Backstage Billiards I-Drive's name certainly doesn?t bury the lede??beginners and pool sharks alike can rack up games on any of the bar's 24 Brunswick tables. At the same time, it doesn't encompass the myriad billiards alternative patrons can enjoy, from hitting bullseyes on seven electronic dartboards to sinking holes-in-one during rounds of Golden Tee or cornhole. For those who prefer spectating, 20 plasma-screen televisions stay tuned to the day's biggest games and most heartwarming huddles. Amid all this sports?centric revelry, bartenders serve beverages in ice-cold mugs as well as mixed drinks from behind a 55-foot, full-liquor bar every night until 2 a.m.
Since 1995, pool sharks have been sinking balls into the corner pocket at Trick Shots. At each of its three locations, groups gather around tables to engage in friendly competition and observe all seven of Newton's laws of motion. As they play, customers nosh on selections from a menu of large fresh deli sandwiches and snacks, such as beer-battered onion rings and chicken wings, while a full bar offers cocktails, soft drinks, and draft beers nearby.
Filled with 50 tons of carved ice and most recently inspired by Ernest Shackleton's failed Antarctic expedition, Icebar's 27-degree, bacchanalian winterscape earned itself a feature in Frommer's and a spot on the Travel Channel's list of The World's Coolest Bars. After bundling up with gloves and jackets or in rentable faux fur coats, guests can spend up to 45 minutes touring the room's collection of frozen sculptures, floes, and sled-dog huts, raising toasts to their favorites with glasses made entirely out of ice. Frozen stools covered with seal fur line the bar, where mixologists pour frosty cocktails and root around for two identical snowflakes.
The adjacent Fire Lounge allows visitors to warm up afterward by snagging a drink from the full-service bar or bobbing their heads to the mixes of DJ Sher-khan. The pulsing sound system helps to get blood flowing again while lasers and strobe lights scan the room for any escaped snowglobes.
The WhirlyDome is a flurry of light and activity. Engines roar in a Formula 1 simulator, video games beep and hum in the arcade, and lasers ricochet in the laser-tag maze. The dome?s core attraction, however, is WhirlyBall, billed as the world's only mechanized team sport. Players try to shoot wiffle balls into elevated goals as they steer bumper cars across the dome's two 4,000-square-foot courts. Dubbed WhirlyBugs, the electrically powered vehicles can reach speeds of up to 5 miles per hour, like turtles who are running really, really late.
The Formula 1 racing simulator is another popular attraction. All-enveloping television screens surround riders with a realistic reproduction of the racing experience, from steering around sharp turns to suddenly braking as a promising young brain surgeon crosses the street. Competitors scamper through swirling haze in the laser frenzy, or they encounter simulated ocean creatures during rounds of undersea-themed laser tag. In between activities, players pop in and out of the onsite Bloodhound Brew Pub & Eatery, where bartenders pour drafts of local craft beer to pair with pub food, from rolls to burgers served with crispy waffle fries.
Neon red overhead and floor lights, luxury booths and banquette seating, and two 40-person bars help differentiate Kings Bowl from the old-fashioned bowling alley you?re probably picturing. The 30,000-square-foot entertainment complex features 22 ten-pin bowling lanes (four of them in one private room and six in another), four full-size billiards tables, an outdoor bocce ball court, and a shuffleboard table. In between turns, you can let your eyes wander to more than 60 big-screen HDTVs and a projector screen.
In addition to games, Kings Bowl offers chef-driven, creative american cuisine made from scratch, such as buffalo wontons, bacon chicken ranch pizza, and their famed steak tips. A laundry list of martinis, cocktails, and craft beers take the sting out of losing a game of bowling to an opponent throwing granny-style.
Disenchanted with the stigmatization of pool halls as dark, grimy places, lifelong billiards enthusiast Faheem Zia decided to give the game he loved room to thrive in a well-lit and smoke-free joint with an art-deco aesthetic. Gleaming cues dip back and glide smoothly between fingers tented against the main hall's 13 pool tables, which include Diamond Pro-Am units topped in cerulean felt and 9-foot Brunswick Gold Crown IV tables. A heated Søren Søgaard model without pockets serves as a venue for less-common billiards variants and lacks the traditional spots to hide an extra pair of aces.
Each table makes an appearance on the professional circuit monthly, when one of three rotating professional leagues visits and fills the room with an orchestra of cracking Super Aramith balls. During matches, café-style tables surrounded by high-top chairs and stools fill with a range of upscale pub fare such as wings dry-fried in ovens. A jukebox crouches in one corner, spilling forth a varied soundtrack on waves of neon light, and a panoply of touch-screen games and two dartboards let patrons compete while avoiding green felt after a teary falling-out with Kermit.