When you hear the name you might assume that the Seattle Pinball Museum is much like the average museum where you wander through quiet halls and read placards about history. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Seattle Pinball Museum is essentially a pinball arcade, but one where you can learn a bit about the history of pinball and enjoy some food and drink while you play.
The Seattle Pinball Museum got its start in 2010 and has since collected upwards of 50 machines from all eras of pinball. Machines date back as far as 1934 and are produced by all kinds of companies such as Jersey Jack Pinball, Dutch Pinball, Spooky Pinball, and VP Cabs. In fact, the museum is the only Jersey Jack game dealer in Washington state, so you can even purchase your own machine through them.
What to Do at the Museum
There is really only one thing to do at the Seattle Pinball Museum, play pinball. With more than 50 pinball machines to choose from, and all of them included with admission, you can just about literally play your heart out.
However, because this is a museum, take some time to delve into the world of pinball rather than just vigorously smacking the flippers. Each machine has an info sheet above it that goes into the history of each machine. Even if you’re not much for reading the bonus information, the designs of the machines will take you back through the pop culture references of the past few decades. The game lineup changes as the museum swaps out machines regularly, but expect to see zeitgeists including "The Simpsons," Guns N’ Roses, "Star Wars," "Lord of the Rings," and "Stranger Things."
When you need a pinball break you can order a vintage soda, craft beer, or cider, along with a few snacks. All machines have cupholders too so you don’t even have to tell someone to “hold my beer” before you rack up some high scores.
How to Visit
One admission fee gives you the grand privilege of playing just about all the machines in the museum, so you don’t even need to pack a pocket full of quarters. There are two levels, both of which feature plenty of machines. Peak times can be crowded, so if your heart is set on playing one machine after another, aim to come earlier in the day and visit on a weekday. Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to visit but children must be older than 7 years old to play the games.
There is street parking and paid lots all around, but be warned that street parking can be a little tricky to find at times. The closest paid parking lot is at 602 Maynard Avenue (within a block of the museum). Other lots are at 601 Jackson Street and 614 Maynard Avenue. If you don’t want to deal with parking, the International District/Chinatown light rail stop is just two blocks away.
What to Do Nearby
Seattle Pinball Museum is located in Chinatown so there’s plenty to do nearby if you want to make the museum a stop on a longer itinerary, especially if you want to pair the museum with lunch or dinner. In fact, one of the finest things you can do in Chinatown is eat. Right on the same block as the museum is Tai Tung, Honey Court Seafood, and J Sushi, but there's no shortage of options.
Chinatown is also home to Uwajimaya, an amazing and expansive pan-Asian (but mostly Japanese) market with freshly prepared meals like sushi and noodles, grocery items galore, and several shops for manga and Japanese office supplies.
Hing Hay Park is also nearby, right in the heart of Chinatown. It’s a small and quiet park, perfect for a reflective ponder, some creative photo snaps, or a short workout at one of several outdoor exercise stations.