The intersection of 183 and Burnet Road forms the epicenter of a half mile bubble of retro joy. If you were old enough to ride a bicycle in the 1980’s, this list of places to have fun in Austin should tickle the nostalgia center of your brain. Now you can roller skate, sing karaoke, bowl and visit an old school arcade without driving all over town.
#1 Playland Skate Center
Playland Skate Center opened in 1973 at 8822 McCann Dr, just past Town North Nissan on southbound Research Blvd (Hwy 183). That’s four decades of roller skating fun.
Pete and Anna Morin purchased Playland from the original owners in 2002. Over the last 13 years they’ve renovated and improved the roller rink. Most recently, they’ve added brand new wood flooring and the skating is so smooth. An $8 entrance fee allows patrons to skate from open to close.
Adult skate night on Tuesdays is extremely popular and Playland Skate Center is also home to an award winning speed skating team. Don’t worry, they still do the Hokey-Pokey, Limbo and roller skate races. Patrons can rent skates or roller blades on site or bring their own.
#2 The Common Interest Karaoke Bar and Grill
Austin’s original karaoke bar has been in business since 1974. Located at 8440 Burnet Rd, the huge bar rocks a large center stage for those who revel in the spotlight, as well as private rooms for the shy types. Singers can even choose what key they want their song in.
The bar is fully stocked with liquid courage and their famous jello shots are guaranteed to loosen your vocal chords.
The best part about The Common Interest is their playlist. It’s massive, sitting at over 100,000 songs, and covers almost every genre of music that involves the human voice. I’m not sure if it has yodeling songs, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I once sang Mamma Cried in an attempt to make my wife swoon. She cried. Maybe I needed another jello shot.
#3 Highland Lanes
Highland Lanes is owned by Jerry and Betty Ray, the king and queen of Austin Bowling. They opened the bowling alley in 1974 at 8909 Burnet Rd when Dart Bowl was still at its original location. The bowling alley’s 40 lanes are always bustling with customers trying to get that elusive 300 point game.
Their fully stocked bar quenches customers’ thirst and the independently owned Lebowski Grill keeps energy high.
Highland Lanes is home to a whopping 31 different bowling leagues and an 100 member youth league organized by Assistant Manager Ken Diebold. The bowling alley also supports local charities like Big Brother, Big Sister and participates in the United States Bowling Congress’ scholarship program.
#4 Pinballz Arcade
Pinballz Arcade is the youngest of the businesses in this retro round up, but owner Darren Spohn has hit the old school arcade nail square on the the head. Since opening the doors in 2010, Pinballz Arcade has grown to over 100 pinball machines and a plethora of arcade games.
The machines range in difficulty and style and Pinballz Arcade is always evolving. On my most recent visit, I played my tried and true Addam’s Family and Nightmare on Elm St. machines, but also noticed a beast of a pinball machine aptly named Hercules. Since many of the machines and arcade games are for sale, it provides the arcade an opportunity to keep things fresh.
Let Me Plan Your Date Night
Let me distill all this information into an epic game plan for your retro date night in Austin:
- Start with Playland Skate Center. Odds are, you’re a bit rusty on the skates, so you and yours will need to be at peak performance while you attempt to remember how to skate backwards and do the hokey pokey.
- Head over to Pinballz Arcade, get a few dollars in tokens and (re)discover your love for classic arcades.
- When your tokens are spent, make your way to Highland Lanes, get some shoes, get some drinks and try to avoid those gutter balls.
- Wrap the night up at The Common Interest. There’s nothing better than people watching at a karaoke bar. The menu rocks and you can spend a long time trying to find that perfect karaoke song. I recommend you do a duet with your date. Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash or A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘N’ Roll by Donny and Marie are both excellent choices.
@ElDavidThomas wants to know:
Did you follow my epic date plan? How did it go?