Best Place to Play Pinball 2022 | Electric Bat Arcade | Fun & Games | Phoenix
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Ever wake up early in the morning and think, "I'd sure like to play some pinball right now?" Well, at 6 a.m. on the daily, you can get your game on at Electric Bat Arcade. That's just one of the reasons it's the go-to hotspot for pinball enthusiasts. The joint, owned and operated by artist Rachel Bess, also boasts a rotating selection of machines that attract and challenge players of all skill levels, from a vintage Dolly Parton machine to The Mandalorian. Housed inside the popular music venue Yucca Tap Room, you can match the machines' respective noises with music from local and touring bands on most nights. Taking its coolness to the top of the meter, a tiny tiki bar is tucked into one of the arcade's corners, solidifying the jaunty retro vibe. Electric Bat also has a Flagstaff location at Yucca North, meaning we get to play the silver ball at our favorite place outside the Valley, too.

Driving the streets of Phoenix can often feel like a race — one in which your opponents are usually looking at their phones with no regard for human life. We like our speed contests a little safer, which is why we frequent Octane Raceway in Scottsdale. There, in a controlled environment, we can drive top-of-the-line electric Sodi RSX2 racing karts that can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour. The first person to 14 laps wins, and it's absolutely thrilling without actually being dangerous. And then, once you've satisfied your need for speed, there's still plenty to do at Octane, since the facility keeps expanding its auxiliary activities. You can enjoy food and a full bar, take part in their virtual reality experience, throw some axes, and play arcade games inside and backyard games on the patio. Just drive safe getting home.

By now you're tired of seeing all those red, white, and blue campaign signs around town, enough so that you might be ready to draw the face of a particularly unpleasant politician on your bowling ball before you send it down the lane. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy this bowling hotspot's cool combo of bright hues and blacklights with patriotic colors that nod to its all-American offerings such as arcade games, pool tables, and menu items including burgers, pizza, wings, or street tacos. When we want to put on an outrageous bowling shirt and drink a bright blue cocktail served in a Mason jar, this is our top choice. With plenty of lanes, we know we can jump quickly into bowling mode. And when we want to take our game to a higher level, we can sign up for a league. Even if friends or family who don't share our devotion to bowling tag along, we know they'll have a great time watching high-def video walls that show music videos, classic films, and games with athletes who made the bizarre choice to pursue something other than pro bowling.

When most people think about bowling, it conjures images of stinky shoes, sweaty wrist towels, and well-worn, beer-soaked carpeted floors. If that's not glamorous enough for your fancy self, you can head to Châm Pang Lanes for duckpin bowling — skinny pins and small balls — in a sleek and swanky environment. This recent addition to downtown Phoenix has six lanes for bowling. If you want to get involved with other types of balls, four pinball machines and two pool tables are also on-site. Whatever game you choose to play, you'll do it under soft white lights that illuminate the pale pink- and aqua-colored decor. The beer menu features standouts from local breweries, and the cocktail menu offers an array of tasty options. We said the best bougie spot for bowling, right? Then it's a must-note that you can get bottles of Champagne — feel free to call it "champers" — that range from $80 to $495. The food, too, is an elevated experience. A mayo-covered plate of popcorn chicken adorned with Thai-lime curry, herbs, and jalapenos is bar food at its very best.

Phoenix rolls deep. The Valley boasts a ton of roller rinks — it's even home to a facility dubbed "the Hall of Dames" that houses the Arizona Derby Dames' impressive wooden banked track. But slow your roll — located in Glendale Towne Center, Great Skate is the best venue to lace up, whether you're 5 years old or 50. The rink boasts a fully stocked "Roller Café" full of tasty snacks, state-of-the-art sound systems, live DJs, and a huge arcade with awesome prizes. For the kiddos, Great Skate even helps roll education and fun into one with its STEM programs, skate-themed science and mathematics lessons that focus on hands-on activities that are both educational and fun. Don't let the family-friendly vibe fool you, though. Thursday nights are for grownups only, and the venue provides nostalgia for all with wormholes to the '70s and '80s, featuring everything from disco balls to costume contests, air guitar competitions, photo backdrops, and even a pop-up waffle bar inspired by the hit Netflix show Stranger Things.

In a city where the weather can often be described as "sweltering," it's a comfort to strap on some skates to slide and glide along an inch of frozen water, and the two locations of the Ice Den are the place to do it. The rink opens up to the public every Saturday and Sunday and some select weekday afternoons, and also offers special events and affordable skating lessons so children and novice adults can get into the skating spirit together. There's even a bar and restaurant called 18 Degrees with twin views of the action on the rink and the gorgeous patio with its fire pit and family games. Done watching amateur hockey and newbie skaters face-planting on the ice? The bar contains a majestic 165-inch television to stare at sports. You can also quench your shopping fix with a pro shop and a store that carries women's fashion and accessories.

There's nothing fancy about longtime Tempe pool hall Q & Brew, and that's just the way we like it. We don't need to dress up, or even bring a lot of money for a chill afternoon or evening. Q & Brew, located in the historic Danelle Plaza, offers 14 tables, some TVs playing sports, a few pinball machines, and a full bar serving up cheap, strong drinks. Show up early (3 to 6 p.m.) for free pool, but even later in the day, you don't have to pay a lot to post up at a table. Play often enough at Q & Brew, and you'll get to know the regulars, which means you'll always have someone to play against when you drop in.

A night at the casino means different things to different people. It could be gambling, sure, but these days, there are plenty of other things to occupy one's time, including fine dining, live entertainment, and more. Wild Horse Pass, one of the Gila River casinos, is our favorite place for a night (or day) of excitement. It's got an enormous selection of slot machines, plus poker, roulette, blackjack, craps, and other ways to gamble. The dining selection ranges from the new, upscale Prime steakhouse to a little food court where you can grab a slice of pizza between poker hands. And recently, Wild Horse Pass got the very first TopGolf Swing Suite in the state of Arizona, a dedicated space on the second level of the casino that offers drinks, food, casino games, and bays where guests can play virtual versions of golf, football, hockey, and more. When you're looking for a place to have fun, Wild Horse Pass isn't a gamble.

What do you call a fertile spot in a desert where water is found? Most people call it an oasis. Here in metro Phoenix, we call it OdySea Aquarium. Arizona might be a landlocked state, but this Scottsdale attraction is devoted to water-dwelling critters — sharks, turtles, otters, seahorses, and of course, plenty of fish. It's even home to the world's only Russian sturgeon touch exhibit. OdySea is the largest aquarium in the Southwest, where more than 2 million gallons of water slosh inside the 200,000-square-foot attraction. On the hottest days, the dim interior of the aquarium is cool and refreshing. We love petting the stingrays and hanging out in the rotating submarine viewing theater, and we really love Fish & Sips, the aquarium's monthly adults-only evening event where we get to commune with sea life with a cocktail in hand. And now that the aquarium's animal encounters are happening again, we recommend ponying up the extra dough to get up close and personal with animal friends like penguins and sloths.

We love to watch nature shows at home, but sometimes, we just want to see the animals in person. A trip to Phoenix Zoo satisfies that desire to commune with other members of animal kingdom. Go, and you'll see kids and adults alike delighting in the sight of tigers, orangutans, lemurs, rhinos, eagles, and countless other creatures. (If you're really lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of Luna, the young giraffe born at the zoo in February). The trails are wide and easy to walk, and there are plenty of places around the property to grab a cold beverage or a snack. Events such as the adults-only Roars & Pours nights and the annual ZooLights festival keep us coming back again and again.

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