Best Virtual Reality Lounge 2023 | Nerds and Geeks VR Lounge | Fun & Games | Phoenix

Say what you will, but Meta's push of their little virtual world (dubbed the "Metaverse," because creativity is dead) sparked a movement. No one may want to spend their days in that bland digital snoozefest, but virtual reality is clearly experiencing a resurgence in popular culture. Luckily, we can explore it for all it's worth at Nerds and Geeks VR Lounge. Whether you want to drive race cars, go skiing or experience the nightmare of the "zombie cage," N&G is about accessibility and engagement. (That's why you can snag an hour of play for $25.99 — a deal for VR-centric entertainment.) More than that, it's about forming a community around this technology and using it to unite longtime gamers seeking that next level and everyone else who is jumping on the bandwagon. That's why N&G's whole vibe is less "cold digital dystopia" and more "sick personal gaming basement." Ultimately, it's about using VR not as some newfangled fad, but what gaming has always represented: the great equalizer around meaningful fun. The tech may have changed, and the graphics are a big improvement, but VR brings folks together, and N&G is a mighty hub for that in the heart of Mesa.

When Electric Bat expanded the size of its cave next door to Tempe's Yucca Tap Room last year, the Valley's best arcade got even better. How so? For starters, owner and artist Rachel Bess gave pinball fanatics what they crave most: more pinball. They can now plunk Electric Bat-branded tokens into about 60 silver ball machines roosted throughout the horror-themed joint, be it classics like "Creature From the Black Lagoon" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" or newer releases like "Rick and Morty" and "James Bond 007 Pro." Pinball ain't the only thing there's more of, as Bess has doubled the arcade's curated selection of flashy Japanese rhythm games (including high-energy highlights "Sound Voltex: Exceed Gear" and "Wacca Reverse") and upped the cool factor with new theme events like the monthly "Play Dead" goth night. She's also planning to build a larger version of the in-house Electric Tiki Bar and possibly add an enormous mural along a 50-foot-long wall. In other words, there will soon be even more reasons to come back to the Bat for a night of ghoulishly groovy fun.

You won't believe your eyes at the Museum of Illusions Scottsdale, located in the Arizona Boardwalk entertainment complex. That's because everything in the space is designed to mess with your head. Opened earlier this year, the museum takes visitors through a series of eye-popping exhibits. In one, a slanted room makes one person look like a giant compared to another. A walkway with a rotating light display can cause even the sturdiest type to feel seasick. Each part of the museum includes a description as to why the illusion works, which makes it a place where you can both learn and have fun.

PIP Coffee and Clay is exactly what it sounds like: a tiny cafe with an attached ceramics studio. The studio, located on 24th Street in Phoenix, does both coffee and clay excellently. The cafe is charming, the coffee is strong, and the ceramics studio is welcoming and full of art. It's a great place for ceramics newbies — group classes at PIP are fun and affordable — and also provides a communal studio space for those who already know a thing or two about pottery and throwing on a wheel. No matter your pottery talents, it's a great place to meet Phoenix creatives, people who won't judge you even if your handmade mug is a little lopsided.

You want to be more creative, but you don't know where to start. Well, you can browse a Michaels craft store and see what strikes your fancy, or you can sign up for an art class at Phoenix Center for the Arts and learn from an expert. The center offers instruction in mediums such as ceramics, drawing, glass, jewelry, painting and music. Classes are for all ages, and the instructors take their time so students understand theory as well as technique. Most classes last about five or six weeks, and they're held at two different locations: the center downtown and the Thunderbird Arts Center in North Phoenix, allowing a greater number of would-be artists the chance to learn a new passion.

From the pandemic to historic heat waves, the last three years have been a doozy. Add in trying to date in a digital world, and it's safe to say that we're all a little on edge. If you're one of those well-adjusted individuals who rely on counseling to get through, good for you. But, if you're like the rest of us and feel like smashing bottles and old appliances with a bat would help you deal with the tension, then Breakthrough Smash Room is the place to go. Your entrance fee gets you a bunch of stuff to break, safety gear and a bottle of water in case you work up a sweat while you're working through your issues. And because wreaking havoc on an old washing machine is better with friends, Breakthrough offers group packages that include food and drink for under $300. This rage room is, well, all the rage.

Not since Hollywood's 1993 release of "So I Married an Axe Murderer," has ax throwing been so mainstream. But here we are 30 years later, living out our own weapon-tossing fantasies in plain sight with a beer in our hand. For just $35 per person, you can take your Tinder date to throw axes at Hotshots, a locally owned business on the border of Scottsdale and Tempe. As an added benefit, you can also discover just how much danger you'd be in should the date go south by paying attention to their accuracy at hurling a deadly weapon. All jokes aside, Hotshots Axe Throwing does a great job of catering to city-dwelling Phoenicians who might not have a lot of ax-wielding experience. So, even if you aren't harboring secret wood-chopping skills, you'll still have a kickass time.

Bowlero knows how to entertain you, whether you're a kid who loves bowling and laser tag or an adult who enjoys revisiting your youth with a few arcade games. Fair warning — Bowlero is noisy, but in a good way, so be prepared. As soon as you walk in, you'll notice the bright light of the arcades, several lanes for bowling, a bar and lots of open space to accommodate couples, families and larger parties. With different specials each night, there are plenty of discounts to get your bowl on. And when it's time to step away from the lanes and take a break, there are several options at the bar — everything from burgers and wings to locally made brews. If you really love the scene, you can even join a bowling league and be a part of the laughter and camaraderie of seniors, co-ed and youth leagues up and down the lanes.

Have you ever had fried chicken and Champagne together? It sounds like an odd combination, but at Châm Pang Lanes off Roosevelt Row, it works. Now, pair the chicken and bubbly with bowling and an upscale, vintage ambiance and you've got yourself an evening to remember. The downtown hotspot has a small number of lanes, plus fun vibes, Instagram-worthy decor, DJs, a circular bar, pool tables, a satisfying drink list and snacks like sushi and nachos. If you're looking for a way to incorporate a few frames into your fancy night out in downtown Phoenix, Châm Pang Lanes is the place to go.

We predict, after Ken and Barbie's neon-clad jaunt by the beach this summer, that rollerblading may be making a comeback. But whether your wheels are all in a row or two by two, you'll definitely want to head to Great Skate Glendale next time you want to strap on some skates. There's something on the schedule virtually every night including public skating sessions, lessons for kids and adults, and themed skate events like "Hocus Pocus" and All You Can Eat Pizza Night. The grownups can enjoy the occasional adults-only skate night, too. The decor is classic skate rink craziness, the food and drinks are decent, and the vibes are fun and nostalgic. What more can you ask for?

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