One of New England’s trademark quirks, the region’s love of candlepin bowling has perhaps faded somewhat in recent decades, but the sport is by no means gone. Candlepin Bowling was first played in Worcester in the 1880s and became a unique sport for New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
Rewarding timing and dexterity over physical strength, candlepin is an activity fit for all ages, which may have contributed to its popularity. Generations of New Englanders remember the cold disappointment we felt as kids on Saturday mornings when the hours of cartoons ended and the hours of candlepin bowling began, and remember birthday parties, first dates and nights with friends at the candlepin alley. I grew up in Scituate, where accompanying my dad to the hardware store meant getting excited over the thunderous noises that came from the bowling alley above, on the second floor.
We put together a list of some bowling alleys in Eastern Massachusetts where you can still enjoy this retro fun:
7 Tarkiln Road, Kingston
Open since 1983, Alley Kat in Kingston has 26 lanes of bowling, dozens of arcade games and food offerings along with beer and wine. Open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 1 to 10 pm and Sunday from 1 to 9 pm
820 Morrissey Blvd., Dorchester
58 Rockland St., Hanover
Who doesn’t remember the iconic white socks with American flags you get with your shoe rental at the Boston Bowl? Both facilities also have arcades, food and drink, and the location in the city has billiards, batting cages, and a 21+ bowling area. The Dorchester location is open Sunday through Thursday from 9 am to 11 pm and on Friday and Saturday from 9 am to midnight and the Hanover location is open Sunday through Wednesday from 9 am to midnight and Thursday through Saturday from 9 am to 2 am
460 Bedford St., Abington
Webster Timber Lanes is home to 22 lanes of bowling, an arcade and Luci’s Pizza Bar, a full pizza restaurant with craft beer, cocktails and wine. The bowling alley opens at 9:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 5 pm on Wednesday and 11 am on Saturday and Sunday, closing at 11 pm every day.
725 South Main St., Haverhill
A massive bowling alley, Academy Lanes has 48 bowling lanes, an arcade and serves beer and wine. Academy Lanes is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 10 pm, on Friday from 9 am to 11 pm, on Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm and on Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm
53 Gloucester Ave., Gloucester
Family owned and operated for over 60 years, Cape Ann Lanes has 16 lanes of candlepin bowling, an arcade, and full restaurant serving beer and wine. The bowling alley is open from 11 am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday and from 11 am to 8 pm on Sunday.
63 Foster St., Peabody
Leo’s Metro Bowl in Peabody has 38 bowling lanes, an arcade, billiards room, live entertainment and restaurant and full bar. Leo’s is open Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 11 pm, Thursday from 9 am to 11 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10 pm
176 Water St., Danvers
Sunnyside Bowladrome has 32 candlepins with electronic scorekeeping and new pinsetters; beer and wine are served. The bowling alley is open Monday from 10 am to 10 pm, Tuesday through Thursday from 9 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm
32 Montvale Ave., Woburn
A staple of the Woburn community for over 80 years, the Woburn Bowladrome opened in 1940 with just eight lanes – there are now 40 modern lanes. Monday through Wednesday and Friday the lanes are open in the morning, from 9 am to noon; open on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 5 to 9 pm, Tuesday from 6 to 9 pm, Friday from 6 to 10 pm, Saturday from 12:30 to 10 pm and Sunday from 5 to 8 pm