Miscellany: Silverball Museum, Delray Beach
I largely missed the tail end of the pinball era, those glory days when skating rink lobbies and family fun centers still had a couple of pins alongside "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Street Fighter II." In fact, by the time I could frequent those places with my own money, the home consoles were starting to kill arcade videogames - the corpse of pinball was already cold.
If you care for a little necrophilia, though, you should probably visit the Silverball Museum, a collection of dozens of playable pinball machines, classic videogames, and other amusements in downtown Delray Beach.
This is a pinball fan's nirvana - for a nominal entrance fee (from $7.50 to $25, depending on how long you want to stay there) you get unlimited play on machines from as early as the '60s and '70s (back when scoring was done with electromechanical reels) all the way to Midway's final, great pinball machines of the '90s, like "The Twilight Zone" and "The Addams Family." You can also eat food and drink beer on both the first and second floor (it's basically a retro "barcade").
Here's a fun one I played - Williams' Gorgar (1979), the first commercially released talking pinball machine, complete with Boris Vallejo-y fantasy art:
All the machines have informational placards and high score trackers, for the true pinball buffs:
There are a few things I didn't like about the Silverball Museum. They pipe in classic rock through speakers, which appeals to the Baby Boomer target demographic, but makes the place unnecessarily loud. There are also usually several machines that are "under restoration" (i.e., down for repairs), which is a bummer considering the price of admission. Still, this is a fun stop for anyone in the area, and well worth a visit.