Bowling alleys are like dive bars for family entertainment - most are kinda seedy, needing a good cleaning and refurbishing - yet there's a weird attraction that makes you want to drop in. Maybe to bowl, or maybe to check out those who do bowl.
Only a few years back, it seemed that bowling alleys were going the way of other old school entertainment like drive-in theaters, skating rinks, and miniature golf centers. But then something happened - bowling became hip. At least here in San Diego. No longer only the bastion of bored teens or the overweight who champion the dubious fitness qualities of the sport whilst chain smoking and drinking (think "The Dude" in "The Big Lebowski")bowling has reinvented itself to the public.
Cosmic bowling, pulsating music, and new, swanky venues that are more lounges and restaurants with bowling lanes attached have made the homely bowling alley a place to consider for entertainment. But don't fret - bowling hasn't gone all sleek and glossy on us - it still is bowling, after all. There's still the funky looking and smelling shoe rentals, the clatter of the balls hitting the pins, the now cool bowling team shirts, and those longstanding alleys that might seem a bit frayed but have been able to survive the threat of extinction to this current revival. Besides, what other sport can you have a drink and eat nachos while playing it?
That's why it's bowling and it will always be cool. Because everyone can play. If it wasn't bowling, it would be golf.AMF Eagle Lanes in San Marcos is generally considered one of the better traditional bowling centers in the county. Large, well-run, clean, modern and updated, with good food and beverage service make AMF Eagle Lanes a favorite for residents in the north county inland area.More »Brunswick Premier Lanes in eastern Chula Vista is a more traditional bowling alley, but a newer one than other ones in the county. The bowling center has 48 lanes, pool tables, and the usual snack bar, lounge and arcade games. If you're looking for a typical bowling experience in a spacious facility, Brunswick Premier Lanes is a good bet.More »This is the place that started the resurgence of bowling alleys here in San Diego, ushering in the era of the boutique bowling alley. East Village Tavern and Bowl brought bowling back downtown in 2007 by making bowling the centerpiece of a cool, hip bar and restaurant. Think of it as a trendy, yet inviting, pub that happens to have a bowling alley attached to it. Only blocks from the convention center, the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, and Petco Park, this 14,000 sq. ft. sports lounge features 12 bowling lanes, a full dining menu of pub food, full bar, pool tables, and 30 flat-screen TVs. East Village Tavern and Bowl is a cool place to hang out if you want to experience some of that downtown nightlife but aren't into the overpriced club scene.More »The East Village Tavern and Bowl concept was so successful the the owners decided to bring a bit of downtown cool to Eastlake in Chula Vista. The second in the Tavern and Bowl family, Eastlake Tavern and Bowl is similar in vibe to the downtown location - but probably minus the prevalence of hipsters and clubbers. This 16,000 sq. ft. sports lounge features 10 bowling lanes, a full dining menu of pub food, full bar, pool tables, and 50 flat-screen TVs.More »If you're looking for a stereotypical bowling alley, Kearny Mesa Bowl is your place: hardcore bowlers, decor from another era, people from another era, worn and in need of a makeover. Then again, what bowling alley isn't in need of a makeover? There's really nothing special about Kearny Mesa Bowl - it's just been here forever, is always busy, and has decent condition lanes. Pretty much what you expect of a bowling alley.More »If you're looking for a stereotypical bowling alley, Mira Mesa Bowl, like it's sister Kearny Mesa Bowl, is your place: hardcore bowlers, decor from another era, people from another era, worn and in need of a makeover. Then again, what bowling alley isn't in need of a makeover? There's really nothing special about Kearny Mesa Bowl - it's just been here forever, is always busy, and has decent condition lanes. Pretty much what you expect of a bowling alley.More »You'd think it would be a no-brainer to open a bowling alley at the mall, so it's a wonder that North County Tavern and Bowl is the first to do so in San Diego. The third addition to the Tavern and Bowl family opened in 2011 in a mall at the Westfield North County on level two near Sears. Like its sister locations in East Village and Eastlake, this 15,000 sq. ft. sports has 50 HD Flat Screens, 8 bowling lanes, pool tables, and of course a full bar and restaurant. Great for families to bowl a few games while shopping, it's also probably a godsend for men who had to be dragged to the shopping mall against their wishes.More »Huge standard issue bowling alley in El Cajon - 68 lanes, with the requisite pool tables, lounge, snack bar, etc. Adjacent is the Boardwalk indoor amusement park. Put these together and you have a big youth hangout, with all the annoyances that come with it. It's a bit worn around the edges, but Parkway offers some good bargain specials. If you're in East County and looking for a place to bowl, this is where you go.More »Another standard issue bowling alley caught in a time warp and in need of refurbishing. If your expectation of bowling alley ambiance is low and you just want to roll a few games to kill time, and if you're in Poway, then this is your place. It's a neighborhood bowling center, no more, no less. But it's not a place you would go out of your way to bowl 10 frames.More »Surf Bowl in Oceanside is your classic, traditional bowling center. It's on the older side, but generally well kept and family friendly, with a nice arcade, billiard area, cafe and cocktail lounge located there. Glow-in-the-dark bowling, specials, and birthday packages make it a popular place on the north coast.More »Viejas Casino enters the bowling scene with a boutique bowling alley located, somewhat discreetly, in the Outlet Center across the street from the casino. No doubt added to the attractions of the gaming complex to get people to stay a bit longer and drop some $$ at the casino, Viejas Bowl is a nice little facility with 12 lanes and a lounge-like decor and mood lighting. Maybe not as hip and cool as the Tavern and Bowl chains - Viejas doesn't have a full bar and only a snack bar - but it has a more modern take on the new bowling alleys of today. And, lest you forget, there's gambling, restaurants, and shopping right there before or after striking some pins.More »Since 1960, Vista Entertainment Center has catered to the North County bowling community.The center has 40 lanes and the usual bowling alley amenities. It shows its age, but if you're looking for a place to bowl in North County - and North County Tavern and Bowl is too busy or pricey for you - then you'll probably end up here.More »