New Playland Logo Playland Banner

Playland is Better Than Disneyland

"Loved all the retro games! Was just like stepping back in a time machine. My kids loved that they were able to try all the games and not feel like they wasted quarters on games they didn't really like. Will definitely be back again! May even volunteer as well... This is a rare gem that needs to remain!"

Living Social Review

Thank you so much for hosting our event today, I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. The kids and the mentors had so much fun. The structure was perfect for keeping our kids present and engaged the entire time, and you and all of the other staff were extremely helpful. I loved that you guys used our logo for the scavenger hunt, it was a great touch! We will definitely consider coming back in future semesters.

Recent group visit review

We had a blast. There was even a free magic show the day we went there. We would definitely visit again.

Living Social Review

Kids loved it. Lots of fun for the family.

Living Social Review

My wife and I just got home from an afternoon at Playland-Not-at- the-Beach. We would like to thank all of you for making us feel at home from the second we walked through the door.

You are stewards of an incredibly wonderful treasure. The amount of memorabilia presented there is astounding but not over whelming. We enjoyed the children running about from the parties being held. They were well behaved and you could tell they knew they were some place very special. We look forward to coming back and bringing friends and family.

We know Playland will impress anyone who ever went to an "Old School Amusement Park" or wanted to run away to join the circus. I was raised by a single mom outside of Philadelphia in the 60's and as a young teen I would go and spend days hanging with the Carnies when they came to town. I would help set up and usually would get free ride tickets for my efforts. The best part was getting to know the folks working the shows and being around all of the equipment. I also would show up at 4am with a buddy of mine when the circus would come to town. They were small and again a personal bunch. Anyway, I look forward to your e-mails outlining your future events. Thanks Again.

A Recent Guest

My little 6-year old boy and I just returned from a day at your Playland, and I have to tell you that I'm not sure we have ever had so much fun in one day. How come we never heard of you before? We were driving by the building after church and I thought we would stop for a minute to check it out. Tyler wasn't even sure he wanted to go in. 6 hours later, we were both laughing so hard and having such a good time that I completely forgot about inviting my mother over for dinner! You will see us again next weekend, and I'm bringing my mother and sister and her kids. The highlight of the day was when you selected Tyler out of the audience to float in the air during the magic show. When I showed the pictures to him afterwards, he couldn't believe he was so lucky. He definitely wants to sign up for your magic classes -- just let me know when they start. Thank you too for your generosity with the prizes. Some of the games were a little tough for a 6-year old, but the volunteers were fantastic, making him feel good about what he accomplished. Your rounding-up the points to give Tyler the teddy bear was very sweet -- he is calling her "Laughing Sal" and carrying her everywhere.


What kind of a gift do you get for a grandmother who's turning 92? Lunch at Denny's again? Knowing that granny is a native San Franciscan and used to talk about going swimming at Sutro's and meeting sailors at Playland, I decided to surprise her with something unusual. It turns out I was the one who got surprised! The three of us (my husband came too) showed up at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach last Saturday, and the moment the volunteers found out that granny used to go to Playland all the time as a young girl, they made her into a celebrity for the day. We ended up leaving for lunch after a couple of hours, but I could tell that granny wanted to go back, so we spent the whole afternoon there too. This group has managed to pull together an incredible amount of artifacts from the old days at the beach, and they lovingly present it to visitors with enthusiasm and true joy. I can truthfully say granny was not exaggerating when she told me on the way home that this was the best birthday present she had ever received. The volunteers even want us to come back so they can record a movie of my grandmother sharing her stories. What an amazing experience we had there. Yes, it's true, granny did beat me at Skeeball too. My husband wasn't bored either - he played pinball for hours.


Playland is absolute magic. I have never felt so young. Even though I am turning 60, after spending the afternoon at Playland I was giggling like a kid again. I spent all the next day pulling out all my parents' home movies to see if I had pictures of me and my family out at the beach. My kids were watching the movies with me and laughing at how funny their dad looked when he was only 10 years old. This Playland museum has inspired my whole family to go through our history and remember the good old days. I am eager to go back and study the exhibits more carefully. Of course I'm also hoping my son will get hooked on all the free pinball machines so I can talk him into letting me hold his birthday party there. Now if only they were closer to where I live in Santa Cruz, I'd really be in trouble!

Len 8/21

5 Star Rating


"Amazing with a capital A. This place is wonderful on so many levels. Run, don't walk, now. In an organized fashion, here's why this place rocks:

1. Kind, passionate volunteers who run the place. You wouldn't find a group of more passionate and caring individuals than the ones who run Playland. These folks make me wish I was an old lady so I could have experienced Playland for myself. And that's saying a lot considering I'd rather not be an old lady.

2. Playing games on 100+ year old machines. That's right. Wanna play pinball on a machine built in the 1800s? No problem. Wanna get your fortune told? Step right up. And winning carnival prizes to boot? Score.

3. Getting your play on with a side of education. Learning about the history of Playland from the volunteers is incredibly interesting and getting to see artifacts and relics from that era is equally entertaining. The volunteers are more than willing to give you individual tours of the museum and educate you on the history of Playland.

Not to brag but I won every game except for two in the funhouse. I even won the cheese game which no one wins. That's right, I'm that good. See ya at the Funhouse."

Lincoln, CA

5 star rating


Wow, I just want to echo the other reviews that this place is fantastic! So much obvious hard work and dedication from the volunteers to create a very fun place. There is SO much to see, we couldn't take it all in. Loved the old pinball and penny arcade machines. The carnival style games for the kids (winning a prize is guaranteed) were great as well. The staff is so well-informed about the history of the place and the pieces that were salvaged. Whether you had a chance to visit the original Playland at the Beach or not, this is a MUST see trip down memory lane. I wish I lived closer, we'd definitely visit more often!

This place is a labor of love. And it is wonderful. On an obscure corner in El Cerrito, CA, inside a nondescript small office building, there is an amazing world that attempts to recreate the magic and mystery of the great San Francisco Playland at Ocean Beach that closed in 1972.

Run by volunteers, these are folks who have not forgotten the importance of amusement parks in the lives of children and families. Dispensing doses of well-versed history on the topic with lots of humor and joy, the folks who run this place have done just about everything right.

From the old pinball machines to the various long lost penny arcade games, to the murals and the amazing 3-D dark room, the Santa's Village and By-Gone San Francisco cityscape, so much was done so well in small space with what must have been a very limited budget.

Just thank you to those who made it possible, and the place is highly recommended for people of all ages.

San Rafael, CA

5 star rating


I went yesterday for the Grand Opening weekend with my two friends and we had such a great time. It was so great to see Laughing Sal and her sister Sinister Sal.

The whole museum is beyond description all the little cities ( the San Francisco miniature city made me want to cry it was so beautiful) the hand carved miniature circus and all the memorabilia about play land at the beach and the sutro baths (they show a documentary on sutro baths, it was not showing for the grand opening) so I will be going back for that.

The mural that is painted as you walk in is so beautiful you feel like you could walk into the whole scene.

Richard the owner spent time talking to me for about 20 minutes and was the nicest man you could ever want to meet and I think it is so great that he has decided to share all of this with the public, especially for those that were too young to experience the original.

Richmond, CA

5 star rating


Wow! Wow Wow!

I just returned from the Grand Opening of Playland-Not-at-the-Beach

It is billed as the Museum of Fun!

It is fun and more!

A work of labor and love by dozens of volunteers led by Richard Tuck.

You will be totally amazed by this 9,000 square foot museum with 18 rooms housed in a former grocery store.

For those of us who weren't around for the real Playland across from the Cliff House in SF) you will be able to experience what it was like though the arcade games, artifacts, pin ball machines,. historic photos and dioramas.

There are also several dioramas that show holiday, make-believe lands and other mid-way types of amusements.

The dioramas are so detailed that it will take several visits to see it all. I liked the Haunted Houses and miniature Halloween scenes, the Santa's village (after the RIP place in Santa Cruz Hills)circus side shows, circus big top and more.

My favorites (all in miniature):

A cupcake ferris wheel

A pathway and amusement rides made out of M & M's

Several huge and detailed dioramas hand made by Don Markus in the 1930's for his son was suffering from Scarlet Fever and wasn't able to leave the house. There is something like 300,000 vehicles, figures, animals and other objects that he continued to work on for 50 years.

Miniature Haunted Houses with ghosts and pumpkins floating around them.

If you are a fan of miniatures-this is the place to go. The dioramas are so detailed and magical; they will take your breath away

You will totally be amazed by this place.

Ten stars to the dedicated docents and volunteers!

Open by reservation only

Once you pay your admission fee the arcade games, penny slot machines and classic pin ball machines are free.

Copyright 1999-2019 by Playland-Not-at-the-Beach. All rights reserved.
Our Privacy Policy