Candlepin bowling is a thing in New England

Candlepin or 10-Pin? Bowl with the locals at the Boston Bowl, or with cocktails and dinner at Kings or Lucky Strike? If you're not here, you might not realize that to begin with, bowling in Boston involves a multitude of options.

What is candlepin? For a quick backdrop, candlepin bowling is the northeast cousin of the popular 10-pin version that dominates most U.S. federal bowling alleys. Found primarily in New England and Canada Maritimes, candlepin features a smaller ball (about four-and-a-half inches) and thinner pins. Each player is given three attempts to knock the pins down, and between throws, the pins are not put away. Like 10-pin, 300 points the maximum score for candlepin - although the perfect candlepin game must be played.

You can find both candlepin and 10-pin options on trails in and around greater Boston - and the places range from local city hangouts to full experiences with far more than just bowling.


Located in Dorchester, Boston Bowl is a city institution, with an active local league. Recently renovated, it now has new scoring machines and flat screen TVs on every track. Blogger Lynn of Candlepin Adventures calls it "the definition of convenience in candlepin ... you're open 24 hours, have candlepin and 10-pin, an arcade, food, drink, and pool." Note that this area is popular with families (especially for birthday parties). However, you can reserve tracks online in advance so make a booking on the Boston Bowl website and then you won't have to wait on arrival.

Central Park Lanes, a fixture in East Boston, is all about candlepin - and all about nostalgia. Pencil and paper - scorecards, a jukebox with classic tunes and no-frills - prizes keep the locals coming back. It's "a great fun, cheap place to have a good time with friends," recommends Yelp user Bethany R. Two floors of bowling also mean minimal lines. So, with the extra time and money you'll save, you can then head on to another nearby Eastie's must-visit, Santarpio's, for memorable pizza. dinner and Bowling, everyone on the cheap?

This is a great day night.

Lucky Strike Social Boston, shaded by Fenway Park and formerly Jillians / Lucky Strike, is a 70,000 square foot, three story entertainment complex that really has something for everyone. On the first floor, Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co. is a great place to craft beer and have a bite to eat on the patio before a grabbing Red Sox game or a concert at Fenway. They also have pool, shuffleboard, and table tennis.

On the second floor, you'll find Boston's newest game room with over 150 games and a gigantic prize room, along with a bar and restaurant. Then make your way through 16 bowling lanes, pool tables to the third floor, and a fully stocked bar and lounge area.

They now have a second location, Lucky Strike Social Somerville, which opened in April 2018 in Assembly Row Square, where you can find everything from outlet stores to a movie theater and training studios. The Lucky Strike is a total of 36,000 square feet and has two levels: a restaurant and bar on the first floor and bowling, floor shuffleboard, another bar, more than 130 different games, and its own event space on the second.

In the heart of Back Bay, King Boston is another 10-pin place with a high-end vibe. After 6pm, it's a 21+ venue; during the day, someone younger than 21 needs to get a companion. Proper clothing is a must. And while bowling is the main attraction, King also has a restaurant, three bars, and retro games like skeeball and shuffleboard. Over 30 flat screen televisions also broadcast the latest games so when there is a wait for a track there are plenty of other distractions to keep you entertained.

Similar to Lucky Strike, King recently opened another Boston location at Seaport, Boston's most up-and-coming neighborhoods, in late 2017. There are 16 bowling lanes, along with activities like pool, shuffleboard, air hockey, and arcade games. There is also a sports bar with huge TVs and more than 40 beers on tap. In the same building, A Seaport, you will also find the new Showplace Icon Theater, where you can watch the latest movies on a rainy or cold day . There are also King Places just outside of town in Dedham, Lynnfield and Burlington, MA.

For years, Bowl Havens Sacco in Somerville Davis Square was the bowling alley, time forgotten. Established in 1939 (and untouched for many years afterwards), it was recently renovated as part of the Fladen restaurant chain. Today it's a great place for candlepin bowling and pizza (although it can get a little crowded). You can opt for pizza and drinks on your lane while you bowl, or put your name in a lane and have a bite to eat while you wait for a lane to open. And be sure to keep an eye out for something unusual: During the renovation updates, there was so much unexplained activity around the Sacco building that it was featured in an episode of Ghost Hunters (though most of the ghostly events always end up being debunked ).

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays, South Boston Bowlarama is a place for candlepin - and for hearing the local Southie accents at its best. That nothing-fancy setting with do-it-yourself scorecards and ball return cash just forward and affordable bowl prices also gets kudos for its "nasty cheap beer". Come for the bowling, stay for the characters.

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