Indoor Play

Playland not at the beach El Cerrito

Where is it at?

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Playland not at the beach
10979 San Pablo Avenue
El Cerrito
CA
94530
Tel: (800) 548-5318

Where are we going today?

Playland-Not-at-the-Beach is a temperature-controlled 9000-square foot building chock-full of amazing things to see and do. There are 30+ pinball machines set on Free Play, arcade games, videogames, carnival games of skills where you can win prizes, penny arcades full of antique amusement devices, live magic shows, an amazing hand-carved miniature circus, side show acts, miniature dioramas, Fascination games, and historic exhibits with artifacts from the Sutro Baths and Whitney's Playland in San Francisco. Playland-Not-at-the-Beach is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Museum of Fun. Designed and built entirely by volunteers, the 20+ interactive exhibits celebrate the magic and history of America's bygone amusements. Our goal is to educate newer generations about the bygone days and allow those who remember Whitney's Playland and the Sutro Baths the opportunity to recapture the glorious sights and sounds of that marvelous era.

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How much does it cost?

  • AdultsSee Website
  • ChildrenSee Website
  • Free Under: See Website
LAST UPDATED 2013

When can we go?

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What people are saying?

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    A hidden gem inside you would never expect from the bland exterior. Over 30 pinball machines all set to free-play, but rather than just being an arcade, there are lots of other old penny-arcade amusements and meticulous museum displays from the historic San Francisco Playland Boardwalk.

    Bringing your own food and drink is encouraged, making it an incredible bargain. Great for kids and parties. Or, if you have no kids like me, I recommend one of the twice-monthly adult nights when the admission is cheaper and... well.. there aren't any kids!

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    Very cool vintage arcade with lots of nostalgia. Limited hours, but rental time available. Small, with lots of fun packed in for adults or kids. Come on a weekend when they tend to have magic acts booked!

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    7/9/13

    MAGIC AND PINBALL

    This place is pretty amazing. It's great for adults and children alike, though, next time we visit will probably be on an adult-only night. "If you're old enough to buy, you're old enough to bring". (Hint: adult beverages allowed). On this day, our group of 3 (adults) showed up on a weekend afternoon. We got out of the car in their private parking lot around the back, and first noticed it was easily 20 degrees cooler here than in Concord, where it had just been about to break 100 degrees. We entered and had to speak...Read More

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    museum of PINBALLS! lots of fun for the whole family.

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    One word: PINBALL! They have machines ranging from ancient band and bell machines to Machines with screens integrated into the playfield(star wars EP. 1) and my personal favorite, DEMOLITION MAN PINBALL! The cost of admission($15) easily payed for itself within an hour compared to how much it'd cost if they weren't on freeplay.

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by Amy Palmer

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7/9/13

MAGIC AND PINBALL

This place is pretty amazing. It's great for adults and children alike, though, next time we visit will probably be on an adult-only night. "If you're old enough to buy, you're old enough to bring". (Hint: adult beverages allowed). On this day, our group of 3 (adults) showed up on a weekend afternoon. We got out of the car in their private parking lot around the back, and first noticed it was easily 20 degrees cooler here than in Concord, where it had just been about to break 100 degrees. We entered and had to speak quietly at the front desk because the magic show was taking place right behind the woman helping us. We had seen a Yelp check-in offer for a couple dollar$ savings but the lady said she has contacted Yelp many times and they no longer want this to appear on the mobile app. She honored the offer though and gave us all the discounted price of $13 each (reg. $15).

Once inside, we explored several rooms filled with memorabilia from the original Playland-At-The-Beach, as well as displays with miniatures. Those were really amazing. A circus-themed display with animals and a big top was my favorite. You could spend hours looking at all of these items if you really took your time. The displays in the Haunted room were interactive, and you'd need to press a button to light it up for viewing.

At this point we came to a kitchen. Great to know that a kitchen is available if you're planning a party. They also have private rooms for kids (there was a party the day we were there and one room had popcorn and snacks in it, and a cake in the fridge). They sell ice cream and I saw one parent drinking coffee from a mug - not sure if it was sold to her, or free, but it smelled great. :)

The next hour was spent playing old boardwalk games and pinball machines. I can't even begin to describe all the neat antiquey games they had. And they were all set to free-play. Midway games like skee ball were also free, and you could win tickets and prizes. We actually won lots of tickets, which I gave to a little girl right before we left. Her face was priceless - and I could totally remember being a kid and having a stranger give me a stuffed animal he had won at Circus Circus' midway. Best feeling ever!

My husband loves pinball so he was in pinball heaven. I found an Elvira machine in the black light pinball room that ended up being my favorite. Many (or all) of the machines had their year and a little information about them, posted near the top.

Before leaving we watched the magic show, expecting something meant for little kids only. However, it was very entertaining. It was the first magic show my husband had seen live and he loved it. And while it was pretty much geared toward the younger crowd, the magician was great. His final trick involved a little white rabbit. I didn't like thinking about it being stuffed into the space he pulled it out of, but I liked getting to pet it before we headed home. Where it was still almost 100 degrees out!

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