The triumphant crash of bowling balls against pins has been echoing throughout Brechin Lanes since 1956. The newly renovated five-pin-bowling alley maintains its family-friendly atmosphere by only selling soft drinks and prohibiting smoking within their walls. League banners hang over the 16-lane spread, and between turns, players cheer each other on from plastic benches or cushy seats throughout the centre. Atop whimsical bowling-pin-shaped coffee tables, players refuel their rolling arms and bragging muscles with hot dogs, poutine, and pizza made fresh to order. During weekend glow bowling, blacklights switch on, a crisp sound system booms the hits, and vampire bowlers suddenly become the brightest people in the room.
The next generation of professional bowlers could very well be lacing up their small, adorable shoes at Sandcastle Bowl Bar & Grill. The alley hosts a youth league for bowlers as young as five, which is the earliest age Santa accepts requests for bowling gloves. Luckily, strikes and spares don't end once players reach adulthood. Adult leagues let grownups compete across the alley's 20 lanes, which accommodate both five- and tenpin bowling.
While competitive, Sandcastle Bowl Bar & Grill's leagues are primarily social gatherings, with plenty of opportunities to make new friends (bowlers can join teams or sign up as individuals). This spirit of friendly sportsmanship also extends to casual events. The alley hosts after-school bowling on weekdays, and on Saturdays, the staff cranks up music and turns on special effects lighting during an all-you-can-bowl party called Strike FX.
Visits often spill over into the onsite restaurant, Zachary's Grill. The menu puts standard snack bar food to shame with dozens of options such as handmade burgers and shareable baskets of dry ribs.
Dell Lanes hosts friendly competition among players throughout the week with regular bowling hours or laser bowling sessions on its collection of classic five-pin lanes furnished with plush couches and automatic scoring. The alley dims its lights and dusts off its futuristic hues for laser bowling each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. At the on-site bar and lounge, the kitchen staff fires up a full menu of traditional pub fare including house-made pizza, burgers, and beef sandwiches. Dell Lanes also hosts leagues for children, adults, and seniors, allowing the entire family to hone its skills for settling the neighbourly feud with the sparrows in the backyard birdhouse.
Rolling strikes is in the Marino family’s blood. The family has presided over Grandview Lanes for three generations, ever since Louis Marino established the alley back in 1947. In those days, the pins had to be set by hand, a task Louis's son, George, remembers all too well. As he told Westender reporter Mary Frances Hill, "You'd have 40 women bowling during the day (in the 1950s), and only two pin setters […]. So we'd run around like crazy."
Today, machines act as the alley’s pin setters, but the Marinos are still around and running the show. George's daughter, Tammy, manages the modernized alley, where automatic scoring makes things easier for a younger generation that has never seen a real wooden pencil. Some things haven't changed though. Bowlers can still visit the lunch counter once run by George's mother, fuelling up between frames with burgers or pizzas laden with a dozen different toppings. And, of course, the game remains relatively unchanged. Downstairs, guests choose between 5-pin or 10-pin bowling, and upstairs, black lights and neon wall murals set the psychedelic stage for the sport's most modern update—glow bowling.
Aside from providing a hub for clean, family-friendly fun, Grandview Lanes actively supports the community by helping the fundraising efforts of organizations such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and The Kensington Foundation for Animals in Crisis.
Since 1983, three-time Canadian bowling champion Richard Grubb has owned and operated North Shore Bowl and ensured that the lanes live up to his elite standards. The alley itself has welcomed bowlers since 1961 and offers 16 lanes of traditional five-pin bowling with open hours seven days a week. The lanes, which host men's, women's, and seniors' leagues, welcome luminescent bowlers each weekend for glow bowling. North Shore Bowl also hosts a collection of classic arcade games and a party room so that groups can sing privately to cakes before eating them.
Robin Hood Lanes attracts a discerning bowling crowd by rolling out a no-frills, classic bowling experience complete with 24 polished wood lanes. Grab rental shoes (a $3 value/pair), pick out a weighted sphere, and come swing a ball at 10 nervous pins, who might consider increasing their life-insurance policies as you take aim for two games (a $3.50 value/game/person until 6 p.m.; a $4.50 value/game/person from 6 p.m. to close). Bumper-bowling lanes are available for gutter opposers, and children 15 and younger can bowl for free all summer long (2 games/day until 6 p.m.; shoe rental not included and online registration required). When famished strikers and sparers need refueling, the on-site Friar Tuck Inn restaurant provides a selection of alleyway fare. Robin Hood Lanes keeps balls rolling until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and midnight every other night of the week, perfect for showing owls how much fun they could be having if they weren't always out hunting for the perfect nest lantern.