Musée Mécanique’s vaguely-creepy, captivating collection of coin-operated wonders belongs not on Fisherman’s Wharf (its current location), but rather in the heaving bowels of a twisted underworld where cackling witches and gaudy fortune tellers dwell. Family-owned since 1933, the so-called Zelinsky Collection consists of more than 300 fully-restored, man-sized toys that suck you right out of your over-digitized reality and drop you in a curious warehouse teeming with hand-cranked music boxes and charming penny operas.
For mere nickels, quarters and dimes, you can troll through this den of mechanical odds-and-ends, sating an appetite you never knew you had for magical music contraptions, love-o-meters, tests of strength, French-style executions (yes!) and other vintage amusements. Whatever you do, visit the old-fashioned black-and-white photo booth and have the devil-in-a-grandma’s-disguise tell your fortune: Love is around the corner. Riches are soon upon you. Happiness is always by your side.
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