Seattle's Child

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Seattle pinball museum

Trying for the pinball wizard title at Seattle Pinball Museum. Photo by Joshua Huston.

Seattle Pinball Museum: A day of flipping fun

50+ historic machines offer no shortage of wizardry for ages 7 and up.

“Thwack!  Sproing! Click. Ding-ding!”

The myriad sounds were music to my ears the moment I walked into the Seattle Pinball Museum. Located in the International District (508 Maynard Ave. S.), the museum is the mecca of lovers of the old-time flipper and steel ball machines. It’s been spinning its way into players’ hearts since for 14 years. And with more than 50 machines and unlimited play for one fee the museum a fine place to play away a day with your bigger kids.

Seattle Pinball Museum. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

Owners Cindy and Charlie Martin started out with their own private collection of pinball machines but wanted to share their outstanding collection with other pinball fans. They turned to the arts organization and it’s innovative Storefronts program, which places artists temporarily in abandoned storefronts to revitalize neighborhoods. The Martin’s museum dream was launched as a pop-up in an empty ID storefront in 2010 and became a permanent stand-alone business in 2011.

Seattle pinball museum

Photo courtesy Seattle Pinball Museum

The museum’s collection includes a diverse array of pinball games spanning from 1961 to contemporary “masterpieces” crafted by  manufacturers like Jersey Jack Pinball, Dutch Pinball, Spooky Pinball, VP Cabs, and Stern Pinball. It showcases the evolution of pinball craftsmanship through the decades.

All that makes it is the perfect to let birthday kid feel the rush of turning the Big 7 (but not your 6-year-old since play is reserved for kids age 7 and older). There’s plenty for everyone here, newer machines with characters kids of all ages will recognize and, I am glad to say, a wealth of retro machines that pinball wizards-turned-adults will recall from childhood. I was delighted to discover they even have a few retro video games.

There isn’t a separate party room if a birthday is what brings you. But we found the space to be a sort of rolling celebration, as bells and score sounds flowed through the museum and kids (and parents) all dreamed of becoming, in the immortal words of  The Who,  the one who “Sure plays a mean pinball.” 

The Seattle Pinball Museum is also available for private events and parties, so if you are planning a bigger birthday bash email for more information.

Seattle Pinball Museum is open Sunday, Monday and Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday noon to 8 p.m. It is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Guests pay one fee to play all the machines as many times as they wish for as long as they want to stay. Cost $23 for adults (age 15 and up), $20 for kids (ages 7-14) and $20 for seniors (age 65 and up).

Sodas, a few snacks and local crafts beers and ciders are available for purchase, but no outside food or beverages are allowed.

But the mega Asian grocery store and food court Uwajimaya is within walking distance with more delectable dining opportunities than you can imagine. Just zip through the store like a pinball and see where your flippers hit.

More at Seattle’s Child:

The Definitive Guide to Inside Activities With Kids: Seattle

Biking the STP: A family of 5 takes the challenge

About the Author

Erika Lee Bigelow