Hidden in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is one of the coolest places in the universe. The Manitou Arcade is a step back in time, when people plunked down coins to play mechanical games of chance and skill. Formally known as Arcade Amusements, Inc, the arcade has hundreds of old games scattered among a few connected buildings in Manitou Springs, just west of Colorado Springs. It feels like a boardwalk amusement park, without the beach.

Amusements Inside

The main room is the Skeeball room. It also has the ticket redemption counter, where you can trade your tickets for cheap prizes and candy. This was the first room of the arcade, originally a linen shop, and then popular as a bingo parlor, until new laws shut down bingo halls. In the early 1960’s, the owner, “Bingo” Jack Kerns, installed the skeeball machines, then expanded to nearby buildings with other games.

Treasure Hunt

Skeeball Hall

Skeeball Contest

A covered patio has the largest collection of coin-operated kiddie rides I’ve ever seen. Between the cracks of the wooden floorboards you can hear Fountain Creek splashing. This room also has access to the Navajo Spring, in the wall behind candy store Patsy’s. You have to sample the strong mineral water.

Orange Racer

The highlight of the complex is the Penny Arcade. This room is filled with antique games, each costing the original price from when they were released. Many of the pinball machines are slow compared to modern games, but it is fascinating to see how the games evolved. My favorite pinball game is Fireball, from 1971. It has zipper flippers (which can scrunch in to close the gap), and a whirlwind spinner in the middle of the playfield.

Arrow to the Arcade

Pinball Is Fun

They also have a bunch of shooting-gallery games.

Target Practice

Old Targets

Shooting Challenge

Many of the old games are fashioned after sports, like baseball, soccer, and hockey. Plus there are games that test your driving and piloting skills.

Old Hockey Games

Back on the Field

Double Drivers

Cosmic Operation

Other rooms have the larger air hockey games, and a wide variety of all the classic stand-alone video games. These older games like Pac-Man and Joust are the grandparents of the latest Xbox and Wii consoles. They may have a fraction of the computing power, but they’re just as a fun, and a living history lesson as you play. One of the best rooms is seasonal, the Derby room, where you race plastic horses by tossing a rubber ball into a grid of holes.

If your travels take you anywhere near Manitou Springs or Colorado Springs, take the time to visit the Manitou Arcade, and bring your change. It’s the best bang for your bucks you’ll ever have.

The arcade is located at 900 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829. See also Mineral Water from Manitou Springs.

Cheap Thrills at the Manitou Arcade

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