to the more modern, Japanese-inspired, Nintendo-nostalgic car chase booths — all of which are present in this free museum that dedicates itself to showing the evolution of the arcade.

With more than 300 games, the arcade is one of the largest privately-owned collections of vintage penny machines and mechanically-operated attractions from the past century, according to the museum. One of the best perks of such an expansive collection on public display is that there is something for everyone and most are only a quarter to operate.

From worn-down grannies reading tarot cards inside their glass casings to self-playing pianos to flip books peepshows of sultry women to apparatuses recreating executions in Europe and North America through little marionettes — the collection will bring out a smile or chuckle from even the most stoic of individuals.

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