Best of the Bay 2011: BEST SCARY CLOWN TOWN

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This could also be titled "worst place to go after you ingest hallucinogens," but hell, don't blame Playland-Not-At-The-Beach for its slightly creepy-carny vibe. Blame the former first lady of San Francisco's seaside: Laughing Sal, the legendary Playland attraction with the unforgettable ghoulish guffaw. A version of Sal keeps her eye on the joint, which is tucked into an unassuming El Cerrito building concealing a stuffed-to-the-gills treasure trove of Playland history. Other attractions include side show and circus artwork, modern pinball machines, and some incredibly elaborate dioramas — everything from a frosty, candy-laden "Santa's Village" to the awesome "Dark Mystery," featuring a zombie scene and a cows 'n' aliens vignette.

10979 San Pablo, El Cerrito. (510) 592-3002, www.playland-not-at-the-beach.org