Family-friendly and fully loaded, Vantage Bowling Centers boasts lane after lane of well-maintained surfaces, modern scoring, and bumpers primed and ready to boost any youngster's score and attitude. To amp up the alley-based excitement, various alleys also host Cyber/Cosmic Bowling, an intergalactic amalgamation of flashy lights, fog machines, fresh pop beats, and occasional flying saucer sightings, often identified as piping-hot pizza from the food counter. Beyond pizza, most locations provide a range of eats and thirst quenchers, including burgers, fries, sodas, and a variety of adult beverages such as draft beer and milkshakes made entirely of Wall Street Journal clippings. Select locations keep the action rolling as late as 1 a.m. on weekends. Call ahead to check for lane availability.
Golden Pin Lanes hosts healthy competition atop 48 sparkling new composite lanes and features an advanced scoring system, which keeps track of points scored, player order, and the winner's fingerprints. Late at night, staffers flip on strobe lights and turn up dance tunes before heading back to the bar to pour happy-hour drinks and serve pizza and popcorn. Within the 50,000-square-foot entertainment citadel, a fleet of flat-screen TVs projects the latest sports games, and pool tables and video games give hands a break from all that heavy lifting.
At Bedroxx Bowling, stone columns and prehistoric cave-like structures carry the weight of the Flintstones-esque theme, while 30 state-of-the-art bowling lanes and a veritable maze of amusements balance the decor with modern entertainment amenities. Inside the 44,000-square-foot entertainment center—which won Tucson Weekly's Readers Pick award for Best Bowling Alley in 2010–2011—every corner teems with activity. Bowlers pummel pins and avoid bumpers like an elitist avoids the common cold during 10-frame competitions. Overhead screens flare up with music videos, video games flash and beep in the video arcade room, and pool players battle it out over billiards and foosball in The Quarry, a full-service country bar that keeps patrons fueled and entertained with drinks and live music on weekends. Winners at the Toy Box game center can redeem their hard-earned tickets for a host of prizes and then celebrate with nachos, hot dogs, and Bedroxx pizza at the snack shack.
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 (up to a $4.39 value).
Green Valley Lanes recently updated its facility to include a new scoring system with 32-inch LCD monitors and cameras, resurfaced and newly buffed lanes, and Brunswick all-wood professional pins. The biggest innovation, however, was the installation of rooftop solar panels, which allow the alley to be completely powered by the sun. But while the renovations have given the facility a modern luster, the rules of the classic sport remain the same, as couples, families, and pros alike engage in 10-frame competitions to see who can pummel the most pins and who can deliver the most heartfelt apology afterwards. The familiar beeps emanating from the video arcade act as a siren call for thumbs eager to twiddle the joysticks of games such as Street Fighter and Tekken 3, and bowlers can rest their throwing arms while savoring a cocktail or beer at the Wet Spot bar and lounge or slices of pizza crafted with homemade dough at the Perky's Pizza snack bar.
It's hard not to be impressed by FlipSide. It's a family gaming center and bowling alley, so one would expect it to be hectic and sticky with the spills and stains often left in rambunctious children's wake. But in fact, it's impeccable. The brand-new digs have gleaming wood floors, modern furniture, and industrial open ceilings.
As you settle into one of the plush banquettes at the end of a bowling lane, FlipSide becomes even more impressive once you realize what else the space is clean of. There's no stale smoke lingering in the air or puddles of stale beer on the tables; there's no gruff banter coming from the tipsy league players a few lanes down. That's because FlipSide is truly a family place?they don't serve alcohol, and the lanes are exclusively for open bowling. As families toss colorful balls down the 28 AMF-standard lanes, projection screens above the pins let Mom and Dad check the score of the football game while they're teaching the kids how to pick up a spare and get a salon-quality blowout using the lane's hand dryer.
Elsewhere, kids and parents can strategize attack plans in the two-floor laser-tag arena, battle each other in nearly 60 arcade games, and send each other spinning in collisions of bumper car crash pods with 360-degree range of motion. Parents will also appreciate high-end touches such as a billiards area.
Fueling the activities is the Roundtrip Cafe, where an experienced kitchen staff serve up brick-oven pizzas, sirloin burgers, and even rib eye steak. Families can gather and enjoy a meal that's far more satisfying than the hunk of cheese at the center of FlipSide's laser maze.