Long ago, in a time before video games could be played in the comfort of your own home, there were magical places called “arcades” where youths would go with a pocketful of coins to play classic games like Donkey Kong, Pac-man, and Space Invaders. The trash-talk was more PG-13 than slurs used by today’s cyber-trolls, and physical altercations were an actual possibility amongst players.
But that was then.
Now, the American arcade industry is dying. Its essence, however, is preserved in San Francisco. Support a local arcade, and get ready to enter the next level of communal gaming. The only thing that has stood the test of time is the fact that you still have to pay to play.
Pier 45, Shed A, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA
Take a stroll down memory lane at one of the world’s largest collections of antique arcade games. Reminiscent of San Francisco’s historic Playland arcade, Musée Mécanique houses over 200 fully functional games. Great for all ages, bring your grandparents and duke it out to see which generation does it best.
Hours: Daily: 10AM – 8PM
Free Gold Watch
1767 Waller Street, San Francisco, CA
If you’re a pinball fanatic, this is a must visit within the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood. Home to the Most Pinballs in SF, Free Gold Watch doubles up as a custom screen printing and pinball / video arcade. Gold watch not included.
Hours: Weekdays: 10AM – 7PM, Saturday: 1PM – 7PM, Sunday: 1PM – 6PM
$$ | 2200 Market Street, Suite B, San Francisco, CA
Relive your childhood at San Francisco’s first arcade/beer bar, Brewcade has over 25 beers on tap, a selection of bar bites, and all your favorite arcade classics. Visit their website for more information about their special and weekly events.
Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 4PM – 1AM, Thursday – Friday: 4PM – 2AM, Saturday: 2PM – 2AM, Sunday: 2PM – 1AM
1737 Post Street, Suite 323, San Francisco, CA
Imbedded within Japan Center-West Mall, Playland Japan is fun for all ages and a must visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood. Get a taste of what arcades are like in Japan and play the unique games and claw machines available on site.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 12:30PM – 8:30PM, Friday: 12:30PM – 10PM, Saturday: 11AM – 10PM, Sunday: 11AM – 8PM
Folsom Street Foundry
$$ | 1425 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA
Brought to you by Showdown Entertainment, the Folsom Street Foundry is a spacious event space hosting Gamenights every Thursday and Gamevibes on Fridays. Featuring 2 bar areas, beer pong tables, plus all your favorite tabletop and video games displayed on 4 clear projectors, Folsom Street Foundry is a great after work option. Cover charges are $5 on Thursday and $10 on Fridays. Must be 21+ to play.
Hours: Thursday: 6PM – 12AM, Friday: 8PM – 1:30AM
$$ | 508 4th Street, San Francisco, CA
Grab a drink and play all your favorite arcade games from classic pinball to Time Crisis. Coin-Op Room’s 2-story space features 2 full bars with 16 beers on tap and delicious pub fare so you can play all night. Happy hour takes place all day on Mondays and Tuesday through Friday from 4PM until 7PM. Visit every last Sunday of the month for their ‘Free Play Sunday’. Must be 21+ to play.
Hours: Weekdays: 4PM–2AM, Weekends: 12PM–2AM
$$ | 1096 S Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA
No list of arcades is complete without a little mini golf action and Urban Putt is the one you’ve been looking for. The only indoor mini golf course in the San Francisco, Urban Putt’s brilliant City inspired 14 hole course features high tech obstacles designed to be fun for all ages. Dine in the full service restaurant upstairs or grab a drink at any of Urban Putt’s two bars while you wait your turn. Must be 21+ to enter after 8PM.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 4PM – 12AM, Friday: 4PM – 1AM, Saturday: 11AM – 1AM, Sunday: 11AM – 12AM