Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that comprise America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $10.98 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (up to a $4.79 value).
The sound of crashing pins draws equally loud cheers from players at Ventura Bowling Center as their progress is tallied via an automatic scoring system. Arcade games and dartboards entice them to take a break from alleyways, while hunger draws them toward the snack bar. Meanwhile, a full onsite bar supplies players with enough bubbly soda and ice-cold beer to celebrate a big win or an impressive moonwalk made possible by a pair of smooth-soled bowling shoes.
All across California, Western Bowling Proprietors Association sends pins scattering at a network of bowling alleys, each with its own personality. In addition to open bowl on automatically scored lanes, many locations host special events that heighten the experience with enhancements such as vibrant lights, lively music, and laser systems that do double duty protecting the alleys' diamond collections. The alleys also house refreshment facilities, pro shops, and diversions that range from arcade games to billiards.
In bowling, the perfect strike requires a careful calculation of force, spin, and positioning—but Zodo's - Bowling & Beyond injects fun into the physics lesson with 24 gleaming lanes ready to take whatever you can throw at them, provided you've donned the proper fluorescent footwear (each rented shoe half-red, half-green).
Healthy competition and the joy of yelling 'strike!' are pretty entertaining all on their own, but Zodo's doesn't stop there—Glow Bowling's atmospheric touches include black lights, a live DJ, and fog. Twice-daily happy hours, wine by the barrel, 40 on-tap beers keep spirits high, and a menu of gourmet pizza, fresh salads, burgers, and more creative fare provide more sustenance than a feast of felled pins. Bowlers can also take a break for other games in the arcade.
At Freeway Lanes, families and friends bond over their shared passion for slippery shoes as they send balls careening down 18 lanes in pursuit of the elusive 300. Friday night Rock and Glow bowling sets the alley alive in a whirlwind of music, colorful lights, and glowing pins, each activated by the superpowers of a radioactive ball. After each 10-frame game, bowlers can retire to the Starlight Lounge for savory grill fare or a round of pool.
What makes it great: classic family-friendly vibe, 24 synthetic lanes, computerized scoring, automatic bumpers for amateurs, arcade, fully equipped pro shop, ice rink in the adjoining Pickwick Gardens complex