What is your version of heaven on earth?
If you are my 11-year-old son, it would have to be Best Buds Gaming Lounge, located in Mackenzie Alley of the Historic Fairhaven District in Bellingham. They even have the classic Nintendo Duck Hunt. When was the last time you saw Duck Hunt?
Imagine a place to hang out and play video games on almost any console imaginable on comfy couches with snacks – all without having your mom yell at you to clean your room – and you have Best Buds Gaming Lounge.
The lounge has extensive titles, from obscure old-school games to family favorites such as Mario Kart to brand new adventures, like the latest incarnation of the Zelda series. They have more than 1,700 games to choose from. Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Gamecube, Sega Genesis, Playstation 2 and XBOX 360 are among some of the most popular consoles you can play on, but they have many more gaming systems to choose from.
The lounge is the brainchild of husband and wife team Hugh and Alex Newmark. They love the gaming culture and “get” their patrons. And just because mom isn’t there to yell at you, don’t think you won’t have to abide by their house rules. The general message, which parents will appreciate, is respect all the people and all the things at Best Buds. And the owners are quick to encourage and acknowledge good behavior.
We experienced Best Buds on a Saturday afternoon with a casual gathering for my son’s birthday with two of his “best buds” and his sister. The boys, I knew, would be sucked in the second we arrived, but even big sis, who’s not a gamer, had great fun playing the games she wanted to play and not having to take turns. (It’s good to be selfish once in a while, right?)
At Best Buds, you aren’t limited to just video games. You also have access to play board games too! How neat it that? Especially as we move into the fall months. This is the perfect place to go during rainy days.
When we arrived around 1 p.m., it was pretty quiet, by the time 3:30 rolled around it was packed, mainly with middle schoolers. Older teenagers and adults can and do hang out here as well. And when 8 p.m. rolls around, Best Buds becomes at 18+ establishment. And, yes, parents, they do sell beer if you feel like relaxing with a cold one while your middle schooler shoots aliens.
As for other refreshments, Best Buds serves sodas, juice and energy drinks plus just-like-home snacks from Uncrustables to tater tots and chicken nuggets.
You can pay for game time by the hour ($5/hr) but it may be wise to start with the day pass for $15, as we quickly found it’s easy to spend three-plus hours at the establishment. For serious gamers, it’s also possible to level up to a monthly membership pass that includes a 10% discount on food and drinks plus guest passes for your buds.
Now that we’ve found Best Buds, we may be living here on rainy weekends. If you’re looking for us, you will know where to find us.
1121 McKenzie Ave. (in the Fairhaven District), Bellingham
Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday: 1 p.m.-1 a.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.