Looking for some offbeat attractions for a quick visit to the San Francisco Bay Area or something out of the ordinary for locals to do? Here is a guide to the most unusual museums in the Bay Area, from old arcade games to haunted houses and even banned toys.
From 10:00 in the morning to 8:00 at night, Musée Mécanique is open all 365 days of the year with free admission. With over 200 pieces, Musée Mécanique holds the world’s largest privately owned collection of old arcade games, from coin-operated musical instruments to antique arcade machines that are still operable. There are several change machines throughout the museum so customers can convert their dollars into change to play any of the games, ranging from one cent to one dollar. The arcade games are in their original condition and vary from the classic fortune teller machines to musical puppets and even picture shows.
Musée Mécanique, Pier 45, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 346 2000
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Ripley’s Believe It or Not San Francisco location has a lot to offer in terms of unusual artifacts on display and jaw-dropping facts on both animals and humans. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium is an ode to what’s odd; with over 10,000 square feet of space, the museum has 17 themed galleries and more than 400 exhibits and artifacts. At the museum, customers can discover an elephant with two trunks, a man with three legs, duct tape art, a mummified foot, and much more. There is also a candy and toy factory, but what makes San Francisco’s location special is the interactive features: the Mirror Maze and Laserace. The Mirror Maze is quite literally a room full of mirrors in which customers need to navigate their way out – search parties are sent every half hour for those who can’t find the exit. Likewise, Laserace is also a maze, but customers can see where they are going as they try to bend and jump over green lasers to obtain a record time.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not, 175 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 202 9850
Banned Toy Museum
The Banned Toy Museum is an extension of the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia mentioned above. The Banned Toy Museum features toys that were pulled off the market because either they were offensive, received complaints, and/or hazardous. For example, there is a Snacktime Kid Cabbage Patch Doll that had real chewing features and would continue to chew even if a child got his or her hair or finger stuck in the doll’s mouth. There are lawn darts that were also deemed dangerous seeing as they were essentially large metal pointed darts that kids would throw without much aim. Lastly, the Spanish Barbie was recalled because several people wrote to complain that she was wearing a matador costume.
Cartoon Art Museum
The Cartoon Art Museum holds contemporary cartoon pieces from the historical and creative process from designers to preliminary sketches to several cartoon art forms including comics, digital animation, illustration, and video games. With over 6,000 original cartoon and animation pieces, the Cartoon Art Museum is the only museum in the Western United States dedicated to this distinct art form. The museum also has a research library, classroom space, and five galleries. Customers can not only experience the museum but also attend lectures, book signings, cartoon workshops, and talk to professionals in the field.
The Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 227 8666
By Natalie Savio
Natalie was born and raised in the south bay, San Jose, and is currently on her senior year studying Architecture and English writing at the University of San Francisco. She is back in San Francisco after studying abroad in London, UK. She enjoys writing, painting, singing, and exploring new places and TV shows.
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