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169 votes

Musee Mecanique

Pier 45 Shed A, San Francisco, California 94133 USA

Closed Now
Opens Mon 10a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards not Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • No Public Restrooms
  • No Wifi
Add to Trip

“coin-operated mechanical marvels!”

It's always fun to see a Pac-Man game in a bar, but when you consider that San Francisco has an arcade with games that are over a hundred years old, it's not quite as impressive anymore. The Musee Mecaniqueon Fisherman's Wharf is an old-timey arcade, similar to the ones on boardwalks years and years ago. They have over 300 "coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines in their original working condition"-- that's right, boys and girls...you can actually play these ancient arcade games and make the animatrons dance for your enjoyment.

It all started in the 1930's when an 11-year-old Edward Zelinsky used some pocket change to buy a penny skill game-- he used the money earned from getting his friends and family to play it to buy another game--and then the money earned from that game went to another machine, and so on. The machines require quite a bit of maintenance, since they're so old and rare, so a collection of games in working order, especially one of this size, isn't something you see every day.

They've got player pianos, fortune tellers (even creepier than the damn Zoltar Speaks machine from Big that scared the 8-year-old crap outta me), skeeball, love testers, arm wrestling machines, music boxes, mechanical dioramas, pinball, and yes...they've got 1980's-era arcade games too. Among the more notable pieces in the collection are machines made by prisoners at Alcatraz from toothpicks, a steam-powered motorcycle, and Laffing Sal, a 6-foot-tall automatron that's been described as "famously creepy". Shiver.

It's basically like a museum telling the history of arcades, but instead of all the artifacts being behind glass, you can play with them! Even better, it's free to visit-- just make sure to bring lots of change so you can work the machines (most games are between 25 and 50 cents). Oh, and maybe stay far away from Laffing Sal. -Roadtrippers

The Musee Mecanique is a collection of penny arcade games and related artifacts located in San Francisco, California.

The museum contains one of the world's largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines. Many exhibits are over 100 years old.

The Musée Mécanique is a for-profit interactive museum consisting of 20th-century penny arcade games and artifacts located at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California. The museum owns over 300 mechanical machines, and is one of the largest privately owned collection of such games in the world.

The Musée Mécanique has a collection of more than 300 mechanical games including: music boxes, coin-operated fortune tellers, Mutoscopes, video games, love testers, player pianos, peep shows, photo booths, dioramas and more.  The museum displays about 200 of the machines at their current location. The museum has many rare and historical pieces. A large diorama of a traveling carnival with a ferris wheel and other rides sits in the center of the museum. The museum owns what is believed to be the only steam-powered motorcycle in the world, built in Sacramento, in 1912. The Royal Court diorama features couples ballroom dancing and was featured in the Panama–Pacific International Exposition. Laffing Sal, which has been described as "famously creepy", is a 6-foot-tall, laughing automaton and was originally located at the Fun House at Playland. The museum also owns a collection of machines made out of toothpicks by prisoners at Alcatraz.

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Reviewed by
Tony Alexander

  • 19 Reviews
  • 35 Helpful
June 23, 2014
Rated 5.0

Lots of fun to be had here. Your money can go a long way as most machines are only a quarter. Make sure to read the instructions on the machine BEFORE putting in your money though as doing some of them wrong means you lose out! Just quirks of these decades old things.

My favorite part of the day was when I beat James at bowling. Note how he does not mention this fact at all in his review.

7 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
James Fisher

  • Road Warrior
  • 515 Reviews
  • 372 Helpful
June 21, 2014
Rated 4.0

Had a blast here today. Spent about an hour ($13 worth of play for two people) digging into this awesome collection. Tons of vintage mechanical sports games that are a lot of fun with two people, and some weird sideshow highlights such as a mechanical opium den and a group of farting cowboys. Yup, you heard that right. They have a few newer fussball and air hockey tables also, just because you have to really. Well worth checking out!

7 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Kori and Brian Truono

  • Road Warrior
  • 78 Reviews
  • 96 Helpful
May 13, 2014

You will get lost for hours here. It is cheap as well: $5 got the two of us over an hour of joy.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • Road Warrior
  • 13 Reviews
  • 29 Helpful
February 07, 2014

Lots of unique turn of the century arcade stuff, most is only 25cents to 50 cents.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 4 Reviews
  • 6 Helpful
November 29, 2013

If the idea of turn of the century arcade stuff sounds fun, you'll love it!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Anna Hider

  • Blogger
  • 1,275 Reviews
  • 414 Helpful
May 20, 2017
Rated 5.0

Best place ever. My family didn't get why I wanted to come here at first but they loved it. When we were ready to leave we found my dad still playing the bowling game in the back! Some of the games are more like little robotic scenes, or really dumb jokes, but it was so much fun. The baseball game, arm wrestling game (featured in the movie Princess Diaries), and the boxing game were way fun. And say hi to Laffing Sal!

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Reviewed by

  • 10 Reviews
  • 9 Helpful
August 25, 2015
Rated 5.0

I had a wonderful time here. So many cool old games.

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Musee Mecanique

Pier 45 Shed A
San Francisco, California
94133 USA


Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm

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  • Independent
  • Credit Cards not Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • No Public Restrooms
  • No Wifi
  • Street Parking

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