Date: March 2024

In this edition of Pinspotting, we take you on Spring Break 2024 to a new and hot location in Florida’s Panhandle.

Welcoming entrance in the heart of Panama City
Welcoming entrance in the heart of Panama City

Point Break Arcade
445 Harrison Ave. 
Panama City, FL 32401, USA
+1 (850) 481-1898

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

The games at this site change occasionally so please consult the Pinball Map or similar reference for the current game offerings.

Panama City and Panama City Beach are towns located on the Florida ‘Panhandle’ which is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico. Panama City Beach (as the name implies) is directly on the Gulf Coast, while Panama City is a bit further inland along the St. Andrew Bay.

For the sake of this article, I am going to refer to both locations as “Panama City” just to save some keystrokes.

The Panama City area is mostly known for its pristine beaches with nearly white sand and the resorts that have been popular with the over-50 crowd for many years. Panama City has great dining destinations featuring fresh seafood and several golf courses that range from ‘Executive’ 9-hole to Championship-calibre.

In recent years, Panama City and nearby Miramar have become Spring Break destinations for college students. Traditional Spring Break hangouts such as Daytona Beach have become impossible to book during Spring Break unless you do so nearly a year in advance.

The Gulf of Mexico as viewed from our Edgewater Condo in Panama City Beach
The Gulf of Mexico as viewed from our Edgewater Condo in Panama City Beach

The wave of college-age students each March and April flooding into the Panama City area have led some hotels and timeshares to restrict the age of their guests to over 25 years of age. Rental car companies in the area also have age restrictions and require that drivers under 30 purchase their insurance policies, even if they have their own insurance coverage.

During our recent trip to Panama City, there was a clear dividing line where the under-25 crowd clustered – largely around Sunbird Beach and Pineapple Willy’s – and where the families and the over-50s could be found – in or around the Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort towers or The Club at Edgewater. Near the end of our visit we did venture to Pineapple Willy’s Beach Bar to check it out and the college students were in rare form even at 3 in the afternoon. I wondered aloud what sort of debauchery went on there after sunset.

Pineapple Willy's "World's Best" beach bar
Pineapple Willy’s “World’s Best” beach bar

We had an opportunity on one of the rare gloomy days during our visit to check out the Point Break Arcade (PBA). Point Break is an all-you-care-to-play for one $15 daily admission. They offer a discounted admission for military and first responders. Wednesdays and Thursdays are $5 off admission with student ID or teacher ID.

PBA also offers their Johnny Utah Membership which gives access to all 70+ of their games every day of the month that they are open for $90.  Not that much of a gaming maniac? You might consider their Bodhi Membership which gives unlimited monthly access on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for $65.

A good number of families apparently had the same idea as us, and kids seemed to be everywhere. For the most part the parents seemed to have the situation under control and, because of that, our visit was pleasant.

Before we get into the review of the arcade itself, I wanted to mention the incredible selection of adult beverages available at Point Break. Local breweries were heavily represented by Edmunds Oast Brewing Co., Sideward Brewing, Schilling Cider House, Narragansett Brewing Co., Redlight! Redlight! and Fat Orange Cat Brewing Co. to name just a few. Not into beers? They have several flavors of Liquid Death sparking water & iced teas available also. Craft sodas include Virgil’s hand-crafted root beer and black cherry soda. 

If you are feeling like a beverage adventure, may I suggest the Bumble Z sour from Zymarium Meadery or Coffee Baltic Porter from Crooked Stave. Kombucha you say? Yes they have 45-day aged Kombucha from G.T.’s. On the wagon? PBA has non-alcoholic choices such as Untitled Art Brewing West Coast IPA and Italian Style Pils, and Athletic Brewing Company Run Wild and Upside Down. Incredibly, among all these choices they also have the usual suspect macro-brews and hard seltzers for those who crave the comfort of the familiar.

Pinball and Beer - a pairing hard to beat
Pinball and Beer – a pairing hard to beat

There is no food available at PBA but with admission you get a wrist band which allows you to come and go as you please. PBA is right in the heart of Panama Beach so there is no lack of choices for dining or snacks. I’d suggest The House of Henry Irish pub which is just steps to the north on Harrison Ave. If you want just a quick bite, Tom’s Hot Dogs across from The Martin Theatre is a very good choice for sandwiches and salads.

The main pinball play area
The main pinball play area

I was very taken by the big sign at the entrance to Point Break Arcade that proclaims “For every Game Over there is a Play Again.” If this isn’t a profound gaming saying, I don’t know what it is.  The attendants at the entrance were very helpful and gave us a mini-orientation to the facility which was helpful. Someone had chalked behind the swag sales area “NO Quarters, NO Tokens, NO Worries” which I thought was clever in its own way.

Some newer Stern games
Some newer Stern games

Every game we played was in tip-top condition and played as near to new as is possible. Most of the newer Stern titles were Insider Connected which was nice. PBA has regular launch parties including tournaments for IFPA points and raffles for swag.

I spotted several Japanese domestic market driving games, including Sega’s Initial D Version 3 and Initial D Stage 8 Infinity based on the popular drifting and street racing manga series written and illustrated by Shuichi Shigeno.

I was glad to see that there was a lot of interest in PBA’s Super Chexx bubble hockey game among the young people there. Nearby was a Foosball World Tour table that looked to be in excellent condition also.

Having been open for just a little over a year now, Point Break Arcade certainly has their act together and is a very entertaining and affordable place to visit on those rainy days when the beach isn’t a good option.

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