The rolling thunderclaps of scattering pins fill the air at Imperial Bowl, where sphere flingers hunt strikes and spares across 30 lanes set in an ultraclean, modern facility. As bowlers attempt to stay out of the gutter like a renegade raindrop, automated scorekeeping charts the current pin count, displaying all scores on a digital screen. Imperial Bowl complements its slick lanes with entertaining extras, including arcade games, pool tables, and cosmic bowling. The alleyway also hosts leagues for casual and serious competitors alike, and a full-service bar and concession area ensures ball-free hands remain filled with beers, sodas, and snacks.
At Shrewsbury Lanes, 10 white appendages await punishment from careening spheres at the end of 24 polished alleys. Automatic scoring screens keep count at every lane so that rollers can concentrate on picking up seven-ten splits, savoring hot eats from the snack counter, and grabbing cold beers or daily happy hour cocktails from No Bul's Bar. During birthday packages, revelers can bounce between bowling alleys and party rooms, which are stocked with hot dogs, drinks, and chips. Shrewsbury Lanes also hosts leagues for bowlers who enjoy more serious competition or nostalgic adults who were raised inside trophy cases. The roar of ransacked pins echoes throughout the facility until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
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 $7.98 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (up to a $3.69 value).
Since 1965, bowling buffs have decimated the pins at West County Lanes. Slip into a pair of piebald loafers ($2.75 for a rental) and practice perfect follow-throughs as you hurl sporty spheroids down any of the 24 lanes ($3.25 per person each game, $3.75 weekends and holidays; $15 per lane each hour, $18 weekends and holidays). Powered by a savvy system, hanging monitors display scores as well as embarrassing childhood photos of any player who rolls a gutter ball. On Fridays from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Saturdays after 10 p.m., the futuristic lights and glow-in-the-dark lanes of cosmic bowling ($19 per lane each hour) comfort homesick time-travelers trapped in the ancient present.
Towering alongside Clayton Road, the Tropicana Lanes sign has a vintage, weather-beaten look acquired after more than 50 years of welcoming visitors. Three generations of Richmond Heights bowlers have ventured into the facility during this time, scattering pins across the same 52 lanes that have hosted the nationally televised Professional Bowlers Tour. Owner and PBA Hall of Fame inductee Ray Bluth oversees the day-to-day operations of the alley?which, despite its retro disposition, sports modern extras such as automatic scoring and singing shoelaces. Between frames, bowlers can kick back inside the cocktail lounge, play in the game room, or munch on wings, nachos, and hot dogs from the snack bar.
Before hosting moviegoers, the 111,000-square-foot Moolah Temple was home to a colony of pigeons. According to Amy Gill, co-head of the 1913-built temple's restoration team in 2003, the birds were "living in every crack and crevice" among debris, peeling paint, and cracked floors. Thanks to the team's refurbishing, leather couches and love seats, as well as balcony and stadium seating, now adorn the bird-free theater. Moolah Theatre only boasts a single screen, but what it lacks in quantity is made up for in size: its 20-by-45-foot screen showcases everything from the latest Hollywood releases to midnight movie staples such as The Big Lebowski.
Like "The Dude," Moolah Theatre celebrates bowling with eight lanes at its in-house retro alley. Post-flick fun can also include playing billiards, blasting tunes on the StarLink Internet Jukebox, or burping arcade games that ate too many quarters. Some lucky residents even call these amenities home—besides the theater and bowling alley, Moolah Temple makes room upstairs for 40 luxury lofts.