golden state model railroad museum
The Golden State Model Railroad Museum is one of those local attractions that even long time Bay Area residents probably don't know exists. We only found it thanks to a pre-schooler and her grandparent who both have a passion for miniature trains. Located out in Point Richmond, across the street from the Miller-Knox shoreline park, the museum is a 10,000 square foot warehouse where serious train geeks have constructed scale models of major train depots around California (Oakland, Bakersfield, Sacramento, etc.) in N, O and HO gauges. I wish I had had a decent camera with me, but here's a pic I took with my phone:
The big news this weekend at the train museum was that they had just finished installing trains that were owned by the late talk show host Tom Snyder. Snyder had Lionel standard gauge track running through several rooms in his home, and his collection was donated to the museum when he died. I'd never seen standard gauge track before -- it's 1:24 scale, which makes room for a ton of detail. Here's a pic swiped from the GSMRM site, since all the ones I took didn't do it justice:
Check out the rest of the photos they have on their site; or if you're obsessed with both Snyder and model trains, you'll want to one click Celebrity Train Layouts, Part 2 - Tom Snyder, available on DVD. No, really.
The museum's worth a visit, even if you're not the type who buys DVDs of model train collections. Visit their site ahead of time, though, to make sure you go on a day when the trains are actually running, otherwise you'll probably end up watching guys drink cold coffee and repair tiny little engines. And that's just not as much fun for the kids.