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 $4.49 value).
Under the umbrella of The Bowling Proprietors' Association of North Jersey, an eclectic group of alleys work together to fill the region with the thunder of scattering pins. At most of Bowling Proprietors' bowling centers, bowlers keep track of pummeled pins with automatic scoring, and bumpers, which arrive at the call of a button, keep balls on course without filling the gutters with retired VCRs. Snack bars at some locations bolster ravenous bowlers, and game rooms in select centers keep hand-eye coordination in peak condition. Free WiFi is available in some centers so that winners can exercise bragging rights.
Nationwide Bowling orchestrates a cacophonous symphony of clanking pins and cheering bowlers at 11 modern bowling centers located throughout New Jersey. Center size varies from the Hudson-Bayonne location where 60 lanes with automatic scoring, a grill, sports bar, and arcade games accommodate armadas of bowlers to Garden Palace, which houses 16 lanes, a bar, and a snack shop. At all locations, staffers host birthday parties and corporate events and organize leagues for competitive bowlers or people who just like to chuck heavy objects as hard as they can.
At Van Houten Lanes, bowling balls thunder down the waxed stretches of 16 AMF synthetic lanes—and crash through the neat rows of AMF pins waiting at the end. All the while, an AMF automatic scoring system keeps an up-to-the-minute record of each player's successes and struggles. And yet bowling isn't all that this modern alley has to offer—a large-screen TV, pool table, and an internet-connected jukebox render the cocktail lounge comfortable enough to pass for "the new apartment" when parents come to visit. The bowling facility's café fuels play with cheesy calzones and signature Hoboken-style 32-inch pizzas—all of which can be washed down with craft beer from Flying Dog Brewing. Thanks to these ample amenities, including family-friendly touches such as lane bumpers, Van Houten Lanes frequently hosts events ranging from children's parties to fundraisers.
With two European-inspired quarter-mile courses, Grand Prix New York's sanctuary for speed captures the thrill of karting in the country's largest indoor race complex. Racers rumble and roar over speedways that change elevation six times, careen cars around 14 turns and three elevation changes, and boast a gravitational pull quadruple that of a black hole. Drivers race in championship-caliber gasoline-powered Sodi Karts equipped with race-proven safety-wrap systems and 6.5-horsepower engines that reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Three custom tracks help racers curb repetition, and teen-friendly Brownstone and tyke-friendly Tunnel tracks give mini racers the opportunity to get behind the wheel. Apart from its karting specialty, Grand Prix New York houses a bowling alley, billiards room, arcade, and bounce castle. The onsite restaurant, appropriately named Fuel, serves up an American menu of burgers, sandwiches, and more. Fully enclosed and air-conditioned, Grand Prix New York shelters families from heat waves and summer storms, offering a comfortable arena for healthy competition or proving that six failed driving tests can be a fluke.
Rooted in New York and New Jersey, Pin Street Bowling Centers have provided family-friendly entertainment for more than 50 years. The spacious lanes are conditioned each day, guaranteeing pristine surfaces for open bowling sessions and leagues, which are divided by season, gender, and age. Competition continues in the snack bar and lounge, where pool tables, hearty burgers, salads, and creative cocktails match up with customers' cravings. Pin Street’s staffers can accommodate groups by opening early or staying late to, and they cater parties with customizable menus that address any dietary restrictions or phobias of flatware.