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Best old-school bowling alleys in New York City

Looking for some legitimately vintage bowling alleys (sans scenes, irony and pricey suds)? Check out these standbys.

By Alex Schechter
Brooklyn Bowl and The Gutter are awesome. But if you’re aiming to hit retro bowling alleys that have been around since before the aughts, try these storied venues.

AMF 34th Avenue Lanes

Attractions Arcades and amusements Jackson Heights

Seekers of suburban high-school nostalgia, take note: This 35-lane hub hosts cosmic bowling—you remember, the late-night, “crazy” kind that comes with disco lights and music videos playing on big screens—on Fridays and Saturdays (9pm–4am, $21 per person per two hours). For a more relaxed experience, take advantage of the $14 rate (per person per two hours) on weeknights after 10pm. Fun fact to share while splitting an affordable pitcher: An episode of The Good Wife was filmed here in February. 718-651-0440,

Cost per lane: $14–$21 per two hours (including shoes)
Cheapest brew: Pitcher of Budweiser, $11

Melody Lanes

Things to do Games and hobbies Greenwood

Grabbing a seat along the bar at this Sunset Park staple, which opened in 1958, is a must. You should find tuxedo-wearing bartender Peter Napolitano, a smiling, super-chatty, philosophizing  fixture who’s been profiled in the Times, manning the taps. (Psst, there are half-off drafts on Thursdays.) The space is brightened by gum-ball machines and bowling balls neatly arranged on red shelves. Between rounds, swing by the snack counter, which peddles funnel cake ($1.50) and hot dogs ($2.50), and look at the Melody Lanes 300 Club bulletin board, honoring players who’ve achieved perfect scores here over the last 50-plus years. On Sundays, you can often catch these champions trying to match their records. 718-499-3848,

Cost per game: $6.50–$8, plus $4 shoe rental
Cheapest brew: Pitcher of Budweiser, $10


Shell Lanes

A retro sign with colored letters spells out the name of this long-standing Brighton Beach center, where big-league bowlers have played since the 1960s. On Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights (9:30pm–midnight), five bones (plus $3.75 shoe rental) gets you unlimited two-hour bowling, and on Saturdays, an absence of league players leads to all of the venue’s 32 lanes being up for grabs. 718-336-6700,

Cost per game: $3.50 and up, plus $3.75 shoe rental
Cheapest brew: Bottle of Budweiser, $3.25

Whitestone Lanes

Sports and fitness Flushing

It’s not a flashy alley, no. But we love the lived-in charm at this Flushing spot, which has touches like rickety tables, scratched-up balls and occasionally malfunctioning score screens. Pay $4.50 per game (plus $4.50 shoe rental) during off-peak hours (6am–6pm) on weekdays, or show up for the all-you-can-bowl special (Mon, Tue 10pm–2am; Sat, Sun 8am–noon, $19 per person, plus $4.50 shoe rental) to really invest some time in perfecting your hook or curve. Best of all, the venue’s 24-hour schedule means you can show up morning, noon or night and always find a lane. 718-353-6300,

Cost per game: $4.50 and up, plus $4.50 shoe rental


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