Charlotte bowling alleys, ranked from old school to trendy

Erik Combs releases his ball at the foul line. He and co-workers from Wild Wing in EpiCentre were bowling and eating after work on a recent afternoon. Strike City, a new combination bowling alley-bar-restaurant-hangout is opening in EpiCentre. From the blacklights to the pumping music to the day-glo balls to a couple dozen beers on tap, this is definitely not your father's bowlling alley. GARY O'BRIEN -

I’m a bowling alley purist. I want my bowling alley to smell vaguely of stale beer and cigarettes, even though smoking indoors has been banned for years. I don’t need loud music and light shows, just serve me a pitcher of light lager with plastic cups.

I want to feel like I could turn around at any moment and see The Dude sipping on a White Russian.

I’m sure many of y’all feel differently, so it’s a good thing that we’ve got a varied bowling scene here in Charlotte. Based on my experience of bowling in leagues and friendly games around the city, here’s my ranking from old-school to trendy:

Old school:

(5) AMF University Lanes

Bowling for scholarships

Since George Pappas’ Park Lanes closed a few years back (more on that later) this is about as old school as you’re going to get in the city limits.

I joined a league at this place when I first moved to Charlotte. It keeps it simple. No frills, but clean and nice. They’ll serve you a light lager, but it might be in a fancy glass.

Fun fact: In that one league I bowled in, I won $100, making me officially ineligible for NCAA competition.

(4) AMF Centennial Lanes

You pretty much know what you’re going to get with an AMF center. I’m pretty sure I bowled at this place at some point growing up, in a state tournament or something, maybe? (Yeah, I was super cool in middle school.)

Like University, this one’s updated just enough to not feel like a dive, but nothing too fancy. Lace ’em up and roll.

Business in the front, party in the back

(3) AMF Carolina Lanes

This place is sneaky huge. I went there one night to do some midnight bowling and there was a line to the door. I thought, “Dang, not gonna get to bowl tonight. This stinks.” But there are approximately 1,321.5 lanes in this place.

There are lanes on either side of the main room and a whole separate back room with another set. Plenty of space. And they have the blasting music and cool stuff like that for midnight bowling. Party.


(2) StrikeCity

A video posted by JKnowTruth (@jknowtruth) on

This one is in the Epicentre, which should tell you everything you need to know about it.

From the Yelp reviews: “It’s a bowling alley but it freakin’ looks like a club. … The lanes were so cool I even did a random moonwalk.”

(1) 10 Park Lanes

Who says you can’t watch @panthers AND bowl? @tenparklane

A photo posted by CharlotteFive (@cltfive) on

I LOVED George Pappas’ Park Lanes, what 10 was before it got all fancy. It was the perfect old school bowling alley, plastic cups and all. I loved bowling in leagues there. Now it’s totally different.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. TEN Park Lanes has a lot going for it: Great bar, cool outdoor area, TVs. Notice none of those things have anything to do with bowling.

It’s a cool bar that just happens to have a bowling alley.

*I didn’t include Piedmont Social House because, even though it has 12 lanes, it feels even more like a bar that just happens to have bowling lanes. I tried to keep it traditional. I told you, I’m a purist.

Photos: Charlotte Observer file; Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer

CoreyCorey Inscoe is editor of CharlotteFive and started bowling in leagues in elementary school. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyInscoe.


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