Palos Verdes Bowl has been open for more than half a century, but just because it's reached middle age doesn't mean it lacks modern amenities. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings, the alley's karaoke hours turn civilians into celebs as they rock out and star in music videos in front of a greenscreen. The stage also plays host to professional musicians on Thursdays and Fridays. Throughout the week, bowlers can take a break to engage in winner-takes-all conversation over sliders, wings, and pizza from the onsite cafe, Maxine's, or a tall brew from the onsite bar.
Lawn-bowling statistics don't dominate newspaper box scores, but the sport is hardly an unknown phenomenon. The game’s English roots stretch as far back as the 13th century, and today, lawn bowlers can be spotted in locales as distant as South Africa and New Zealand. Primarily a game of finesse, lawn bowling rewards teams of three for their accuracy as they read the manicured terrain and gently heft a three-pound ball toward a small, distant target.
Ever since Holmby Park Lawn Bowling Club was founded in 1927, it has embraced the social aspect of the sport, currently welcoming 120 members from the surrounding community. As the only lawn bowling club in the city of Los Angeles according to Westwood-Century City Patch, the HPLBC organizes matches across two separate playing fields, accommodating as many as 96 players at a time. The club loans equipment to new members so they can get a feel for the game before buying their own supplies, and instructors arrive in the late morning to dole out pointers and help newcomers learn the fundamentals. Plenty of benches and shaded areas allow players to relax in between throws or enjoy a quick refreshment before the next match.
At Jillian's, a nightclub ambiance pairs with modern décor and ample entertainment to host parties, catching the eye of Justin Bieber, who filmed the music video for Baby inside the colorful, 10-lane alley. An onsite restaurant and bar sates between-set hunger pains with a menu of American eats such as hot wings, burgers, and pizzas. On Fridays and Saturdays, Jillian's hosts club nights, during which a dance floor pumps music to let patrons perfect their strike-celebration dances, Thursdays host karaoke for amateurs to take the stage and croon their favorite tunes. Between songs or bowling frames, four billiard tables draw pool sharks, and an arcade of electronic games gets virtual adrenaline pumping. For birthday parties or interventions with a friend who refuses to give up granny-style bowling, a private suite hosts up to 50 people who can play Wii games on a giant projector screen.
Each week, the 32 lanes at Pinz sparkle beneath the strobe lights and disco balls of Shake, Rattle & Bowl. When they’re not glowing or being incubated by confused chickens, the bowling balls can be hurled by visitors and league bowlers alike, rolling swiftly past the 10-foot video screens that line the alley’s far wall. Behind the scoring table, in the VIP billiard room, plasma TVs help to ensure that guests can play pool without missing critical sports moments or any commercials starring famous cats. And in the on-site arcade, players can enjoy more than 40 games including air hockey, skee-ball, and video bowling.
Jewel City Bowl invites friends and families to engage in friendly, entertaining competition atop the gleam of 24 polished lanes. As up to four athletes take to the rectangular arena with multicolored orbs in hand, rental shoes mediate heated conversations between soft feet and the hungry, growling wood below. Bowlers can roll for two hours Monday–Thursday, or one hour Friday–Sunday, with added effects such as trivia or live DJs depending on the day. The facility also proffers scrumptious fare, including burgers, paninis, and pizzas, along with a full bar, and an arcade with redemption prizes (food, drink, and arcade games not included with today’s Groupon).
A friendly staff mans Pickwick Gardens' pleasant bowlery, where 24 well-maintained synthetic lanes treat clown-shoed families and friends to old-fashioned, no-frills pin punishment. Slap on some bowling shoes ($3 daily, $4 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday) and challenge a chum to three-fingered skeeball at a time of your choosing (game prices range from $3 to $6, depending on time of day and week), or bust out the automatic bumpers (for ages 7 and under) and treat a wee one to a bout of life-sized pinball. Cosmic bowling lets grounded astronauts put a new spin on asteroid dioramas on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 7 p.m.
The clatter of toppling pins resounds through the walls of the 89 locations of Bowling Centers of Southern California, which are scattered across Southern California, Nevada, and Hawaii. Each alley abounds with modern lanes and equipment, and many boast concession stands, lounges, and game rooms. The family-friendly centers host regular public bowling sessions and league tournaments. Many of the centers also host private birthday parties, which science has proven to be more fun than birthday parties covered by the paparazzi.