Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
Picture a bowling alley and you might imagine some smoke-filled dump—in other words, the polar opposite of what Mission Bowling Club actually is. The owners have created a space that blends an upscale gastropub with a six-lane, lounge-style bowling alley where mixologists prepare drinks for bowlers seated at half-moon booths. After a few games, players head into the restaurant, where they feast on upscale takes on classic American fare. Dishes include the apple cider risotto, sausage corn dogs with habanera crema, and root-beer glazed duck breast. Though the lounge is usually 21 and over, kids and teens can enter with adults during family bowl on weekend afternoons. That’s also when the lounge prepares a full brunch menu, cooking up fried chicken and waffles, french toast with marscapone, and Dungeness crab Benedict. If the weather is nice, the front patio is a great place to enjoy the view or kickstart a petition to make bowling balls our new currency.
Manor Bowl's 30 lanes have hosted rousing displays of tenpin pyrotechnics for half a century. Seven days a week, the alley's 60-foot lanes beckon pairs to slip into supportive, nonslippery bowling shoes for two rounds of hurling globes like a Greek god hurling bolts of good vibes. Overhead scoring units let carousers keep an eye on the competition while traipsing to the bar for a draft beer, and bumper bowling caters to out-of-shape balls afraid of getting their love handles stuck in the gutter.
County Club Bowl has been hosting the pin-busters of Marin County since 1959, remaining a fixture of fun by maintaining amenities beyond bowling lanes. Bowlers can hurl their ammo down 40 automatically scored Brunswick lanes, including ones with optional bumpers that enable players to work all the angles against their cocky pin foes. Groups of four can vie for strike production supremacy or forge New Age scoring systems that award points based on the beauty of the pin formations left standing. Quench ball-hurling-generated thirst with two included pitchers of soda, or swing past in-house Villa York Pizza & Grill for specialty pies and subs. Bowlers can celebrate gutter evasion in the Candlestick Lounge, outfitted with a full bar and sports-blasting plasma TVs. Three billiard tables and an arcade room expand entertainment beyond the lanes.
Serra Bowl provides pin hunters with a comfortable, state-of-the-art environment in which to ply their strike-seeking skills. Take advantage of bowling’s distinctively stealthy footwear to sneak up on the flocks of unsuspecting game roosting on the alley’s 44 gleaming lanes—each of which can be outfitted with bumpers, the bowler’s version of a laser scope. A high-tech Qubica scoring system is available to track the pin count and vindicate the view that math skills have no real-world applications, and a friendly staff is on-hand to help with the equipment, explain bowling’s rules, and settle arguments over which of the Wright brothers was taller. Exhausted orb hurlers can replenish their strength at the alley’s snack bar or fully stocked on-site cocktail lounge, or they can opt to give their brains a much-needed break from the complexities of the game with some therapeutic button pushing in the game room. Serra Bowl is open until 2 a.m. or later seven nights a week, and around the clock on Saturdays, giving werewolves a wholesome alternative to their traditional nocturnal activity—drag racing.
Castro Village Bowl facilitates hours of pin-felling entertainment from early morning until late in the evening. The alley hosts 32 well-maintained lanes with automatic scoring machines and bumpers for bowlers under the age of 7. In addition to open hours, Castro Village Bowl provides league opportunities for children, adults, and families, finally giving parents the perfect justification for having named their daughter "Pin Crusher." A snack bar and full-service cocktail lounge is also available to provide refreshments for postgame celebrations.