Best Chicago Bowling Alleys

Best Chicago Bowling Alleys

Let’s go bowling! Challenge your family to a game (or two, or three) the next time you’re looking for something to do. Bowling gets everyone involved and active, and allows for a little bit of fun competition. Whether you love the perks of a bowling alley, like arcade games, billiards, and snack food, or you just want a simple game, there are several places in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs perfect for an afternoon or evening of play.

Waveland Bowl

Waveland Bowl is the largest bowling alley in the city with 40 lanes with features the modern bowler will appreciate – automatic scoring and programmable bumpers available on every lane. Bright wall murals, an arcade with vintage games, a billiard area, and a free kid’s theater make Waveland perfect for families. Bowl early on weekdays for the best prices – only $1 per person per game. Prices top out at $5.50 per person per game on Friday and Saturday evenings. Grab a bite at Alley Dogs, or adults can get a drink at one of the two bars. Waveland has adult and youth leagues and offers parties and private events.


Pinstripes is not your ordinary bowling alley. You’ll find comfortable couches on your lane and delicious bistro cuisine to enjoy in their dining room or at your bowling lane. In addition to bowling, Pinstripes has a year-round outdoor patio and firepit, and bocce. Pinstripes has Tots Playtime from 10:00 am to noon every weekday where kids bowl for only $5 and parents are free, and a “Kids Eat Free” promotion every Sunday evening. If you’re planning a kid’s party, a corporate bash, or even a wedding, Pinstripes can help. Pinstripes has locations in Chicago, Oak Brook, Northbrook, and South Barrington.

See my post about our experience at Pinstripes.

Lucky Strike

If you’re looking for some upscale bowling, Lucky Strike is it. Forget the hard plastic seats because each of the 18 lanes has comfy couches so you can lounge while waiting for your turn. With tons of big screens, Lucky Strike is a great place to catch your favorite sporting event, too. There are pool tables and a restaurant, and you can plan a party for adults or kids. There is a dress code, so neat, casual fitted clothing is the way to go. Families are welcome at Lucky Strike, but there are times when age restrictions apply and Lucky Strike becomes 21 and over; check with the location you’ll be visiting for specific times. Lucky Strike has locations in Chicago and Lombard.

Diversey-River Bowl

Diversey-River Bowl has been around for nearly two decades, and Cosmic bowling will never be the same after you’ve been there. You’ll feel like you’re at a concert with their amazing sound system, black lights, lasers, and digital and LED lighting fixtures. Diversey-River Bowl has leagues, a restaurant, and a pro shop. On Friday afternoons, get a lane for the hourly rate of only $9.95. Book a birthday party for your child and they’ll receive their very own bowling pin!

Level 257

Level 257 is brand new and located at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. The unusual name is a tribute to the classic video game Pac-Man, that had 256 levels of play; Level 257 considers itself the “next level of play.” Level 257 takes bowling retro with above ground ball returns and black bowling balls. There’s a full dining room with food that’s also at the next level, with choices like chicken wings, baked lasagna, and NY strip steak. The Lost & Found Lounge also has a collection of old-school arcade games, modern social games, and board games. Bowling is $5 per person per game, except on Friday and Saturday evenings when it’s $40 per hour. Level 257 had a highly-anticipated opening and is pretty busy as people try to check it out, so expect a crowd if you visit soon.

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