If you'd rather use the real hardware, you're in luck! Since they sold so many systems, there are still quite a few out there and you can probably find one locally or on an auction site. Check out the myriad of Commodore user groups, meetups, and vintage computer festivals.
There are also tons of mods and modern hardware devices for the C64. Everything from joystick adapters to storage adapters to complete reimplementations on FPGAs:
Pi1541 - a 1541 floppy emulator for the Raspberry Pi
Ultimate 64 - a complete C64 motherboard replacement with HDMI, Ethernet, USB, and more
FPGASID - an FPGA implementation of the SID sound chip
BreadBox64 - mods and modern hardware for the C64
Syntiac FPGA-64 - an FPGA implementation of the C64
C64 Reloaded - a brand new C64 motherboard, BYOC (bring your own chips) to build your own C64
Retro Innovations - adapters, cables, boards, etc.
VR64 - yes, VR for the C64!