Bowling in Toronto
Bowling in Toronto has come back in vogue this month with the opening of the much buzzed about downtown bowling alley The Ballroom. And why not? Bowling is one of those cherished pastimes that never seems to go out of style. I've always found something charming about the unapologetically tacky shoes, blinding flashing lights, greasy food, and thrill of trying to think of a naughty, three-letter word to display on the score screen in lieu of my real name.
Beyond the downtown core, there is surely no shortage of places to go bowling in Toronto, with different alleys offering amenities to cater to each bowling-enthusiast's preferences and needs. Here's a list and breakdown of some of the bowling alleys in the GTA:
Situated right amidst the sparring cash-for-gold jewelers at Bathurst and Glencairn, Bathurst Bowlerama is the quintessential outmoded lane. Unrepentant in its 90's technology and décor, it has 16 lanes of 5-pin and 16 lanes of 10-pin bowling, along with arcade games, a snack bar, and cosmic bowling on Friday and Saturday nights ($28.50 an hour plus $2.99 for shoe rental). Check its website for a $5 off coupon.
Monday to Thursday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Friday : 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 1 a.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Danforth Bowl at Danforth and Coxwell offers six lanes of 5-pin bowling with lots of that independently-run charm and flashing icons on its website. It boasts that it is fully licensed with a well-stocked bar that has recently added Yellow Tail Shiraz to its collection. You can bowl amid coloured lights and a disco ball for $30 an hour, plus $2.50 for shoes.
Sunday to Thursday: 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 12 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Have you ever had the overwhelming desire to bowl a game or two at 4 a.m.? Me neither--but if you ever do, there's West Bowlerama, which is open 24 hours, seven days a week. Near Kipling and Dundas St. West, this alley has 32 lanes of 5-pin and 24 lanes of 10-pin bowling, along with games and a snack bar. West Bowlerama also celebrates "Magical Mondays," where games are $0.75 per person after $5 admission, as well as "70's Night" on Wednesdays, where games, fries, and hot dogs are $0.99 after 10p.m. Cosmic bowling on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights are $30.99 an hour, plus $4.50 for shoe rental.
This bowling alley in Vaughan Mills mall seems to be some sort of weird club/lounge/bowling alley hybrid. Along with 22 lanes of 10-pin bowling, it has a VIP lounge (where all the high "rollers" hang, no doubt), a dance floor, live DJ on Fridays and live band on Saturdays. Wednesdays are also "Karaoke Night" and Mondays after 8 p.m. are "All You Can Bowl." And don't worry, while the website says a dress code is in effect, it's not actually enforced--so go ahead and work those sweats. Bowling is $65 per hour per lane on weekends, and $45 during the week.
Sunday to Thursday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.
The Ballroom at the corner of Richmond and John is the newest lane on the scene. I has abandoned the deep-rooted pastel tiles and green screens of bowling alleys in our minds, and instead opted for more modern décor and amenities. Its nine lanes of 10-pin bowling are surrounded by LED screens, available for $65 per hour per lane on weekends (it's about half the cost on weekdays, plus shoes and taxes). The Ballroom also has a variety of arcade games, pool tables, and a ping-pong lounge. Its sports bar offers everything from bowling classics such as onion rings ($7) and nachos ($14 or $22), to less typical lane food such as organic quinoa salad ($10 or $16) and grilled flank steak ($25).
Sunday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Playtime Bowl on Samor Road near Yorkdale Mall has 48 lanes of 10-pin bowling and lots of flashing lights and sound--5000 WATTS worth, to be exact. So bring along the Advil? Cosmic bowling with a live DJ runs Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at $32.99 per lane per hour. Specials include Sunday to Thursday "Bottomless Bowling" where you can bowl all you want for $8 (plus $1 for shoes). Playtime also has a licensed bar and grill and home to the Doug Gilmour Celebrity Bowl.
Sunday to Thursday: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Inside the Newtonbrook Plaza at Yonge and Finch, this alley has 12 5-pin lanes, 20 10-pin lanes, a snack bar, and cosmic bowling on weekends. It's about $27 per lane per hour for evening play on weekends, and about $22 during the week.
Sunday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Rexdale Bowlerama at Kipling and Rexdale has 16 5-pin and 16 10-pin lanes. It has "All You Can Bowl" on Tuesdays, "70's Night" on Wednesdays, and Cosmic Bowling for $31.50 per hour per lane plus $3.50 for shoes.
Sunday to Thursday: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Kennedy Bowl at Lawrence and Kennedy has 32 lanes of 10-pin bowling. It also has a licensed sports bar, snack bar, and cosmic bowling for $25 per hour per lane plus shoes.
Sunday to Thursday: 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Friday: 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Parkway Bowl at in the Parkway Mall at Victoria Park and Ellesmere has 24 lanes of 5-pin bowling, four of which can be turned into 10-pin lanes. Bowling is $3.54 per game (plus $2.21 for shoes) for 5-pin and 3.76 for 10-pin.
Depends on the time of year (check website or call).
Brimley Bowl at Eglinton and Brimley Road has 16 lanes of 5-pin bowling. Evening rates are $25 per lane per hour plus $2 for shoes. Phone: (416) 267-1134
Call, depends on leagues.
One of the cheapest options in the city, All-Star Bowl on Eglinton east of Danforth Road has 24 lanes of 10-pin bowling offered for just $2 for downstairs lanes, $5.25 for upstairs lanes (plus $3 for shoes). Phone: (416) 261-5011
Monday to Thursday: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Friday and Saturday: 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.
North Park Bowl
Another thrifty option, North Park Bowl at Lawrence and Keele has 16 lanes of 5-pin bowling available for $15 per lane per hour including shoes. Phone: (416) 240-9373
Daily: 12p.m. to varies
Shamrock Bowl, the 1950s-style bowling alley near Gerrard and Coxwell, would have received a bit more prominent standing on this list if it wasn't for that fact that they're an event rental space, and thus not open to the public. Also worrisome is the fact that listed phone number is no longer in service. We have an email out to Shamrock and will thus update this entry with more information when we have it.
Third image by Chewie2008~ in the blogTO Flickr pool. Other photos by Denis Marciniak/blogTO.