Looking for something cool and different to do with your kids? One word: Pinball. You could buy a machine for your apartment, but it would be easier to head over to the newly opened Modern Pinball, a sales showroom that doubles as an indoor pinball arcade in Kips Bay. Read on to find out about this hidden gem.
Something For Everyone
Everyone on staff is a pinball fanatic, meaning you can get tips, technique help and more, as well as advice on which machine is best for your precocious three-year-old or hard-to-please 10-year-old.
How it Works
Rather than stuffing quarters in machines arcade style, here you simply pay a flat fee and play as many of the machines as you want. Players ages 7 to adult pay $12 for a one-hour pass, $19 for a three-hour pass and $29 for an all-day pass. Children between the ages of 4 and 6 pay $10, 15, and $19 for the same passes. Fun is free for children under age 3.
You’ll pay at the door and get a wristband that allows you to come and go as you please, which means you can step out for a bite to eat and come back. (Unlike a Dave & Busters’ style mega-arcade, there is no cafe or bar here. In fact, there’s a strict no eating rule, so leave the snacks at home. Insider Tip: Head next door to the Mad Hatter Saloon for lunch. They give 10 percent off to everyone wearing a Modern Pinball bracelet and if the weather is good, you can eat in their back beer garden.
So Why is This Showroom Doubling As an Arcade?
Owners Steve Epstein and Steve Zahler are well-known figures in pinball circles. Zahler is the top ranked player in New York and New Jersey, 14th in the country and 27th in the world. Epstein, who you may recognize from the pinball culture documentary Special When Lit, is the co-founder of both the International Flipper Pinball Association and Professional and Amateur Pinball Association. Calling themselves full-tilt fanatics, they are on a whose mission to bring pinball out of the country’s bars and basements and back into the public eye.
In the past, NYC has had an uneasy relationship with pinball. The game was banned in the city from 1940 to 1976 as a form of gambling. According to former mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, pinball robbed the “pockets of schoolchildren in the form of nickels and dimes given them as lunch money.” When the ban was lifted in the 70’s, machines began showing up in bar and pool halls, making them an adult favorite.
Modern Pinball, however, wants everyone to play. On any given day, you’ll see toddlers on step stools alongside grandparents, nannies, parents, local Baruch students, midtown hipsters, couples on date night and groups looking for something different to do.
When Can I Play?
Open daily, Modern Pinball’s hours are Sun.-Wed., 11 a.m. – 12 a.m. and Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m. -2 a.m.
Insider Tips: The space is a bit narrow, so leave your stroller and extra bags at home and you’ll be more comfortable. Do, however, bring hand sanitizer or handwipes — the machines can be a bit germy.
Modern Pinball can get busy (read: both loud and crowded) in the evenings; if you have a sensory-sensitive kiddo, things will be more comfortable if you plan your visit for 11 a.m. when the store opens.
If you love your pinball time, you can even book a class outing, get-together or birthday party at the space. The shop regularly hosts charity and entertainment events, making it a fun neighborhood resource. And if, after your visit, you become a fanatic, an adult pinball league is currently being formed. A great, sans bebe way to enjoy yourself.
362 3rd Ave, between 26th & 27th Streets
Do your kids have a favorite arcade in the city?