Since opening in 1948 with eight lanes and a staff of wiry high-school kids resetting each pin by hand, Wood Dale Bowl has grown with its community to become a beloved entertainment destination. Current owner Mike Melone started at the alley when he was only 14 years old, bussing tables and chasing pins led astray by delinquent bowling balls. Mike signed as a partial owner with fellow manager Chuck Hall in 1978, taking over control of an alley that was part sports venue, part community gathering spot. Whether stewarding Fenton High School’s women's bowling team to three state championships or joining volunteers to rebuild the lanes after a devastating 1987 flood, Mike and Chuck have ensconced Wood Dale Bowl into the neighborhood consciousness. Their work also shows within the current facility, which hosts 16 Brunswick lanes, automatic scoring systems, cosmic bowling nights, and league opportunities for adults and children.
Elk Grove Bowl first cracked open its doors in August 1963, and since then, it has evolved in step with technology to become a modern 40-lane alley with automated scoring. Bright colors splash every corner of the space, flaring to life under the black lights of Cozmic bowling, when fog and pulsing music fill the air to make competition seem more urgent and friends' faces seem more attractive. Year-round leagues, including the peewee bumper league for kids, help athletes to hone hurls and spins.
Bowlers can also sharpen hand-eye coordination atop pool tables emblazoned with portraits of Chicago's skyline and sports stadiums. Nearby, libations clutter a steel-topped bar and electric-blue booths in a restaurant ringed with vintage bowling photography. A private room is equipped with all of the trappings for birthday bashes, such as pizza, soda, and festive plates sliced from tree trunks that share the birthday girl's birthday.
Brunswick Zone has been a trusted name in recreational pin pulverizing for more than a century, providing good times to patrons across the country. Friends and families season afternoons with a pleasant peppering of strikes, spares, and easygoing gutter balls under classic bowling conditions, or take the next bold step in ball-hurling evolution and engage in a round of cosmic bowling, where dancing lights, thumping tunes, and black-lit gear light up the full sensorium. At XL locations, game rooms beckon with nimble joystick workouts on classic and modern arcade games.
Every day of the week, Lisle Lanes rumbles as bowling balls collide with pins on 32 lanes. The facility remains a constant hive of activity, spreading competition across a combination of leagues, tournaments, parties, and pickup games. When they’re not secretly filling an opponent’s ball with cake frosting in between frames, players keep busy by visiting the onsite pro shop or the Kingpin Grille, stocked with freshly made pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers. They can also visit the alley’s game room or lounge for additional doses of recreation.
BowlBowlBowl.com boasts three ideal environments in which ball-slingers of all abilities can practice their pin-leveling. Groups of six or 12 old friends or recently assembled humanoids can embark on a two-hour orb-slinging outing through 20 frames of healthy competition and rapidly escalating one-upmanship. Each roller receives his or her own pair of rental shoes replete with soft, smooth soles to facilitate sliding into each stroke and executing celebratory moonwalks. Groups of up to six play in each lane, toasting spares and strikes with swigs of soda or socially lubricating suds while automatic electronic scoring keeps pin wreckage reliably tallied. After two hours of pin-pounding, patrons can saunter to Hillside or Classic Bowl’s Club 300, or one of Stardust Bowl's four lounges, which offer up new frontiers for friendly competition such as pool, darts, and bowling ball-imitation breakdances. Each location unfurls its own unique accouterment, whether it’s Stardust’s whopping 84 lanes, Hillside’s DJ booth and dance floor, or Classic Bowl’s outdoor patio and light-and-sound saturated Rage Bowling on Friday and Saturday nights. At every location, bowlers can watch multiple high-definition TVs and a full-service bar is often patronized by tired pins on their shift break.
In October 1957, the owners of Suburbanite Bowl watched their dream become a reality as they opened the doors of their brand-new alley perched atop a swampy piece of land at the end of a gravel road. Since then, Suburbanite Bowl has undergone multiple renovations and has doubled their lane space. Today the 32-lane alley is outfitted with a modern Bose music system and automatic scoring for those with pencil phobias. Home to open bowling and leagues geared toward all demographics, the alley garnered praise from Centerstage for its black-light bowling, when music "well-suited for busting out a cocky strut" blares across glowing lanes. The festivities unfold on Friday and Saturday nights after 8 p.m., as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for bowlers with earlier bedtimes.
Players can also compete in Bill and Frank's Game Room, where classic and contemporary arcade games and an LCD TV border four softly lit pool tables. Nearby, the snack shop caters onsite parties and helps bowlers power throwing arms without having to plug them into a wall socket.
Beneath the historic Tivoli Theatre lies Tivoli Bowling Center, an underground playground with a dedicated staff and 12 family-friendly lanes with automatic scoring. At the base of an inconspicuous staircase, slick wooden surfaces greet multicolored balls as they careen toward unsuspecting pins. During "glow bowling" sessions, lights go down and music cranks up, lending lanes a luminescent ambiance. Along with adult and youth leagues, open gutters and protective bumpers accommodate different age and skill groups. While waiting for turns, bowlers can hit the lounge area, where 50-inch televisions assist relaxation along with comfortable, theater-style seating. Pinball, arcade games, and pool round out afternoon retreats to downtown Downers Grove.