Pool Halls in Massachusetts

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The digital chorus of more than 40 arcade games soars above the rhythmic click of caroming billiard balls on Jillian's of Worcester's emerald expanses of felt. Good-natured competition finds an outlet at air-hockey tables, and a plethora of racing games let friends match wits or join forces against their true enemy: traffic cones. Versions of Deal Or No Deal and Wheel of Fortune and a selection of brand-new high-definition games glow festively near 24 Brunswick billiards tables. Private parties migrate to a lounge, where projection screens and high-definition televisions broadcast sporting events or news. Guests twirl or covertly stomp bubble wrap on the dance floor to the thumping rhythms of live music or follow noses to an array of appetizers, pizzas, paninis, and dinner entrees dispensed from the full-service kitchen.

315 Grove St
Worcester,
MA
US

Inside Kings, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of clattering sounds and uproarious cheers. The noise might stem from the bowling section, where glowing squares of abstract, retro wall art bookend the alleys. It might also come from ricocheting billiard balls, a well-aimed skee-ball, or a shuffleboard shot in the game room. Maybe someone spotted a celebrity—Bill Murray, Salma Hayek, and Lady Gaga are all on an extensive list of past famous visitors.

Wherever their origins, the telltale echoes of competition and camaraderie beckon to guests throughout the venue. They're accompanied in the air by the scents of comfort food, from staples such as sesame ginger wings to inventive fusions such as cheeseburger spring rolls. Sweeter aromas waft from multiple bars as the staff flavors martinis with gummy bears, pop rocks, and ice cream instead of the traditional fixings, olives or entire lemons on toothpicks.

As for sights, the surroundings blend vintage flair with luminous technology. More than 30 high-definition televisions line the space, broadcasting sports games and bowling scores. Though the game-room amenities differ slightly based on the town—Boston's Back Bay has six Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables, and Dedham boasts four miniature-roller-ball lanes—each Kings location hosts group events, including parties and corporate getaways where you can finally laugh at your boss's ridiculous shoes. Weekly themed nights for the public also encourage dancing, karaoke, and trivia.

50 Dalton St.
Boston,
MA
US

Eight ball in the corner pocket. A pool player announcing this at The Wave Sports Pub could be talking about any of the 124 corner pockets on the bar's 31 Brunswick Gold Crown tables. These share space in the pub with ping-pong tables, dartboards, and large, flat-screen HD televisions that broadcast sports ranging from football and college basketball to races between dads to find the TV clickers buried in their couches.

Games can be scored to the dulcet tones of local bands performing, music from a digital satellite jukebox. During karaoke every Thursday–Saturday, guests belt tunes from more than 10,000 songs that are updated every month. In the middle of all that entertainment, bartenders supply beer by the bottle and tap while the culinary team crafts classic pub food such as fried-shrimp baskets, Angus beef sliders, and mozzarella sticks.

411 Waverley Oaks Rd
Waltham,
MA
US

Wayland Community Pool's 10 lanes remain open for backstrokes, cannonballs, and flip-turns even when summer's heat gives way to winter's frigid temperatures. While the 25-yard lap-pool is typically outside, a temperature-controlled bubble covers grounds during the cold months, which means the swim team doesn't get slowed down by debilitating shivers or bulky chinchilla coats. All of the pool's programs—including swim lessons for children, water fitness classes for adults, and open swims for all swimmers—keep going throughout the year, without regard to seasonal temperature swings.

258 Old Connecticut Path
Wayland,
MA
US

As host to league battles between both the American Poolplayers Association (APA) and the North American Poolshooters Association (NAPA), Ivory Billiards Lounge takes its playing conditions very seriously, and has since 1945. Professional standard Simonis cloth covers keep balls rolling to their intended trajectory, and meticulous leveling ensures fair gameplay. Casual players learning the ropes or a reincarnated Minnesota Fats can rack 'em up on their expansive selection of pool pulpits, including 10 7-foot tables, nine 9-footers, and a rare 5'x10' table that was smuggled down a beanstalk. Gambling fans can get their kicks on Keno and Mass Lottery games, while of-age adults savor more than 30 flavors of vodka and a quintet of draft beers. Ivory Billiards Lounge is open seven days a week, and keeps night owls entertained until 2 a.m. every evening.

151 Chestnut St
Holyoke,
MA
US

Since taking its current name in 1975, Bayberry Bowling Center has blossomed from a 16-lane candlepin bowling alley to a modern entertainment center. Today, automatic scoring tracks every strike as video cameras record each frame, allowing bowlers to review their technique and rank their post-throw victory dances. Guests itching to improve their game can work with the alley's certified instructor, and those itching to improve their glass-handling skills can choose from 25 varieties of beer and wine as they watch the latest game on two 12-foot televisions. Competition continues in the billiards room, where players sink eight balls on two 8-foot and six 9-foot tables, and in the arcade, where visitors vie for tickets and prizes on a constantly updated array of video games. Bayberry Bowling Center stays open until 11 p.m. seven days a week.

326 Main St
Spencer,
MA
US