Location: Garden City Beach, South Carolina, USA.
Date: June 2007, updated August 2013

Report by Dan Burfield (

Every year we have our family vacation at Garden City Beach in South Carolina, US. The beach is far enough south of the tourist busy Myrtle Beach but is still home to the area's largest old-time arcades.


There is The Garden City Pavilion Arcade and The Pier at Garden City Arcade. Each housing arcades with pinballs but the Pavilion Arcade is by far the largest.


It has lots of redemption games with an incredible selection of prizes to choose from.

Upon this year's visit, I discovered the arcade has been remodeled which ensures a longer life for this place. They have only newer games downstairs and they've moved all the classics upstairs and reduced the price to one token only. At 3 for dollar, the price is roughly $0.33 a game.


The pinball selection this year is Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lord of the Rings, and NASCAR (Grand Prix) which is a brilliant title for this area and seemed to be occupied constantly. I preferred the LOTR anyway.

All three machines are in 4 out of 5 stars condition. I spoke to the manager of the arcade. Forrest Clark is a knowledgeable repairman who knows his clientele. He told me the arcade is open Easter to Christmas. During the closed season they shop out all the machines and do routine maintenance as needed. Nearly all of these machines are in excellent condition. They do the pinball maintenance and Green Coin Dist takes care of all the rest.

The arcade has been around for 38 years. It has survived at least one massive hurricane which tore out the entire pier across the street. The water was 6 feet deep. There is a freight elevator out back to move all the machines upstairs. The late owner William Martin is credited as the "Father of Surfside Beach". He is survived by his wife and current owner Georgie B Martin.

On the third night I ventured upstairs to take a look at the older arcade machines and found a Dr. Who and out of order Twilight Zone. I was in heaven. I like the Sterns but seeing a Dr. Who on location is nearly impossible back home. It too was a 4 star machine. And only one token! I went crazy on that one for a while. The replay and match at these locations are always on easy, so I get plenty of free play.

The lineup in video arcade is worth mentioning because these machines are virtually gone from any existing arcade in the country. They have a Galaga, Donkey Kong, Defender, Centipede, Super Mario Bros, Ms PacMan, Frogger, and Asteroids.

Also in the redemption area next to the pinball machines is a bank of classic Williams pitch and bat. Four years ago I remember about 10 of these. They are down to just 5 now - the void has been filed with newer machines. These classic Williams were also mentioned on

The Pavilion Pier Arcade has a 4 stars Monopoly but the coin mech is tricky. One push on the coin return generally yields several tokens abandoned by impatient and well-funded children. I also got a replay and special on my first game.

The Causeway, the largest bar here, has a 4 stars World Poker Tour. The high scores on here are incredible. It must be the most played by adults in the area. There is also a Ms PacMan / Galaga and 3 pool tables.

Also worth mentioning is the classic long time hot dog stand Sam's Corner. They have not only the best hotdogs I've ever had (even Nathans!) but a few classic arcade machines and a Bally Bingo machine with an embedded digital screen in the backglass. I know little about Bingos. I had to play a dollar and the audio was very low. I really had very little idea what I was doing but it was fun nudging the machine.

Update by Tony Fitzgerald

The Pavilion Arcade at Garden City now only has a Stern Pirates of the Caribbean and an Indiana Jones.

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