City IndexWhat does a game of bowling cost in cities around the world?
From the dirt cheap to the overly extravagant, here's a world-wide round-up of bowling costs.
Imported from English, Dutch and German settlers to America, bowling can be traced back as far as 300 A.D. Primarily a religious ceremony, players would roll stones at clubs in an attempt to cleanse their sins. Quickly gaining steam amongst the working class in England, King Henry VII would outlaw bowling, citing it as a distraction from their trades and a detriment to the financial well-being of their country. Since the opening of Knickerbockers in 1840, the United States’ first modern indoor alley, bowling has long been associated with the common man.
Currently a $6 billion-a-year business in the U.S., bowling is a far-cry from its blue-collar heyday in the 1940s-1970s. Once centered around league and club play, the alleys and lanes of yesteryear are either closing up shop or adapting to the sport's more upper echelon participants. Research firm White Hutchinson reported in 2007 that 56 percent of bowlers come from upper-middle and high income families.
We chose 13 CITIES across the globe
to retrieve our data
As interest in bowling wanes, lanes now double as concert venues, upscale restaurants, nightclubs, and cocktail bars to rake in top dollar. Along with this, not surprisingly there have been hikes in the price per game. Those who haven’t bowled in a decade or two may be painstakingly shocked at the jump in price. Below, we rounded up the price per game in thirteen cities in the US and around the world. (Shoes not included).
A game of bowling usually takes:
1 - 1.5 hours
Ah, the glove. If you’ve got to get your bowl on in Grand Rapids, Clique Lanes will do you right. Looks like they’ve got some serious charm and at that price, why not knock a few down?
9.74 Turkish Liras
Bowling is a cherished pastime in Turkey, whose main alleys function as restaurants, bars, or overall recreation centers. There are nine bowling alleys in the city, including one at the Istanbul Cevahir, which is literally the largest shopping mall in Europe. But for a more low key time, I suggest grabbing a snack at Bayramoğlu Döner before a midnight game at Cosmic Bowling.
Situated near the mouth of the Columbia River, the little town of Astoria, Oregon is home to Lower Columbia Bowl. The only lanes in Astoria and just about the cheapest you’ll find the in country. No frills, just what you need. Snack bar, beer, and bowl. Bonus: the house from The Goonies is a stone’s throw away, but the treasure is a different story.
591.55 Japanese Yen (average)
While Tokyo is known for being a pricey city, bowling is actually quite affordable. Black light bowling is common and as are colossal bowling alleys, such as the Tokyo Dome (with 54 lanes) and the even bigger Bowling Center at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel (80 lanes).
In Italy, Bocce is king. If you aren’t familiar with the rules, here’s a good place to start. However, if you travel a bit outside of the city to the suburbs, chances are you might just find a traditional lane or two. This spot has got a mean sandwich, chips, bowling and coffee deal.
86 Rands (Montecasino)
Montecasino is a yet another bowling alley discotheque, with neon lights, neon balls, and "funky music." The shoes are free but they also offer "bare-foot" bowling which sounds sort of carefree in the way that hacky sack or Jack Johnson are but would most likely end with a trip to the ER. Shame!
Home to the International Bowling Museum & Hall Of Fame, Arlington also hosts the International Training and Research Center, where up-and-coming bowling prodigies train to represent Team USA at international tournaments. Your cheaper option is to saddle up at the AMF Spare Times Lanes.
There is an actual Bowling Stadium in Reno. This place is unreal. It cost $47.5 million to build and there is an enormous geodesic dome in the shape of a bowling ball to greet you. The Los Angeles Times once referred to it as the ‘Taj Mahal of Tenpins.’ Looking for something a little more low-key? Try High Sierra Lanes.
In the quaint little town of Shelburne Falls, MA (population 1,731) lives this old-school bowling alley. Another take on 10-pin and slightly different than duckpin, Shelburne Falls Bowling alley specializes in candlepin bowling, popular in New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces. Candlepin bowling pins are 14 3/4 inches high and have identical ends. The thickness of the pins makes throwing a strike very difficult. Games are commonly referred to as ‘strings.’
Baltimore is famous for duckpin bowling. A variation on 10-pin, duckpin balls are just a little larger than softballs. They’ve got no finger holes and the pins are shorter and smaller. Players roll three times instead of twice. Stoneleigh Lanes in North Baltimore reigns supreme with BYOB and Karaoke on weekends.
22 Swiss Francs
According to a local, bowling in Lausanne is considered as ‘something pretty uncool.’ The main spot to bowl is located in an industrial zone next to a bar that plays 90s house, a pizzeria, and a strip-club. Luckily, they even have the game where ‘you hit a punching bag as hard as possible and the machine that measures your strength and tells you whether you are a weakling or a bull.’ Bowling is a last resort.
While there are plenty of options for 10-pin bowling in the Windy City, there’s only one that still uses manual pinsetters. Southport Lanes & Billiards is the spot. A lane will run you $35 bones per hour, but hey, at least you know you’re getting that vintage pin-setter feel.
3.840 Icelandic Kronas
Should you for some reason get tired of exploring the beautiful country that is Iceland and need a club-meets-bowling alley hybrid, The Bowling Palace in Reykjavik, Iceland is the place for you. Complete with 22 lanes, private VIP areas, live DJs, and a full bar.
Despite being shutdown in 2009 due to years of wear and tear, this find was too good not to share. Built in 1961, a two-lane bowling alley with a Brunswick manual pinset system was built at McMurdo Station, a United States research center in Antacrtica. The Quonset hut originally included a weight room and ceramics studio as well. A curling rink now takes the alley's place. Check out some pictures and footage here.