Choose a ball, step up to the line, gaze at the pins down the lane, and send the ball rolling. What you hear next either the crashing of numerous pins against the wood floor or perhaps the clunk from a ball unintentionally falling into the gutter triggers excitement all around. Bowling is enjoyable for all ages. It’s a great way to be active, especially when the weather isn’t all blue skies, and in Maine there are plenty of opportunities. These alleys from around the state offer candlepin and ten pin, arcades and billiards, live entertainment and tasty dining options.
1. Bayside Bowl | Portland
In the Bayside neighborhood of Portland, this alley has a full bar, live entertainment, and savory food. The menu covers a broad spectrum. Those wanting healthy fare can opt for the summer salad with strawberries, pistachios, and goat cheese on top of a bed of arugula. A more indulgent course is the Drunk on Lane 9 option, which is a classic burger topped with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg. On Fridays and Saturdays local acts set up and play live music for bowlers and restaurant-goers.
2. Easy Day | South Portland
At Easy Day in the summertime, take a break from the lanes and enjoy lunch, dinner, or a drink on the outdoor patio. Inside, the maple and mahogany 36-seat bar and tables and booths were handcrafted by Windham Millwork. The alley boasts panoramic views of the city of Portland across the bridge. In the evenings bright neon colors illuminate the lanes and on Wednesdays and select Saturdays there is live entertainment.
3. Big 20 Bowling Center | Scarborough
This alley’s sign on Route 1 says State O Maine, a nod to the original name of the alley that opened in 1950. This vintage alley has hosted world championships, and because of their allegiance to the Maine State Candlepin Bowling Association, they continue to host state championships throughout the year. Today the alley is a place for affordable family fun. There is a snack bar and a full-service bar, and on Friday and Saturday nights is Rock-n- Glow Bowl.
4. Vacationland Bowling Center | Saco
In the summer at Vacationland Bowling Center children bowl free; the deal is part of a national initiative promoting safe play for younger generations. The alley opened in 1983, and in 1991 they installed an automatic scorer for candlepin bowling, doing away with pencils and pads of paper. Today they have 32 lanes of candlepin, an arcade, and a billiard room, as well as events throughout the week. They are open seven days a week and offer leagues for children, adults, and couples.
5. Family Fun Bowling Center | Bangor
This building on Hildreth Street in Bangor has switched ownership quite a few times since opening in 1959, but it has always remained a bowling alley. Today, Andy Meucci, a Bowling Hall of Fame inductee himself, runs the operation. The lanes are of premium synthetic material and are up to United States Bowling Congress standards. The Back Alley Pub offers a full bar and menu. Every Friday is college night, with a light show, fog, and catchy tunes.
6. All Play Family Entertainment Center | Belfast and Waldoboro
All Play Family Entertainment Center was originally located in Waldoboro in a place that was a little off the beaten path. In 2014, the owners decided to purchase and renovate a building on Route 1 in Belfast to have a second location. The new alley features candlepin bowling as well as an arcade, pool tables, and a cafe that serves all the snacks that kids enjoy. There is also an event room fit for hosting a birthday party.
7. Moose Alley | Rangeley
Inside Moose Alley in Rangeley is not your average bowling alley. There is an indoor fire pit that is surrounded by recliner chairs. Still, games and entertainment are the foundation of this facility, which offers ten lanes of bowling and an arcade for kids equipped with video games and Skee-Ball. For the adults there is a shuffleboard table, darts, and pool tables. Order a drink or food off a full menu at the glowing bar where you can also play trivia. Sunday Funday includes discounted bowling, billiards, and open mic night for local musicians.
8. Colonial Bowling Center | Westbrook
If you frequent Colonial Bowling in Westbrook, chances are you’re on a first-name basis with the staff. The center’s website boasts their commitment to getting to know their bowlers. Other than hospitality, this alley has 16 lanes of candlepin, a pro shop, and a kitchen. Leagues for kids and adults convene on weekends, and lessons are available for those looking to brush up on their arm swing.
9. Sparetime Recreation | Waterville, Lewiston, Hallowell
Sparetime Recreation has three locations in Maine and each has a grill with a full menu as well as event packages. For birthdays, the alleys have a package deal that includes everything from shoe rentals to bowling- themed cups and napkins. For the more competitive bowler, the centers offer tournaments. For the recreational bowler, there’s the Lousy Bowler Club that meets every Sunday, where the objective is fun.