Pinball Pete'S
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Pinball Pete’s | The Ultimate Venue for Arcade Gaming

In an era when 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, this arcade has not only provided tons of fun to local adults and children alike but has also been an attraction to gaming and arcade enthusiasts from all over the Midwest.

Pinball Pete's Ann Arbor East Lansing Arcade
Pinball Pete’s. Photo by Jack Durham

A Successful, Eye-Catching Entertainment Venue

Since the 1970s arcade boom, Pinball Pete’s has been a staple in Mid-Michigan. You can enjoy its arcade games, pinball machines, redemption games, and billiards at two locations.

The Ann Arbor location on South University Ave is the flagship store and has been so successful throughout the years that it moved across the street into this current location in the mid-1990s. Eventually, a second establishment opened on Albert St 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 added.

The bright neon lights and friendly pink elephant logo are sure to catch your eye, and it sort of gives off that Las Vegas vibe of “Come spend your money here!” Pinball Pete’s has a delightful atmosphere with great games to match. Any quarter dropped into a machine is well spent.

Pinball Petes Games
Glowing air hockey tables. Photo by Jack Durham

Games for All & Late Hours

Pete is still committed to affordability, charging only a quarter for most joystick-operated games since 1991. While some of the games only require a quarter, others can cost $1 or more. So, 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 at Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbor, 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.

Also, you can try your luck at basketball or Skee-ball to earn tickets that can be redeemed for the usual cheap plastic prizes. Or, put your rhythm skills to the test on an arcade dancing game.

Pinball Pete’s is also open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight the rest of the week. These hours capitalize on its location on the University of Michigan campus with all the bars on South University Ave.

After all, who wants to tip a bartender when you could use the money to play air hockey on the way home?

East Lansing Location

In East Lansing, Pinball Pete’s has many of the same old-school classic and new pinball machines, as well as throwback and state-of-the-art arcade, dancing, racing, and redemption games. It’s open until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight the rest of the week.

On top of that, it has organized the Raging Elephants Hockey Club since 1994. The more than 50 members compete in leagues and tournaments all year. They have won more than 40 titles in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio since 2006.

Pinball Petes Arcarde
Arcade games. Photo by Jack Durham

A Dedicated Staff & Fun, Friendly Atmosphere

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.

This commitment has made this arcade a perennial winner of the Metro Times’ “Best Gamer Hangout” award for the Metro-Detroit area.

And, 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.

The store is open for birthday parties and other gatherings of all sorts. While some patrons complain about unruly kids loitering around, the arcade is always very clean and full of friendly gamers. You’re welcome there as long as you put quarters into the machines.

Many subculture groups love to hang out playing classic and dance games. The Dance Dance Revolution Club is an example, which meets every Friday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. These talented pad stompers often draw sizable crowds of spectators.

Places to Eat Near Pinball Pete’s

You’re bound to work up an appetite while playing pinball and video games at Pinball Pete’s amazing arcade. Here are some deliciously satisfying and diverse restaurants in Ann Arbor that we recommend.

Moon Cafe

The Moon Cafe is a small restaurant that serves authentic Korean cuisine and frozen yogurt. The menu features spicy and non-spicy bowls of Korean classics, as well as noodle bowls. The frozen yogurt bar has chocolate and vanilla flavors, and you can choose from 35 toppings.

Maize & Blue Delicatessen

If you’re in the mood for a sandwich or sub, the Maize & Blue Delicatessen is the place to go. This deli has been serving some of the best sandwiches and subs since 1988. You can choose from corned and roast beef, chicken, fish, pastrami, turkey, vegetarian, and more.

Some famous people have visited the Maize & Blue Delicatessen, such as Michigan Wolverines Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and Olympian Michael Phelps.

Jamaican Jerk Pit

For a taste of the Caribbean, the Jamaican Jerk Pit has the tropical flare and huge flavor to satisfy your craving. The restaurant uses the freshest ingredients for every dish and serves authentic specialties from Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago.

This small restaurant doesn’t have a very large dining area, so you may need to get takeout. Not to worry, though. There are several parks where you can enjoy your meal — such as Gallup Park and Buhr Park.

The Original Cottage Inn Pizza

With a passion to serve traditional Italian, Greek, and American cuisines, The Original Cottage Inn has been a gathering place since 1948. Actually, it was the first restaurant to serve pizza in Ann Arbor. The gourmet and BYO pizzas are popular, but the restaurant has a diverse menu.

You can order burgers, sandwiches, salads, pasta, and specialty entrees — such as baked eggplant parmesan, grilled Atlantic salmon, and grilled chicken with goat cheese.

Taste Kitchen

The Taste Kitchen is an upscale restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor that uses quality, direct-from-source ingredients in its seasonal dishes. The chef combines Vietnamese flavors with French culinary techniques.

You can enjoy a great selection of wines, cocktails, and beer with your meal. The restaurant even has nonalcoholic beer. And, a rotating selection of beer and wine is half off during Happy Hour Monday through Thursday. Additionally, Taste Kitchen proudly serves Hyperion Coffee from Ypsilanti.

Pinball Pete’s Is the Best Arcade for All Ages

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 here hopes that this gaming time capsule can stay in business for years to come.

Of course, there are many more things to do in Ann Arbor as well.

One Comment

  1. The East Lansing arcade is the original. Opened in 1974 in a different location and moved to its current spot a year or two later. Founded by high school friends if mine from East Lansing. The primary founder, Tim Arnold, now runs the Pinball Hall of Fame on the Vegas Strip.

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