If you've been bowling in Chicago, chances are pretty good you've been to a Chicagoland Bowling establishment. With member centers from 3700 N. Western to 12345 S. Halsted, the organization connects pin destroyers all over the city. The advantages of this network include tournaments that span the entire region, scholarship programs for talented youth bowlers, and a cornucopia of options for clowns who juggle bowling pins.
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.
League play, friendly outings, family birthdays—all happily coexist on Lakeside Lanes’ 32 lanes. Of these, 12 are equipped with bumpers for kids or adults who prefer to think of bowling as a giant game of billiards. After league play ends on Friday and Saturday nights, the music grows louder and black light bathes the lanes for cosmic bowling.
The attached restaurant, the Dockside Diner, isn’t particularly near any docks, but the “diner” part is more than accurate. A pair of sock-hoppers dance on the teal and purple striped walls, and chrome railings zip around a checker-tiled room where guests munch wings, burgers, and pizza. An arcade and game room adds more entertainment options with pool tables, darts, and video games.
Since its birth in 1949, The Alley, or at least the North Shore ground on which The Alley resides, has come full circle. During its earliest years, it was known as Mary Jane Lanes, a 10-lane bowling center that buzzed with family-friendly competition throughout the 1950s and '60s. That buzzing continued at a much louder decibel level during the 1970s, when Mary Jane Lanes became Minstrel's Alley, a go-to music venue rocked by the riffs of bands such as REO Speedwagon and The Ramones. In the 1980s, after crews restored its lanes and dug out all the burnt electric guitars embedded into its gutters, the building returned to its origins as a family-first bowling center. Today, The Alley has been updated with automatic scoring, projection TVs, and pool tables ready to accommodate guests of all ages. Every Friday and Saturday, though, The Alley detours back through the '70s, as live bands revive the facility's glory days during Rock and Bowl.
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 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (a $3.99 value).
A bowler since the age of 5, owner Jerry Morano spent his formative years watching his dad bowling with the guys. At the age of 20, Morano bowled his first perfect game and over his professional bowling career played a total of 26 perfect games and won five Professional Bowling Association regional titles. During that time, he was working for a major auto company and it was his dream to retire and own his own alley someday. That dream came true when he bought Liberty Lanes Bowling Center in 2008.
Morano quickly fell in love with the bowling alley’s 24 retro-style wooden lanes. As families and friends send balls careening toward the pins, an automatic Brunswick Frameworx system keeps score impartially and refrains from remarking on each bowler’s form. Between frames, bowlers can refuel at the snack bar, which serves french fries, pizza, and chicken fingers. At the bar, patrons can pair 16-ounce cans of Schlitz with games on three pool tables and two electronic dart machines.