Since its creation in 1640 by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, bowling has been known as the Sport of Dukes. In contrast to modern bowling, Leopold’s version involved hurling then-precious nectarines at servants. Leopold was quite happy to have created bowling, though his pleas to change its nickname to The Arch-Sport of Archdukes to better reflect his title went largely unheeded.
A blazing neon bowling-pin sign calls passersby into the crimson-and-cream façade of Fireside Bowl, drawing them back through time into the '40s, when the alley was opened. Gleaming spheres devastate their wooden foes beneath brilliant wall murals and vintage accents, and a pool table and selection of turn-of-the-century video games captivate between frames aided by electronic scoring systems and pins set upright by very strong squirrels. Revelry revives itself in the low light of a vintage-style lounge, where suds flow smoothly into pints that glide along a gleaming bar. The guttural roar of stressed guitar strings sings out during occasional rock and punk shows at the alley, where league rollers build prowess alongside casual players on the shining hardwood.
For 50 years, Mont Clare Lanes & Banquets has been dismantling boredom with competitive 10-pin games and dismissing hunger with an onsite restaurant. The bowling center houses 32 lanes equipped with a slew of modern conveniences, such as automatic scoring machines, two video screens, and an electric fence at each fowl line. Themed event nights are peppered throughout the week, such as Cosmic Bowling night, in which lanes bathe in the glow of darkened light waves as glow-in-the-dark balls spin to the beats of a live DJ. A full-service restaurant and bar pleases palates with eats ranging from wings to house-made pizzas alongside sudsy brews, and an adjoining banquet room plays host to corporate events, birthday parties, and jubilant Groundhog Day celebrations.
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).
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.
Each alley offers easy scoring, optional bumper lanes, and high-octane levels of pin-smashing jubilance to bowlers of all ages. Corral three friends or a trio of mirrors for a two-hour session of strikes, turkeys, and attempts to defraud the automatic-scoring system. Wanderlusting feet can walk a mile in someone else’s more flamboyantly decorated kicks with a shoe rental, and hole-pinched fingers can cool their prints in a pitcher of soda or domestic beer. Each bowling alley offers league play for competitively minded rollers, along with snacks and special events for the more casual ball-heaver.
Castaways Bowl caters to its clients with 32 lanes, a full-service eatery, billiards, and other games while retaining the same family-run charm it’s had since 1950. They host competitive bowling tournaments as well as bowling programs that teach the game to children as young as 2, before they can develop the ability to feel empathy for maltreated pins. To fuel further pin-pummeling exploits, Windy City Pizza—an on-site eatery—cooks up a hefty menu of chicken, pasta, and pizza for famished bowlers.