I’ve found that bowling is a great sport for kids of most ages, with the right level of friendly competition and no need for major athletic ability. (I come from a long line of non-athletes.)
So here are my favorite spots to ready, set, strike!
435 E. Illinois St.; pinstripes.com/chicago
I checked out Pinstripes on a whim on a random Saturday night, not knowing quite what to expect. What we found was a kid’s paradise fit with a special kiddie menu, computerized bumper lanes and a deck over the Chicago River. Pinstripes in River East also boasts a Sunday brunch with a waffle station and chocolate fountain. On Sundays after 5 p.m., kids 12 and under eat for half price with the purchase of an adult entrée. And last but not least, Pinstripes offers a Tots Playtime 10 a.m.-noon every Monday-Friday where kids 12 and under bowl for $3 per child per game with a $5 shoe rental and parents bowl free.
330 N. State St.; 10pinchicago.com
You may think 10pin is only for adults, but the River North bowling staple offers lots for tots besides special child-weight balls and bumpers. Especially when it comes to the kids’ birthday parties, 10pin is the place. Rates for regular bowling are $4.95 per game before 5 p.m. and it opens at the kid-friendly hour of noon every day.
3700 N. Western Ave.; wavelandbowl.com
Styled like a retro diner from the outside, the best part of Waveland Bowl for kids is when the lights go down and the music goes up. Waveland is known for its rock-and-bowl atmosphere. At 3-5 p.m. Fridays and 1-3 p.m. Sundays, it becomes Kidzone Cosmic, with tunes spun just for the little ones. Better yet, 9 a.m.-noon, games are only $1, perfect for the preschooler set.