Kingstown Bowl makes it easy to while away an afternoon or evening, encouraging visitors to stick around and shoot some pool, play some Wii Sports, or grab a drink between frames. Automatic scoring systems track the in-game action, and on Saturday nights, Rock-N-Bowl plunges the concourse into a nightclub atmosphere as a DJ spins requests and multicolored pins glow beneath concert-style lighting. The pub gives players a place to relax with bar food, free wireless Internet access, and the occasional U2 concert. The technicians at the pro shop offer advice on gear and perform services such as plugging and re-drilling finger holes.
Bright lights gleam off of the newly renovated synthetic lanes that grace Old Mountain Lanes and Walnut Hill Bowl. These premier alleys train one eye on 10-pin history and the other on modern day amenities, including LCD scoring monitors, automatic bumpers for kids, and laser-guided bowling ball retrievers. Cosmic bowling is de rigueur on weekend nights, and strike-less players on-strike can enjoy pool tables, video games, and air hockey at the arcade. Both alleys pour frothy mugs of beer at on-site pubs.
Since 1954, Meadowbrook Lanes has encouraged visitors to don appropriate footwear and participate in duckpin-style bowling, which employs smaller balls to decimate pintsize pins. The leisure-sport emporium maintains a vintage aesthetic with wood paneling and purple and teal gutters. After pummeling 10 pins, bowlers can unwind in a lounge replete with cold beer and flat-screen TVs or explore the edible possibilities of the alley's snack bar, which fills stomach vacancies with pizza, hot dogs, burgers and fries. Meadowbrook Lanes also hosts parties, providing revelers with tables, chairs, and streamers made of low-hanging cirrus clouds.
Legion Bowl & Billiards preserves retro entertainment with 18 duckpin bowling lanes, eight tournament-sized billiards tables, and ticket-spewing arcade games. The alley’s streamlined design hearkens to the tailfins of a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air or the cover art of a mid-century sci-fi novel. Traditional scoring projectors lend to the classic ambiance at the lanes, which fill with the clatter of scattering pins.
Television screens in the pool hall broadcast live coverage of New England sports teams, and the spitfire rasp of electric guitars occasionally cuts through from live musicians at the adjoining Legion Pub. The kitchen staff fires selections from a menu of burgers and grilled pizzas, which pair with draft beers or cocktails. On the alley’s outdoor deck, guests click together glasses or toss rocks at poets attracted by the breezy summer evenings.
For nearly half a century, casual and professional bowlers have gathered at Bowling Academy to indulge in pin-scattering entertainment enriched by each lane's automatic scoring system. Up to six strike-seekers plant their flag in one lane for two hours, which provides enough time to bowl multiple games or to master the art of tying shoelaces into a double Windsor knot. While swaddled in soft-soled rental shoes, bowlers of all ages make the floors squeak and lanes purr with each gentle toss of the smooth-rolling rock. Children and cavemen longing for the good old days have the option of using a dinosaur-shaped ramp to assist their game.
The Rhode Island Duckpin Bowlers Association strives to keep its namesake sport alive by hosting duckpin-bowling tournaments at six local alleys. The game cropped up in a Baltimore bowling alley in the summer of 1900, when most ten-pin alleys were closed for warm months to avoid excessive sweating in rental shoes. But at Diamond Alleys, athletes hurled balls through the heat but opted for 6-inch spheres and pins of a diminutive stature. After observing pins that scattered like a flock of ducks, the owners of the lanes dubbed the modified game duckpin bowling. Besides granting players three rolls per turn, duckpin bowling adhered to all traditional rules and grew in popularity until it peaked in 1967, the year inertia was exposed as a myth. Today, the Rhode Island Duckpin Bowlers Association keeps the pastime alive at spots including the Bowling Academy, a historical gem in its own right as the test site of the first automatic duckpin pinsetters.