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Are We There Yet – Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum: Farmington, Michigan

If you love P. T. Barnum-style eccentricity, video games and happen to be on the road near Farmington, Michigan, check out Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. It’s like Dave and Busters with a twist: Marvin’s is privately owned and packed floor-to-ceiling (literally) with antiques and memorabilia celebrating side-shows, circuses and kitschy boardwalks of a bygone era.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is a bridge between today’s tech games and vintage mechanical fortune tellers.

Bright, flashy and over-whelming, there’s a flea market vibe to this arcade featuring a collection of turn-of-the-century fortune tellers, like the one ominously jump-starting the movie Big. Speaking of big, you’ll feel little again squeezing between narrow aisles and stacked artifacts while watching your kids load quarters in new video games or old-school pinball machines. Yes, there’s an entire wall of pinball machines.

Look up, way up, and take in the well-curated passion project of collectables ranging from odd to macabre: the wall-mounted petrified remains of the Cardiff Giant, a life-size ‘world’s largest man’ statue from Guinness World Book of Records fame, framed posters advertising freak shows, and wooden carousel animals including an ostrich.

Slushies and popcorn dominate the central canteen’s menu – if you’re here weekends, likely a birthday party is taking up a table. Listed by some websites as a quirky road-side attraction, Marvin’s is actually tucked into Hunter’s Square Mall that’s anchored by Marshalls, buybuyBaby and Bed Bath & Beyond. So, a bit of shopping is possible.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, 31005 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington, Michigan, is a family business now run by a second generation of Michigan natives. Open every day – yes, even Christmas – from 10 am to 9 pm, admission is free. Pumping quarters into machines is optional, but likely. www.marvin3m.com

Sherri Telenko is a freelance writer and blogger living in Southern Ontario. Sign up for travel ideas at www.dogtrotting.net or follow her on twitter @SherriTelenko.


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