The dream of the ’70s is alive in Seattle. Right in the heart of the International District at the Seattle Pinball Museum, where pinball wizards of all ages test their mettle in a battle against the inevitability of the drain. And it’s where you’ll find all the cool kids (and their parents) this mid-winter break. So dig out that old jean jacket and warm up your flipper fingers. It’s time to play a mean pinball!

Seattle Pinball Museum Dad and daughter

photo: Seattle Pinball Museum Facebook page

The Museum
If your mental soundtrack hasn’t already queued up The Who’s Pinball Wizard, it will once you walk through the doors of the museum. Between the flashing lights and those distinctive pinging bells, this is one throwback that’s not just for Thursdays. The museum was part of the 2010 Storefront Seattle project aimed at revitalizing empty storefronts in Pioneer Square and the International District. Since winning one of the coveted spots, it has become a favorite for kids and those who are young at heart. And while it’s not always crowded, count on busyness whenever you plan to go. If you’re looking for a quieter playtime, Sundays (especially on game days), Mondays, and some Fridays are the best days to get your game on.

Seattle Pinball Museum overhead view

photo: Seattle Pinball Museum Facebook page

Game On!
The museum has over 50 pinball machines and a few old-school video arcades. The titles range from long-ago generic games, to contemporary sports, movie and rock ’n’ roll themed machines you’ll recognize and totally love. (After all, it’s hard for Gen Xers to pass up childhood kitsch like Tron and AC/DC.) There might even be a few games your kiddos recognize, too. (Psst! Try the Flipper Football on the 2nd floor, featuring the Sounders FC). And while the history of it all may fall on deaf ears when it comes to your kidlets, there’s much for parents to appreciate in the artistry of pinball culture. Catch up on some by reading the posted placards that explain the lineage and development of each pinball game. Or scan QR codes with your smart phone for awesome in-depth descriptions to totally geek out. As for the oldest game in the museum, it’s from the early 60’s. And the newest is one seriously sweet game minted just last year—The Emerald City, Limited Edition, Wizard of Oz. Definitely bring a few dollars to try it out. It’s one that’s not on free play, but so worth it.

Seattle Pinball Museum boy amazed

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Just for Kids
If all of this sounds awesome, but you’re wondering if your littles will love it, we found quite a few reasons we think they will. First and foremost is that (almost all of) the games are set to free play. No quarters necessary. Just a flat entrance fee and then you get to say “yes” to your kiddo all day. Can I play this one? You bet! The littles will also love the many step stools that can be found hiding (in plain sight) under various machines. After all, it’s hard to score big when you can’t quite see the playing field. As for lines, players are pretty cool about watching out for each other. The request is that if someone’s waiting, limit play time to two games and then give her a turn. And that kind of policy means small wait times for the smallest players. Plus, it’s game time without a screen. Yes, please!

Seattle Pinball Museum 2 boys playing

photo: Seattle Pinball Museum Facebook page

Good to Know
1. No outside food or drink is allowed, but there are snacks, sodas and beer (along with some killer swag) available for purchase.

2. Depending on when you plan to play, street parking may be hard to come by. Try the lot at the end of the block on Maynard to avoid parking headaches.

3. Plan to spend about 2-3 hours to take in all the games and play a few faves more than once.

ADVERTISEMENT

Seattle Pinball Museum
508 Maynard Ave. S.
Seattle, Wa 98104
206-623-0759
Online: facebook.com/pages/Seattle-Pinball-Museum/131237786915560

Times: Sun. & Mon., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. 6 p.m.-9 p.m. (10 p.m. on tournament nights); Fri. 2 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat. 1p.m.-10 p.m.

Cost: $15/Adults; $12/Kids (7-12) for one entry. All Day Pass $20/Adults; $17. 50/Kids plus games on freeplay.

Ages: 4 & up

—Allison Sutcliffe