Old School Tech in Silicon Valley? 4 Retro Arcade and Pinball Holdouts in San Jose, CA
Known for its innovative spirit and a (usually) thriving economy, San Jose, California, is home to the world’s leading tech companies and rich with entertainment businesses that cater to geek culture. Whether you’re coming to town for an interview or to attend SiliCon, you’ll find plenty to get excited about in the capital of Silicon Valley.
San Jose is home to top-rated restaurants like La Foret, Adega and Le Papillon, and incredible affordable dives like Falafel’s Drive-In. There's always something new opening in the San Jose food and drink scene though, so check The Infatuation to find the latest hot spot.
Take a walk through Little Saigon to grab some phở and stop by Zonkey in Japantown for obscure pop culture toys. Fanatics of all ages will love San Jose’s oldest and largest hobby store, SpaceCat Comics, for comics and graphic novels, Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, Yugioh, and vintage video games.
Visiting the Tech Interactive Museum is practically required – they’re a world leader in the creation of immersive STEAM education resources with experiences to inspire the whole family. The bizarre estate of Sarah Winchester is also open for tours with mysterious passageways, ghost stories, and even a shooting range and axe throwing. If you take the kids out to Great America theme and water park, do let us know if you find the 4 pinball games there, would you?
Maybe it is unsurprising that a major tech hub in Silicon Valley has only a handful of retro arcade amusements. Still, stop in for a pizza anywhere in San Jose, and the odds of finding a lone pinball machine or arcade cabinet are in your favor.
And if you've got some time to kill, take a drive up the bay area coast to San Francisco for an expanded selection of pinball adventures.
We’ve scouted out San Jose’s hidden gems, where old-school games prevail as part of the main attraction.
The 4 Top Places to Play Pinball in San Jose, CA
- Address: 400 E Campbell Ave, Campbell, CA 95008
- Pins on location: 10
Ready for a nostalgia fix in Silicon Valley? LVL Up is a retro arcade and gastropub located inside the Gaslighter Theater in historic downtown Campbell, CA where you’ll find the classic arcade games you loved as a kid and a rotating collection of other pinball machines and games to fall in love with now. Prefer a board game? LVL Up has those, too. Wizardry is on the menu with innovative mac and cheese dishes and themed cocktails. LVL Up also buys, sells, trades, and repairs arcade games and pinball machines and sells games and collectibles. Family-friendly up until 8 pm. Ask about tournaments here!
- Address: 52 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113
- Pins on location: 12
Do people come to Miniboss in San Jose, CA, just for the craft cocktails? Yes, but then they also geek out over the old-school arcade with throwbacks like Ms. Pac-Man and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Play popular modern pinball like Monster Bash and Theater of Magic for 75 cents or free play on Thursdays. This chic retro barcade also offers full table service and Asian fusion cuisine. Try the Winter on Niberu cocktail – it is like a boozy strawberry milkshake.
Uproar Brewing Company
- Address: 439 S 1st St. San Jose, CA 95113
- Pins on location: 10
What brewery would be complete without an arcade experience? Uproar Brewing Company in San Jose, CA, is a casual taproom with classic arcade games like Mortal Kombat, skeeball, and foosball. You’ll also love their pinball lineup with Godzilla, Guns N’ Roses, and Bally’s Cactus Canyon. Try a burger with beer-battered fries. Uproar is kid-friendly and dog friendly, too!
Barebottle Brewing Company
- Address: 2520 Augustine Dr. Santa Clara, CA 95054
- Pins on location: 6
Barebottle Brewing Company in Santa Clara, CA, is a great place to unwind over a flight of beer and a couple of empanadas. Barebottle uses local ingredients to brew innovative beers, wine, kombucha, coffees, and sodas. Play a game of pool or enjoy retro arcades and a rotating lineup of modern pinball games.
San Jose pinball players - did we miss anything good? Drop us a line and let us know!