Towering alongside Clayton Road, the Tropicana Lanes sign has a vintage, weather-beaten look acquired after more than 50 years of welcoming visitors. Three generations of Richmond Heights bowlers have ventured into the facility during this time, scattering pins across the same 52 lanes that have hosted the nationally televised Professional Bowlers Tour. Owner and PBA Hall of Fame inductee Ray Bluth oversees the day-to-day operations of the alley—which, despite its retro disposition, sports modern extras such as automatic scoring and singing shoelaces. Between frames, bowlers can kick back inside the cocktail lounge, play pool in the game room, or munch on wings, nachos, and hot dogs from the snack bar.
Both eight-lane alleys come from the old school and serve up "bowling the way it used to be," when film was more filmy and carpet designs were mesmerizingly carpety. Take a virtual tour of Moolah or Saratoga. At Saratoga, you'll keep track of your score on paper, just like President James Monroe, so Wii-cosseted bowlers may have to bone up on their strike and spare calculations. There are no laser lights, smoke machines, or thumping discojock jams to sully the moment when ball perfectly hooks into one-pin.
The rolling thunderclaps of scattering pins fill the air at Imperial Bowl, where sphere flingers hunt strikes and spares across 30 lanes set in an ultraclean, modern facility. As bowlers attempt to stay out of the gutter like a renegade raindrop, automated scorekeeping charts the current pin count, displaying all scores on a digital screen. Imperial Bowl complements its slick lanes with entertaining extras, including arcade games, pool tables, and cosmic bowling. The alleyway also hosts leagues for casual and serious competitors alike, and a full-service bar and concession area ensures ball-free hands remain filled with beers, sodas, and snacks.
At Shrewsbury Lanes, 10 white appendages await punishment from careening spheres at the end of 24 polished alleys. Automatic scoring screens keep count at every lane so that rollers can concentrate on picking up seven-ten splits, savoring hot eats from the snack counter, and grabbing cold beers or daily happy hour cocktails from No Bul's Bar. During birthday packages, revelers can bounce between bowling alleys and party rooms, which are stocked with hot dogs, drinks, and chips. Shrewsbury Lanes also hosts leagues for bowlers who enjoy more serious competition or nostalgic adults who were raised inside trophy cases. The roar of ransacked pins echoes throughout the facility until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Hazelwood Bowl boasts 24 retro renovated bowling lanes and redesigned restaurant and bar areas for sporty entertainment and family fun. After wrangling a pair of bowling shoes, duos of 10-pin enthusiasts can perfect their arm swings with two hours on the lanes, complete with bumper bowling for youngsters and automatic scoring to keep abacuses fresh and ready for tallying UFO sightings (up to a $12 value/person). Then customers can head over to The Wood Bar & Grill to conquer worked up appetites with a St. Louis–style pizza with one topping, including Italian sausage, jalapeños, mushrooms, and more (an $8.95 value), all washed down with a pitcher of soda (a $4 value). Families of four and barbershop quartets can combine two Groupons for larger group frivolity.
At Crest Bowl, pins scatter across the gleaming hardwood of 32 bowling lanes equipped with up-to-date scoring equipment, lending a baritone rumble to a chorus of cheery shouts. Patrons lace up bowling shoes to improve smooth approaches and ward off sandal-model scouts. Mr. Karaoke conducts sing-alongs multiple nights a week, and cosmic bowling nights allow players to work toward a perfect game and experience the thrill of riding a comet amid upbeat music and the glow of laser lights. When three consecutive strikes put turkey on bowlers' minds, Brickhouse Pizza Company sates appetites with pizzas and sandwiches and fuels victory toasts with a full bar.
Inside a 9-acre family fun center, orb-tossers young and old drive spheres down Concord Lanes' 32 glossy lanes, and outside, miniature-golf enthusiasts putt their way around a desert-themed 18-hole course. Tepees, outcroppings, and an active waterfall cover the pintsize fairways and greens, creating a unique layout that was named the Best Miniature Golf by the Riverfront Times.
Nearby, nine batting cages hurl baseballs and softballs at varying speeds, and three sand volleyball courts await bouts of friendly competition. Overlooking the sandy courts, an outdoor deck invites guests to lounge in the sun with casual fare from the Coyote Canyon Salon and Cafe. The indoor section pumps jukebox tunes as pool balls sink into the pockets of the billiards table or a passing kleptomaniac.