Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that comprise America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $10 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (a $3.99 value).
Every day of the week, Lisle Lanes rumbles as bowling balls collide with pins on 32 lanes. The facility remains a constant hive of activity, spreading competition across a combination of leagues, tournaments, parties, and pickup games. When they’re not secretly filling an opponent’s ball with cake frosting in between frames, players keep busy by visiting the onsite pro shop or the Kingpin Grille, stocked with freshly made pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers. They can also visit the alley’s game room or lounge for additional doses of recreation.
In October 1957, the owners of Suburbanite Bowl watched their dream become a reality as they opened the doors of their brand-new alley perched atop a swampy piece of land at the end of a gravel road. Since then, Suburbanite Bowl has undergone multiple renovations and has doubled their lane space. Today the 32-lane alley is outfitted with a modern Bose music system and automatic scoring for those with pencil phobias. Home to open bowling and leagues geared toward all demographics, the alley garnered praise from Centerstage for its black-light bowling, when music "well-suited for busting out a cocky strut" blares across glowing lanes. The festivities unfold on Friday and Saturday nights after 8 p.m.
Players can also compete in Bill and Frank's Game Room, where classic and contemporary arcade games and an LCD TV border four softly lit pool tables. Nearby, the snack shop caters onsite parties and helps bowlers power throwing arms without having to plug them into a wall socket.
On Saturday nights at Channahon Lanes and Riverfront Lanes, the lights turn down and the music turns up as colored lights flash on the lanes. This weekly event is called Rock It Bowl and lends both bowling alleys the lively feel of a nightclub or the bedroom of a kid who's really afraid of the dark. Bumpers can be called into action on any lane, and even during the day, the clatter of pins is backdropped by music. Between frames, grownups can escape to the bar for a brew and kids can make their way to the video games in the arcade.
The designers of Funway Ultimate Entertainment Center built the interactive, 5-acre playground to give friends and family access to engaging activities any time of the year. During warmer months, kids and energetic adults transform into watery pinballs at the bumper boats and pilot speedy go-karts on a 700-foot outdoor course. Batting cages let guests knock the covers off balls and the rust off their swings, and soccer cages give footy fans the chance to test their kicking and trapping skills. Guests can also soak in rays while putting around a wagon-trail-themed mini-golf course sporting 16 tricky holes, and the trampoline-enhanced game of Jump Shot creates a whole new way to enjoy basketball. When the weather is not as favorable, guests can head to the indoor area at Funway, which is packed with a plethora of activities for family daycations, including a modern 20-lane bowling alley and an old-fashioned roller rink with a choice of quads or inline skates. Bumper cars provide a dry alternative to the wet-and-wild bumper boats, and Rock & Roll indoor mini golf glows under black lights. Rounding out the rollicking activities is the arcade, boasting more than 75 video games and pinball machines, along with the laser maze and hunger-quenching Big R Corner Bar.