not creepy at all
Fellow typography nerds: all the fortune teller cards here are still letter pressed! A beautifully printed souvenir for a mere 25 cents.
If you look hard enough, keep an open mind, embrace the touristy aspect of it all, and stay away from weekend crowds, Fisherman’s Wharf can be really fun. Amid the souvenir shop lined streets, overpriced mostly mediocre food (In n Out excluded), lines of tour buses and tour groups, there are a few places that are charmingly kitsch. Like the 90s era Rainforest Cafe — that is so bad it’s kind of awesome — and the glorious Musee Mecanique. Back in the day, the often overlooked, rarely ever crowded, Musee Mecanique was my go-to date place (followed by brownie sundaes at Ghiradelli). It’s awesome — one of my top 5 favorite places in SF. If I were to write a guidebook on SF this place would be circled, highlighted and starred about a trillion times.* I dunno, maybe it’s just me? I am probably totally overselling it. Never mind. Don’t go. It sucks.
The Musee Mecanique, was once formerly part of Playland, an amusement park on Ocean Beach that no longer exists It’s an old penny arcade with vintage pinball machines, automated fortune tellers (like the kind from the movie, Big!!!!!), arm wrestling and fighting robots and dancing clowns and coin-operated organs and even some old school 80s era video games. Most games cost one or two quarters. Did I mention there’s an old school photo booth? One black and white, one color. Both that print on real photographic paper? It’s a magical place, — the unmistakable clinking and dinging and whirling that can only be made by non-digital machines, the tinny sound of old organ music playing, and of course the iconic “Laffing Sal.” Looking around everyone has these huge stupid grins on their faces and wide eyes filled with amusement. Going here, especially at night, is like stepping back into a time that no longer exists. It’s no wonder that I love this place so much.
We began our day with pain chocolate (the best ever!) at Tartine (my fave SF bakery)and then drove to the wharf. Our first stop was Pier 39 to say hello to the famous sea lions (I could watch that link all day…and night). Then we walked to Fisherman’s Grotto, passed by the Bushman (RIP), and spent the afternoon playing at the Musee Mecanique. As usual, we had our fortunes told and photobooth photos taken. Afterward we stepped outside to what we call the “crab crackers,” a line of outdoor dungeness crab pay-per-pound stalls, and stuffed our faces with steamed crab and clam chowder. A lady dressed as a borderline creepy clown was tying together elaborate (and expensive) balloon sculptures so we found a slab of concrete to sit on and watched while we ate. Once we finished our lunch we decided to hit up Boudin for round two: cheesy jalapeno stuffed sourdough bread and a turtle shaped boule of sourdough for the road.
*Next to the Musee Mecanique you can find the USS Pampanito — another overlooked and underrated site. If you’re visiting the Musee Mecanique it’s worth a stop. .If nothing else you can take a photo in a Rosie the Riveter plywood stand-up with a cut out face.
Back to SF // Part 1: In-n-Out + Union Square
Back to SF // Part 2: Glen Park + Our Old Home
Back to SF // Part 3: Tin Types + Sushi Sams
Back to SF // Part 4: Glen Canyon Park + Japantown
Back to SF // Part 5: Land’s End Trail + Sutro Baths
Back to SF // Part 5.5: That Time When the Hubs got Roofied
Back to SF // Part 6: Ferry Building & Farmers’ Market
Back to SF // Part 7: A Wedding in the Presidio
Back to SF // Part 8: Union Square + Chinatown
Back to SF // Part 9: Bi-Rite Creamery + Dolores Park
Souvenirs from SF