Charlie Merk, 10, plays pinball at Silverball Museum in Delray Beach, which has arcade games from three generations. Dana (left), Charlie and Amy Merk were visiting Charlie’s grandfather Justin Kelleher (rear). The Merks are from Hingham, Mass., near Boston. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
It’s getting to be that time of year. Soon the grandkids or other young relatives will make their way here for a visit — perhaps for Easter. The pool and video games may keep them occupied for a while, and they’re sure to enjoy the beach and sunshine.
But pretty soon, they’re going to want to find something else to do.
A few suggestions,
Play pinball, games at Silverball Museum
When it comes to entertainment, sometimes it’s hard to find common ground with grandkids — or even kids. For a generation that grew up on kickball and stickball, the allure of Wii, PlayStation and Xbox can be difficult to comprehend.
But Delray Beach’s Silverball Museum is a place where multiple generations can do things together.
Yes, it’s a museum, but you’re encouraged to play most of the more than 200 games the Silverball has — ranging from modern games to older favorites like Skee-Ball and Ms. Pac-Man, to dozens of pinball machines, some dating to the 1940s and 1950s.
And the museum folks don’t mind if you share the experience with someone a lot younger who may never have seen a pinball machine before.
“Grandparents and parents can’t always relate to the technology that kids use today, but at Silverball, there’s a common interest for everyone,” says Kimberly Cubbage, who with her husband, Brad, and son, Colton, 7, are museum regulars. “The whole family tends to enjoy it and get involved.”
What sometimes happens at the Silverball Museum is that parents or grandparents teach their younger family members how to play pinball, while the kids help their elders hone their skills at some of today’s arcade games.
“It’s a good bonding experience,” says Dayna DiDomenico, the museum’s general manager.
The museum is probably best suited to children older than 4, DiDomenico says. Older kids can wander through the museum alone, while adults can keep an eye on them from an upper level.
For those who like to learn a little bit about the games they’re playing, the museum has cards above each machine, letting guests know when the game was created and what makes it special.
The museum has a restaurant and two full-service bars. It’s open seven days a week but you might want to shoot for Sunday— especially if you go with a group — to take advantage of family day, when up to four people can play for a half day for $25. Each extra person is just $5.
The museum is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Games are free with an entry pass. Rates range from $7.50 per person for a half-hour pass to $25 for a full-day pass. Check website for specials.
Silverball Museum, 19 NE Third Ave., Delray Beach (behind Johnny Brown’s), 266-3294, www.silverballmuseum.com/delray-beach
Shoot a round of mini golf
Putt’n Around in Delray Beach is not your typical miniature golf course. There are no clowns, windmills or lighthouses. Instead there are two beautifully landscaped courses themed to the local environment.
On the Ocean Course, you find fish statues and maybe a mermaid. Don’t be surprised if you come across an alligator on the Everglades Course.
You can stay and have lunch or dinner at Putt’n Around, which serves burgers, pizza, hot dogs and more.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.Admission is $11 for 18 holes, $16 for 36. Discounted prices for seniors and children younger than 4.
Putt’n Around, 350 NE Fifth Ave., Delray Beach, 459-2715, www.puttnaround.net.
The Boca Raton Children’s Museum offers activities as well as exhibits. Photo provided
Check out children’s museums and science centers
Take kids to a place where they can learn as they have fun.
The Boca Raton Children’s Museum is a fixture in the community and offers programming with an emphasis on younger kids. It has everything from music classes and art workshops to permanent exhibits.
At the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and Learning Center in Boynton Beach, children can learn about art, music, the sciences and more through free weekly programs and affordable workshops.
Kids can learn a lot at the Children’s Science Explorium, a hands-on center in Boca Raton designed for children 5 to 12. The center features interactive exhibits, programs and camps that bring the physical sciences to life.
Boca Raton Children’s Museum, 498 Crawford Blvd., Boca Raton, 368-6875; www.cmboca.org. Admission: $5.
Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and Learning Center,129 E. Ocean Ave., Boynton Beach, 742-6780; www.schoolhousemuseum.org. $5 admission but free for infants younger than 1.
Children’s Science Explorium, 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton, 347-3900; www.scienceexplorium.org. A suggested $5 donation.
Have a ball bowling, playing games or watching a movie
You and the family can spend a whole day at Frank Theatres CineBowl & Grille and never be bored. Located in the Delray Marketplace, the four-in-one entertainment center is a combination of bowling lanes, movie theater, arcade and restaurant — all under the same roof.
For family members who want to score some strikes or spares, there are 16 lanes. There are also more than 25 arcade games. Cinebowl has 12 movie screens, including an IMAX, and a recently opened Beer and Burger Joint restaurant.
Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday; 11:30 to 1 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday. Check website for prices.
CineBowl & Grill, 14775 Lyons Road, Delray Beach, 454-8002, http://delray.cinebowlandgrille.com
Explore Everglades wetland
Amid the condos, golf courses and urban sprawl, you can still discover areas that offer a glimpse of Florida’s natural wetland environment. On a visit to the Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands, the Wakodahatchee Wetlands or the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll get a chance to see alligators, turtles and many species of birds, ranging from hawks to ducks, even storks.
All three wetlands have boardwalks where visitors can observe wildlife. Green Cay has a nature center with live animal exhibits. Admission is free to all three.
Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands, 12800 Hagen Ranch Road, Boynton Beach, 966-7000, http://discover.pbcgov.org/parks/Pages/GreenCay.aspx#.WNF24_1JnIF
Wakodahatchee Wetlands, 13026 Jog Road, Delray Beach, 493-6000, http://discover.pbcgov.org/waterutilities/Pages/default.aspx
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 10216 Lee Road, Boynton Beach, 732-3684, www.fws.gov/refuge/arm_loxahatchee/
Paul Homer leads a nature walk during Sea Turtle Day at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton. Coastal Star file photo
Learn more about the coast
There’s nothing like a great day at the beach — and South Palm Beach County has some of the best beaches around. Just being in the water on a hot day can be a treat.
If snorkeling is something you enjoy, visit Red Reef Park in Boca Raton.
Two places to go to learn more about the coastal environment are the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton and the Sandoway Discovery Center in Delray Beach. At Sandoway, guests can watch shark feedings, visit a touch tank full of sea stars, sea cucumbers and the like, and see a vast collection of shells. Sea turtles are the stars of the show at Gumbo Limbo, but there is much more to see in its four outdoor marine aquariums.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, 1801 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton, 544-8605, www.gumbolimbo.org. A suggested $5 donation.
Sandoway Discovery Center, 142 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach, 274-7263, www.sandoway.org. Cost is $5 per person, ages 3 and older.
— Stories by Rich Pollack