There is a place all San Francisco residents shudder to visit. It’s not the seediest streets of the Tenderloin, nor the back alleys of creepy downtown haunts, but the oh-so-famous Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 39. The first trip down is an exploratory one but as friends and family come to town, they inevitably have heard about the Wharf and want to stop by for a visit.
By trip number four it’s hard to see past the overflowing garbage cans of half consumed sourdough bread bowls, chain stores that offer no variation from what can be purchased at home, and crowds of people impatiently waiting their turn in line for the attraction of the moment.
In the midst of this madness though, lies one of our favorite places in the city. Most people breeze right past the entrance not realizing what a treasure chest of fun sits in front of them, as walking into the Musee Mecanique is like taking a step in to the past.
The scent of nostalgia greets you at the door as you wander around wide-eyed, ready to uncover old magical mysteries. Entrance is free and the private collection of antique arcade machines and musical instruments is one of the largest in the world. Almost all of the pieces are in working order and without denting your wallet, you can entertain the family at ten-cent picture boxes and vintage arcade games.
The next time you find yourself in San Francisco needing a respite from the super connected and plastic world we live in today, meander down to the mechanical museum and indulge in some good old-fashioned fun.