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.
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.
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.
Like a Picasso portrait of a bowling alley, Kings presents many facets stitched together seamlessly. Within the vibrant 27,000-square-foot interior, ‘70s supernova-style chandeliers and overstuffed lounge seating hark back to the retro roots of Americana while more than 50 big-screen HDTVs and projectors inject a spike of modern, technology-driven society. Above 20 bowling lanes, whose oil glistens under colored lights, sports stream so that not a play is missed. Three billiards tables, on the other hand, rest in a lounge area that is relatively private, cut off from the rest of the world and the crash of pins by muted red walls. Kings has hosted thousands of parties at locations across the country since its opening, and has private party rooms, where six bowling lanes lit with black lights complement the dotted light spread by a spinning disco ball.
Though kids are welcome to bowl and eat, the decor begins a message that ends with the 21+ policy in the evenings: this is not the average bowling alley. On granite topped tables amid the dining area's curtain-draped walls, patrons can dine on a menu of pizza, burgers, and ribs. Outside, chrome-topped tables dapple the patio, beckoning young lovers or negotiating world leaders to enjoy a specialty cocktail—such as the Big Balls for Two—or share an ice-cream float.
Fitz's Spare Keys combines a vintage bowling alley, pool hall, and live music venue inside a 24,000 square feet space, which also boasts a bar and restaurant. Thirty TVs scattered throughout the building broadcast games as bar hoppers imbibe and diners mull over the menu of burgers, steaks, and pizza. On Friday nights, musicians rule the stage and on Saturdays, dueling pianists make melodies their weapon of choice. While music lovers mingle to the soundtrack of live performers, bowlers socialize to the roar of crashing pins atop 14 old-timey lanes and pool players clack balls across seven tables. Two private party rooms can hold up to 150 guests or 150 cardboard cutouts; one is outfitted with a bar and four private bowling lanes, and the other houses four lanes and a pool table.
The pin pioneers at Waveland Bowl have provided Chicagoans with the latest in bowling amenities since its opening in 1959, when AMF's automatic pinsetters and Magic Triangle indicators superseded the rusted, tough-to-maintain human staff members behind every lane. Though the alley's original neon sign has since been replaced, the constant improvements have continued throughout the years, and the facility now boasts automatic bumpers on 40 Brunswick Armour Plate lanes and buys new pins every year. Throughout the week, the facility hosts open bowling and leagues for children and adults, and Thursday–Monday, cosmic bowling recreates the thrill of playing under the aurora borealis without the risk of polar bears ruining all the rental shoes.