In 1880, Justin P. White created candlepin bowling because he felt that traditional bowling wasn't challenging enough. Today, Leda Lanes continues this East Coast tradition, where bowlers clutch softball-sized balls before sending them down the lane toward tall, thin pins. Though the game is a throwback, the staff keeps things modern with state-of-the-art scoring systems at each lane. A concession stand provides snacks, while Kegler's Den Lounge provides libations to keep bowlers going till the next string.
Time travel might not be possible yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn back the clocks at Harvard Bowling Lanes, an old-fashioned alley offering 14 candlepin lanes, vintage decor, and the tactile joys of paper-and-pencil scoring. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the old-school facility does a complete 180, transforming itself into a futuristic cosmic bowling alley saturated in colorful lights and music. After any cosmic or traditional bowling session, the alley invites guests to continue the competition in a vibrant onsite arcade that, unfortunately, does not feature old-timey games such as hoop-and-stick and stick-without-hoop.
Boredom meets its demise at Acton Bowladrome, a multifaceted complex owned by a family that has been entertaining other families for more than 40 years. There, 16 synthetic candlepin-bowling lanes speed balls toward rattling glory as friends, leagues, and parties rack up high scores. Away from the smashing pins, the Bowladrome's onsite, ‘50s-style restaurant, Burgerdrome, takes taste buds on a ride through time with burgers, shakes, pizzas, and views of the alley from its polished counter, bright-red booths, and checkered floor. Those vintage vibes continue into the arcade, filled with titles such as Guitar Hero and Bed Monsters, and the Retrocade, where gamers swap quarters for classic-game play and the chance to beat the Fonz’s high scores.
Sacco’s Bowl Haven was one of many candlepin bowling alleys the Sacco family opened in the first half of the twentieth century. Not much has changed since that day in 1939 when the alley first opened its doors: the lanes are still smooth and polished, and the pins are still neatly poised in clusters of ten. The only difference today is the presence of Flatbread Somerville, who took over the alley to ensure that the only rumbling in Sacco’s comes from pins, not stomachs. Their flatbread pizzas are made from 100% organically grown dough and then baked to a crisp in wood-fired ovens. Between frames, bowlers can feast on pies topped with smoked free-range pork shoulder, fresh organic rosemary, and organic tomato sauce made in a wood-fired cauldron, all the while toasting local draft beers to high-scores, good times, and shared shoe sizes.
South Boston Candlepin challenges bowlers to take aim at pintsize pins during rounds of a New England–born variation on the traditional lane-based game. On the alley’s hardwood lanes, bowlers roll 2.5-pound candlepin bowling balls that lack the holes and molten centers of their 10-pin counterparts. Developed in 1880 by a Massachusetts bowling-alley owner, candlepin bowling tasks participants with dispersing crowds of pins that are thinner than standard 10-pin targets and weigh just a little more than the balls that hunt them. While honing curves and picking up spares, bowlers compete in 10-frame games until someone usurps victory or starts cooing to the tiny balls like they're infants.
Lucky Strike Lanes' polished, retro-sleek atmosphere and state-of-the-art technology lets sphere-hurlers pitch heavy urethane baseballs down a slick aisle toward precisely placed whitewashed wooden sticks in the high style of a '60s ad executive or a top-hatted cartoon penguin. Each of the alley's colorful, state-of-the-art bowling lanes comes with electronic scoring, customizable presentations, and psychedelic lighting. Diehard sport devotees, meanwhile, can catch up on the day's sporting matches at the bar, where high-definition plasma screens broadcast the heart-pounding action of championship Chinese checkers with flawless clarity. Or retire to one of the 12 pool tables for an evening of hustling and counter-hustling.