Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Else to Do In NYC? Bowling, Of Course!

You may have noticed the large neon man protruding out of the old New York Times building on 44th Street, directly across from Shubert Alley.  I know I did, and I was intrigued.  We New Englanders love us some bowling, so I had to check it out.  As it turns out, you are welcome - in the morning and afternoon - to take a tour of Bowlmor Lanes - Times Square.  Even just on tour the place is amazing.  (NOTE: Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge them!)

It takes up two floors of what used to be the reporters' desks for The New York Times, which ceased to be made at that location in 2007.  Anyway, this is NOT the old bowling alley down the street, folks.  This is an all out entertainment mecca for bowlers of all skill levels and interest. 

The Stadium Grill

There is a full sized sports bar/restaurant - The Stadium Grill; there's also the Tribeca Loft Nightclub that includes a stage for entertainers to perform on (usually for private parties, but open to the public otherwise), and each floor has a bar/lounge for those who are waiting for a lane to open up.  And there is a full sized store for all of your Bowlmor Lanes shopping needs, too!

Notice the large pillars and low ceilings in the vintage photo

Those same pillars are decorated
per room -in this case, Chinatown

Oh, yeah.  It's a bowling alley, too.  In fact, it sports not one, but two registration desks/shoe rental places.  What would bowling be without those so ugly they're cute bowling shoes to rent?  And this place doesn't just have lanes.  No, it has 50 lanes spread out over two floors in 7 themed rooms - I'm telling you it is the Disney World of bowling.  Each room is decorated like an aspect of New York City history and culture : Central Park, Times Square, Chinatown, the Subway, Art Deco, New York Pop Culture and Prohibition Lanes.  What really makes these lanes unique is that they work despite really low ceilings.

And what sets this bowling experience apart from all others is the ambiance.  Ever do "Midnight Madness" at your local alley, where they turn of the lights, blare music and turn on the black lights so everything glows in the dark?  Well, take that to a more chic, exciting level.  Here,  the lights are low, the music is loud, the gutters are lined with racing red lights, and above the pin set are gigantic TV screens that show a wide variety of sporting events and other things.

The lane that is right against these pillars was where we bowled!
Lane 43!

The night we went, we were in the Art Deco Lanes, on an alley right next to giant pillars, art deco-ed from floor to ceiling.  The tall leather banquettes were comfortable seating, but the games there are fast.  You really seem to move to the pace of the room.  It was loud, it was exciting and it was fun.  Even the score screens are fun.  They tell you how fast you threw the last ball!

Like most bowling alleys you have to rent shoes ($6.75 for the night), but the balls are interesting... there are probably 2 dozen at each pair of lanes of all different weights - green balls, for example, are all 12 pounders.  But what makes them interesting is that once you know what weight you want, you have a choice on each ball of where to put your fingers.  There are two sets of three holes on each ball, small, medium and large!  Once you get used to it, the bowling itself is as fun and challenging (if not more so) as anyplace you've ever been.

The Uptown Bar and Lounge

The first time I went there, I just toured the place.  At that time, they were charging a per half hour rate.  On a Saturday night (the second time I went) they charged a $5.00 door fee, and it was per game.  Now here's the not too surprising part.  It is expensive.  It is $12.95 per game.  Yes.  $12.95. Per game.  So it isn't something I, at least, will get to do every time I come to the city.  And it may be cheaper in the morning or afternoon.  I love bowling so before the show, between shows and after the show are all good for me.  Still, it is pricey.  But the entire experience was worth it, and I am already looking forward to going back.  (If you can go on a Monday night, between 9pm - 1am, $24.00 will get you shoes and unlimited bowling.  And every evening there is a happy hour with drinks and appetizer specials.)

The night Mike and I went, with the cover charge, 1 shoe rental (I brought my own), 2 drinks and six games came to just under $100.00.  Again, it was a fun treat.  And we will do it again, I'm sure.  Next time, I think we might actually eat something there, too.  And all things considered, none of the prices on the menu were shocking or even remotely out of line.  It's not inexpensive like the Edison Cafe, but it isn't like Gallagher's Steakhouse, either, where an a la carte baked potato will run you $8.00).

Here's a map of the place

Even if all you do is go in and look around, it is a cool experience.  And it is a welcome addition to the Times Square area.  For more information, like hours and specials go to

If you go, let us know what you think!  What other places do you like to go before, between or after shows?  Please write in and share your favorite things to do!

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