Detroit, MI

Unique Places to Have Fun in Detroit

Heather Raulerson

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Photo by Heather Raulerson

With the weather so dreary in Michigan, many people are looking for something fun to do for the entire family. The good thing is that there are several places where you can take the whole family and play classic arcade games, pinball machines, laser tag, bowling, and more. You will have to check their websites to see if they are open and follow all their required safety and health procedures. A couple of these places have made it through this last year with support from their supporters and GoFundMe pages. Thankfully, most of these fun spots are beginning to open their doors again and letting the fun back in. Who’s ready for a game?

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum

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Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is a handful to say and even harder to find. It is tucked away in the back of a shopping strip with only an overhead sign letting you know that it is back there. MMMM has over 5000 square feet of over 300 vintage coin-operated machines, weird oddities, unusual nostalgia, and some of the newest video games. There is so much to see when you walk in that I suggest taking a walk through to get the lay of the place. And make sure to look up. The ceiling has tons of signs, airplane models, classic sideshow posters, large weird dolls, and a monkey band. The majority of the newer games are in the back and along the walls. The middle is where you will find the cluster of coin-operated animatronic dummies and mechanical games. Each machine has a small, handwritten card that notes where it originated and a little of its history, and some of these games are from the 1800s. Not all of them are in great shape, but it is cool to see what that had to offer for entertainment back then.

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Marvin’s was filled with teenagers when I stopped in to take a look around. Most of them were playing pinball games, dance machines, and the other newer games. It is a shame that they don’t appreciate the craftsmanship and ingenuity used to create these older vintage machines. I tried a couple of games to watch with fascination the mechanical genius of the moving parts. And, of course, I put in my quarter to get my fortune told by Zelda the Mysterious. Her prediction just happened to be spot on for me this week!

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Admission is free, and all you need to do is bring your loose change to play the vast collection of games and machines. Most coin-operated devices cost a quarter, and you might even find some that are only a dime. Marvin’s is open all year long with varied hours during the week. The open hours are Sundays from 11 am to 9 pm, Mondays to Thursdays from 10 am to 9 pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays, it is available from 10 am to 11 pm. http://www.marvin3m.com/

Pinball Pete’s

Pinball Pete’s is one of the only remaining arcades in the Ann Arbor/East Lansing area. The Ann Arbor facility is larger, with over 10,000 square feet of space for arcade games, whereas the East Lansing has over 4,000 square feet for the games. Pinball Pete’s obviously has quite a vast collection of pinball machines and video games, pool tables, skee-ball, and more. You can also rent out the facilities for private parties. http://www.pinballpetes.net/

C.J. Barrymore’s

C.J. Barrymore’s is located on the east side and has many indoor and outdoor attractions. The outdoor activities like the amusement rides, go-karts, zipline, and others are obviously weathered dependent. The indoor activities include laser tag, a bowling alley, arcade, bumper cars, and mini-bowling. You can purchase a rechargeable Fun Card that you can be used to swipe to play games, eat, drink, etc. C.J. Barrymore’s has been open since 1974. When I was younger, my friends and I would bike to C.J’s and play games all afternoon. https://cjbarrymores.com/

Round 1

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Round 1 is in Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills. I like to think of Round 1 as a combination of a bowling alley, Chuck E Cheese, Dave & Busters. Round 1 is from Japan, so don’t be surprised by Asian influences on the game selections. This is a great place to hold a birthday party or have some fun for an afternoon. Besides the arcade games, there are bowling, billiards, karaoke, and many other fun things. Make sure to check the website to see the latest open hours. https://greatlakescrossingoutlets.com/stores/round-1-bowling-amusement

POP + OFFWORLD

Located in the newly renovated space upstairs from the Checker Bar in Detroit. This unique venue designed with an 80s vintage feel is a pizza parlor serving delicious New York-style pies, a full bar, live music, and over 30 arcade games. Some of the arcade games making a permanent home here are Mortal Kombat II, Forgotten Worlds, Tron, Q*Bert, and Ms. Pac-Man costing only a quarter to play. http://www.poppizzabar.com/

Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a unique basement Detroit location serving beer and themed cocktails while enjoying yourself playing retro arcade games. Ready Player One has 30 classic arcade games and 10 pinball machines from the 80s and 90s. You can play Punch-Out!!, Ms. Pac-Man, and Tetris. You can even play Mario Kart on a Nintendo 64. When you purchase food, you get gold tokens that will give you ‘free play’ on the machines. The food you should try is the Rock ‘n’ Rye barbecue chicken wings and macaroni and cheese, which goes excellent with a Pac-Man Sour or the Crash Bandicoot cocktails. https://www.rpodetroit.com/

Dave and Buster’s

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Dave and Buster’s is a tried and true family fun place in Utica and Livonia. My family and friends have been going here for ages playing games in the Midway. My friend, Jennifer, and I used to play shooting games for hours on end. And I am an expert on earning the maximum amount of tickets at the games for the prize room. I always walked away with my pockets filled with trinkets for my nieces and nephews. This was always a fun spot to take the kids and spend a couple of hours letting them play whatever game interested them. https://www.daveandbusters.com/locations/utica

With all of these multi-entertainment venues around Detroit. I’m sure that you and your family will find one that is close to you. Just make sure that they are open first before you head out. And happy gaming, everyone!

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Freelance travel writer and photographer who loves sharing her adventures from around the world. It is never too late to pursue your dream!

Rochester Hills, MI
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