Tucson’s 10 must-visit arcades and theaters

Tucson’s 10 Must-Visit Arcades and Theaters

Photo courtesy of Canva

By Teresa K. Traverse

November 7, 2023

Get acquainted with a screen that’s not the one in your pocket

Before endless scrolling was the way most of us entertained ourselves, many people would head to arcades to play games or pull up to a drive-in movie theater to catch the latest flick.

While everyone was distracted on their phones, things have come a long way in the world of arcade games and outdoor theaters.

Here’s a look at 10 venues to check out, some of which are keeping the old-school vibes alive while others are bringing us back to the future.

Cobra Arcade Bar Tucson

63 E. Congress St., Tucson

Tucson’s 10 Must-Visit Arcades and Theaters

Photo courtesy of Cobra Arcade Bar via Facebook

Stepping into Cobra Arcade Bar in downtown Tucson is like walking back in time, at least when it comes to the classic arcade games here. Find plenty of pinball as well as 20th-century classics like “Pac-Man” and more contemporary hits like “Jurassic Park.” Stock up at the token machine before you get in a zone. Cobra also has another location in Phoenix, and tokens can be used at both locations.

Note: You must be 21 or older to enter. Wednesday is Ladies Night, when all female patrons play for free.

Joystick Arcades

Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road, Tucson

An arcade inside a mall? That’s a double dose of nostalgia. Play old-school arcade games in a dimly lit environment that comes complete with a popcorn machine. Then venture out in the mall to check out Tucson Games & Gadgets or Gamers Warehouse when you’re ready for a break.

Next Level Arcade

8793 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson

Tucson’s 10 Must-Visit Arcades and Theaters

Photo courtesy of Next Level Arcade via Facebook

Try your hand at a variety of classic arcade games like “Mortal Kombat,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Street Fighter II” at the Next Level Arcade in Tucson. Arcadegoers can also play air hockey in the neon-lit space. Next Level is available for private events and has played host to plenty of kids’ parties.

Marana Pinball Collective

6918 N. Camino Martin, #120, Marana

Housed within the Catalina Brewing Company, the Marana Pinball Collective is a collection of pinball machines from the 1970s. To see a full list of the machines, check out this pinball map website. Yes, that website is real. Note that the map recommends you not visit the brewery solely to play pinball on Sundays after 5:30 p.m., as that’s when open-mic comedy takes place.

Main Event

4700 S. Landing Way, Tucson

Tucson’s 10 Must-Visit Arcades and Theaters

Photo courtesy of Main Event via Facebook

The Main Event is home to a smorgasbord of games, including billiards, laser tag, bowling, virtual reality, mini-golf, escape rooms, gravity rooms, and multiball. According to its website, the Tucson location is also home to more than 100 arcade games. These include classic arcade games along with popular offerings like “Jurassic Park” and “Star Wars Battle Pod.” Be prepared for a loud and lively environment that’s more like an amusement park than an old-school arcade.

Funtasticks Family Fun Park

221 W. Wetmore Road, Tucson

Tucson’s 10 Must-Visit Arcades and Theaters

Photo courtesy of Funtasticks Family Fun Park via Facebook

At Funtasticks, guests can play air hockey, skee-ball and lots of video arcade games. Some arcade games featured on the website include “The Fast and the Furious” and other immersive driving games. Funtasticks also offers laser tag, mini-golf, go-karts, bumper boats and Kiddie Land for the especially young crowd.

Round1 Bowling & Amusement

5950 E. Broadway Blvd. in Tucson at the Park Place Mall

Round1 has entertainment centers all over the country and is a destination for kid-friendly activities. Round1 features a colorful arcade, where visitors can play exclusive games—some of which imported straight from Japan—including “Rick & Morty,” “TightRope,” and virtual reality—or enjoy more traditional games like bowling, billiards, karaoke, pingpong, a trampoline park, and the Kid’s Play Zone.

Golf N’ Stuff

6503 E. Tanque Verde Road, Tucson

Tucson’s 10 Must-Visit Arcades and Theaters

Photo courtesy of Golf ‘N Stuff via Facebook

Mini-golf course Golf N’ Stuff is also home to more than 100 arcade games. When you’re finished putting away on this course, consider playing some of their latest games like “Guitar Hero Arcade,” “DDR X2,” “NASCAR Racing,” “Super Bikes,” “Terminator Salvation,” and “Typhoon.” Guests also can ride bumper boats and go-karts or take a turn at laser tag.

Movies on the Lawn

Ojo Valley Community & Recreation Center

10555 N. La Canada Drive, Tucson

The Oro Valley Community & Recreation Center hosts Movies on the Lawn during certain months. These movies are shown at the backside of the facility near the driving range beginning shortly after sundown. On Nov. 4, families can enjoy a screening of “Coco.”

Cox Movies in the Park

George DeMeester Performance Center at Reid Park, 900 S. Randolph Way, Tucson

Although this only happens seasonally, Cox Communications hosts a Movies in the Park series every summer. Families can head to Reid Park to enjoy local performers, games, food-truck fare, and prizes before the movies start when the sun goes down. This past summer, the series screened “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” Admission is free.

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