Your Definitive Guide to Pinball in Milwaukee

From dive to arcade, these six spots are great places to play.

You’re in the zone, blasting ball after ball up ramps and through lanes. Bumpers bump, poppers pop, spinners spin. And then comes that most satisfying of sounds: THWOCK! A loud, hollow pop that announces to everyone that you’ve earned a free play. Moments like these are why I love pinball, and Milwaukee offers an abundance of great places to play. But its hotspots are as varied as the machines, so we put together this guide to help you pick your pins. Keep in mind that many venues rotate machines regularly, is a good resource to see what’s playing recently.

The Garcade

A throwback classic vintage arcade with the area’s best assortment of classic pins and a growing collection of bangin’ newer machines.

Address: N85 W15920 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls

Venue type: Arcade, $20 all-you-can-play, come-and-go wristband; $15 for ages 12 and under

Machines: 34

Kids: Everywhere, always 

Specials: None

Pin Pick: Iron Maiden – Legacy of the Beast
I spent hours coming to appreciate the Brit metalsmiths’ catalog on this slick, smooth table with myriad missions and video integration. 



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Blackbird Bar

Imagine everything you want in the perfect bar: soft light, cool decor, friendly bartenders, great drinks – plus a slightly separate lounge in back with five tables. It’s barfly pinball heaven. 

Address: 3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Venue type: Bar, pay-as-you-play

Machines: 5

Kids: Leave ’em at home.

Specials: Tournament first Sunday of every month, 6 p.m.

Pin Pick: Congo
Yes, this is based on the forgettable 1995 movie, but it was my surprise favorite here, with tight, fair play, lots of missions and a just-tough-enough multiball.  

Landmark Lanes

The pins are in a dedicated corner of the arcade section of this legendary spot, though the bars, lively with a cross-section of young East Side party people, are a short walk away. 

Address: 2220 N. Farwell Ave.

Venue type: Arcade-bar, pay-as-you-play

Machines: 6

Kids: OK before 9 p.m.

Specials: All tap beers are $3 on Tuesdays (best we can do, folks).

Pin Pick: The Sopranos
This excellent, medium-speed application of the Jersey mafia underworld theme has lots of fun and easy missions. 

Veggas Pub

A quintessential Riverwest dive. Order a boilermaker and head back to the little wood-paneled pinball annex with all killer, no filler. 

Address: 2479 N. Fratney St.

Venue type: Bar, pay-as-you-play

Machines: 4

Kids: Nooope

Specials: Free pinball on Mondays

Pin Pick: Attack from Mars
My favorite pin of all time: a goofy, campy theme; an impossible number of ramps and lanes; clear, story-driven missions to progress through; and little green Martian figures that shake loudly during one of the multiballs.

Up-Down Milwaukee

A true arcade bar, with latter-day classic movies and sports on TVs and tons of good beer on tap. Pin play costs just one of the tokens, which are usually 25 cents. 

Address: 615 E. Brady St.

Venue type: Arcade-bar, pay-as-you-play

Machines: 13

Kids: No, though there are occasional “Family Days” on Sunday mornings. 

Specials: 10-cent tokens every Thursday; buy extra and save them for your next visit.

Pin Pick: Batman – The Dark Knight
Vanquish Gotham’s baddies for multiballs; the Scarecrow mission features a hanging ball target that swings on a boom across the play area. 

Bounce Milwaukee

Up above the chaos of kids bouncing, climbing and laser-tagging is a comfortable arcade annex with a wide array of great modern machines – and a little bar just a few steps away. 

Address: 2801 S. Fifth Ct.

Venue type: Arcade, $7 all-you-can-play

Machines: 15

Kids: Oh yes. Adults only Friday 9 p.m.-midnight

Specials: Tournaments on third Friday of every month, 6 p.m.

Pin Pick: Deadpool
This high-tech celebration of the cheeky, R-rated superhero has great video play and lots of Marvel characters to battle en route to multiball. 

Pro Tips:

💥 Stay focused: Multiballs are where you make your bank, but they’re designed to distract, with strobes and sound effects (“Jackpot!”) adding to the inherent chaos of playing two to four balls at once. Focus on the field just above the flippers and practice key shots before multiball to hit jackpot ramps without looking up. Slow down and hold balls with your flippers when you can. 

💥 Do a little reading: It’s nerdy, but even briefly reviewing the rules of a new-to-you machine, especially paths to multiballs and extra balls, will pay big score benefits. 

💥 Have fun!  There’s no right way to play pinball even if you are trying for the high score. Find missions you enjoy, no matter what they score, and if you just like the sound the pop bumpers make, feel free to just pound those!


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s March issue.

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Executive editor, Milwaukee Magazine. Aficionado of news, sports and beer. Dog and cat guy. (Yes, both.)