Pinewood Social, Nashville
Maeve S./Yelp

Cool and Classic Bowling Alleys Across America

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Pinewood Social, Nashville
Maeve S./Yelp

A League of Their Own

Flashbacks to loud, bustling bowling alleys are some of the most vivid, nostalgic memories we have. After all, in the late 1970s, more than 9 million of us were members of a bowling league. Though for a while it seemed bowling might go the way of other beloved hobbies and all but disappear, the sport is growing again — thanks in part to corporate behemoths such as Bowlero and its practice of adding cocktails and other frills to appeal to the masses. There are plenty of other companies and individuals keeping the spirit of strikes, splits, and gutterballs alive, though. Here are alleys across the country where you can knock down some pins while, in most cases, knocking back a drink or two. Do you have another favorite? Let us know in the comments.


Related: Far-Out '70s Fads That Have Made a Comeback

Mahall's, Lakewood, Ohio
Mahall's Twenty Lanes/Yelp

Mahall's

Lakewood, Ohio
Mahall's opened in 1924 and, as its website says, has since "spent nearly a century partying." Its neon ball-and-pin sign beckons; once inside you'll find Mahall's is much more than a place to knock down pins. This bowling alley hybrid is also known for hosting bands and comedians, serving tasty fried chicken, and having friendly bartenders who craft creative (if pricey, according to reviewers) cocktails such as Peanut Butter Tiki Time and Nothing Campari's 2 U. Between bites, sips, and listens, you can still bowl on Mahall's 20 lanes for $30 an hour.


Related: The Oldest Bar in Every State

Holler House, Milwaukee
Sera H./Yelp

Holler House

Milwaukee
Opened in 1908 and often lauded as the "oldest sanctioned ten-pin bowling alley" in the U.S., Holler House is housed in what looks like a nondescript residential home off Lincoln Avenue. Inside, in addition to two vintage lanes where pins have to be set by players, there is a bar that Esquire named one of the nation's best in 2011. Decades' worth of fun and funky paraphernalia cover the walls. As one Facebook reviewer put it, Holler House is, "Bizarre, but [in] a good way. Nothing else like it I've ever seen."

Bowlero Lanes & Lounge, Detroit
Bowlero Lanes & Lounge/Yelp

Bowlero Lanes & Lounge

Detroit
Though it shares a name, this Motor City bowling alley has no affiliation with the Bowlero Corp. Indeed, the owners of Bowlero Lanes, built in 1957, appear to have made every effort to retain as much of its retro charm as possible during renovations before a 2019 reopening. It has a slick, '60s- and '70s-era vibe that makes heavy use of orange tones and mod furniture — what its new owners call a "rumpus room-inspired" bowling alley. In addition to 16 lanes, Detroit Bowlero offers a vintage arcade, cocktail lounge, live DJs and bands, and karaoke every Tuesday.


Related: Charming Retro Diners in Every State

Rohman's Inn and Pub, Shohola, Pennsylvania
Lisa E./Yelp

Rohman's Inn and Pub

Shohola, Pennsylvania
Rohman's four-lane bowling alley wasn't established until 1941 in the former upstairs dining room of what was built (and rebuilt) in the 19th century as an inn. After ordering a drink at the bar, paying an hourly fee, and grabbing a ball, you can bowl to your heart's content without employee supervision. Just don't do it if you're feeling lazy — after pitching your ball down the lane, you have to retrieve it, reset your own pins, keep your own score … you get the point. It might sound a bit tedious, but Rohman's has a charm all its own, one Atlas Obscura detailed in 2018.


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Rock 'n' Bowl, New Orleans
Anna G./Yelp

Rock 'n' Bowl

New Orleans
This classic NOLA bowling alley moved into a new building in 2009, but its legacy goes back to 1941, when Mid City Lanes opened on the second floor of a commercial building. (In 1988, a new owner added a music venue downstairs and coined it Rock 'n' Bowl.) Hurricane Katrina flooded the downstairs in 2005, causing severe damage, but the lanes reopened a mere four months later and became a symbol of New Orleans' fighting spirit — complete with the previous building's relocated murals and plenty of retro charm.


Related: Cheap Or Free Things To Do In New Orleans

Highland Park Bowl
Lawrence L./Yelp

Highland Park Bowl

Los Angeles
If bowling alleys could tell stories, Highland Park is the one you'd want to belly up next to at the bar. It was established during Prohibition, and its building contained doctors' offices, a pharmacy, and a music store, among other businesses. Patrons "obtained legal doctor's notes for medicinal whiskey upstairs, then headed downstairs to fill the prescription at the pharmacy, which allowed permissible boozing and bowling," the alley's website says. A live music permit acquired in 1933 added "yet another spirited layer of culture into the destination." In 2016, Highland Park reopened after a major overhaul uncovering much of the vintage charm lost over the decades. Chandeliers made from vintage pinsetters, antique pennants, and exposed mechanical pin machines help make this place about as cool as a bowling alley can get.

Dickey's Lanes & Lounge, Cleveland
Allison F./Yelp

Dickey's Lanes & Lounge

Cleveland
Built in 1915, this joint didn't become Dickey's until 1946, when owner George Dickey's parents bought the place. Dickey was 14 then; he's around 90 now and still runs the eight-lane bowling alley with the help of mostly family. Dickey's has seen poker and billiards in addition to 10-pin, but it's all bowling and bar now. Yelp reviewers note that it's a "true Cleveland institution" and "Americana at its finest." The automated pinsetters, installed in 1970, came out of baseball great Mickey Mantle's Texas bowling alley, Dickey says.

Linbrook Bowl, Anaheim, California
Linbrook Bowl/Yelp

Linbrook Bowl

Anaheim, California
Opened in 1958, Linbrook is a bowling alley that combines retro cool with current technology without losing charm. Its allure starts with a neon exterior sign that alerts Linbrook's patrons to an impressive 40 lanes inside and, of course, cocktails, as well as modern features such as electronic scoring and monitors that allow bowlers to take "selfies" of sorts. Per-game prices are reasonable, starting at $16, and patrons can visit the Kopa Room bar (with nightly karaoke Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays), or the old school arcade room with pinball machines and an air hockey table.


Related: Bars With Arcades That Are Worth Your Quarters

Bowlero Christown, Phoenix
Grace D./Yelp

Bowlero Christown

Phoenix
Inside, Bowlero Christown is all modernized — you wouldn't believe it was built decades ago if you hadn't first seen the exterior that lands this joint on the "cool and classic" list. Opened in 1958 as 300 Bowl, the building's design is a classic example of Googie design, which takes its inspiration from the space and atomic ages. With its sharply exaggerated roof lines, this bowling alley is considered one of Phoenix's prime examples of midcentury modern architecture. Inside, most of that personality has been wiped away, but there are a few vintage touches, including atomic chandeliers and neon signs.

Pinewood Social, Nashville
Maeve S./Yelp

Pinewood Social

Nashville
Like others on this list, Pinewood Social didn't open decades ago, but in 2015. Still, it's in a renovated historic Nashville building and its six lanes were salvaged from an old Indiana Bowl-O-Rama location, which developers complemented with vintage ball returns and scoring tables. Pinewood Social's cool cred is evidenced in the celebrities who've stopped by — Taylor Swift and Reese Witherspoon among them — and its reputation as a Nashville bucket-list destination where you can, yes, bowl, but also eat breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, drink a craft cocktail or coffee bar drink, sing karaoke, swim, play bocce ball, or check out the patio Airstream.

Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis
Kaitlin U./Yelp

Bryant Lake Bowl

Minneapolis
Dating back to the 1930s, Bryant Lake Bowl was reimagined in 1993 when now-former owner Kim Bartmann decided to open an unpretentious, dive bar-esque drinking establishment where patrons could also bowl, catch a live show or play, and have a bite to eat. Bartmann sold the place in 2018 to an employee, Erica Gilbert, who'd worked at BLB for a dozen years. "I'm not doing anything to it. It's perfect the way it is," Gilbert told the Star-Tribune

Action and Atomic Duckpin Bowl, Indianapolis
Kyle S./Yelp

Action and Atomic Duckpin Bowl

Indianapolis
Located inside a refurbished historic building that also houses an inn, theater, bar, game room, and more, these two bowling alleys represent different eras: the 1930s; and 1950 and ’60s. Action opened in 1928 as a bowling alley and billiard hall on the fourth floor of the Fountain Square Theatre Building, which closed and was gutted in 1957, remaining vacant until 1993. Action has eight lanes of duckpin bowling (these shorter, fatter pins were popular in the 1930s), a vintage billiard table, and a cafe. In the basement level is Atomic, outfitted with authentic midcentury equipment and furnishings. Both are worth a visit.

The Spare Room
David N/Trip Advisor

The Spare Room

Los Angeles
Housed in Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel, which opened in 1927, The Spare Room presents itself as a "gaming parlor and cocktail lounge"; the former part of that equation includes two vintage bowling alleys that are open and adjacent to the latter. The bowling here isn't cheap — $100 per hour, which you can split with up to five other bowlers — but there's also backgammon, dominoes, mahjong, cribbage, and a handful of board games. You can also grab a bite to eat and order something from the creatively named cocktail menu. (Pisco Inferno or Figgy Pop, anyone?)

Garden Bowl
Samantha B./Yelp

Rock-N-Bowl

Detroit
The Garden Bowl, one of the oldest continuously operating bowling alleys in the U.S., is part of Detroit's Majestic Theatre, which itself is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It opened in 1913 with 10 lanes on the first floor; a dozen more lanes were added on the second floor in 1926, but they're gone now that the joint's been renamed Rock-N-Bowl, where visitors will find the lights off, mirror balls twirling, glow-in-the-dark lanes gleaming, and a live DJ spinning tunes. Another change? The upstairs is now for dancing and shooting pool.

Man playing bowling
agrobacter/istockphoto

Ken-Cliff Lanes

Ardmore, Oklahoma
How does a bowling alley that opened in 2011 claim to represent "the golden age of bowling?" This version of Ken-Cliff has a predecessor, one that began in 1958 when brothers Kenneth and Clifford Johnson opened a bowling alley in this south-central Oklahoma town. It closed in 1976 but was resurrected this decade with vintage equipment and design that includes refurbished AMF 82-30 pinspotters, Magic Circle ball returns and telescores, Streamlane masks, and traditional wood lanes with vibrant turquoise gutters. The owners like to say that "the good old days are still here" — but if your good ol’ bowling days included drinking, sorry: Ken-Cliff is alcohol-free.

Olde Line Lanes & Kitchen Lincoln City, Oregon
NWBookLady/Trip Advisor

Olde Line Lanes & Kitchen

Lincoln City, Oregon
Inside an ordinary-looking building just a few hundred feet off the Oregon coast is Olde Line Lanes, a wonderland of vintage nostalgia. There are only eight lanes, so you might have a wait to get your 10 frames in, but in the meantime you can order from an impressive menu that includes pizza, fried chicken sandwiches, hand-cut fries, and nachos. Or grab an old-fashioned, vodka gimlet, or, if you're feeling fruity, a spiced rum daiquiri. You could also just wander around and marvel at the decor: wood paneling, vintage lamps and furniture, and just enough kitsch in accessories such as mirror-ball bowling pins to make you feel like you've stepped back into a simpler time.

Riverside Lanes Colusa, California
Rose R./Yelp

Riverside Lanes

Colusa, California
Some bowling alleys retain that retro-cool charm because of neglect; others go all in on keeping things as vintage chic as they can. The latter describes Riverside Lanes, which retains its old-school cred through wood lanes, aboveground ball returns, neon beer signs, pinball machines, and, on select days, 1950s and '60s tunes and old black-and-white movies on the telly. Patrons come for the nostalgia but, many say, return for the friendly service and cheeseburgers.

Garage Billiards & Bowl, Seattle
Gustavo M./Yelp

Garage Billiards & Bowl

Seattle
Part sports bar, pool hall, and bowling alley, this popular 40,000-square-foot spot in the Emerald City's historic Auto Row neighborhood features upstairs and downstairs bowling lanes. Opened in 1996, Garage was since acquired by AMF's Bowlero division, which said it planned no changes to the spot's "vibe" and "authenticity" — other than perhaps opening the historically 21-plus establishment up to all ages during certain hours.

The Ranch at Rock Creek
The Ranch at Rock Creek/Trip Advisor

Silver Dollar Saloon

Philipsburg, Montana
There are probably not many bowling alleys in the United States where you're about as likely to spot a moose or bald eagle as you are to throw a strike, but this four-lane bowling alley inside the The Ranch at Rock Creek's Silver Dollar Saloon is one. Located in a tiny eastern Montana town of around 940, the resort's bowling alley is just one of many things you can do to keep yourself entertained. There's also a private movie theater, pool tables, karaoke, shuffleboard, darts, board games, and more — and those are just the indoor options.

Sacco's Bowl Haven, Somerville, Massachusetts
Ryan P./Yelp

Sacco's Bowl Haven

Somerville, Massachusetts
Sacco's offers "old-fashion candlepin bowling paired with great organic flatbread," and it's a safe bet only one of those was available when it opened in 1939. For those unfamiliar, candlepin bowling is a tradition in New England and Canada's Maritime provinces. Balls can be held in the palm of the hand, and the pins are much more like a pillar candle in shape. Sacco's accepts weekend lane and dinner reservations for parties of eight or more, but keeps three or four lanes for walk-in parties. Lanes are $30 per hour; patrons say the flatbreads alone are worth the visit.

The Alley Charleston, South Carolina
Avatarjennie/Trip Advisor

The Alley

Charleston, South Carolina
With its huge TVs and selection of menu items such as boiled peanuts, nachos, and eight-option slider menu, The Alley, which opened in 2012, has the vibe of a sports bar in many ways. But it's also known for its retro 1970s decor, eight bowling lanes, vintage arcade games such as Frogger and Pac-Man, and a 40-foot bar made from recycled alley wood. Sure, go for the 10-pin, but make sure to order something off the menu, too: The Alley has been called one of the Top 25 Fried Chicken Spots in Charleston, and its Vermont burger, served with white sharp Vermont cheddar, Applewood bacon, granny smith apple, arugula, and Vermont maple mayo, was named one of the town's best burgers.

Saratoga Lanes
Misty S./Yelp

Saratoga Lanes

St. Louis, Missouri

Billing itself as a place with "bowling the way it used to be," Saratoga Lanes claims to be the oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi and is another alley listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Maplewood neighborhood it's in also offers a bit of nostalgia, as locals like to say it's "somewhere between Mayberry and Metropolis." Opened in 1916, Saratoga has eight lanes of bowling upstairs and pool tables and a limited bar selection as well. Patrons often comment on Saratoga's vintage vibe — mostly in a positive way.