Greatest Bowling Alleys in America
It’s been more than half a century since Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton of "The Honeymooners" escaped the drudgery of life on New York City’s bus routes and sewers with trips to Brooklyn’s Acme Alley as members of "The Hurricanes" bowling team.
To many in our modern age, the American bowling alley may seem as antiquated as "The Honeymooners" (or even "Kingpin" or "The Big Lebowski"). But while bowling is no longer the popular pastime it was during its heyday in the 1950s, the Acme Alleys of today have reinvented themselves as all-purpose entertainment venues, drawing patrons as much for dining and gaming experiences, musical acts and laser light shows as well-oiled lanes.
If "The Honeymooners" were rebooted in the United States — which now has over 5,000 bowling centers — Ralph and Ed might be found at Acme Alley’s karaoke lounge or nursing a "Hurricane" cocktail (or craft beer) at the full-service lounge, in between hurling strikes (or gutter balls) on the lanes.
Here’s a look at great American bowling alleys that would make Ralph Kramden and "The Hurricanes" proud.
Rock 'n' Bowl — New Orleans
Bottom line: As much a music venue as a bowling alley, this famed venue in the Big Easy dates to 1941 and features live bands every night, with patrons known to dance between the lanes.
Rock 'n ' Bowl also is known as the only alley in the country that grinds its own chuck. Beyond burgers and fries, the menu features such Bayou specialties as shrimp remoulade and fried bread pudding po'boy.
The Goodnight — Austin, Texas
Bottom line: Famous for its pet-friendly deck, elevated lounges and private karaoke room, The Goodnight is in the process of relocating to a new Austin location that will feature a "new menu, tablet scoring, virtual reality, karaoke and more."
Let’s hope the new location recreates the huge mural of characters from "The Big Lebowski" and "Kingpin" that was a fixture of the previous site.
JB’s on 41 — Milwaukee
Opened: 1950 (formerly Olympic Lanes, renovated in 2012)
Bottom line: JB’s is one of the thousands of U.S. bowling centers and attracts kids and adults alike with attractions such as glow bowling and special effects lighting.
It has a nightclub vibe on weekends, an expansive arcade ("The Speed Zone") and 25 Milwaukee-themed lanes that include lightweight bowling balls, dragon ramps and automatic bumpers.
If you want to try your hand at a different sport, JB's offers a summer volleyball league in its very own volleyball pavilion.
The Alley — Charleston, South Carolina
Bottom line: "It’s not just a bowling alley" is how The Alley introduces itself on its website.
In addition to its eight lanes for bowling, The Alley offers patrons three bars (one made of recycled bowling wood) featuring craft beers, retro 1970s arcade games and two 160-inch projection TVs.
And if the bowling league doesn’t suit your tastes, you can take a whack at its ping-pong league.
Brooklyn Bowl — Brooklyn, New York
Bottom line: A combination music venue-restaurant-bowling alley in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, wind-powered Brooklyn Bowl is also known as the world’s first LEED-certified bowling alley.
Between games on its 16 lanes, bowlers can kick back on the alley’s leather Chesterfield sofas.
And the Bowler’s Lounge gives you a birds-eye view to the musical acts. Among the acts it’s hosted are Guns N’ Roses, Kanye West, M.I.A. and Snoop Dogg.
Rolling Stone called Brooklyn Bowl "one of the most incredible places on Earth."
Pinz Bowling Center
Location: Los Angeles
Bottom line: Located on LaLa Land’s famed Ventura Boulevard, Pinz features runner lights and pins that glow in the dark on its 32 lanes.
Add spinning disco balls and a laser light show to the mix, and you might feel as if you’re on the set of "Saturday Night Fever."
The alley has been a Los Angeles fixture since the 1950s.
Garage — Seattle
Bottom line: The 40,000-square-foot night spot has been a popular spot in the Capitol Hill section of Seattle since 1996.
With 20 bowling lanes, 25 pool tables, six bars and three private rooms, the Garage is undergoing some changes as a new Bowlero (formely Bowlmor AMF) bowling center and arcade.
No word on whether the new dinner menu still will include local favorites like seared ahi, Bloody Mary sliders and a $14 giant pretzel served with habanero beer cheese dip.
Red Rock Lanes — Las Vegas
Bottom line: For the serious bowler who wants his or her alley to stay true to its roots, it’s hard to beat Red Rock Lanes, which was built for $31 million.
This luxurious 77,000-square-foot bowling center is a bowler’s dream, with 72 Brunswick Pro Anvil lanes, a state-of-the-art scoring system and pinsetters. It's also has a pro shop with certified coaches.
But as with many other alleys these days, the amenities extend beyond the lanes, as Red Rock offers a full-service lounge (with lane service) and cosmic-themed arcade.
Uptown Alley — Surprise, Arizona
Bottom line: With 40 high-tech lanes equipped with 15-foot projection HDTVs, Uptown Alley will satisfy any serious bowler.
Beyond the lanes, however, there is plenty else to savor in this 60,000-square-foot entertainment venue, including two-story laser tag and a sports theater with 10-foot projection screens and an ultra lounge with 10 private lanes.
Shenaniganz — Rockwall, Texas
Bottom line: The 24-lane bowling facility (billed as "these aren’t your grandpa’s bowling lanes!") is only the start of the fun at Shenaniganz, which has provided a five-star experience in the Dallas area for over a decade.
Other attractions at this full-blown entertainment center include virtual reality, go-karts and "live escape rooms" that will transport you into a "completely immersive environment," such as Fidel Castro’s headquarters during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
After that, you’ll definitely want to unwind at Rosie’s Sports Bar, with its more than 30 draught and bottled beers and martini selection.
Flaherty’s Arden Bowl — Saint Paul, Minneapolis
Bottom line: A Twin Cities fixture since 1938, Flaherty’s is known as the oldest continuously run family-owned bowling alley in the United States.
It features 36 lanes of bowling and a pro shop run by a pro bowler with over 50 years of experience in the industry
A Friday night DJ/MC keeps bowlers entertained, and bowlers can fill up at the Irish-themed pub and grill.
Highland Park Bowl — Los Angeles
Bottom line: Los Angeles’ oldest bowling alley, Highland Park Bowl, which opened its doors in 1927, is a throwback to its Prohibition era roots (with the exception of its expansive cocktail menu).
This lavishly restored venue features historic bowling pennants, long leather couches and sawed-off pins that serve as bar lamps.
The cuisine here goes far beyond snack bar fare, with such offerings as chicken Milanese, calamari fritti and ravioli chocolate.
Silver Dollar Saloon — Philipsburg, Montana
Bottom line: With its quaint four-lane alley nestled amid an old-style cowboy saloon, this Big Sky Country venue offers a bowling experience like no other.
If you need to wait for a lane to open up, you can pass the time with billiards, table tennis, karaoke or pony up to the saloon for a taste of one of its 100-plus spirits (or a microbrew).
If that’s not enough, there’s a private movie theater with a 14-foot HD screen.
Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowl — Indianapolis
Opened: 1928 (closed in 1957, restored and reopened in 1993)
Bottom line: Arguably the nation’s most famous location for duckpin bowling, this venue at the Fountain Square Theater building features two levels: a restored 1930s-era alley with eight lanes, a vintage billiard table and seating for 110 guests.
The Atomic Bowl Duckpin is in the basement and has authentic 1950's and '60's equipment.
Unlike the more popular 10-pin bowling, duckpin bowling (which was one of Babe Ruth’s favorite games) features smaller balls and pins, with players getting three tosses on each turn.
30 Strikes — Stratford, New Jersey
Bottom line: With 80 lanes, 30 Strikes ranks among the largest bowling venues in America. It’s also one of the more family-friendly.
Its COOL cosmic bowling features special-effects lighting and pulse-pounding music. Galactic glow weekends offer bowlers a chance to experience glow carpets, scoreboards and even shoes.
National Bowling Stadium — Reno, Nevada
Bottom line: Known as the "Taj Mahal of 10 pins," the National Bowling Stadium is as big and bold as it gets when it comes to America’s bowling alleys.
The 363,000-square-foot stadium, which opened in 1995, features 78 championship lanes as well as a Stadium Club with a full-service bar and the Kingpin Club, which caters to meetings and parties with 10 professional lanes and another full bar.
Thunderbowl Lanes — Allen Park, Michigan
Bottom line: Recognized as the largest bowling center in the country (topping even Reno’s National Bowling Stadium), the legendary Thunderbowl Lanes features 90 lanes and is home to the Greater Detroit Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
Thunderbowl, which has been hosting bowlers since 1962, also is a prime stop for professional bowling events, hosting the PBA Tour finals in 2018.
Though it may not have some of the bells and whistles of other alleys (it does include an arcade and lounge), when it comes to the bowling experience itself, Thunderbowl is hard to top.
Holler House — Milwaukee
Website: None (on Facebook)
Bottom line: Perhaps there’s a reason Laverne and Shirley spent so much time bowling between shifts at the Milwaukee brewery where the television duo worked in the 1970s. This city doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its alleys.
Founded in 1908, Holler House is billed as the oldest certified bowling alley in the United States.
This place is as old school as it gets. Two lanes feature original wood that is oiled by hand, and neighborhood kids reset the pins by hand.
Stardust Bowl — Addison, Illinois
Bottom line: The largest bowling center in Illinois, Stardust recently completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that featured upgrades to its 84 lanes and a new scoring/entertainment system.
As the alley boasts on its website, "Stardust Bowl has been serving the community for over 50 years — but we’re not stuck in the ‘50s."
The center also features four lounges, including the nightspot "Galaxy Lounge" with 24 beers on tap. There’s also a video gaming lounge.
Saratoga Lanes — Maplewood, Missouri
Website: Not available (on Facebook)
Bottom line: Billed as the oldest bowling alley west of the Mississippi, Saratoga Lanes celebrated its 100th birthday in 2016.
Housed in craftsman-style, red-brick building, Saratoga gives bowlers a workout before they even enter the venue, with 26 concrete steps leading to the entrance.
Arrive early to grab one of the eight lanes.
Rollhouse Wickliffe — Wickliffe, Ohio
Opened: 2005 (formerly Freeway Lanes, renovated in 2019)
Bottom line: Another one of the nation’s largest bowling centers, Rollhouse features 84 lanes of action, along with amenities such as as state-of-the-art game room and the Kingin Private Suite.
There’s also two premium bocce ball courts and a full-service bar with a made-from-scratch menu.
KingPins — Beaverton, Oregon
Opened: 1963 (formerly Sunset Lanes, renovated and reopened in 2018)
Bottom line: More than 50 years old, KingPins is not one of those alleys stuck in the past.
In addition to its 36 lanes of top-flight bowling action (including Monte Carlo and cosmic bowling specials), this bowling center features a 3,800-square-foot, glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena.
And when you’re ready to kick back after a day of fun, there’s the Taphouse Bar & Grill with its full-service lounge and sports bar.
Timber Lanes — Chicago
Bottom line: Another one of the cool old-school alleys, Timber Lanes has been a Chicago institution since 1945.
The family-owned, cash-only alley features eight classic wood lanes, manual scoring and a full bar.
Legend has it that John Goodman worked on his bowling form at the alley while preparing for his role in "The Big Lebowski," as did Barack Obama during his run for the White House.
XLanes — Los Angeles
Bottom line: If you like entertainment, you'll love this place.
Another top Los Angeles bowling venue, XLanes features 16 state-of-the-art LED lanes, along with an arcade and billiards tables, all spread over 50,000 square feet.
The sports bar includes 11 LED TVs and three "immensely large" projectors, and there’s also private karaoke rooms.
Bryant-Lake Bowl — Minneapolis
Bottom line: This historic venue combines bowling, dinner and a show to offer one of the most unique experiences in America.
The alley features its own cabaret theater, with shows most nights. For the dining experience, there’s a breakfast and lunch/dinner menus (with vegetarian, vegan and meat options) and an expansive tap list.
Open since 1936 and housed in an old Model T garage in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, Bryant-Lake Bowl has stayed true to its roots, with hand scoring and above-ground ball returns.
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