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.
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.
The Chicagoland Bowling Proprietors Association has offered patrons ball-rolling entertainment with numerous local member centers for more than three decades. Over the course of two games (up to a $4 value each), hole-bearing balls can spend at least 20 frames gracefully gliding across waxed planks and toppling tiptoeing pins, or alternately fall victim to the gutters' tempting embrace. No matter which of the 28 participating locations patrons decide to patronize, their toes will be stylishly covered in a pair of rental shoes (up to a $4 value) that work to minimize bipedal friction and maximize the uniformity of spontaneous song-and-dance numbers.
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.
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.
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.