Sports

Strike! Eight Bowling Alleys That Score in Denver

Lucky Strike is a downtown draw.
Lucky Strike is a downtown draw. Ariel Freed
With the temperature finally dropping, people are beginning to turn to indoor activities — and bowling is on a roll.

It was considered a fairly daring activity early in the pandemic, as many memes have noted. First, there were the still-warm, shared shoes. Then there was the act of putting your fingers in a ball used by however many other people, spouted out from a machine that likely wasn't pristinely clean, either, and subsequently using those same hands to drink beer and eat mozzarella sticks. But proprietors learned how to conquer the germy risks, and the sport has proved a worthy respite from modern concerns.

In fact, it's enjoying something of a renaissance in the metro area, with a new owner of Wheat Ridge Lanes and plans to resurrect the old Paramount Bowl nearby. If you haven't been to an alley since that last middle-school birthday party, it's time to rediscover bowling.

Here are eight of the best bowling alleys in the Denver area:

Wheat Ridge Lanes
6595 West 38th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
303-420-2523
This bowling alley, which first opened in 1958, has a story that exemplifies how bowling can easily become a passion. It was sold in October by Dave Hanscom, who had owned it since he bought it from his dad in 1999, to Spencer Frame, a former elementary school teacher who was part of a bowling league at Wheat Ridge Lanes. When Frame heard that Hanscom was selling, he knew he had to step in to keep the historic spot intact so it didn't go the way of the old Elitch alley. So he used his savings and borrowed money from his parents for the down payment. The owner may be new, but the old traditions remain at Wheat Ridge, with plenty of alleys, a large bar and grill, TVs and shuffleboard, and affordable prices.
click to enlarge Holiday Bowling and Billiards. - EMILY FERGUSON
Holiday Bowling and Billiards.
Emily Ferguson
Holiday Bowling and Billiards
10350 West Colfax Avenue, Lakewood
303-238-0407

Holiday is a true gem — a hole-in-the-wall alley with what could be the most affordable prices in the area for billiards, bowling, drinks and food. It's well maintained but bare-bones — no TVs in every corner, no obnoxious arcade games — which makes it a veritable Shangri-La for those with just bowling and booze on the brain. Holiday hosts tournaments and leagues, and while you'll see plenty of talented, serious bowlers there, newbies are more than welcome. Billiards, however, are reserved for league members.

Lucky Strike
500 16th Street Mall
303-629-9090

This chain has locations all over the U.S.; Cher rented out Lucky Strike's Hollywood location for an after-party for her farewell tour, which alone may be enough of a reason to check out its iteration in the Denver Pavilions. Lucky Strike is pricey, but has a good vibe and decent food. This alley "luckily inherited major pieces of the original set design from The Big Lebowski," according to its website. "It’s a long story, but one worth hearing if you ever run into us at our venues!" But first, be sure to reserve a lane in advance; this place can get crowded.

Crown Lanes
2325 South Federal Boulevard
303-936-3471
This family-run, family-friendly alley boasts bowling leagues and a full-service pro shop, as well as a full bar with "not your average bar food" such as canolis and pulled pork, three pool tables, pinball and retro arcade games. The facility has been scrupulously maintaining cleanliness and spacing out groups between lanes during the pandemic while holding to a South Federal vibe. Beer is cheap, and so are the games and rentals — all an alley really needs to score.

AMF Belleview Lanes
4900 South Federal Boulevard, Englewood
303-794-4265
AMF Belleview Lanes is a classic bowling alley with well-maintained lanes and a friendly staff. It also has a sports bar with craft beer and signature cocktails, a pro gear shop and billiards. It's a bit pricier than other options, but the atmosphere is worth a few extra bucks — and there are also great deals on some  weeknights. Just be sure to call in advance.

Round1

8501 West Bowles Avenue, Littleton
720-643-2745
This behemoth that's part of a Japanese chain sports an arcade, ping-pong tables and an array of games beyond bowling. That makes it ideal for families, though the arcade sounds can be distracting for bowlers. But the hours atone for that: After 8 p.m., the facility allows only those eighteen and up, and after midnight, only those 21 and up. The space is open until 2 a.m. throughout the week, making it the perfect spot to blow off steam — lots of steam — after work.

Arapahoe Bowling Center
6850 South Dayton Street, Greenwood Village
303-790-2695
There are 42 well-maintained lanes at this family-owned bowling alley with food, drinks and an outdoor patio. Other activities are available, too, including billiards and arcade games. Leagues often play tournaments here, though, so call ahead to be sure to get a lane.

The Wild Game Entertainment Experience
1204 Bergen Parkway, Evergreen
720-630-8888
This facility with a ski-lodge vibe is worth the drive. The Wild Game isn't all about bowling; there's ping-pong, billiards, arcade games, Skee-Ball and more. Drinks from the bar are cheap, and the food is better than at most alleys. You could easily spend an entire evening here. Score! (Sadly, the Wild Game offshoot in Longmont has remained closed during the pandemic.)
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Emily Ferguson is Westword's Culture Editor, covering Denver's flourishing arts and music scene. Before landing this position, she worked as an editor at local and national political publications and held some odd jobs suited to her odd personality, including selling grilled cheese sandwiches at music festivals and performing with fire. Emily also writes on the arts for the Wall Street Journal and is an oil painter in her free time.
Contact: Emily Ferguson