The video arcade has been in a state of free-fall since the late 1990s, and as such, they're tough to find. But take heart, those who miss the social side of video gaming, because the arcade is not dead for good. In fact, Michigan still has a few remnants of this glorious gaming tradition, so grab your quarters, because it's time to check out 10 of the best arcades Michigan can offer!
Out in Gobles, there's a surprising collection of small outbuildings almost in the middle of nowhere. In this collection of outbuildings is none other than Klassic Arcade, an arcade devoted to the classics of the arcade. Not just the original classics, either, though games like “Pac-Man” and a heap of pinball machines will be on hand, more modern classics like simulator “B.O.T.S.S” and four-player brawler “The Simpsons” will be on hand. Check out the collection of glass-bottled pop choices—and yes, in Michigan, it's pop—for an unexpected taste in the middle of your gaming fun.
Head on out to Brighton for a taste of the old and new in arcade gaming! Featuring some of the most iconic titles in cabinet gaming from the simplicity of quarter-gobblers “Space Ace” and “Smash TV” to some of the most exciting racing games like “Hydro Thunder,” this place will offer most every kind of gaming fun from straight game to pinball. It may have a simple name, but the fun will be widely varied and complex enough for any game buff.
These days, finding an arcade can be difficult, so usually they come attached to other businesses. Holland's BAM! Ultimate Entertainment Center offers not only an arcade, but also bowling, laser tag, pool leagues, and several other entertainments all built into one handy package. Throw in a complete dinner menu and an attached bar and it's a great chance to have the kind of fun you used to have, but with more alcohol this time. Or not, whichever.
In a similar vein to BAM!, Portage's Airway Fun Center offers bowling, of course, but also a fairly substantial arcade along with laser tag, go karts, miniature golf, indoor bumper cars, and more beyond. Throw in a taproom with a complete menu—pizza and appetizers lead the way, but salads and shareable baskets aren't far behind—and the experience becomes even better than many arcades ever were.
Michigan's home-grown arcade franchise—there are two locations of Pinball Pete's, one in East Lansing and one in Ann Arbor—Pinball Pete's features a host of games from both pinball and electronic gaming to enjoy. When we say “a host,” we mean it, too. The East Lansing location measures over 4,000-square-feet, and the Ann Arbor store nearly triples that at 10,000-square-feet.
Oh, Traverse City...once again you do not let us down! The home of museums, art, upscale dining, agriculture, casinos, and pretty much everything else in Michigan delivers once more by offering me not one, but two entries in the arcade gaming slot. One of these is The Coin Slot, which may look a little grungy on the outside, but inside contains an electronic wonderland of classic games presented in the classic arcade style. A cover charge at the door allows access to the full slate of electronic games, but bring quarters anyway, as the pinball games are strictly pay-to-play.
Head on up to Houghton to see what is, as far as we can tell, the northernmost arcade in all of Michigan, and potentially the United States: The Mine Shaft. Featuring bowling, arcade games and miniature golf as well as a complete sports bar, and a restaurant that takes food seriously to offer things like cedar planked salmon and several pasta dishes, the Mine Shaft could readily fit in just about any major city, but seeing it in Houghton makes it an even more amazing sight.
Listed previously in our look at great Michigan museums, Marvin's in Farmington Hills is hard to pass up as an arcade as well thanks to the fact that most of the exhibits both come from arcades and are actively playable by the patrons. So for a taste of arcade gameplay fun that goes back decades, this is the place to show up.
You can't talk about arcades any more without talking about Dave & Busters, one of the biggest places to ever combine food and video gaming in one place effectively. With three locations in Michigan—Livonia, Kentwood and Utica—players will not only be able to play, but also watch. Like a magnificent combination video arcade, sports bar and neighborhood grill, players will be able to get “Pac-Man” with their wings, or several other combinations therein.
This is an arcade, but only an arcade of sorts. An annual event that's been going on for years—one I've had the privilege to personally attend three years running now—Pinball at the Zoo takes pinball machines of all stripes, and a few upright cabinet video games as well, and brings them all into a room at the Kalamazoo Expo Center in Kalamazoo. The end result is a huge array of pinball machines, all set to free play—it's a pay-one-price affair to get in and play—and some of which haven't been seen in public in decades.
The arcade has been on the decline in recent years, but a little ingenuity, a little innovation, and a lot of exciting extras has put new life into this old concept, delivering a positively gleeful experience for anyone who remembers the arcade's golden days or those who have never seen gaming outside of the home console. No matter how you put it, fun is afoot, so grab your quarters and head to Michigan for the greatest fun you'll find around!