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.
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).
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.
A trio of retro bowling alleys lures visitors into their distinctive confines for old-fashioned entertainment. Southport Lanes & Billiards exposes groups to waves of nostalgia with four lanes of hand-set bowling, making it 1 of only 10 remaining of its kind in the country. Outside of the bowling area, sleek wooden floors lead visitors to a line of pool tables, and an outdoor patio gives glimpses of the blooming neighborhood in warmer months.
Seven Ten Lounge, home to a bowling alley, billiard parlor, bar, and restaurant, envelops guests in the trappings of a bygone era. Art-deco motifs, vintage posters, and mahogany furnishings surround revelers as they lob a ball, aim a cue, or pity the defenseless pins. Local microbrews pepper the draft list with homegrown variety, and house-made fare elevates the menu past a typical alley nosh.
Hyde Park's Seven Ten Lanes not only exudes a similarly stylish décor, but also features gutter guards to contain errant throws by children or carnival musclemen with inner-ear imbalance.
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.