A combination bowling alley, lounge and restaurant, Philadelphia’s North Bowl bills itself as being “strikingly different.” It’s an apt description given its modern, geometric exterior and space-agey retro interior. This bi-level Northern Liberties hot spot lets bowlers fuel up on appetizers, salads – including the Bowlympian, a mix of romaine, tomatoes, red onions, olives and feta – burgers and sliders, as well as eleven flavors of tater tots, including the Mazel Tots, which are topped with apple sauce and sour cream. Downstairs, the hip patrons pull on their bowling shoes and aim for strikes amid the orange and beige 1950s furniture, while upstairs, a glowing royal-blue bar awaits. There are even four private lanes that can be rented out for private events, as well as a perch from which to watch the action below.
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.
Philadelphia Sports Network boasts more than 10,000 members, making it the largest organization for recreational sports in Philadelphia. Registration in the adults-only coed dodgeball league includes team shirts, equipment, two referees per game, free post-game drinks, championship prizes, special PSN Pass discount card, and more. Dodgeball teams play seven or eight weekly matches including playoffs and championship games. Teams contain a minimum of nine players who rotate onto the court for a six-on-six, action-packed recreation of the playground battlegrounds of yore.
At the crossroads where bowling and fitness meet stands Sweat Fitness and Frames, a facility that houses both a full gym and a 10-lane bowling alley under the same roof. On the bowling side, competitors rack up points and quench their thirst thanks to the center's BYOB policy and strict ban on water fountains that dispense vinegar. Fitness professionals maintain surveillance over the gym area, where they offer up advice to exercisers using weights and cardio equipment. Group fitness classes are available throughout the week to members, who also enjoy free access to the bowling lanes.
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.
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.