Though many active adults belong to weekly leagues, you do not have to be an expert to enjoy bowling. All ages can enjoy this sport and it is a great activity to do with your grandchildren. Bowling lanes can accommodate large groups so the alleys are perfect for parties, too.
And unless you are throwing a great big bash, regular bowling is not expensive. You don't need to purchase your own equipment since ball and shoe rentals are always offered for nominal fees. Plus, you can drop in pretty much whenever you feel like it, as long as it’s not the middle of the night (except for Facenda Whitaker—see below!).
Philadelphia area bowlers have many lanes to choose from, including basic, retro-style alleys, hole-in-the-wall, and modern facilities with all of the bells and whistles. Below are some that we think score close to a perfect 300.
North Bowl - Philadelphia
An icon of Philadelphia, North Bowl opened in 2006 in the location of a former mechanic’s garage. Its distinctive interior is a fusion of modern and retro sensibilities, with upstairs and downstairs lanes, an arcade, a lounge, and two full bars. The second floor has an awesome glass-enclosed pod that allows observers to look down at the lanes on the first story. How cool is that?
Bowlers’ scores are recorded via BES X, a high-tech scoring system. North Bowl has leagues for women and men of different skill levels, and these are open to everyone. The menu is heavy on the finger foods—it even has a section just for tater tots (garlic truffle, bacon, broccoli cheddar, and more)! There are also salads, tacos, desserts, wine, beer, and specialty cocktails. North Bowl is open Monday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and weekends from noon until 2 a.m. Games run around $6 apiece, with reduced game prices available during happy hour, which is Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Lucky Strike Lanes - Philadelphia
With 20 locations and a storied history, Lucky Strike’s boutique bowling complexes have much more than bowling to keep guests entertained. In 2003, its original Hollywood location was used for the filming of the movie “The Big Lebowski.” Its Philly venue has two floors, with 24 sleek lanes and a trendy, upscale ambience. There are pool tables, ping pong tables, dart boards, shuffleboard, VIP lounges, a DJ, two full bars, and gastropub-style food.
In addition to indulgences like wings and cheesesteak egg rolls, the menu features choices like surf-and-turf skewers, pecan-smoked shrimp cups, and cauliflower-crusted veggie pizza. Lucky Strike is open from 11:30 a.m. until midnight every night (until 2 a.m. on Saturday nights), with specials like free bowling with any lunch purchase Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Facenda Whitaker Lanes - East Norriton
Located about 23 miles northwest of Philadelphia, this unusually-named alley bills itself as a family entertainment center, and with good reason. Its moniker plays homage to two former Delaware Valley newscasters, John Facenda and Jack Whitaker. Facenda Whitaker Lanes opened in 1959 and has undergone several renovations since. It now has 50 lanes, a sports bar and grill, automatic scoring, a pro shop, an arcade, delicious food and drink menus, and private party rooms.
And get this—Facenda Whitaker is open 24 hours, seven days a week. Game prices start at around $4.25 with discounts for retirees. The leagues are very big here, with groups for all ages and skill levels. Steppy’s Sports Bar is inside the building, and features homey entrees like chicken alfredo, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, pizzas, burgers, seafood, and a host of other options that round out the extensive menu.
Harp & Crown - Philadelphia
Since when do fine dining and bowling go together? You will find the answer at Harp & Crown, an exclusive restaurant that has its own two-lane bowling alley. Guests can partake in gourmet offerings in the upscale dining space on the main floor, which is beautifully appointed with thick leather chairs, chandeliers, and a cozy bar area.
The globally inspired menu features short ribs, halibut, and squid ink pasta. A full bar serves up legendary cocktails. Downstairs is a second bar and the bowling alley, which is called Elbow Lane. Since it is small, reservations are required, with evening time slots only. Each lane can accommodate up to eight bowlers, and everyone must be age 21 or older.
Arnold’s Family Fun Center - Phoenixville
Arnold’s is about an hour outside of Philly, and it is definitely worth the drive. It has 20 state-of-the-art lanes that also use the latest BES X scoring technology. There is also a large go-kart track with options for all ages and sizes. Arnold’s also offers an arcade, laser tag, blacklight mini golf, a carousel, and even a rock climbing wall. Much of this is geared towards kids, so this is a perfect place to take your grandchildren.
If you prefer to sit some of this out, the casual restaurant The Hub serves tasty appetizers, burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches, and includes a full bar. The bowling center is open Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Bowling games start at around $3.50 each.