Giant Jenga and outdoor beer pong games are fun enough, but sometimes a night out calls for a more immersive experience. These Fort Worth newcomers are a welcome reminder that growing up has its upsides.
Fort Worth Axe Factory
The telltale thud of metal meeting wood greeted me during a recent visit to Fort Worth Axe Factory (main image) in the Riverside area. Several men and women were trying their hand at Fort Worth’s newest sport — axe throwing. A friendly staffer named Michael told me the business opened last February across from Martin House Brewing and has steadily grown in popularity. The space is BYOB but liquor is prohibited.
Safety isn’t an afterthought. Participants are reminded to refrain from throwing when anyone has crossed the yellow line to retrieve their axes. Michael said that despite the potential for danger there hasn’t been so much as a splinter reported. My crash course in axe throwing included advice to not grab the axe (which is closer in size to a hatchet) too hard. He then demonstrated how to place my non-dominant leg forward, keeping my throwing arm at 90 degrees before releasing the axe. After several attempts, I landed one. I could see the sport’s appeal. It felt good to plant one deep into the wood plank. There are several scoring options when playing in groups. Michael prefers “21” where you have to accumulate 21 points. No more. No less.
One of the more colorful groups to visit the Axe Factory (with supervising parents) was a troop of Girl Scouts, he said with a laugh. They were timid at first but soon got into it. In the coming weeks, the space will add air conditioning.
Craftcade Pinball Bar
Pinball has never gone out of style since its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, but it is experiencing something of a resurgence. Around 20 vintage pinball games with themes ranging from "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" to "Star Trek" and "Roller Coaster Tycoon" greet revelers at the Near Southside business.
The space is cozy with a long bar at the back. Craft beers were on tap during a recent visit but cocktails appear to be the specialty here. A knowledgeable bartender introduced me to a new Scotch. After a few mixed drinks, my friends and I let the pinballs fly.
Fort Worth Escape
You’ll have to work as a team to escape the real-life mysteries at Fort Worth Escape on West Magnolia Avenue. Chests, books, clocks or any nearby item could be the clue you need to break out. There are four themed games to choose from: The Study, The Gallery, ex Machina, and Dreamscape.
I got a taste of the Neon Noir experience at a recent Fort Worth Community Arts Center event. The Near Southside-based business had a dark room dedicated to virtual reality painting. The technology has come a long way since the early ’90s. With an electronic wand in hand and headset on, I made vibrant lines of “paint” mid-air that I could walk around and add to. The business bills itself as an arcade. There are limitless worlds to explore, and I’m sure more than a few of them involve blasting zombies.
Bowling Alleys are no longer the purview of smokey, divey bars. The Shops at Clearfork is home to Pinstripes, an upscale restaurant with generous amounts of real estate set aside for bowling and bocce. The food options are largely American fare with an extensive brunch and cocktail menu. On a recent visit, I found the staff to be attentive to our food and drink orders as we bowled upstairs. It’s a one-stop shop for all your entertainment needs.