There is a magical place in San Francisco stuffed with fully-operational automatons, games, and mechanical curiosities. I had heard tell of it from several pals, but I had never been. This last trip to the Bay, I finally got to go, and The Musee Mechanique was as wondrous as I had hoped it would be.
In the center of the arcade/museum is one of the most heart-achingly beautiful things I've ever seen with my own eyes - a miniature mechanical carnival, full of flickering golden lights, tiny people, worn striped awnings, games, rides, and teensy puffs of cotton candy.
For the price of a quarter or two, you can see it all come to life, though it's so detailed and intricate that it's difficult to race around and see the whole thing moving and lit up with one go-round.
I think the tiny band might've been my favorite part.
Or the mouse-sized sideshow.
Or the glow of the tiny red ticket booth next to the whirring merry go round.
Between the glare of the glass, and me being dumbstruck with love for the thing, it was difficult to snap photos. I snagged these few, and I hope they give you at least a little scrap of an idea of how neat the whole place is.
If you're planning a visit to the city by the Bay, the Musee is really a treasure! And if a magical, miniature carnival isn't enough to sell you on the idea, there are also some early 20th century "risque lady photos" viewable for a dime, so maybe that'll seal the deal.