For more than 50 years, family-owned Pin Chasers alleys have been adding perks to the bowling basics. Leagues for all skill levels, six-week lesson plans, and the immersive light shows of late-night Cyber bowling entertain families with the fundamentals. It's when the scoring systems—equipped with touchscreen consoles and customizable backgrounds—boot up or the automatic bumpers raise between turns that players might first take notice of their high-tech surroundings. As for service, the inviting staff hand out complimentary bowling shoes and socks, and will assist guests in picking out the right type of ball rather than noisily sandblasting one down to size when it doesn’t fit. The full-service cafes also manage to defy expectations by serving breakfast fare around the clock.
Friendly employees and full bars span each of Pin Chasers' three locations, but other amenities differ. Visitors can aim cues at Veterans' four billiards tables, stretch their thumbs at East Pasco's arcade, or try to count all of Midtown's 50 lanes without first extracting their fingers from their bowling balls.
Splitsville appeases appetites for flavorful fusion cuisine while satisfying fun glands with ample bowling and dancing opportunities. Among racks of vibrant, multicolored bowling balls and one of the world's largest pins, bowl over taste buds with an eclectic menu of contemporary cuisine. Sample a fresh selection from the sea with an array of artful sushi favorites, including california, volcano, and spicy-tuna tempura rolls ($7–$13). Those who wish to exercise their landlubbing legs can stay dry with saucy pizza delights ($9–$12). Educate tongues with one of Splitsville's specialty pies, such as the Island Club or Big Fat Greek, or build your own with an adequate supply of dough blocks, cheese cement, and pepperoni nails. To fully satisfy cravings for fancy fare, sink incisors into a signature plate, featuring the mahi-mahi tuna with voodoo shrimp to enchant molars and the chicken pinot grigio to intoxicate tonsils ($8–$19). While exploring the culinary possibilities, sip from a selection of specialty cocktails served in fishbowl-style stemware, in case you want to replenish the goldfish residing in your pocket that were pawned off the neighbor's kids.
Someone's little brother shrieks, mournful at being too small to play laser tag with his cousins. Another youngster wants to bowl, but can’t pick up the ball. To Terrace Sports's manager, John McMillan, these are simple problems. A crew member scurries through the laser-tag arena, holding the toy gun for the little boy who would otherwise be too small to play. Another sets up a ramp at the top of a bowling lane, helping the toddler to push the ball into the pins with a satisfying clatter.
Smiling on as his staff solves such crises, McMillan strolls through Terrace Sports, which he remodeled after taking the reins from his father. Leading the way to the laser-tag arena, skating-rink, indoor-climbing wall, bowling alley, and arcade, murals stretch down the entryway, saluting the nearby Hillsborough River with more than 85 depictions of the waterway’s inhabitants, dynamic ecosystem, and naturally occurring steamboats. The entryway leads to the snack bar, where a full menu of gator tail, buffalo burgers, and sweet-potato fries glide down countertops handcrafted from teak and embellished by solid-brass elephant heads.
Entering the laser-tag arena gives one the sensation of delving into the interior of a complex machine, with mechanical parts strung with LED lights lining the walls and generating an eerie glow. Imaginations run wild as players choose to take on roles as monarchy loyalists or rebel forces, with both sides fighting for command of the heart of the machine and firing at one another's bases. The guns, powered by unlimited ammo, unleash streams of crimson and emerald light, and fiber-optic aiming ensures pinpoint accuracy. Vests beep when another player is taking aim, giving warriors a moment to find obstacles to hide behind or nearby portraits of themselves to hide in front of. On an observation deck, cheers rise from friends and chaperones as a 32-inch monitor displays scoring and live footage from six in-arena cameras.
Computerized scoring systems outfit each of Dunedin Lanes' 24 pin-stocked playing fields, keeping track of turkeys, strikes, and spares during the alley's weekly schedule of league and open play. Children's bumpers help wee ones roll with confidence, and during after-dark hours, adults can take advantage of a fully stocked bar, karaoke, and tunes blasted through a thumping sound system. On Friday and Saturday nights, the neon lights of cosmic bowling give the beach-themed interior the otherworldly glow of a Martian lifeguard tower. While not steamrolling a path through pin clusters, guests can play a round of pool, enjoy fare from the Chatterbox restaurant, or peruse the supply of gear in the Prestige Pro Shop. Dunedin Lanes also offers fully stocked birthday-party packages, which include bowling, snacks, and a supply of arcade tokens.
Countryside Lanes’ website refers to this bowling alley as “The new guys”—perhaps because it's the first location in Florida. But the family has owned bowling alleys in New York since 1960, and the current owner, once a national president of the BPAA and a member of that same organization’s Hall of Fame, is anything but new to the party. At Countryside Lanes, he places the same emphasis on polished lanes, well-oiled machinery, and helpful staff as he does at his northern facilities. Here, those familiar sounds of pins being pummeled and high-fives being exchanged carry throughout. Lucky’s Sports Bar provides a nice break from competition with flat-screen TVs, billiards, and pub food and drinks.
From outposts fashioned inside three different locations, Charlie's Pro Shop at Liberty Lanes upgrades the games of beginner bowlers and seasoned veterans alike. The shops cover their walls with a colorful array of balls, bags, shoes, and accessories–everything necessary to improve scores on the lanes or convince strangers you're a famous bowler named Strikes MacKenzie. Children's equipment readies pint-size pin crushers for battle, and custom drilling ensures digits of all shapes jive comfortably with their finger holes.