Bowling is the perfect family sport: you don’t have to be good at it to have a blast. Kids and adults alike can celebrate the little victories, laugh through the gutter balls, and just have lots of fun. Best of all, bowling is the perfect antidote to less-than-stellar weather, sleepy vaca days and too much screen time. So grab the kids and head to one of the many NYC alleys with tons of New York charm!
For a Casual Meal: Astoria Bowl
Escape from the city at Astoria Bowl, a family-owned bowling and casual dining spot with a retro feel. This venue only has 28 lanes, but it more than makes up for it with personality and fresh, delicious food.
Parents will enjoy the sports bar while kids will dig the old-school video game arcade area. Kids over four are welcome to participate, and lighter balls and bumpers are available to help the littles ones learn.
Friday and weekend nights feature Cosmic Bowling, which finds visitors playing and competing amid a colorful laser light show.
19-45 49th St.
For a Super Old School Experience: Van Nest Bowling
Go back in time by visiting Van Nest Lanes, a bowling lane from a different era. Wooden lanes, manual score-keeping, and an inviting neighborhood feel make bowling trips here a more simple, relaxed experience. The spot offers usual bowling lane food like hot dogs, wings, burgers and everything else you'd expect. Looking for a place without all the lights, bells and whistles? This it is it, in the best possible way.
1756 Bronxdale Ave.
Online: Van Nest Bowling Alley Facebook
For a Jamming Good Time: Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn Bowl is an all-in-one entertainment venue featuring live musical performances while you roll your ball down the lane and bite into your Blue Ribbon lane-side meal.
The venue opens its doors to kids on weekends for Family Bowl, an afternoon of music and fun. The entire family can enjoy a daytime show, and eat great food (tables are available for hanging out and eating if you'd rather not get the bowling balls greasy). Family Bowl requires no cover but for an additional fee the little ones can join the party by the stage, where the day's family-friendly and child-oriented performance takes place. The space also frequently hosts competitions and other events for families so keep an eye on the calendar.
As an added bonus, Brooklyn Bowl is a green facility: wind-powered electricity is used for the lower-energy stage lights and lanes, the floor and stage are made from 100% recycled materials, and the facility uses no cans or bottles (all drinks are on-tap). Bowl responsibly!
61 Wythe Ave.
For a Local Favorite: Rab's Country Lanes
Rab's Country Lanes boasts 48 lanes and a good time for all. This spot is a neighborhood favorite, with well-kept lanes and a snack bar with pizza for kids and drinks for the adults.
Are your kids more than just casual bowlers? During the fall and summer, children can join a league and participate in tournaments. Little league members get bowling instruction to up their game and an end-of-season party. Older kids (8 - 14 years old) train in teams of four and hone their skills while younger bowlers (ages 7 and under) just learn the basics in a competition-free environment (with the option to use bumpers).
While you're here, check out the laser maze for some Mission Impossible style maneuvering. Kids and adults can try to bypass the field of criss-crossing lasers, and even get a recording of their success (or failure) for an additional $2.
1600 Hylan Blvd.
For a Slick Game: Frames Bowling Lounge
Frames is a slick bowling experience and a favorite among corporate bowlers. But families can also enjoy the bowling lounge's 28 lanes, as well as billiards and ping pong. Children are allowed until 8 p.m., except on Sundays when they're welcome all day without restrictions.
This bowling alley feels and looks more like a lounge, down to the tantalizing menu which boasts an impressive selection of burgers, sandwiches, and even ice-cream shakes (adults: you can add some kick to yours with Jameson, Jack Daniels, or Maker's Mark).
Frames also hosts children's parties (parties must be held before 5 p.m.), which include a two hours of bowling, shoe rentals, decorations, and finger food.
While Frames allows walk-ins, the lanes tend to fill up fast so advance registration is recommended. Book ahead if you know you'll be taking the kids bowling soon to guarantee a placement. Walk-ins pay per game, while booking ahead lets you reserve by the hour instead. During the week, prices increase past 5 p.m., so this is a great trip to make when the kids have a day off from school.
550 9th Ave.
For a Classic Experience: Jib Lanes
Family-owned for more than 50 years, Jib Lanes is the perfect blend of old and new. The venue features a pro bowling shop, a cafe with finger food, and a great family-friendly vibe. Take note: During the summer, Jib Lanes lets kids bowl free (two free games a day). Just register your kids online for $5 and stop by anytime. (And we do mean anytime — the bowling lane is open every day of the year.) For night owls, check out late weekend evening Cosmic Bowling, when the games are played under blacklight and a spectacle of colors and lights. Youth programs and lessons are also available here if your kids want to get a bit more serious about the game. If you're just visiting as a family, though, grab the family fun pack for a great deal. 67-19 Parsons Blvd. Flushing 718-591-0600 Online: http://jiblanes.com/
For a Cultural Experience: Bowlmor Times Square
Located in the heart of NYC, Bowlmor is a microcosm of the city, thanks to a relatively recent major makeover. Like all things NYC, the bowling hot spot is large, can get crowded, and boasts a variety of cultures and styles. Forty-eight bowling lanes are split between seven themed lounges decorated to look like various places and eras in the city's history. Spend an afternoon bowling in an NYC neighborhood like Chinatown, Central Park, or Coney Island, or check out an Art Deco palace or a Pop Art gallery.
If you get tired of bowling, Bowlmor has plenty of other reasons to stick around. Adults can enjoy the Uptown Bar on the fourth floor, while kids will dig the large arcade on the floor below. Finger-food like chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks will keep the munchies at bay and provide the kids with some fuel. Keep in mind that Friday and Saturday evenings are adult evenings -- kids are allowed when accompanied by parents or a family, but it might be a good idea to come at an earlier time. Make sure to dress up: Bowlmor has a dress code and doesn't allow for baseball caps or bandannas, baggy or athletic clothes, etc. Times Square too crowded for you? Check out the newer Bowlmor in Chelsea Piers.
222 W. 44 St.
What’s your favorite family bowling destination? Tell us in the comments below!