Each facility in the family of Rockford-Area Bowling Centers enlivens the classic game of bowling with its own signature amenities. On Friday evenings, the staff at Don Carter Lanes temporarily extinguishes its warm, vintagey glow and replaces it with a dimly lit club atmosphere as DJs from 97 ZOK descend upon the alley, pumping out beats that mingle in the air along with a light and fog show. For supplementary entertainment, the Don Carter location also offers a gaming center, and the Park Lanes alley recharges guests with beer and deep-fried fuel at its onsite pub. The Cherry Bowl location keeps serious bowlers properly outfitted with a pro shop, saving them the hassle of paper-mâchéing their own heads to form makeshift bowling balls.
Open since the 1950s, B & B Park Bowl?the oldest bowling center in Loves Park?proves that some things stand the test of time. Owner-operator Butch Olson, a veteran bowler, has also played here for years, and he strives to make the alley a family-friendly destination. To that end, the eight Brunswick Anvil lanes boast 12-strike auto scoring systems, bumpers for the little ones, and rental shoes that start at toddler size 9. On the weekends, the lights dip low for glow-in-the-dark bowling. The onsite bar serves drinks as well as hot sandwiches and, on Friday nights, hearty dinner entrees.
Just beyond the clattering pins at Don Carter Lanes, the cooks at Shooter’s Bar & Grill slather chicken wings in sauces such as teriyaki and Cajun, and load custom half-pound burgers with ingredients that can include everything from cheese and onion rings to fried eggs and peanut butter. In addition to pastas and four-topping pizzas, they prepare eight leafy amalgamations, such as chicken caesar salads and taco salads. For dessert, they forge The Big Dipper, whose medley of brownies, ice cream, chocolate, caramel, whipped cream, hunks of Oreo and chocolate, chocolate Swiss Rolls, and cherries remains consistently visible above the 41-degree line of latitude.