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Those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s can remember the thrill of getting dropped off at the local arcade with a pocket full of quarters. The dark room filled with the lights and music of the latest video game and the click of the paddles in the rows of pinball machines were the siren call to children and teenagers everywhere. As video games became more compact and moved into our living rooms, arcades began to fade into the history of a better time.
Fortunately, those children grew up and are bringing back the arcades of our youth for a whole new generation to enjoy.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Buckley.
Old-school arcades were just arcades: a place for children and families to hang out. They rarely sold food and drinks and rarely served alcohol. You would never see a sign that said: “21 and Older Only” posted on the door. After school and on weekends, local arcades were the place to be. There was no competition so fierce and thrill so exciting as seeing your name on the leader board of the hottest game.
Adult “arcades” have become popular in recent years, but they are intended strictly as entertainment, accompanied by food and alcohol and are often quite expensive. These venues are fun if you are the right demographic, but they are also loud, chaotic and rarely family-friendly.
As we venture into 2020, I still consider the 1980s the greatest decade. We may not be quite so young anymore, but we can relive the glory days, even if just for a moment at one of these arcades across Arkansas.
Photo courtesy of Rhonda Franz
Arkadia Retrocade – Fayetteville
1478 N College Ave. Fayetteville, AR 72703
The Arkadia Retrocade opened in 2012. For just $5 you can enjoy over 120 arcade games; no coins required. They regularly run admission specials on their Facebook page. You can also read more about them in our article from 2017.
The Box Arcade – Van Buren
612 Main St., Van Buren, AR 72956
The Box opened in 2018. Admission is $10 per person, and all games are set on free play. They offer a variety of traditional games and have several retro gaming systems set up with old school TVs for your enjoyment. Visit them on Facebook.
The Garage Arcade – Russellville
303 W. C St., Russellville, AR 72801
Located in downtown Russellville, the Garage Arcade is loaded with old-school games you remember from yesteryear and has several new ones for you to discover. Check out their website for more information.
Flashback Pinball Arcade – Conway
810 N. Creek Drive, Conway, AR 72032
Open Friday and Saturday, Flashback has over 50 vintage pinball games. Be sure to bring your quarters! Games range in price from 25 cents to $1. Visit them online for more information and a list of their pinball machines.
Vortex Arcade – Sherwood
4027 E. Kiehl Ave., Sherwood, AR 72120
The Vortex Classic Arcade is family owned and operated and has loads of fun arcade and pinball machines. $10 will get you unlimited free play all day long. Visit them on Facebook for deals and more information.
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