I always gravitate to pretty much anything that has been operated since the 1940s. It can be a hot dog joint that sells crappy dogs that I would normally turn my nose up to, but if it's been in the family for a couple of generations, or has great signage, I lose all of my organic uptightness. This week I'm in Binghamton, NY, where Grandma lives, and I'll be posting about what we discover all week (and continuing my Vacation Idea World Series next week, when I'm back with my big computer with all of my pictures). On Friday we're going to the Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, which Grandma remembers going to as a teenager, so it must be cool. Here's one of our favorite old school amusement parks we've been to, Fairyland, which is in Oakland, and is so off the beaten path, that many of my SF mom friends didn't even know about it.
Now one of the things you have to bear in mind with 'old school', is that it isn't the padded playground that we've become accustomed to. Clara was three when we went there, and when she saw this little merry-go-round, that was probably the tallest one I've ever seen, for how small it was, she just had to go on it. However, the attendant wouldn't let me hold her, and it had no harness/belt. She kept saying she could do it and would hold on, so I decided it was better to trust her, even though it was concrete below. She was completely fine, although I think I am still a little traumatized by it.
Lastly, if you do go and check out Fairyland, here are some food suggestions, so you can make a day trip out of it. Restaurant suggestions come courtesy of Mike Sterba, a family friend, who lives in the area and has two kids, and good taste in food.
Fenton's Creamery: 1.5 miles from Fairyland, and how the heck did I not know about this place?! An ice cream joint that's been around for 115 years!
Arizmendi Bakery : a worker-owned cooperative bakery that has amazing looking pizzas using organic and local ingredients, plus pastries and pies (and about a half a mile from Fairyland).
Bakesale Betty : a former Chez Panisse alumn who has a fantastic bakery. Also a half mile from Fairyland.