The Metro Detroit area has plenty to do as a family. There are several venues for laser tag, whirlyball and paintball, but if a good old fashioned entertainment complex with an arcade, go-karts and/or miniature golf sounds good, read on.
GameWorks is an entertainment complex designed as a family restaurant and night-time bar. It was originally launched by Steven Spielberg and owned by Sega Entertainment. It provides two floors of games, from Centipede to life-size, virtual race car driving. The restaurant has some good dishes and provides a good value. The only downside is the loss of the center's best game: a hot-balloon experience that was just as much a ride as a game. The center uses a card rather than tokens, and games are paid with through points.
Jungle Java is reminiscent of the Discovery Zone franchise that used to have locations across the Metro Detroit area. It has a huge, themed play structure. Thankfully, it utilizes padded crawlways rather than tunnels, so it is easier on the big kids (adults?) knees. Rather than the lackluster pizza offered at the old Discovery Zone, Jungle Java merges the play area with a coffee bar for the moms. It offers fruit, yogurt and kids meals along with sandwich wraps. There is also a section devoted to comfortable that contains a couch and several deep, cushy chairs. The cover is $6 per child, but the cost of the food is reasonable.
C.J. Barrymore's offers just about every amusement there is, both inside and out. It has an arcade, batting cages, bumper boats, Euro Bungee, go-karts, laser tag, mini golf, a rock wall, water-balloon wars, a driving range and a sports bar.
Morgan's Arcadia is designed for families. It has an arcade, laser tag and a full-menu, sit-down restaurant that features pizza, subs, seafood, pasta and shish kabobs.
Marvin's redesigned the arcade space several years ago. Instead of a dark, hidden area filled with games for older teens and adults, the back corner now has rides for younger children and a ticket-redemption counter. More than just an arcade, Marvin's is also a museum of curiosities, historic oddities and amusements. It has a small eating area with long tables and benches, as well as a concession stand with pizza, hot dogs and cotton candy.
The Great Escape is a massive complex that is big enough to house traditionally-outside amusements, including go-karts and mini golf. It also has an enormous arcade and whirly ball. Apparently, there is no restaurant, but food is available for parties.
Go-kart raceways, a climbing wall, soccer cages, trampolines and miniature golf are available in the warmer months at Paradise Park. The indoor arcade, lazar tag and concession-style pizza cafe stay open in the winter months.
A bowling alley, arcade and bar, Lucky Strike Lanes doesn't immediately conjure up an image of wholesome family fun; but if you time it right, you can take the kids and take advantage of its state-of-the-art video games. In fact, there is an area near the back of the arcade filled with games appropriate for younger children and a prize-redemption counter. While Lucky's welcomes families mid-day, it in no way caters to them. For instance, the lights are kept low, the waitresses wear fishnets and short skirts, and a sign at the entrance forbids gang-type clothing. Like GameWorks and Dave and Busters, Lucky's uses a card filled with points rather than tokens, and the games are expensive.
Designed as an indoor-amusement park for kids, Jeepers has a fairway, rollercoaster, twirling rides, bumper cars, a small play structure and even a train. Food is of the carnival variety and includes hot dogs, chicken nuggets and nachos. Jeepers has locations in Clinton Township, Auburn Hills and Southfield.
Chuck E. Cheese may need no introduction, but the restaurant/arcade truly provides a great family experience. In addition to age-appropriate gaming areas, it has a play structure, puppet shows and, of course, Chuck E. Cheese. As might be expected, the restaurant gets extremely crowded on the weekend. The pizza packages are relatively expensive, but all the arcade games run on just one token -- a real novelty. Most restaurants also have beer and wine for harried parents.
In addition to providing a venue for sports leagues and clinics, the Fieldhouse also has the "Bayou Adventure Entertainment Center." The indoor center has a huge arcade, a slot-car raceway (remote-controlled cars), mini bowling, miniature golf, a high-rope course, trampolines, a climbing wall and laser tag. Private rooms are available for parties. The Fieldhouse also offers summer camps.
A true entertainment complex, Dave and Buster's successfully merges daytime, family entertainment with a night-time bar scene. Within the sprawling space is housed a bar, restaurant and large arcade area, along with several private rooms and a pool hall. These areas are accessed off a main hallway. During the day, the space is bright, the games appropriate, the food reasonable and the wait staff helpful and friendly. The downside is the cost of the games. Dave and Buster's utilizes the card/point system, which is a clever way of distracting you from the actual cost of many of the games.