The Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda is one of those things. You drive past it a million times on your way somewhere else, and then don't think about it again until the next time you're in the neighborhood. Well, no longer! The Pinball Museum is, from now on, on our shortlist of “interesting things to do when we're bored.”
Located in Alameda, the premise is simple. A playable collection of pinball machines spanning almost 100 years of gaming history. Pay a single admission fee and play to your heart's content. Regular price is $20 for adults, $10 for kids 12 and under, but I often see a Groupon for $12 to save you a few dollars.
Your admission allows you to come and go, so you can leave for lunch (there's an Extreme Pizza next door) or run across the street to the comic book store as well, when you're ready for a break from the pinball fun. There's street parking on Webster, or nearby, we snagged a spot right out front when we went. (There are coin op meters though, so bring change!)
Once you're inside, you can just go from game to game and play as much as you like. Etiquette says that if someone is waiting for the game you're on, you should give it up when your game is over, but we never had to wait more than a minute or so for something cool to open up.
If you're a fan of pinball, of midcentury design, or just antiques in general, you'll find something to entertain you here. I loved finding machines from the 1950s, like this Coronation game, and then in the next moment, introducing Max to the same Back to the Future game that I played in the Foster's Freeze shop when I was a kid.
Stepstools are plentiful for short kids who can't quite reach on their own, and there are low-height games in the back room that don't even need a stool. Variations on the pinball theme, where you can arrange the bells for different sound effects, or run 25 balls down a series of pegs and see where they all end up.
You can hold parties at the Museum as well; if you book the private party room, you get access to a kitchen space, a private bathroom, and you can bring your own food and drink. I'm already half-planning a party for Jamie's next birthday! LOL
This is a hidden Bay Area treasure, and we highly recommend it for families and groups!
Pacific Pinball Museum 1510 Webster St, Alameda CA
Don't forget to check Groupon for discounted tickets before you go! 🙂