Are you a pinball wizard? Got Pac-Man fever? Or just looking for the princess in a castle? Start your next quest at one of these bar-cades.
MICHIGAN—Maybe the pandemic has us yearning for a simpler time, or maybe we just want to play Space Invaders while drinking craft beer. Whatever the reason, Michigan arcades are having a moment.
Here’s a list of the Mitten State’s up-and-coming gaming establishments, along with some old favorites worth checking out again.
Eastern Michigan and Detroit Metro
666 Selden St, Detroit, MI 48201
What started in 2004 as the “original arcade bar,” Brooklyn’s Barcade set up shop in the Motor City in 2021. Though many other establishments credit Barcade as an inspiration, this is the O.G. itself.
The Midtown establishment features over 60 different games, plus a full bar and plenty of bar food priced at $17 and under. Though ordinarily this venue is strictly adults-only, Barcade occasionally offers “Family Day,” when all ages are permitted. The game selection is a retro paradise, with classics from the 80s and 90s. They also pride themselves on American-made beer, so you’ll be sure to see Michigan brews on tap.
1Up Arcade Bar (Farmington)
33316 Grand River Ave, Farmington, MI 48336
If there’s an 8-bit Mega Man on the bar’s shelf, there’s a pretty good chance you’re somewhere awesome.
Situated above the Basement Burger Bar and next door to the Farmington Civic Theater, this entertainment venue is family-friendly by day and adults-only at night. In addition to more than 30 classic arcade games, the 1Up Arcade Bar also hosts Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers tournaments on Nintendo Switch. Earn extra gaming tokens when you try one of their themed craft cocktails, like the Gin Ball Wizard – with Ann Arbor Distilling Co. Winter Gin, elderflower, ginger, citrus bitters, lemon, and ginger beer.
One Eyed Jacks (Shelby Township)
48922 Van Dyke Ave, Shelby Township, MI 48317
Named after a poker slang term, One Eyed Jacks is a well-rounded gaming establishment featuring vintage arcade games and pinball, as well as other favorites like pool, darts, cornhole, and disc golf.
The vintage arcade offers over 30 types of games that are free-play with purchase of food or drinks. And with a game-themed cocktail menu–including drinks like “Princess Peach’s Go-To Drink” and the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” shot–even losing a round is a win-win combo. One Eyed Jacks also features a full food menu with pub food and choice entrees, and if you’re ready to take on your local competitors, they host a pinball league and charity poker tournament.
Free Play Pinball Arcade (Fraser)
34830 Utica Rd #100, Fraser, MI 48026
For a cover charge of $15-$20 per person, it’s an all-you-can-game showdown. We like those odds.
The Free Play Pinball Arcade has more than 70 pinball and arcade machines, as well as darts, foosball, skee-ball, bubble hockey, and more. They don’t serve food, but you can get delivery or takeout food from local establishments with free re-entry. They also carry a variety of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Keystone Bar & Arcade (Ypsilanti)
200 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Maybe there was a time when you couldn’t wait to get away from your parents’ basement, but Keystone Bar and Arcade will make you nostalgic for that cool velvety brown couch and classic Goldstar TV.
Located in Ypsilanti in the basement of the Bobcat Bonnie’s, Keystone Bar & Arcade has served up classic gaming sessions and craft cocktails in a retro-lit venue since 2019. Whether you want to shoot pool, show off your pinball skills, play a retro arcade game, or just kick back on a couch like you live there, Keystone is a great choice. Also check out their trivia and karaoke nights!
Pinball Pete’s (Ann Arbor and East Lansing)
1214 S University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
220 Albert St, East Lansing, MI 48823
A legendary establishment among both Michigan State and University of Michigan students, Pinball Pete’s was just barely saved from the brink of closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With over 40 years of entertainment history, Pinball Pete’s boasts over 250 arcade games and the largest selection of pinball games in Michigan. Not only that, but it’s the arcade world’s Arizona Iced Tea, having not raised prices on most joystick games since 1991 (when they were a good ol’ quarter). As long as you keep feeding quarters into the machines, you’re welcome until 2 a.m. at Pinball Pete’s.
Starlite Arcade (Richmond)
69345 Main St, Richmond, MI 48062
The cozy little town of Richmond is in the Detroit metro, but it looks more like a movie set for Smalltown, U.S.A. That means Starlite Arcade is guaranteed to stoke nostalgia.
Starlite Arcade opened in 2021, and it’s packed with plenty of retro gaming options–including a variety of pinball machines and Dance Dance Revolution! The arcade is a family-friendly venue with all the candy and soft drinks to make your inner child sing.
Western and Central Michigan
LFG Gaming Bar (Kalamazoo)
Michigan Building, 116 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Normally, LFG means “Looking for Group,” but at the self-branded “only video game bar” in Kalamazoo, LFG stands for “liquor, food, and games.”
At LFG in downtown Kalamazoo, you’re not just limited to the classic arcade machines. If you’re a fan of vintage gaming consoles, LFG will hook you up. They have the retro generation console of Super Nintendo as well as 3-D consoles of Nintendo 64, Nintendo Gamecube, Playstation 2, XBOX 360, and XBOX One. There are also 14 arcade games and a full menu of food and beverages, both of which carry on the video game theme.
House Rules Lounge (Grand Rapids)
404 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
If you prefer your games with fewer sound effects, check out the board games at House Rules Lounge.
Opened in 2021, House Rules Lounge is on the ground level of Klingman Lofts, where they offer over 100 board games you can play for free. They do ask guests to order food or beverages, but that’s an easy trade-off. The lounge offers innovative drink creations like “Choose Your Own Adventure Hard Seltzer,” where patrons can choose up to 3 different flavors of syrup. Among other non-alcoholic offerings, fresh sparkling lemonade and root beer are on draft.
That’s not all, though. House Rules also has an in-house store full of board games, card games, and more. It’s a perfect place to try-before-you-buy.
Tilted Arcade Bar (Jackson)
146 W Michigan Ave, Jackson, MI 49201
This entertainment venue in downtown Jackson has a colorful history. As Dr. Don’s Famous Door, it was yellow. Then, as The Ruby Slipper, it was red. Now, as the Tilted Arcade Bar, it’s been neon green since 2019.
The arcade bar features 25 pinball machines and several other arcade games, all playable for a dollar or less. High scores are displayed on their website, giving veteran players the perfect opportunity to check the scoreboards. The bar features beer on draft, in bottles, and in cans. A limited menu of snacks are available, but customers are free to bring in food from their favorite establishment, too.
The Grid Arcade & Bar (Lansing)
226 E César E. Chávez Ave, Lansing, MI 48906
Lansing’s The Grid was described by the Lansing State Journal as what would happen “if Pinball Pete’s and HopCat had a baby.” That’s quite a heritage to live up to, and The Grid does it well.
Housed in the former Chrome Cat building in Old Town, The Grid Arcade & Bar breathes new life into Old Town’s quirky reputation. The always family-friendly bar features over 30 retro arcade and pinball games and 40 craft beers on tap. The place is truly stylish, featuring decor such as 8-bit Legend of Zelda swords to hold your favorite beer flights while you play a classic game of Donkey Kong.
Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula
The Coin Slot (Traverse City)
346 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
The Cherry Capital might already harken back to the “good old days” for some of us, but at this little paradise on Front Street, Traverse City’s vintage aesthetic gets a level up.
Family friendly until 9 PM, the arcade bar features a low-key retro vibe with rotating classic games, including Ms. Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, Contra, Donkey Kong, and more. For those who get serious about pinball, there’s a whole separate room for pinball masters.
Two Bit Operation (Alpena)
125 N. 2nd Ave., Alpena, MI 49707
You might think Alpena is little, but this Northern Michigan town has a big-name resident: Bob LeFevre, a graphic and comic artist whose work includes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Transformers. And he’s set up an Alpena paradise perfect for a geek, arcade included. Cowabunga, indeed.
Two Bit Operation is one of four enterprises in Bob’s Bullpen. An arcade with over 2,000 games, 25 arcade cabinets, a huge screen for video game consoles, an air hockey table, foosball table, and more, Two Bit is a replica of its namesake–an Alpena arcade from the 1980s and 1990s.
Though the family-friendly venue isn’t exactly a bar, there’s certainly fun for all ages. The Bulldog sells comfort food items like hot dogs and pizza. Bob’s Bullpen is a full-fledged retail store for all things comics, video games, and pop culture. And B Royal Movie Theater offers private screenings and free popcorn.
Clubhouse Arcade (Fremont)
7020 W 48th St, Fremont, MI 49412
There are few things more wholesome than a family-owned pinball arcade. That’s what you’ll find in the Clubhouse Arcade, just north of the Grand Rapids area. Owned by the Harmon family who got their dream on the ground in 2019, there are more than 25 pinball machines, plus board games, crane games, and, of course, classic and contemporary arcade games. Whether your jam is Tetris, Space Invaders, or Guitar Hero, there’s something you’ll love about Clubhouse Arcade.
Mine Shaft & Rock House (Houghton)
915 Razorback Dr, Houghton, MI 49931
The Upper Peninsula’s best arcade may very well be the northernmost arcade in the country.
Located on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the Mine Shaft & Rock House is a delightfully retro entertainment complex featuring not just an arcade, but also a bowling alley and mini-golf course. The arcade has over 40 different video games for all ages, plus The Rock House restaurant features a full menu with pizza, burgers, salads, pub food, and seasonal Lake Superior favorites including trout, whitefish, and salmon.
Family Fun Center at Bavarian Inn (Frankenmuth)
1 Covered Bridge Ln, Frankenmuth, MI 48734
Should you check into the legendary Frankenmuth mainstay of the Bavarian Inn, we wouldn’t blame you for spending all your time inside the “Mega Arcade” of its Family Fun Center, heralded as the largest family fun center in any Midwest hotel.
The Mega Arcade features over 160 games for children of all ages, and adults who are young at heart. It is an official “Video Game Test Center,” meaning the arcade games aren’t just vintage—you’ll find cutting-edge games here that aren’t available anywhere else yet. Whether you want to chill out with classic Pac-Man or Galaga, shake a pinball machine around, or shoot Nerf darts at a screen, the Bavarian Inn has plenty to try.