Maybe it is because my husband and I were both 1980s kids, but we love taking our daughter to arcades, and we have been doing so since she was little. With food and drink options galore most of these arcades are nothing like those of our youth.
Arcades offer a wide variety of games to choose from, from classic arcade games like Pac-Man and Galaga to newer, more immersive games that incorporate virtual reality. This means that there is something for everyone at the arcade, regardless of age or interests. Arcades are a great place to compete with family and friends. You don’t need to make reservations or worry about dress codes. Families can simply show up and start playing.
We are lucky to have many arcade options in the Des Moines metro. Most of them operate on a card system where you load money and pay a varying amount per game. Any credits or tickets won are also stored on the card. Be warned: most of these places also have games to play with the goal of earning tickets to use on prizes. So if that is not your idea of fun, I have a few pay-to-play unlimited video game arcades listed as well.
Arcades in Des Moines
Gameday at Merle Hay Mall
This is my family’s go-to arcade due to the proximity to our home and the fact that the food is really good. The arcade offers a variety of classic arcade games like Ms. PacMan more interactive games that appeal to all ages. The sit-down restaurant and the arcade are separate so parents can enjoy a few quiet minutes at the table before they join in on the fun with the kids.
Insider Tip: You can pay $15 for a 60-minute all-you-can-play game card. Most games are included, but you don’t earn tickets.
Sparetime in West Des Moines
You could easily spend a whole day here. In addition to an arcade, there is a bowling alley, laser tag, and a full menu of food and drinks. While the arcade is not quite the size of other arcade-only venues, it is still a good time. Check their website as they often have sales on gift cards.
Dave & Buster’s West Des Moines
This is the newest arcade in town. If you are over 40, you might remember when they started D&B’s really catered to an adult-only crowd. It seems now to be a more family-friendly place to grab dinner and play some games.
Old School Pinball Arcade in Grimes
For a flat rate of between $13 to $15 you can play as much pinball as you want. There are over 20 different pinball machines, some of which you may remember from your childhood.
Monsterama Arcade in Des Moines
This is a great destination to take your kids to experience the classic video games of the ’80s and ’90s. For $15 per person you can play as many games as you want.
If you are looking for a unique date night, there are a few arcades in town dedicated to adults.
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The Operating Room in West Glen
This allows kids until 7:30 pm. With a mix of classic and new games, it makes for a fun date night. They have a large bar menu and a small food menu.
Up-Down in the East Village
A fun place to head for a not-so-run-of-the-mill date. This adults-only bar and arcade specializes in video games from the 1980s and 1990s with each game only costing 25 cents. In addition, they have classic skeeball, table-sized Jenga, and Connect 4 as well as classic game consoles hooked up to big-screen TVs for play. They do offer family game time on Sundays each month. Check the website for dates.
Arcades are a great way to get the family out of the house, especially when it is too hot or too cold to be outside.