If you’re ever on the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, don’t miss the Musee Mechanique. This unique, admission free, family museum in San Francisco showcases over 300 mechanical machines. The Musee , located on the waterfront is one of the largest privately owned collections in the world. The collection includes coin-operated fortune tellers, mutoscopes, antique arcade machines, player pianos, photos booths, and pinball machines, among others. There’s something to do for the whole family, from adults looking for nostalgia to kids wanting to play.
These interactive pieces of history exist in their original working condition. Due to their level of preservation, visitors can use them and play with most of them. Because of this, it’s highly suggested to bring quarters so that you can experience all the machines. Also, many of the machines date back to the turn of the century so that you can expect lots of games for incredibly affordable prices.
The original owner, Ed Zelinsky, collected games from the age of eleven. He started displaying his collection of games in the 1920s Playland. After Playland closed in 1972, the Musee Mecanique merged into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, where Zelinsky’s son temporarily maintained it. Due to reconstruction in the area, the museum relocated to Fisherman’s Warf in 2002. This sparked some controversy with residents, and there were petitions to stop the relocation.
What You Will See
Guests will enjoy taking a journey through history. In the Musse, Your family will find everything from turn of the century hand-cranked music boxes to modern video arcade games. Parents will be able to enjoy showing their children an authentic glimpse into their childhood. Long before action-packed video games at home or in arcades, these novelties were integral to the childhood of millions worldwide. Now kids and their parents and grandparents can enjoy these memories together. It’s the perfect place to appreciate and relive a time when life moved a little slower.
Visitors who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area will take a step back to yesteryear. Here, visitors can relive the days and special local memories of Playland at the Beach, Sutro Baths, and the Cliff House.
The museum is well known for its own “Laffing Sal,” “Susie the Can-Can Dancer” and the fascinating “Carnival.” Other machines come from around the world for the fun and amusement of patrons from all cultures and walks of life. Though whimsical, and typically focused on San Francisco, the Musee also contains more eerie and distant additions. One of these is a collection of machines made by former Alcatraz prisoners, all from toothpicks.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Many of the machines are old, and some might not entirely work. Because of this, make sure your child won’t get too frustrated with a machine that might not be functional on that day.
- The machines in here are old. While the public is allowed to play with them, they are still historical exhibits and therefore are delicate. Teach your child to play respectfully with the machine.
- This museum is perfect for kids and adults interested in gaming history. Remember that these are ancient games, most from all the way back in the 1920s, so those interested in this era might also be interested in the Musee.
- Kids that are interested in mechanics, old toys, and how things work will also love the Musee.
- Parents beware, this is a bit of a money pit. Bring your quarters, because your children will want to play a lot of games. All of these games are short so that you can spend a lot of quarters there.
- Some of the exhibits there are not politically correct, by today’s standards. There are language and visuals that might be offensive.
- The location is beautiful, so it can be a good interlude between Ghirardelli’s and walking on Pier 39 to see the sea lions. It also is a perfect place to take shelter if it rains.