With sweaty palms, I anxiously shuffled down the dark, desolate hallway. The black cat I’d summoned several minutes ago revealed a secret elevator that seemed about as welcoming as the portal in “Stranger Things.” Rain pattered against the windowsill. I braced myself before descending into the catacombs to destroy the haunted book, despite my exhaustion. Just a few more seconds and it would all be over.
My immersion was suddenly shattered by a waitress delivering our order of sandwiches and coffee. While distributing plates and glasses, Professor Longfellow—my character’s game piece—clattered to the floor. I shouted in anguish at the same time another group cheered upon revealing an imposter. Our game master laughed, easing the tension from the participants. Our collective consciousness returned to the wonderful board game cafe—one of many in and around New Jersey—which echoed the cries and celebrations of fellow gamers.
As I looked around the bookshelves of new worlds and adventures, I recognized the thrill and excitement that board game cafes in and around NJ offers. To date, visiting these places is one of my favorite activities. Here is where to try some yourself!
What Are Board Game Cafes?
Imagine a place where you could become a spy, a pirate, and a monster all in one day. This is the intent of board game cafes. After paying a small cover charge, guests can choose from hundreds of the venue’s board games and play to their hearts’ content. From Monopoly to Dungeons and Dragons, these board game cafes in and around NJ are designed for participants of all experience and interest levels to unwind with friends.
They often serve food and drinks—ranging from small bites to full meals—as well as alcoholic beverages. Acting as an open and friendly atmosphere for families and communities, board game cafes have rapidly grown in popularity throughout North America. And, while they include classics like Snakes and Ladders or Clue, many host a wide variety of niche games to entice those searching for something new.
So, if you’re looking for something more relaxing than arcades or karaoke, but still yearn for the friendly competition between friends, these board game cafes in and around New Jersey offer plenty of options for fun and fables.
Hoboken Game Lounge – Hoboken, NJ
Board game cafes are all about immersion. They offer a unique environment for people of every age to temporarily escape the mundane. At Hoboken Game Lounge, also known as Play! Hoboken, they expand on this idea to add yet another layer of gameplay—simulators. While this cafe offers plenty of tabletop board games for friendly competition, it also includes golf simulator rooms to help guests practice their swing. If you’re looking for a broader gaming experience, Play! Hoboken’s lounges and game rooms present a variety of activities and mediums.
Aside from the daily routine of choosing games, guests can also participate in a wide range of events—such as Mario Party, Pokemon swap meets, and Dice Throne tournaments. The BYOB venue provides free popcorn and water, as well as a menu of entrees to refresh gamers. From billiard games to Chess, Play! Hoboken expertly broadens the traditional board game cafe.
Highlander Games – Boonton, NJ
Admittedly, not everyone is a gamer. For many, not knowing the rules can feel discouraging or frustrating. Luckily, Highlander Games’ expert staff can teach and train guests of all ages and experience levels. A friendly environment for everyone, this gaming venue hosts everything from events to pre-release nights. It’s the ideal spot to share with friends or make new ones.
With a huge library, Highlander Games’ three gaming areas are always bustling with new guests, storylines, and expansion packs. Purchase games or demo recent releases inside the game lounge and tavern, where customers enjoy a selection of drinks and decisions. And, if you’re hoping to join the community, visit any of Highlander Games’ many events, featuring Dungeons and Dragons, Board Game Night, and Pokemon Build and Battle.
Hex & Company – New York City, NY
Two of my favorite things are pizza and games. At Hex & Company, with two locations in New York City, there is nothing more satisfying than simultaneously demolishing a pie and an opponent. As Manhattan’s largest game board cafe, Hex&Co. shelves a collection of over 1,000 tabletop board games. The menu, equally extravagant, includes beer, appetizers, entrees, and sandwiches. Whether you’re a college student, professional, or family, it’s one of the best cafes for a multi-hour marathon of gaming.
With both indoor and outdoor spaces, guests have plenty of options for seating. Weekend events, including youth Dungeons and Dragons, offer a unique opportunity to learn and join adventurous and friendly communities. So, whether it’s for the macaroni and cheese, hundreds of games, or atmosphere—Hex&Co. is an excellent destination to dive into the hobby of gaming.
Family Fun Hobbies – Hamilton, NJ
Designed with the entire family in mind, Family Fun Hobbies in Hamilton provides games and events for guests of all ages. From child learning games to building models—or even more sophisticated games like Magic: The Gathering—there is something for everyone.
While the store sells a wide variety of merchandise, its Family Fun Space is where the magic happens. Used for frequently-held events or for leisure demos, this room allows guests to interact with games and one another. Attend any of their board game events, tournaments, classes, or test out something new at Family Fun Hobbies.
The Uncommons – New York City, NY
While board games first originated over 4,000 years ago, dedicating cafes to them is a fairly new trend. For a bit of history, visit The Uncommons in New York. The first board game cafe in Manhattan, this destination has one of the largest game libraries on the East Coast. Guests pay a $10 cover charge for access to their hundreds of board games, expansion packs, and coffee bar.
The Uncommons takes on a rustic, contemporary appearance with wooden tables and modern decor. With seating for 65 players, this game stop coffee shop is an excellent way to unwind and refuel. Ceiling to floor stacks of games cover the walls for endless adventures. Their coffee bar includes flavors ranging from pumpkin pie to peppermint—as well as snacks and beer.
Xtreme Gaming Center – Palisades Park, NJ
If you’re looking for something fast-paced, Xtreme Gaming Center takes gaming cafes to another level. A traditional internet cafe, XG Center is designed for patrons to play PC video games like Valorent, Fortnite, or Minecraft. Serving food or drinks, this comfortable cafe provides everything you need to learn and enjoy an online gaming experience.
Each guest’s area is equipped with a gaming chair, headset, and contemporary computer. Excellent for those hoping to try new games or learn more about PC gaming, XG Center creates a friendly and clean environment conducive to immersion and competition. For a smooth connection and hours of fun, this internet cafe offers the latest technology to elevate its guests’ experience.
Have you visited any board game cafes around NJ? Tell us your favorites in the comments!