Tenpin style at Boston Bowl — Photo courtesy of Boston Bowl
The Boston area embraces bowling as a fun way for families to come together or friends to congregate when the typical club scene is not what you're seeking. With a collection of old-school alleys – where you can don your casual attire, let loose and hit the lanes – and a variety of upscale nightlife spots that add bowling to their lounge-like atmosphere, you'll find a bowling alley that's fun for all ages.
Unique to the New England area is candlepin bowling. Quite different from tenpin, candlepin uses small balls to take down the ten pins that are challenging you at the end of your lane. Each player attempts to score a strike using three small, hole-less balls per frame. Between balls, the thinner pins are not cleared, allowing you to utilize your "dead wood" to maximize pin take down.
Be forewarned: Although the balls are lighter and easier to handle than tenpin, they are much more difficult to maneuver, giving even the most expert tenpin pros a challenge.
Shoes in all sizes — Photo courtesy of Lanes & Games
When you're looking for a bowling spot that has a little something for everyone and maintains the feel of an old-school bowling alley, make your way to Lanes & Games in Cambridge. This right near Alewife MBTA stop spot is a nostalgic collection of lanes spanning two floor and two types of bowling: tenpin and the more prevalent (in New England) candlepin style.
Even the youngest players can have fun bowling at Lanes and Games, because they offer ramps for little ones to position and push their balls down to provide extra power not found in tiny arms when trying to force their balls down the long alleys on their own.
Add to that a sampling of arcade games, a full service bar with food and TV's set to local sporting events, and you have a bowling alley where the whole family can have fun for hours.
This two year old gets a helping ramp at Lanes & Games — Photo courtesy of Jessica Polizzotti
Jillian's Lucky Strike Lanes near Fenway Park makes for an alternative to the typical club scene for enjoying a fun night with adult friends. Although the Jillian's complex is comprised of three floors of fun for the 21+ crowd, each offering guests its own unique personality, it's the third floor that is home to the bowling alleys.
Sixteen tenpin lanes make their home in a lounge-like setting that attracts well-dressed individuals to play, drink and even shoot a little pool in an upscale setting.
Jillian's Lucky Strike Lanes — Photo courtesy of Jillian's
Sacco's Bowl Haven in Somerville's Davis Square is a low-key bowling joint that caters to all ages. Here you'll find busy lanes of candlepin only bowling at reasonable prices.
Add to that tasty flatbreads and an excellent collection of craft beers from the Flatbread Company, which houses the lanes, and you have a great place for dinner and play.
Kings has made a name for itself as a high-end chain of bowling alleys that adds a good meal, great drinks and popular music to the mix. Retro-inspired decor is classy, drawing an attractive crowd to its locations around Boston, including its popular Back Bay basement alley. Although all are welcome during the day, after 8 p.m., Kings is strictly 21 and over.
Dorchester's Boston Bowl has ample parking, and it's just a few miles outside of downtown Boston. Offering tenpin and candlepin bowling, this classic alley has taken a step into the modern era by adding online reservations, an excellent option when you're headed in during prime time.
The lanes here open daily from 8 a.m., so you can get your early risers out and about as soon as you're ready. They don't close until 11 p.m., so those looking to enjoy a night on the lanes without getting too fancy can toss on comfortable clothes and let loose on these lanes.
A small menu and craft beer from the on-site brewery add something special to your bowling experience.
Give one of these Boston area lanes a go.
Tenpin balls, waiting to be tossed — Photo courtesy of Boston Bowl