Fisherman’s Wharf continues to be one of our least favorite places in San Francisco. There are enough fun things to do in San Francisco that Ripley’s Believe it or Not and a sloppy bowl of clam chowder in a Boudin bread bowl have never really piqued our interest. But Musée Mécanique? Well, finding it on Fisherman’s Wharf was kind of like finding a diamond in the bottom of a Cheez-It box.
While we’re into most arcades, Musée Mécanique takes retro gaming to a whole new level with a collection of 300+ coin-operated mechanical antique games and musical instruments. The games themselves have a long history with some of them dating back to Playland at the Beach – a 10-acre seaside amusement park that occupied Baker Beach from 1928-1972. Now, the museum is an assortment of both rare antique games and nostalgic arcade games lifted straight out of a late 90’s bowling alley.
At Musée Mécanique, sinister fortune-tellers creak around their crystal balls before spitting out misfortunes. Pinballs ding wildly around the Adaam’s Family estate, always timeless skeeball machines hold their own amidst the chaos, and after all these years, you may still come in 8th place in a heated game of Cruis’n Exotica. But we’re not just talking the usual retro games. Musée Mécanique also has some seriously weird games. Have you ever put $.25 into a machine to watch a puppet get decapitated, French execution style? Do you think you could win an arm wrestling match against a robotic luchador? Have you ever watched the hysterical Laffing Sal keel over in terrifying laughter? If you answered no to any of these questions, you really ought to go.
What is the Musée Mécanique? Arcade / Museum
Where is it? Pier 45 at the foot of Taylor Street on Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, California, USA
How much does it cost? Admission is free, but games are between $.01-$1 each. Come with a stack of $1 bills or a pocket full of quarters.
How long do I need? 30 minutes – 1 hour
all things retro at the Musée Mécanique