Don't let anybody fool you into thinking arcades are nothing more than a childish endeavor. That same joy you experienced while screaming "I GOT NEXT!" at your fated Street Fighter II rival can still be felt if you're on the lookout for thriving arcades in the good old US of A. Across our great nation is a host of lively indoor game hubs that focus on delivering thrills via digital blasts from the past. The following destinations we're about to make you aware of are great for casual and hardcore gamers alike. Plus some of these places provide plenty of grub and booze for you and the homies to snack on while you try to beat each other's high scores. Now let's have a chat about the best arcades in the US.
The 21 Best Arcades in the US You Need to Go To
Best Arcades in the US
1. Galloping Ghost Arcade: Brookfield, IL
Galloping Ghost Arcade is pretty much a dream destination for gamers far and wide. Once you walk in, you'll be overwhelmed by the 550+ arcade cabinets sitting in front of you. There are so many amazing, underrated, and even previously unreleased arcade games to bask in here - every genre gets its proper representation, plus you'll be treated to oddities such as Primal Rage II and a prototype of a Beavis and Butthead game developed by Atari back in the day. You're going to want to take a few days off to fully experience all the games housed within this arcade super haven.
2. Barcade: New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY, Newark, NJ, Jersey City, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and New Haven, CO
If you live on the East Coast or just happen to be in town, then you'll want to take a trek over to one of the many Barcade's within your vicinity. What makes all of these arcades/bar hangouts so cool is the varied selection of games, snacks, and alcoholic beverages on offer at each location. We recommended hitting up the one housed on West 24th street - that one usually has that six-player X-Men cabinet that's always a must-play whenever you come across it. Get the crew together so you can beat up some robots and enjoy some quality beer in a pretty lively setting.
3. Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade and Bar: Portland, OR
Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade and Bar features all the fixings you expect from it based on its self-explanatory name. There are a ton of games to spend hours with and a nice selection of tacos, cocktails, and more to enjoy while you make every attempt at TMNT: Turtles In Time for the umpteenth time. The game catalog you'll be able to access dates all the way back from the '70s all the way up until the modern day. The fighting game and pinball tournaments that take place here should also get you and the buds to pop up there sometime.
4. Cobra Arcade Bar: Phoenix and Tucson, AZ
The great (and hella humid!) state of Arizona plays host to one of the best-named arcades in America. And that's the Cobra Arcade Bar. The full availability of games that are housed within both Arizona locations is massive - the most memorable titles spanning multiple decades can be accessed at either one. The cocktail menu is pretty dope, too - getting video game-inspired drinks based on Street Fighter's Blanka and mystery shots that are inspired by the Super Mario Bros. question mark block feels awesome. Cobra Arcade Bar features a combination of awesome games and awesome drinks, which is definitely a winning combo.
5. Button Mash: Los Angeles, CA
So not only does Button Mash have a bevy of nostalgia-fueled arcade and pinball fun contained within it, but it also offers some physical activities in the form of skeeball and air hockey. There are so many arcade cabinets to stay busy with while you're there. And once your stomach starts growling uncontrollably, you can pull up on the Mexican cuisine attached to it called Tacos 1986. There's some good booze to indulge in here too, so your Friday and Saturday nights are covered if you frequent Button Mash.
6. Coin-Op Game Room: Sacramento, CA
There are good vibes aplenty in the first arcade bar in San Diego. Coin-Op Game Room goes for all the old-school vibes by incorporating throwback arcade games and a bunch of items that add a ton of retro character to the bar's decor. You got your classic arcade cabinets and pinball gems here, plus there's a nice lineup of cocktails and local beers to indulge in while you're gaming the night away. It's always worth pulling up to Coin-Op Game Room on the last Sunday of every month for free play of every game!
7. The 1UP Arcade Bar: Denver and Greenwood Village, CO
So the 1UP Arcade Bar is placed within three Colorado locations - Colfax, Lodo, and Greenwood. And as expected, all three of those spots are equally strong when it comes to their comparable games lineups. When you walk into either one and look to your left and to your right, your eyes will be met with all the greatest games from your childhood. And if you're in the mood for some pinball, 1UP Arcade Bar has you covered. The good beer that's on tap at each location is worth spending your whole savings account on, by the way.
8. Barcadia New Orleans: New Orleans, LA
Everything about New Orleans is so lit when you go for a night stroll. Whenever you're over there with the fam and friends, hitting up Barcadia New Orleans should be on your combined schedule. You're going to get your usual array of great arcade games to enjoy here. Plus there's a huge menu that offers a nice variety of food and adult beverage options. Live DJ sets and PPV events are also a frequent occurrence here, so there are a ton of activities to get involved in when you pop up here with your close-knit crew in tow. You guys just might get caught up in some fun Giant Jenga matches while you're there, too!
9. Up-Down Arcade Bar: Minneapolis, MN, Kansas City, MO, Des Moines, IA, Milwaukee, WI, St. Louis, MO, Nashville, TN, and Oklahoma City, OK
The golden age of the arcades from the 80s and 90s is wonderfully replicated within the Up-Down Arcade Bar. Now there are seven spots you can head to get in on all the games, pinball, and top-tier craft beer on offer. Those locations include Des Moines, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Nashville. And thankfully, each one comes with enough physical and digital activities to keep you up past midnight. The additional presence of house-made pizza, skeeball, and even Nintendo 64 console play are three more reasons why you should begin frequenting Up-Down Arcade Bar.
10. Headquarters Beercade: Chicago, IL and Nashville, TN
You're going to have a whole lot of ground to cover within this arcade wonderland. Once you step inside Headquarters Beercade, you'll be treated to two floors full of games, pinball, beer, pizza, cocktails, and a whole lot more. There's a nice selection of vintage arcade games to bask in, such as Tekken 3, X: Men vs. Street Fighter, and Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. And you can also deviate from the games themselves some nights and get into some fun trivia sessions about whatever trendy pop culture phenomenon is being covered.
11. Shorty's: Seattle, WA
First off, the name of this place is awesome. It totally gives off "local dive bar where everyone knows your name" vibes, right? Shorty's will quickly become a go-to destination for you if you reside in the Seattle, Washington area. There's a decent amount of arcade games and pinball cabinets set up in Shorty's for you to spend an entire evening with. Once you're done playing Robotron and Medieval Madness to death, you can switch it up and hop into some bowling via the old-school coin-op machine United's Lucky Bowler. Make sure you munch on a Shorty Dog while you're there!
12. Kung Fu Saloon: Austin, TX, Dallas, TX, Houston, TX, and Nashville, TN
We know what you're thinking - this place sounds like a Wild West saloon that just so happens to have martial arts battles going down inside every night. But you'd be wrong, of course. The Kung-Fu Saloon is certainly one of the best arcades in the US thanks to its wealth of arcade gaming gems and delicious Asian cuisine to boot. Sing Kung-Fu is the focus here, you'll get your fair share of awesome fighting games here to enjoy. The games are dope, the mimosas are on point, and the food will keep you satiated all the while.
13. The Detour: San Francisco, CA
Like the name says, The Detour is definitely worth making a random right turn in the middle of the night for. The arcade games available at your fingertips here are expectedly awesome, plus there are themed trivia, bingo, board game, and TV show viewing nights to have some fun with. The food and drinks are damned good as well - munching on some Spiced Coconut Popcorn and sipping on some alcoholic beverages while you tinker with some pinball machines is such a vibe.
14. Logan Arcade: Chicago, IL
So you got your tap beers in rotation here, which is always a plus when you're basking in a bunch of nostalgia-fueled arcade games. Logan Arcade has compiled a total of over 70 games/pinball machines, so you'll surely find something to play as soon as you step inside. You might want to pop in during this hangout's DJ spin sessions and concerts from time to time, by the way. "Mortal Mondays" at Logan Arcade is pretty lit too if you're looking to beat up everyone that wants the smoke in Mortal Kombat II.
15. 16-Bit Bar + Arcade: Cleveland, OH, Columbus, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Dublin, OH, Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN, and Indianapolis, IN
If you're a Cleveland resident, then the West Side Market should instantly sound familiar to you. And just three minutes away from that hotspot is one of the best arcades in the US that we just had to highlight here. Say hello to the perfectly named 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, which will quickly become your fave watering hole after you've visited it a few times. What's in place here are arcade games, tasty beer, cocktails named after your fave 80s & 90s legends, and just good vibes overall. We may have to pull up and try that "Super Smash Berries" cocktail at some point.
16. Wonderville: Brooklyn, NY
Wonderville gives off DIY vibes as its games are all independently made arcade gems. While you won’t find anything recognizable from your childhood days here, you’ll be treated to a wealth of well-made interactive experiences that are super creative and highly addictive. I highly recommend A Place To Bury Strangers Pinball and Armed & Gelatinous. While you’re getting your mind blown by all the fresh arcade game concepts on display here, be sure to pick up a Harlem Blue IPA and "Shallot of the Colossus" hot dog when you feel like stuffing your face. Wonderville isn't just one of the best arcades in the US - it's also one of the most unique.
17. Jackbar: Brooklyn, NY
This place is defined by four themes you’ll most likely want to indulge in - music, booze, beer, and pinball. While you’re busying yourself with those first three activities, you can get also get caught up on all the classic and modern pinball tables at your disposal. Catching a buzz and working it off through some intense pinball sessions with tables inspired by Rick & Morty, Twilight Zone, and Stranger Things sounds like a great time, right? Exactly! Jackbar is the perfect destination for folks that love to embark on random dive bar crawls every other weekend.
18. Emporium Arcade Bar: Chicago, IL, Las Vegas, NV, Oakland, CA, and San Francisco, CA
With six Emporium Arcade Bars currently available in the US, you'll have plenty of locations to go to if you want to see what all the hype is about. And to be quite honest, all those positive reviews you're reading are well warranted. You'll find everything you desire here - video games, craft beer, pool, foosball, pinball, and a whole lot more. When you're in a random mood to play Capcom's classic beat 'em up Aliens vs. Predator while downing some "Power Up" drinks, you'll now know exactly where to go to. Emporium Arcade Bar is extremely worthy of being placed on this list of the best arcades in the US.
19. Silverball Retro Arcade: Asbury Park, NJ
Pinball aficionados will find everything they love and more within this arcade/museum housed in New Jersey. The Silverball Retro Arcade is described as the "coolest place on Earth" for a very good reason - it features damn near 600 classic and modern pinball machines to enjoy, which are all on free play mode once you head inside. The massive collection of pinball tables available at this amazing establishment includes Guns N' Roses, Space Mission, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a whole lot more. The food's pretty good at this spot too, just in case you were wondering.
20. Boxcar Bar + Arcade: Raleigh, NC, Durham, NC, and Greensboro, NC
This North Carolina hotspot is spread out across three North Carolina locations. We made sure to highlight it here since all three of the gaming havens attached to Boxcar Bar + Arcade are worth burning the midnight oil at. What's contained within this adult arcade chain are dozens of great arcade/console games, beer, Skeeball, air hockey, and good-ass pizza. The live DJ sets and patio bar are just two extra reasons why you need to pop up here with the gang on a Friday night. This notable "down south" selection is well deserving of its placement here as one of the best arcades in the US.
21. GameOn Bar+Arcade: Annapolis, MD and Federal Hill, MD
For the final arcade pick on our list, we're going to showcase a Maryland staple called GameOn Bar+Arcade, which has two locations worth spending an entire evening in with the fam and friends in tow. All the retro gems that you remember from your younger days are well in abundance at both locales, especially the Annapolis location since it now features an expanded second floor with even more games to play. Heading over to that hub of fun means you'll be welcomed to VIP rooms, a Karaoke setup, and even more games to indulge in. It's also worth heading over to that spot if you think you're good enough to hop into the ongoing Annapolis Skeeball League. GameOn Bar+Arcade features two spots full of unlimited gaming entertainment and plenty of daily drink specials to take part in, so feel free to take part in all the coin-op excitement. And with that, we've reached the end of our list of the best arcades in the US.
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