At Thunderbird's four modern bowling arenas, families and friends demolish pins arranged at the end of up to 36 slick lanes. Boulder chuckers slip on chic rental sneakers, pirouette, and send the 12-pound sphere trundling past gutters into a smug stand of pins. The option of bumpers aids little ones in nudging smaller orbs down the timber avenue. Thunderbird's lanes are programmed with AMF automatic scoring, freeing hands from cramp-inducing feats of addition.
North bowl is anything but a typical bowling alley. Previously a mechanic's garage, North Bowl Lounge n Lanes was completely overhauled in 2006 before reopening as a swank, 21,000-square-foot retro-style bowling alley and nightclub. With two floors, an upscale comfort food menu, a large bar, and a vast sweep of polished wood lanes, it's become a North Philadelphia gathering place for the 21-and-over crowd.
The food here isn't anything like typical bar fare, either. Upstairs in the cafe, diners munch on Baja-style fish tacos with housemade salsa or Cajun mac n' cheese as they overlook the lanes below through windows. After bowling, there's more fun to be had in the retro arcade, where video games and pinball machines offer a form of competition that requires no heavy lifting and wearing special shoes is optional.
Pinsetter Bar & Bowl's 34 polished lanes reflect their speedy pin-setting machines and the feet of bowlers in soft-soled shoes speeding their balls toward pins. As competition thickens, guests gaze upward to see high-definition monitors broadcasting music videos and bowling stats compiled by the automatic scoring system. After successful rounds, a full bar and lounge wafts the scent of its gourmet fare toward the famished with its barbecue-pork sliders, mussels, and mac 'n' cheese bites. Private events also get special treatment, as guests recline on leather couches in the VIP lounge, which overlooks lanes to be used exclusively by partygoers and the bowling balls that love them.
While the scoring may be faster and the tunes louder, Wynnewood Lanes still maintains the laidback atmosphere it had on its opening day in 1962. At the 24-lane alley guests mow down pins and snack on pizza at The Beer Frame Lounge. As weekend evenings fade into night, live DJs start blasting tunes through the sound system, inspiring guests to dance under the alley’s glowing neon lights. Simultaneously, a fog machine fills the room with a haziness that confuses bowlers into thinking karaoke singers are really the ghosts of long-gone rock 'n' rollers.
For more than 50 years, Facenda-Whitaker Lanes has trained Pennsylvanian strike and spare forces with 50 lanes of premier rolling grounds. Up to four companions will take to the bowling center’s polished alleys for two hours of uninterrupted spherical dueling, facing off with a staggering mastery of focus, ball english, and pin targeting. Facenda-Whitaker Lanes keeps its doors open 24 hours a day to entertain sleepwalkers tired of boring strolls around the living room and outfits each lane with optional bumpers for bowlers of all ages.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, as party songs thump in the background, lasers beam over a row of 24 lanes—each home to a rack of glowing pins—and reflect off their thin layer of oil into the fog. Of course, Playdrome Devon Lanes hosts regular open-bowling hours throughout the rest of the week, when it echoes with the sound of crashing pins and celebratory sirens from the on-site arcade. Though unseen, heard, or smelled, the signal from complimentary WiFi streams through the air as well, allowing players to post their high scores online or to look up the cheat codes that enable the bowling balls' rocket boosters. Playdrome Devon Lanes also allows customers to bring their own food and beverages.