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.
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.
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.
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.
Thirty-two lanes, some bordered by bumpers, set the stage for friendly competition at Liberty Lanes. Bumper-equipped lanes keep kids away from the gutters, and on weekend nights, music pulses through the alley for Lights Out in Largo glow bowling, during which laser lights and disco balls shine rays more colorful than a sailor's SAT vocabulary book. The onsite King Pin Bar & Grill refuels human pendulums with wings, burgers, and beer, and a pro shop stocks the necessary gear for private lessons with certified gold coach Bill Zuben or a climactic 10-frame showdown with the unbeatable ball-return machine.
Scores of synthetic lanes span the length of Lane Glo Bowl, hosting open hours and special events for groups and individuals throughout the week. Flat-screen TVs display scores high above each lane, leaving ample room in lounge areas for victory laps. Each Saturday, the alley takes on incandescent hues for cosmic bowling, and the on-site bar hosts a live DJ and karaoke stage. Lane Glo's bar hosts pool tournaments each Wednesday, and its on-site arcade brims with flashing lights from games including skee-ball and air hockey. Bowling clubs and leagues are available for adults, children, and seniors, as are private parties for birthdays or businesses still recovering from the bee-wrangling event at last year's company field day.