Playland-not-at-the-Beach, demystified

Playland-not-at-the-Beach in El Cerrito is a fun and quirky museum to a bygone era. It is a shrine to San Francisco’s old Playland amusement park (that was actually at Ocean Beach for years) stuffed full of memorabilia, pinball machines, and replicas. The experience is entirely indoors. There are no real-life carnival rides. Rather it is a celebration of yesteryear. And pinball.

My 5 year old LOVED it. My 3 year old, not so much, but he is definitely not the target audience. Don’t drag your stroller-bound or clown-fearing kids along. The person at the front desk took one look at my guys and gave us two for the price of one for them.

I love Playland-not-at-the-beach for big kids, pinball fanatics, museum lovers, circus fiends, and kids-at-heart. I think my older son and my husband could have spent the whole day there if it hadn’t turned into naptime.

Once you pay the price of admission, nearly all the games are $0. Even the old penny arcade games have a little plate of pennies to use. We played pinball and old carnival games. We looked at tiny circus replicas and miniature figures of haunted house scenes. We nearly walked into the giant Laffin’ Sal the Clown figure in the middle of the carnival area.

Open on weekends and most major holidays. Frequent theme days and performances (such as a celebration of Legos, Wizards, Disney, or magic).

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