Nightlife

Ready Player One: Charlotte Game Bars

Whether you want to play a round of pool, head outside for a patio game, or relive former triumphs at the arcade, if you’re in the Queen City, you’re living in a gamer’s paradise. Game on.

Game night in Charlotte has officially moved out of your living room. These spots don’t just offer a few board games in a corner; they put their gaming front and center and invite you to step up and test your luck (or skill). Whether you want to play a round of pool, head outside for a patio game, or relive former triumphs at the arcade, if you’re in the Queen City, you’re living in a gamer’s paradise. Game on.

Retro Arcades

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16-Bit Bar + Arcade

Neighborhood: South End

Play like a kid and sip like an adult at this neighborhood watering hole filled with classic arcade and video games with old-school cocktails (and mocktails). Claim your place on the leaderboard for classics like Street Fighter and Donkey Kong while enjoying a craft beer and community. This pixel paradise is also dog friendly all the time and kid friendly until 7 p.m. daily.

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The Basement Arcade Bar

Area: Concord, NC

This gaming gem in downtown Concord features a vintage arcade, pinball games (plus newer games) and a full bar. All games are on Free Play so no quarters are needed after paying the entry fee, and it’s family friendly until 8 p.m. every day.

CityCade Arcade Bar

Area: Gastonia, NC

Enjoy vintage arcade and pinball games, boozy beverages and your favorite childhood eats (think hot dogs and grilled cheese) at this Gastonia nightlife spot. Most nights feature special entertainment like live music, open mic sessions, gaming tournaments, comedy shows and more. The bar is 21 and up after 8 p.m.

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Player 1 Up

Area: Rock Hill, SC

Soak up pints, pixels and pinball at Rock Hill’s only game bar. Featuring a full kitchen and bar, patio, retro arcade games, and special events like karaoke nights, trivia nights, gaming tournaments and family-friendly sessions, you don’t want to miss your turn at this old-school gaming destination.

Futuristic Fun

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Dave & Buster’s

Neighborhood: Concord and Pineville

Dave & Buster’s started as two separate concepts in Dallas in the late 1970s: Buster’s was a restaurant and Dave opened an entertainment and gaming venue. The two combined the concepts and opened their first integrated concept in 1982. With more than 100 locations, including two in the Charlotte region, Dave & Buster’s features the latest and greatest arcade games, bowling, billiards, virtual reality experiences and the ultimate sports-viewing setup with a full restaurant and a premium bar.

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District 57

Neighborhood: Airport

This immersive post-apocalyptic-themed gaming experience is unlike anything else in Charlotte. Set in 2085, District 57’s Representative Protectorate (RP) guides “citizens” through a series of mental and physical challenges in The Grid to help sharpen their survival skills. Players can also train during laser tag matches in Bordertown and enjoy free access to games like pool, darts, and foosball in Allsorts, the district’s common area, which also features a food window to collect rations and a self-pour beer wall.

Frankie's Fun Park - Photo courtesy of Frankie's Fun Park

Frankie’s Fun Park

Neighborhood: Huntersville

Entertainment abounds at this 20-acre mini amusement park in Huntersville, featuring both indoor and outdoor gaming experiences. The massive arcade floor houses hundreds of the best games on the market as well as a soft play funhouse maze, indoor bumper cars, bowling, laser tag and virtual reality experiences. The fun continues outside with fair-like rides (tea cups, swings, the Disk’o and more), 18-hole miniature golf and go-karts. If you find any downtime during your visit, grab a quick bite to eat at Frankie’s Cafe or a drink at The Lounge.

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Pins Mechanical Co.

Neighborhood: South End

Old meets new at this gaming destination in South End. Try your hand at duckpin bowling (no bowling shoes required), one of more than 40 old-school pinball machines, pingpong, foosball, patio pong, giant Jenga and more. The facility is also dog friendly all the time and family friendly before 8 p.m. There’s no kitchen on-site but food trucks and the extensive drink selection make up for it: beer, cocktails, punches, wine and adult slushies with a menu of mocktails available.

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Slingshot Social Game Club

Neighborhood: South End

Rediscover your favorite games from childhood but with a modern twist, like extreme duckpin bowling, Superskee, PuttSkee and C4 Hoops, plus modern arcade games. Fuel up on tasty bites from the kitchen and enjoy the self-pour wall featuring beer, wine, prosecco and seltzer before dancing the night away as the space transforms into a club atmosphere during late night.

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Spare Time Entertainment

Neighborhood: Huntersville and Pineville

You’ll want to spend all your spare time at this mega entertainment complex, featuring luxury bowling lanes, laser tag, escape rooms and the Game Zone arcade room. A restaurant, pizzeria and multiple bars round out the fun-filled facility.

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Stars and Strikes Getaway-n-Play

Area: Concord, NC

Choose your own adventure at this carefully curated entertainment attraction. The lineup includes arcade games, axe throwing, two-story laser tag, bumper cars, virtual reality experiences and augmented reality bowling where the lanes come to life. The Stars and Strikes restaurant features a full menu, beer and cocktails.

Slow Your Roll

el Thrifty - Photo courtesy of el Thrifty

el Thrifty CLT

Neighborhood: Optimist Park

You can’t go wrong with Mexican food, craft cocktails and mini duckpin bowling at this upscale gaming venue located in Optimist Hall. Other games include shuffleboard, pop-a-shot,air hockey and a golf simulator.

10 Park Lanes

Neighborhood: Uptown, Montford and Matthews

10 Park Lanes is an upscale bowling, dining and nightlife experience all in one with a retro vibe. With 32 bowling lanes, interactive arcade games, full-service restaurant, sports bar and lounge area,10 Park Lanes is a must-stop for all game-lovers, complete with an outdoor patio with bocce, cornhole and ping pong.

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Pinhouse

Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood

Housed in what was once Midwood Cleaners, this reimagined space now features duckpin bowling lanes, a 72-tap self-pour wall and a two-story patio. Once you’ve finished a game of bowling, snag a board game or challenge your friends to a game of shuffleboard. Be sure to get a photo in the famous Pinhouse photo booth during your visit, too.

Queen Park Social - Photography by Kate Magee

Queen Park Social

Neighborhood: Lower South End

This boutique entertainment house is chock full of libations and games. Sip on a local craft beer or one of their specialty drinks while perusing the limitless game options. Bowl to your heart’s content or challenge your friend to an epic ping pong tournament. Finish the night off with a relaxing game of shuffleboard or a board game while nibbling on their sizzling Southwest nachos.

Patio Games

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Piedmont Social House

Neighborhood: Steele Creek

Enjoy bowling, pool, shuffleboard, darts, foosball, board games, arcade games as well as ping pong, cornhole and Giant Connect Four in Piedmont Social House’s spacious outdoor area. The on-site restaurant features fan favorites like nachos, truffle fries and Southwest eggrolls as well as many local craft beers and daily drink specials.

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VBGB Beer Hall & Garden

Neighborhood: Uptown

Located in the AvidXchange Music Factory, VBGB has modernized the traditional beer garden. Home to “Charlotte’s largest patio” (tented from fall to spring), VBGB makes sure that the weather doesn’t distract from your trivia night, Giant Connect Four game or Giant Jenga game. When the sun is shining, join a league to play on VBGB’s volleyball courts for a little fun in the sand. As the evening wears on, head to the bar and sip on one of their 30 craft beers and then rest your drink on their 5-inch “frost rail,” an icy respite that will keep any beer cool. If you are feeling bold, make sure to order the “totchos,” VBGB’s infamous tater tot nachos.

Hole in One

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Topgolf

Neighborhood: University City and Steele Creek

Using microchipped golf balls and tracking technology, this high-tech golf experience makes everyone a golfing pro. No matter what game you choose, you’ll love teeing off in one of the private climate-controlled hitting bays equipped with HDTVs and an individual server for all your food and beverage needs. The music will get you pumped as you work on perfecting your swing, and when it gets dark, the green becomes a light show.

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Stroke

Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood

This urban mini golf club offers an unexpected experience reminiscent of a country club and speakeasy all in one. From putting through the unique obstacles on the hand-built course or choosing a dish or cocktail from the creative menu, every experience at Stroke is a new adventure.

Puttery (Coming Soon)

Neighborhood: South End

An indoor mini golf concept backed by Rory McIlroy, Puttery offers a one-of-a-kind immersive putting experience and a curated culinary journey for its guests. Each nine-hole course has a different theme with decor that transports you to a different place. And no pencils needed; you track your progress on digital scoreboards at each hole.

Beer & Board Games

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Carolina Tabletop Games

Neighborhood: Pineville

From role-playing games to strategy games, card games and anything in between, Carolina Tabletop Games carries an extensive selection of every type of board game. Shop in the store for a unique gift or stop by for a beer and game.

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Hattie’s Tap & Tavern

Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood

This local hangout is sandwiched between two prime neighborhoods: Plaza Midwood and NoDa. Grab your pals (human and furry) and enjoy craft beers and board games while listening to live music or playing Giant Jenga. Head over to the arcade for some old-school fun or claim a TV to play endless Nintendo games.

Classic Pub Games & Billiards

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Slate Charlotte

Neighborhood: South End

Pool is the star of the show at Slate, but the fun continues with ping pong tables, Giant Jenga, Giant Connect Four, cornhole and over 30 HDTVs to catch the game or match. And a party isn’t a party without some libations! Order one of their specialty cocktails, local beers or a bottle of wine and pair them with a tasty snack like mini corn dogs or pizza rolls.

The Blind Pig NoDa

Neighborhood: NoDa

The Blind Pig combines the eclectic essence of NoDa with the energy and fun of a classic sports bar. Cozy up to the bar and watch the game (or multiple with six TVs at the bar making it possible for you to keep up with all your favorite teams) while sipping on your favorite beer. Relive your college glory days with a round of beer pong or darts or test your strength and agility with the punching bag. But before you go, give the Claw a whirl--you might just win that stuffed animal.

Sidelines Sports Bar & Billiards

Neighborhood: Lower South End

One of the Carolina’s only LGBTQ sports bars and pool halls, Sidelines features billiards, darts, beer pong, HDTVs to catch the game and specialty cocktails. Pool is free for members or $10/hour for guests plus a $5 entry fee.

Montford Billiards

Neighborhood: Montford

This billiards hub boasts five pool tables, dartboards and local beers on draft. With various drink specials, free pool Mondays and the quintessential pool hall vibe, this spot is quickly becoming a tried and true favorite. Don’t miss the entrance: a single black door tucked behind the main strip on Montford.

Rack’em Pub and Billiards

Neighborhood: Matthews

If you are serious about pool, this is the place for you. On top of having killer drink specials and an extensive appetizer menu, billiards is the claim to fame in this pub. Sign up for a double-elimination pool tournament or gather your friends and join a league.