The 24 lanes at North Bowl are notable for the wild Day-Glo cubist mosaic on the wall above them. The colors stood out within the brownish, '70s ambiance. I was there on a weeknight, during regular, open-lane bowling and most of the lanes were full. The lounge has good prices on drinks -- which I took advantage of while watching others bowl and listening to Janet Jackson over the speakers singing "Nasty Boys." The arcade room was a small, concrete room with about 10 games. (I scored an 86 on the Simpsons' bowling game.) On the way out, I couldn't resist putting a quarter in a toy vending machine called the Fun Chicken. It's a square, glass case with a stuffed chicken that spins around and then lays/dispenses a plastic egg with a toy in it. North Bowl is definitely old-school and unintentionally retro, yet it has a warm, friendly atmosphere. It's perfectly fine place to knock down some pins and a few $2.50 gin-and-tonics as well.
121 E. Boone Ave. * 328-0550
Today, bowling alleys are still a popular source of recreation and amusement for millions of people. Recent years have seen an extreme makeover of America's everyman sport -- which had been seeing a steady decline in league play. Once referred to as the "poor man's country club," today's bowling centers -- they don't call themselves alleys anymore -- offer late night games in a disco atmosphere. Now, along with a variety of enticements to lure the younger set, you can "rock n' bowl," "cosmic bowl," or "extreme cosmic bowl." At Colonial Bowl, for example, you can join the 'Techno Rave Cosmic Bowling party," where, according to the flyer, you can have "tons of fun with glow sticks and extremely loud techno music." I checked out a number of the area's eight (or so) bowling centers recently and found that each had its own personality. Overall, prices were comparable, and all offered some form of "cosmic bowling " on weekend nights.
1112 E. Magnesium Rd. * 467-5228
If you like all the bells and whistles with your bowling, Lilac Lanes is right up your alley. With its 32 lanes and full casino, it's the largest and flashiest bowling emporium in the region.
8005 E. Sprague * 926-6245
What this throwback lacks in size and flash, it makes up for in its friendly we're-all-family feel. On the front door of the nondescript brick building is a sign that says, "Through these doors walk the finest people in the world." The restaurant was packed and had a real '50s diner way about it. Nothing but real food, real people and real bowling here, folks.
Players & amp; Spectators
12828 E. Sprague Ave. * 924-5141
Players and Spectators has it all. With a full casino, restaurant, Pizza Playland, arcade room, and a clean, more upscale lounge (for a bowling center), this joint has something for everyone. No cosmic bowling here, but the guy at the desk did report that on the weekends, they "turn on the lights and crank up the music a bit."