Archaeologists tell us that bowling has been around since the early days of the Egyptian empire when someone rolled roundish rocks at primitive bowling pins. The modern version of the game dates back to about 1840 when balls were made out of wood. The game’s popularity exploded around 1914 when Brunswick came up with the idea of making bowling balls out of rubber. However, the sport had a somewhat seedy reputation before World War II with many alleys being located in inner-city basements and often staffed by persons of dubious character. However, automatic pinsetting and bowling on TV helped broaden bowling’s appeal and computerized scoring made the game open to everyone. Tampa Bay has plenty of places where anyone who wants to have a fun night out can do it at a reasonable price.
615 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
Located between the Florida Aquarium and the St. Pete Times Forum in the Channelside complex, Splitsville is one of the survivors in a place that’s having a hard time attracting and keeping business. Combining bowling with a higher class of dining and drinking than the usual burgers and beers has proved an attractive draw for people looking to relax and get some light exercise. Splitsville might be the only bowling center you ever go to where there’s an enforced dress code. Never fear, you can still rent those wonderfully tacky bowling shoes. While the overall slowdown at Channelside has caused the operators to close Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with lanes available starting at 4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and noon on Saturdays and Sundays. After 10 p.m., anyone under 21 has to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Lanes are available by the game or for rent. Another unique feature of Splitsville is that there are no leagues which means anyone can indulge a spur-of-the-moment whim to go bowling without being crowded by leagues (which are the bread and butter of most bowling alleys). Just look for the giant bowling pin when you step inside the Channelside complex.
5008 S. Dale Mabry Highway
Tampa, FL 33611
From the outside, Pinarama looks like a throwback to an earlier era when quonset hut style was the order of the day for bowling alleys. Despite the old-fashioned look of the outside, on the inside Pinarama offers everything bowlers expect from a modern house. Pinarama staff members pride themselves on being courteous and friendly whether you’re a veteran kegler or someone lacing up bowling shoes for the first time. Group rates are available if you and your posse decide to pool your resources and birthday party rates are available to give kids up to two hours of food and entertainment. Pinarma has plenty of leagues, but no so many that you won’t have a chance to find an open lane to just have some fun. Sundays are reserved exclusively for open bowling. Located just outside the MacDill Air Force Base gate, Pinarama offers special group rates to military personnel.
1927 Brinson Road
Lutz, FL 33558
Located just off the apex of State Road 54 and U.S. 41, Royal Lanes also happens to be a next-door neighbor to one of America’s most famous nudist resorts. For years, an urban legend has floated around that the lanes offer nude bowling night specials for residents of the nearby camp, but you can’t prove it by us. There are plenty of leagues of all skill levels to choose from, but if you’re just looking for a night out, Royal Lanes can accommodate you with special group rates. Parties are available for all age groups and events as well. If you just want to gather a group of friends for a good time, call ahead and check on group rates. The fully-equipped snack bar and lounge offer a full choice of reasonably priced beer and adult beverages and big screen TVs for anyone who wants to relax instead of bowl. If you’re a beginner, Royal is equipped with bumpers to keep every ball from rolling into the gutters. If a game of pool is more your speed, there are tables available in the lounge.
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5555 W. Hillsborough Ave.
Tampa, FL 33634
While the modern style of bowling has been around for more than a century in facilities ranging from basements to quonset huts, Pinchasers is a great place to get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with this great form of recreation. Brightly lit with rainbow decor, Pinchasers is a long way from bowling’s hardscrabble beginnings. One thing will get your attention immediately: you don’t have to rent your shoes. If you don’t have a clean pair of socks, this spot will give you a new pair to protect your tootsies. Cyber bowling with high-energy music, flashing lights and maybe even some smoke can liven up your outing. If you and a group want to have some inexpensive fun, Pinchasers offers groups of four to six people two hours to bowl along with a complimentary pitcher of soda or beer for $49. For $59 your group can add a large one-topping pizza.
6393 9th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
In the heart of the Meadowlawn area of St. Petersburg, Sunrise Lanes is just north of 62nd Avenue North on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street. Since 1980, the family-owned Sunrise Lanes has been offering state-of-the art bowling enjoyment with all of the amenities anyone could ask of a modern bowling center. You can get a custom fitted ball at the fully-equipped pro shop. If anyone in your group isn’t into bowling, they can still have fun in the game room or enjoy a game of pool and watch TV in the lounge. Regular customers can sign up for the rewards program online and the special group rates available for birthday parties or corporate outings.
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