Hollywood Star Lanes, the bowling alley where The Big Lebowski was filmed, closed in 2002 and was demolished a year later. But in honor of The Day of the Dude, celebrated each year on March 6, it seems fitting to bowl a game or two. Here are seven of our favorite spots in L.A.
XLanes has been likened to a Chuck E. Cheese for adults. Though it should be noted that kids are welcome except Friday and Saturday evenings, which are adults only. The sprawling, modern facility, which feels like it would be at home in Vegas—you can, after all, order a ribeye lane side—has so many extras. Arcade with prize redemptions? Check. Restaurant? Check. Billiard tables? Check? Karaoke rooms? Check. Virtual dart machines that allow you to compete with players around the world? You already know the answer. As far as the bowling goes, they have 30 lanes. Three VIP rooms offer private party guests a more intimate environment. The smallest accommodates 30 guests with four lanes, the largest 50 people with six lanes. Note that XLanes has a dress code. But it’s pretty standard stuff - leave your chains at home.
333 Alameda St., Downtown L.A.
Highland Park Bowl ain’t your daddy’s bowling alley. On second thought, maybe it is. After all, the lovingly restored locale is L.A.'s oldest functioning bowling alley. It opened in 1927 and features the original pin mechanisms, like something out of Hugo. And it’s a beauty: sexy and sophisticated. But there’s far more than eight lanes here. The kitchen turns out authentic Neapolitan pizzas. (They import the flour from Italy.) There are two bars. The Dude Abides, akin to a White Russian slushy, is worth the calories. On Friday night, two burlesque dancers do their thing. The performance generally starts around 10 p.m. Miss Ashley Hayward and company definitely turn up the temperature.
5621 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park
Yes you can bowl at The Spare Room, located on the Mezzanine level of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The bowling experience will be unlike anywhere else. It’s intimate: just two circa 1940s maple and pine wood lanes, which were discovered in Texas. An attendant takes care of keeping score. And forget those clunky clown shoes. Local designer George Esquivel crafted the sleek custom beauties offered here. But there’s lots to do at this beautifully appointed lounge other than bowl. Challenge your friends to a game of Connect 4, fashioned from walnut. Or perhaps Jenga or Monopoly is more your thing. There’s an impressive drink menu featuring a long list of spirits as well as a quartet of grown-up punch bowls. Want to take home a souvenir? A pair of those Esquivel shoes will set you back $700. Or you could find the secret photo booth. A strip of photos from there is a far more manageable $5.
7000 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood
Lucky Strike was L.A.'s first upscale bowling alley when its first location opened at Hollywood & Highland in April 2003. As other luxe alleys came on the scene, Lucky Strike evolved too, and in June 2014 it became Lucky Strike Live. It’s still got that chill, eclectic vibe. But now there’s live music several nights a week. Wednesday night is Soundcheck Live, when some of the city’s top musicians join keyboardist Steve Ferlazzo (Avril Lavigne’s music director) to jam. Don’t be surprised if a marquee name shows up to play along. Friday night it’s funk.
If you just want to bowl? There are 12 lanes, each outfitted with a comfy couch for lounging and a sizable table for the deep fried mac & cheese bites you know you want to order. Fun fact: the bar is repurposed from Lane #7 of Hollywood Star Lanes, where The Big Lebowski was filmed.
6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood
Grab a handful of friends. You’ll need at least that many to attack the aptly named Behemoth Burger, a five-pound head turner offered at Bowlero Los Angeles, the newest Bowlero to open in the L.A. area. To wash it down, naturally you’ll want a Dunk Tank (or two), a fruity, shareable cocktail served in a fishbowl. Laneside service is offered in all 32 lanes. You just order on the touchscreen and then, like magic, your food appears. Bowlero is kid friendly too. Though not on Friday and Saturday nights - that’s when a DJ spins for an adult only crowd. Be sure to check out the giant, four person air hockey game in the sizable arcade.
8371 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester
Pinz Bowling Center turns 60 in 2017. It's stuck around this long for good reason: it’s one of the nicest neighborhood alleys in the city. It’s not fancy or flashy, though it has been updated over the years, including a recent upgrade of all 32 lanes. Jerry’s Deli is adjacent - guests have access to the full Jerry’s menu, which they are welcome to enjoy while bowling. There is also a solid arcade with classics like Galaga and PAC-MAN, as well as the latest and greatest. Monday through Friday from 9-5, Pinz offers their Triple Play special: $3 per game and $3 for shoe rentals. And if you’re into celebrity spotting, keep your eyes peeled. Maybe it’s the proximity of various studios, but Pinz gets plenty of famous folks. In the past few weeks alone, Kevin Hart, Taylor Lautner and Wiz Khalifa have all stopped by.
12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
Dating to 1936, Montrose Bowl is a quaint eight-lane alley on charming Honolulu Avenue. The interior is straight out of the 50's - that’s because when Pleasantville shot here in the late 1990s, they redid the interior. The owners liked the new "old look" so much, they decided to keep it. Pleasantville is just one of a long list of films shot here. The alley also does a bustling business in private parties, including wedding showers, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, you name it. Guests are welcome to bring in their own food. They are, however, required to purchase beverages on site. Current owner Bob Berger does occasionally open the facility to the public, typically from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. But it’s a sporadic thing, so call first.
2334 Honolulu Ave., Montrose