Day 32: Pinball Pete's

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Pinball Pete's. Photo by Jack Durham

In an era where video gaming has moved into nearly every dorm room and family basement, Pinball Pete’s old fashioned arcade of Ann Arbor has still managed to stay successful for three decades and counting. With over 250 games and the largest selection of pinball in all of Michigan, Pinball Pete’s has not only provided tons of fun to local adults and children alike, but also been an attraction to gaming and arcade enthusiasts from all over the Midwest. The Ann Arbor location has been so successful throughout the years that they moved into a larger location across the street in the mid-1990s, and eventually gave birth to a second establishment in East Lansing. “Pinball Pete’s isn’t just an arcade- it’s a local landmark. It’s hard to miss that bright pink sign” local gamer Sarah Ryan said. “This is a fun place to waste your money and in the best way possible,” she said. The bright neon lights and friendly pink elephant logo are sure to catch your eye, but it sort of gives off that Las Vegas vibe of “Come spend your money here!” Pinball Pete’s has a really enjoyable atmosphere with great games to match. Any quarter dropped into a machine here is well spent.

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Glowing air hockey tables. Photo by Jack Durham

While you normally won’t find the famous Pete hanging around his arcade, you will see plenty of his notes and newspaper clippings around the walls, a sure sign of his dedication to his business and the enjoyment of his customers. He is still committed to affordability, charging only a quarter for most joystick operated games since 1991. Much of the business’s success can be attributed to the fact that there is something there for everyone. Not only is there a huge variety of pinball games, but you can also find plenty of air hockey and pool tables, any arcade shooter imaginable, racing games to challenge your friends, and even the classics that your parents used to play like Frogger and Galaga. You can also try your luck at basketball or skee-ball to earn tickets which can be redeemed for the usual cheap plastic prizes. Pinball Pete’s is also open until 2am, capitalizing on its location on the University of Michigan campus with all the bars on South University. After all, who wants to tip the bartender when you could use the money to play air hockey on the way home?

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Arcade games. Photo by Jack Durham

The staff at Pinball Pete’s is always working hard to make it an enjoyable place to go. The machines are always well maintained, or at least serviced in a timely manner if they need a repair. While some complain about unruly kids loitering around, the arcade is always very clean and full of friendly gamers. Pinball Pete’s is open for birthday parties and other gatherings of all sorts. You’re welcome there as long as you are putting quarters into the machines. There are many subculture groups that love to hang out and play classic games or dance games. The Dance Dance Revolution Club is an example, which meets every Friday from 8-10pm; these talented pad stompers often draw sizeable crowds of spectators. Pete’s dedication to the customers’ enjoyment has made Pinball Pete’s a perennial winner of the Metro Times’ “Best Gamer Hangout” award for the Metro-Detroit area. You won’t stumble across many arcades nowadays, so Pinball Pete’s is definitely a place to check out if you ever find yourself in Ann Arbor or East Lansing. Anybody who has had an enjoyable experience there is hoping that these gaming time-capsules can stay in business for years to come.

~Jack Durham, Regional Director
View more pics on our Flickr page

Like many arcades in the 80’s Pinball Pete’s didn’t have a website. To this day, Pinball Pete’s still does not have a website! You can reach them here:

1214 S University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

(734) 213-2502

220 Albert Ave

East Lansing, MI 48823

(517) 337-2544

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