The state of Florida in the USA is known for tourism and entertainment, so much so that tourism is the #1 industry in the state of Florida.
This is likely because the state is surrounded on two sides by ocean, and is the southernmost state among the 48 contiguous states of the USA. This rewards the visitor with beautiful tropical weather the majority of days of the year except for the winter when it is wet for a few hours a day but very nice the other 20 hours of the day.
The most popular part of the state of Florida for vacations is the Atlantic (east) coast with the Gulf (west) coast being a close second. Because they are so popular, they are crowded and forget about dinner in a high end restaurant without reservations literally months in advance.
Up until recently, a well kept secret was Florida’s “third” coast, also called the Emerald Coast.
Not that many years ago, price-conscious vacationers and condo owners looked to Florida’s Emerald Coast for bargains in hotels, Airbnb’s, condos and short waits for a table at great restaurants featuring local seafood and exotic cocktails.
Unfortunately, the word has gotten out to post-COVID travellers and things are not what they used to be on the Emerald Coast, but the situation is far better for tourists in Pensacola, Destin, Miramar Beach and Santa Rosa Beach than Daytona Beach, Miami, Tampa, and St. Petersburg.
So, come with me on a tour of a few great Pinball and Arcade destinations in and around Destin, Florida.
The Local Market
950 Gulf Shores Drive, Destin, FL
- All Star Baseball (Valley-Dynamo and Gizmo Game Design, 2018)
- Attack From Mars (Remake LE – Chicago Gaming, 2017)
- Godzilla (Pro) (Stern, 2021)
- Halloween (CE) (Spooky, 2021)
- JunkYard (Williams, 1996) Broken
- Jurassic Park (Premium) (Stern, 2019)
- Monster Bash (Remake LE) (Chicago Gaming, 2018)
- Popeye Saves the Earth (Bally, 1994)
- Star Wars (Pro) (Stern, 2017)
The Local Market is an excellent breakfast and lunch place featuring fruit smoothies, sandwiches, salads and other American comfort foods. You can order and pay at the counter and they will bring your meal to you.
There is also a separate bar area with wines, local micro brews and popular macro brews, but more about that later.
One of the Local Market’s most popular sandwiches is the grilled Pimento Cheese with your choice of side. The Pimento Cheese sandwich was of course made famous at Augusta National Golf Club, Home of the Masters. The Local Market takes it one step further by grilling it in butter, with the attendant increase in calories and flavor. Their cold deli style sandwiches looked great and probably healthier as well.
There is a large selection of locally brewed small batch beers, wines and soft drinks available in both the dining room and the bar. If you are dining in, there is convenient cooler with the beer and soft drink selections for you to peruse.
There are two pinballs in the main dining area and Dennis Nordman’s All Star Baseball updated pitch and bat game.
The other 6 games are in the bar area and aren’t visible unless you are in the bar itself. One of the games was out of order waiting for parts, but the others were clean and in excellent condition.
There was no change machine that I saw, but the bartender is happy to make change for you. Prices were $1 per game or 3 games for $2.
Honeybee Ice Cream & The Hive Arcade
703 John Sims Parkway, Niceville, FL, 32578
- Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street (Gottlieb, 1994)
- Haunted House (Gottlieb, 1982)
- Pin-Bot (Williams, 1986)
- Tales from the Crypt (Data East, 1993)
Honeybee Ice Cream and The Hive Arcade was established in 2019 by owner Duke Higgs so that teenagers in his community would have a place to go since there were no similar entertainment venues available.
Unfortunately about the time that they were going to have their grand opening, COVID shut down North America and they had to delay the opening to late 2021.
Higgs chose the honeybee theme after noticing that other family oriented arcades had their signature mascot animals. Honeybee Ice Cream’s mascot is named Bee Havin and is actually an adult in a plush costume. Bee Havin is available for parties and sometimes makes appearances to interact with the children on the weekends.
Both inside and outside the beehive theme seems like it is everywhere with a ‘honeycomb’ pattern neatly painted even on the light switch plates.
In spite of the fact that Honeybee Ice Cream has a number of other treats available, by far the most popular is ice cream. Their premium ice cream is made by the Cedar Crest company in the state of Wisconsin. They order their ice cream once a week and it is trucked to them on dry ice by FedEx.
Honeybee’s most popular of the 32 flavors available is called Superman which, says owner Higgs, flies off the shelves; pun intended. “The kids and the adults both like that one,” Higgs said. “It has a blue moon flavor, banana flavor and a strawberry flavor.”
Honeybee has 17 flavors of hand rolled ice cream and a large number of toppings to go with them. They also have 24 flavors of snow cones, freshly made pizza by the slice, hot dogs, cotton candy, boba/milk tea, and a large selection of soft drinks.
Each customer booth has AC outlets as well as USB connections for the recharging of those handheld devices that teenagers, and most of us adults, seem to be attached to.
The Hive Arcade has over 40 stand up video, pinball and redemption games available. Most of these games are 50 cents per play, except for Dance Dance Revolution 2000 which is $1 per play and the virtual reality roller coaster simulator which is $5 per ride for two people. They also have a change machine for quarters.
The Hive Arcade has two game technicians on staff but they say that getting parts for some of the 1980s and 1990s vintage games can be a challenge.
Unfortunately only one of their pinball games was operational at the time of my visit and it would have benefited from some TLC, but it played reasonably well.
The free game and match settings were generous and I was able to play Pin-Bot for over an hour on one credit. I like to think Python was looking down and helping me to play well.
119 Staff Drive Northeast, Fort Walton Beach, FL, 32548
- Guardians of the Galaxy (Pro) (Stern, 2017)
- High Speed (Williams, 1986)
- The Mandalorian (Pro) (Stern, 2021)
- Monster Bash (Remake LE) (Chicago Gaming, 2018)
- Star Wars (Pro) (Stern, 2017)
All ages until 9pm, $10 all-you-can-play classic arcade and pinball games.
Unfortunately we were visiting the Emerald Coast on days when RadBar was not open. To be honest I have never heard of a bar that was only open a few days of the week.
I was able to talk to some local pinball players to get the RadBar story.
The universal opinion is that RadBar is a great place to play arcade games and to enjoy craft beers.
I was told that their games are kept in excellent condition and have reasonable free game thresholds.
The beer selection is exceptional with many choices from Florida and Louisiana craft breweries. Most are available by the can and, although I wasn’t able to verify this, they have take-away service for their beers if you are headed to the beach or out boating.
I contacted RadBar and they gave me permission to use photos from their website with this review. I hope sometime soon to return to this area to get a first person impression of RadBar.
There is a lot for the tourist to like about Florida’s Emerald Coast. It has most of the amenities of the more well known Florida coasts, but without as many people visiting. That there are also good choices for the pinball player is a welcome bonus.
How long this will be true is unknown because we saw quite a bit of development of both condos and resort properties that was in progress. More building means more people and, of course, more congestion and longer waits for a table at dinner.
So, if you can possibly arrange it, I’d suggest that you visit Florida’s Emerald Coast this year or next summer at the latest so that you can enjoy the same carefree and casual charm that we experienced.
Here are some other non-pinball locations to consider visiting on Florida’s Emerald Coast:
- Miramar Beach – Scenic oceanside beach. Clean and beautiful.
- Blue Mountain Bakery – Coffee and breakfasts
- Crackings – Breakfast and juice bar
- Macho Taco Cantina – Southwest-style dining
- Perfect Pig Grill and Fish House – Fine dining al fresco