16 Reasons Why Penny Arcades Are The Greatest

Walk into Spring Lake Arcade with $2, and you can have fun for hours. Tucked away in the back woods of Burrillville, RI, this hidden gem has been offering penny games since 1931. We stopped by on our MINI NOT NORMAL Road Trip with a few bucks, and had a hard time leaving.

If you ever visited Spring Lake beach as a child, you’re going to see several of the same arcade games you played still there today. Spring Lake Arcade began operating in the early ’30s with a single Walking Charlie amusement game. One summer, the owner and operator added a classic arcade game for children to play when the Walking Charley broke down. Children began to play the arcade game more than the Walking Charlie, and the rest is history.

1. Play the games your grandparents played.

Spring Lake Arcade’s collection of operating antique games is second to none, with machines from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s.

2. Inexpensive family fun.

There are currently ten penny games on the floor and several other nickel, dime, and quarter machines.

3. Drive Mobile.

This 1930s classic challenges players to drive across the country by keeping their car on the road.

4. Rifle Gallery.

It’s like Duck Hunt before there was Duck Hunt. Rifle Gallery comes from the mid ’50s and uses action mechanics to test your eye’s accuracy.

Ready, aim, fire.

5. Peppy the Musical Clown.

This dancing puppet from the mid ’50s introduced young children to the playful world of arcade games (before Stephen King came along and made clowns terrifying).

6. Motor Rally.

This labyrinth-style car game has some of the best sound effects in the entire arcade.

7. Vintage Pinball.

Liberty Bell Pinball was one of the first machines that present day owner and gaming mechanic John Bateman ever purchased.

8. Pre-Pinball.

Silver Cup is a little like Plinko. Your score is tallied at the bottom into categories. At the end of the game (seven balls for five cents), the player has to manually add up their final score.

9. Scientific Batting Practice.

One of the coolest games on the floor. Swing for the fences and watch your team round the bases.

10. Sky Fighter.

This late ’30s classic game gives users 300 shots for five cents.

11. Antique games rely on electromechanics.

While Spring Lake Arcade does have its fair share of modern digital games, the antique classics operate on brilliantly constructed mechanical actions. This is a look under the hood of Sky Fighter.

12. Kiddie rides.

Spring Lake Arcade houses three vintage kiddie rides. The horse, pictured here on the left, gallops faster and faster the harder a rider pulls on its reins.

13. Goalee.

This air hockey/pong predecessor from 1948 is one of the first games to ever enable users to “play against the computer.” That’s right, in one-player mode, the opposing goalee spins randomly to fire shots and defend its goal.

14. Ten Strike.

Sitting next to the more recent Shuffle Alley Bowling, Ten Strike gives players five frames to knock down as many pins as possible (for ten cents).

15. Rosebowl Football.

This 1920s foosball-style game was one of the first games ever to hit the floor at Spring Lake. The original owner’s wife knit mini tops for each player on the two opposing teams.

16. Skee Ball.

The two side-by-side Skee Ball machines are originally from Whalom Park, an old amusement park in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, that operated from 1893 to 2000.

All photos by Joseph Lin / BuzzFeed

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