Forty-eight bowling balls can roll down the 48 lanes at once, sending pins flying in a heath-thumping clatter. Erie Lanes? size accommodates hordes of bowling parties at once. And it isn?t just bowling that entertains crowds. Balls clatter atop pool tables in the game room, and a toy crane snaps at stuffed animals. And on select nights, the bowling lanes glow under black lights and disco balls, and a fog machine turns on full blast during cosmic bowling games. The on-site caf? refuels bowlers with pizzas, nachos, and burgers drowning in bleu cheese and bacon bits.
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.
The building that would eventually become Merriam Theater opened as the Sam S. Shubert Theater in 1918, honoring the famous, theater-owning Shubert family’s youngest member, who died tragically in a train accident a decade earlier. Following the fortunes of its fellow theaters, the Merriam's inaugural years saw success with toe-tapping Gershwin musicals and spine-tingling Shakespearean performances by John Barrymore. As vaudeville petered out and the country slid into a depression, the theater struggled to pay the bills through more tawdry means, hosting burlesque shows and letting patrons see the stage without its curtain. The University of Arts eventually bought the building in 1972, and restored the venue to its former glory as host to the country's finest performers.
Just steps from South Street in Philadelphia, Society Hill Playhouse showcases some of the best and most fun theatrical productions in the city. Rather than focusing on high art or avant-garde performances, Society Hill Playhouse creates accessible productions for a wider non-theatergoing crowd. Popular shows like Lafferty's Wake, Nunsense, Schoolhouse Rock Live and Menopause: The Musical have been attracting audiences since the theater space opened in 1960. The building itself is its own spectacle, having been built over a century ago, and inside, the playhouse houses two performance spaces. Downstairs, the cabaret-style Red Room seats 99 guests, while the more traditional theater upstairs can accommodate 250. An on-site bar serves beverages during performances.
Walking into Rolling Thunder Skating Center feels a lot like walking into an indoor carnival: there are rides inside, an arcade with video games and skeeball, and there's even a mural of a rollercoaster on the walls. Still, the center's core identity pulses on the groove of pure roller fun, boasting an expansive rink and its own pizzeria. Around the whole scene, skaters can glide and groove to Top-40 tunes. Parents can join kids on the rink, or watch from the booths in the seating area to ensure that their kids are safe and aren't mouthing any lyrics to Will Smith's Parent's Just Don't Understand.
Children crawl, climb, and careen through The Little Treehouse's sprawling wonderland, pausing only to dine with their parents at a café that Main Line Today named one of 2011's Best Restaurants for Kids. Socked feet scale sophisticated play structures and scream sonnets into pillow piles under colorful mobiles while high-quality wooden toys sow new synapses. Guests can stretch imaginations and limbs during yoga and movement classes, somersault through tumbling classes for different age groups, and schmooze with peers during seasonal and private events. Between romping sessions, tots can don bibs for a helping of organic, sugar-free applesauce at the café, where parents sip fair-trade coffee whilst navigating free WiFi and reminiscing about the steam-powered web browsers of their youth. The kitchen is open for lunch every day and for dinner Wednesday–Sunday, filling a wholesome menu with pasta, paninis, and brick-oven pizzas wrought with whole-wheat dough and local ingredients whenever possible. In clement conditions, adults can bring a bottle of wine to the outdoor terrace to watch their children play with bubbles and write chalk prescriptions for cootie remedies.