A Vintage Lover’s Guide to Alameda, CA

Alameda is a quick 10 minute drive from my house, and for how close it is I don’t go there often enough.  But I recently spent a couple days out there, and really wanted to share what a fun weekend trip it could be for someone who lives out of town.  And for vintage lovers, it’s an absolute paradise of art deco flower shops, and beautiful victorian houses, and home to the largest antique fair in Northern CA.  Step one, plan it out so that you visit the first weekend of the month so you can attend the Alameda Antique Fair, which is always the first Sunday of every month, but more on that later.

#alameda #paintedsign #nofilter
A painted sign found in Alameda

FRIDAY NIGHT: Pack your vintage dirndl and trek over to the German Restaurant & Bar Speisekammer for a delicious Hefeweizen and listen to some sweet tuneage.  Every Fri night they have live music with no cover, and with vintage-friendly bands who play western-swing, ragtime, blues, or jazz.  The last time I went was on Valentine’s Day and saw fellow East Bay vintage ladies Tina and Elisa.

SATURDAY: Grab a classic diner breakfast at Ole’s Waffle Shop “Since 1927″

Ole's Waffle Shop, Alameda
source – Disclaimer: I have never eaten here, so I can’t vouch for the food, but I can vouch for its CUTENESS QUOTIENT!

Take a stroll on Park St which houses several packed to the rafters, completely crowded and dusty, multiple level antique stores.  Which, come on, are always the best to roam and sift through.  But there are some cute boutiques on the street, too, including the extremely fun Rocket Reuse which houses everything I love in life: books, music and vintage!  Be sure to try something on in the dressing room that opens with an old phone-booth door.

Get a break from shopping and head over to the Pacific Pinball Museum.  The $15 admission gets you all the pinball you can play ’til midnight.  They have games from the 30s and up, multiple rooms, and they’re always rotating the 90 machines they have there with the 400 they house in storage.  My top picks are Fireball for its spinning plate in the middle of the board, Oribtor 1 for its craziness (the ball moves erratically and it isn’t from magnets!), Black Rose for its added video game element, and Black Knight for its double deck/multiple flipper action.  Get your hand stamped because you’ll need a break in between so much fun pinball playing, and oohing and aahing over all that awesome pinball art.

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1930s pinball machine “Bumper”

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A fun drinking game would be to take a swig every time you spotted racist and/or sexist pinball art!  You’d be drunk in no time!

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#vintagepinball #pinball Cinderella game - each flipper button controls 3 flippers per side #1948 #RoyParker #Gottlieb

All that standing up playing pinball has got your legs aching for a break.  Why not take in a flick at the beautiful art deco Alameda Theatre?

Alameda Theater
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This theater was designed by the same architect who designed the gorgeous Paramount Theater, and was renovated in 2008.  Even if your choice movie isn’t in the main (original) theater, spend some extra time feeling glamorous in the lobby.

Alameda Theatre, Alameda, CA
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Is it dinner-time?  I suggest local SF chain Burma Superstar, right around the corner from the Theater on Park St.  The pumpkin curry I recently had there melted in my mouth!  Now go back and play pinball for dessert!

SUNDAY: Wake up bright and early and head over to the Alameda Antique Fair.

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Bring cash, comfortable walking shoes, a wide-brimmed hat and lather up in sunscreen even if it looks cloudy.  Sadly every time I’ve gone to the fair I’ve managed to get a weird looking sunburn.  Small price to pay for amazing vintage!  Like this recent haul:

Successful #alamamedaantiquefair #4thepoint #haul

Found this guy at the #alamedaantiquefair today #noveltybrooch I kind of squealed when I turned it over and saw my name.

My other strategy is to put figurative blinders on as soon as I walk through the gates, and walk all the way to the back of the fair, to the last row of vendors.  It’s hard to not stop, but trust me, just walk all the way to the back.  I’ve found that some of the better vendors with good deals are in the back (maybe it’s cheaper booths?).  And also this way you can make sure you see everything at the fair.  They have a wide selection of food trucks available, and a shuttle bus.

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You’re probably wiped out by all the vintage visual stimulation so relax with a cocktail at Forbidden Island tiki lounge.

Forbidden Island, Alameda
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Forbidden Island
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And there you have it!  A really fun vintage-y weekend in a really cute town.  I’m looking forward to exploring the area more and more with lots of pinball in the mix!  Let me know if you have any more Alameda destination suggestions.

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^ 2 Comments...

  1. Elisa

    Fabulous guide to the island! I can’t believe I still have not been to the pinball museum! What is wrong with me?!?! Hope to run into you again soon!

  2. Jessica Cangiano

    Wonderfully engaging and enjoyable travel guide, dear Mary. I vrey much hope to visit California one day and am bookmarking this post in the optimistic hopes of that happening.

    Love, BTW, your massively cute puppy “Mary” doggie brooch. Too cute!

    ♥ Jessica

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