Going to an arcade is a fascinating, multi-sensory experience that has never been just for kids, and arcades in Portland offer visitors plenty of opportunities to dive into a good game. Read on for our picks, from family-friendly arcades to dive bars and adults-only bar arcades.
Family-friendly arcades in Portland
This historic theater-turned-arcade is home to nearly 100 video arcade and pinball games in two rooms: the Q Lab and Q Lounge. Games typically range from $0.50 to $1 per play and include selections such as big- and small-screen Pac-Man, Time Crisis and skee-ball. Catch live musical Tesla Coil shows at Quarterworld every Sunday and Tuesday at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Don’t miss the pun-filled food menu of kid-friendly “bytes” and “ate-bit” burgers (adults can also share vodka-spiked “Mario Party Bowls”). Admission is $3 after 6 p.m. and $1 during “happy hour” (noon–6 p.m.). All ages until 8 p.m.
Avalon Theatre & Wunderland
Have hours of fun at very affordable prices at Wunderland, a family-owned local chain of arcades and theatres around Portland. Second-run shows fill the three screens at Oregon’s oldest operating theater, the art deco Avalon Theatre on Southeast Belmont Street. The Avalon has housed a nickel arcade since 1925, and still offers a vast array of arcade games (plus air hockey and other favorites) for five cents per play. To pair arcade fun with a few rousing rounds of laser tag, head to the suburban Wunderland locations in Gresham and Beaverton. There are more than 100 arcade games in each location, with plenty of opportunities for ticket collection. All ages.
Punch Bowl Social Club
This sprawling establishment occupies the entire third floor of downtown Portland’s Pioneer Place mall and boasts a catalogue of entertainment options. Explore an arcade dedicated to golden-era video games and pinball, table-top games and giant-sized versions of Jenga and Scrabble. Find more entertainment in the private karaoke rooms and 10-pin bowling lanes. Punch Bowl offers plenty of food and drink options as well, with a kids’ menu filled with cafeteria classics like sloppy joes and grilled cheese sandwiches. Minors allowed until 10 p.m.
High Score Arcade
For those seeking a proudly dark, no-frills arcade illuminated by the glow of games and shiny cups full of quarters, Southeast Portland’s High Score Arcade is the place to be. Play a rotating selection of vintage pinball machines while tossing back cans of soda pop (or beers for patrons 21 and older). Started by the proprietors of nearby Robo Taco, High Score’s menu includes house-made frozen burritos. Minors allowed until 10 p.m.; children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult.
Portland bar arcades
Portland’s best known bar arcade is inarguably Ground Kontrol, a monstrous, two-level gamer heaven beloved by locals and visitors alike. Founded in 1999 (and expanded extensively in 2018), Ground Kontrol houses more than 150 video games and pinball machines. Bring a group to tackle the fan-favorite Killer Queen, which accommodates 10 players at a time. Gaming on a budget? Twice a month, the arcade hosts unlimited free play nights for a $7 cover. Open to minors until 5 p.m. daily.
For those seeking a classic Portland dive setting, head over to the Standard, just off East Burnside Street. Named one of Portland’s last true neighborhood bars by Willamette Week, this straightforward, dimly-lit watering hole offers stiff drinks and a selection of gaming options including pool, shuffleboard, pinball and Pac-Man. For the extra adventurous, try your luck at a mystery bag from the joyous and wacky Venderia vending machine on site. 21+. (Read more about Portland’s Venderias in our article.)
Contrary to the name, this sleek but cozy Burnside bar is definitely not the worst! Patrons can enjoy cider and beer selections from rotating taps, munch on goldfish crackers at the bar and partake in a game of pool or skee-ball. The Wurst also boasts nearly a dozen video games, including classics like Donkey Kong, Tetris and Mortal Kombat II, plus the thrilling Pacific Northwest favorite Big Buck HD. 21+.
Honorable mentions: Bottles (pinball and Super Nintendo; minors until 8 p.m.), C Bar (pinball; minors until 10 p.m.), The Slingshot Lounge (pinball room, pool and Big Buck HD) and Spirit of 77 (basketball arcade, foosball, skee-ball and pinball; minors until 10 p.m.).