9 essential Milwaukee bowling experiences
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Dec. 6, 2019 at 11:40 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
Milwaukee's always been a bowling town. Take it from the reporter who just may hold the record as the longest-serving Bowler of the Week columnist in the history of The Milwaukee Sentinel.
But the sport has had its ups and downs, and the days of every neighborhood boasting at least one – and often multiple – bowling centers, are gone. And Milwaukee's title as bowling capital of the world waned when the American Bowling Congress moved its headquarters from Greendale to Texas.
However, Milwaukee remains a great place for bowlers and you can find a wide range of houses here that offer league bowling, night bowling, jumping bars, game arcades, mini bowling and more.
Here are nine unforgettable places to rent some shoes in Brew City ...
1. Bay View Bowl
2416 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 483-0950
(Photo: Bay View Bowl Facebook)
Bay View Bowl is one of just a handful of surviving neighborhood bowling houses. It's bigger than the old corner tap alleys, but with 12 lanes, smaller than the bigger bowling centers that were all the rage in the '60s and '70s. It hosts lots of league bowlers and a bar that has been a neighborhood hangout for years.
2. Bluemound Bowl
12935 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield,
(Photo: Bluemound Bowl)
Open bowling every day and one of the best spots in town for league bowling, too. Bluemound Bowl also hosts bumper bowling for kids (and me) and parties, too. And check out the bar in the photo above.
3. Falcon Bowl
801 E. Clarke St., (414) 264-0680
A vintage Milwaukee classic, this long-lived neighborhood tavern and bowling alley is a remnant of Riverwest's Polish heritage. The lanes in the basement are thought to be among the oldest in the country, built sometime around the dawn of the 20th century.
4. Highland Lanes
5830 W. Vliet St., (414) 774-2166
(Photo: Highland Lanes Facebook)
This Washington Heights center, which opened in 1960, has just eight lanes, making it one of the more intimate of the city's bowling houses. Get there at 5 p.m. for easy lane access, as leagues typically kick off about two hours later.
5. Holler House
2042 W. Lincoln Ave., (414) 647-9284
(Photo: Dori/Wikimedia Commons)
Opened by "Iron Mike" Skowronski as Skowronski's in 1908, Holler House, on the South Side, has two lanes – the oldest sanctioned alleys in the country – nestled into the basement. There is really nothing that compares to bowling here. Human pinsetters are a nod to tradition.
6. JB's on 41
4040 S. 27th St., (414) 281-8200
In a similar vein to Pinstrikes – though without the theaters – is JB's on 41, in the old Olympic Lanes on 27th Street. JB's boasts state of the art lanes, plus food, a bar and a game arcade.
7. Koz's Mini Bowl
2078 S. 7th St., (414) 383-0560
(Photo: Koz's Mini Bowl Facebook)
Dollar for dollar, mini bowling – aka duckpin bowling – is the most fun of all, and Koz's is THE place to do it. Call ahead and plan to arrive early if you want to bring your kids, because this is a corner bar and so as the evening progresses the less appropriate it is for little ones. But that's OK, too, because adults love duckpin bowling, too. As at Holler House, pins are set by people, not machines.
8. Landmark Lanes
2220 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 278-8770
Landmark Lanes has earned its name over the decades. With three bars, a clanging and ringing arcade and a full bowling center, Landmark is the place for East Side bowling. Most fun is the Cosmic Bowling, on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m.
9. Punch Bowl Social
1122 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave., (414) 204-7544
(Photo: Punch Bowl Social)
With a kitchen, a bar, board games, foosball, billiards and more, Punch Bowl Social – in the Fiserv Forum entertainment block – is also a great place to roll a few frames.
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