Fall Guide

RI's Grown Up Game Rooms

With video games, pinball, billiards and board games these six spots are true gamer havens


Men and women of a certain age have an insatiable lust for the retro video games of their youth (anyone else still heartbroken over not landing one of the NES Classics last fall?). Those same people, longing for the glory days of gaming fueled by greasy pizza and whatever quarters they could squirrel away over the course of the week, can now find comfort in the arcade bars that have popped up all over the state.

Shelter Arcade Bar is a blast from the past in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood. Games on site include classic cartoon beat-em-ups The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – which are basically the same exact game, but each glorious for their own obvious reasons – and elder statesmen like Frogger and Q-Bert. Pinball machines dominate a whole wall, with league nights happening on Sundays. And if you’re looking to meet your gamer soul mate, keep an eye out for their next singles night.

Flip Side in Westerly is committed to keeping pinball alive and well in Rhode Island. Opened by husband and wife pinball wizards Mark and Dana Carvey, Flip Side has everything a retro gaming hangout needs: a rotating lineup of great tables that cover pinball’s past and present, craft brews and signature cocktails, and league nights for pinballers of all skill levels.

Freeplay Bar and Arcade is Providence’s latest to combine 21+ beverages with the prefered pastime of our youth, with the addition of skee ball to the 100 arcade cabinets and pinball tables. But the real bonus here is that a $10 cover charge gives you access to every game in the room without your having to weigh yourself down with quarters.

Video games and pinball are hardly child’s play, but admit it, you always felt like one of the grownups anytime you got to shoot some pool. Bo’s Bar and Billiards in Warwick has 25 pool tables, a lounge for throwing darts and daily specials (keep your eye on Sundays for free pool after 5pm and 20-cent wings).

‘Tis the season for Oktoberfest, so geek out at Biergarten, Providence’s own German beer hall. The newly added video games and pinball are free to play during the week, adding that extra incentive to a place that already offers a whiskey bar and menu items like Sauerkraut Balls.

If you prefer the feel of polyhedral dice to a joystick, The Board Room in Providence is calling your name. Tabletop games of varying degrees of intensity – and believe us, some of these get really intense – line the walls, waiting for you and a group of adventurers to go dungeon crawling, space exploring or Catan settling. Monthly membership gets you unlimited access to all the universes you could ever imagine covering a coffee table with.