A guide to the best bowling alleys in Detroit

By: Lauren Hill

November 6, 2015

Recent years have seen the much talked about revival of Detroit. Once primarily known for its association with cars and Motown music, Motor Town is now making waves as a vibrant arts and entertainment hub. But amidst this resurgence, old time favourites haven’t been forgotten. Bowling has long been a popular pastime here, and with new arts and entertainment venues popping up across the city, a new generation of bowling alleys in Detroit has taken hold. Take a look at our guide to the city’s top lanes.

For a city that’s long been defined by its car industry, Detroit is now extraordinarily diverse. A renaissance in Detroit’s visual arts scene has seen empty spaces reclaimed with urban artworks and each year Detroit Design Festival draws in the culture vultures, while the now flourishing music scene attracts up-and-coming musicians to perform at venues citywide. Deeply rooted in Michigan culture, bowling is resoundingly popular here, with alleys old and new thriving in each neighbourhood.


Originally introduced to the States by European immigrants, it was in 1895 that the original American Bowling Congress was set up in New York, marking the beginning of bowling’s place in popular culture. Now engrained in North American culture, the bowling scene is undoubtedly a side to the American cultural landscape worth experiencing. With league tournaments going strong and countless alleys to choose from, Detroit is certainly a hub for bowling fans. And now, with greater competition from other nightlife venues, many new alleys have the addition of features such as karaoke, great drinks menus and a wide array of culinary draws.

bowling alleys in Detroit
Punch Bowl Social is one of the best bowling alleys in Detroit © Punch Bowl Social

If you want a break from the usual bowling experience, why not try your hand at feather bowling? Using wooden balls, the game that originated in Belgium somehow made its way to Michigan – the only part of the United States it’s played in.


Whether you choose to go ten-pin bowling or try out the Belgian sport, take your pick from these top bowling alleys in Detroit.


Garden Bowl


Located in Midtown Detroit’s entertainment hub, The Majestic, Garden Bowl is one of the county’s real originals. It’s also home to Rock-N-Bowl, with live music, glow in the dark lanes, disco lights, pizza and a range of craft beer, wine and cocktails.


Punch bowl Social


Combining bowling lanes with a gastro bar scene, Punch Bowl Social encompasses four bars serving locally made spirits, a “˜gastro-diner’ menu and eight bowling lanes. You can also play Ping-Pong and sing karaoke here, if you’re on a persistent losing streak.

bowling alleys in Detroit
Garden Bowl is famous for its glow in the dark lanes and disco lights © Flickr/Alyssa & Colin

Thunderbowl Lanes


A staggering 90 lanes makes Thunderbowl Lanes the country’s biggest bowling alley, and having been open since the “˜60s, it’s also home to the Greater Detroit Bowling Association Hall of Fame. Good to know, if you want to see behind the (bowling league) scenes.


Plum Hollow Lanes


A much smaller affair, Plum Hollow Lanes is a classic bowling alley that’s a popular mainstay in the area as part of the Community Bowling group. The alley has a bar and food options as well as events for kids and bowling tournaments. This is one to go to for the classic American bowling experience.


Vision Lanes


Another popular choice is Vision Lanes. Leagues and tournaments make it a regular hangout for keen bowlers, while the All-Star Grille and Music Bar, karaoke nights and charity poker also appeal to a wider audience.


Universal Bowling Bar & Grill


As the name suggests, this bowling alley – also known as Universal Lanes – runs alongside a large bar and lounge. Leagues, tournaments and the popular bar keep people coming back.

bowling alleys in Detroit
Lace up your bowling shoes at one of these Detroit lanes © Flickr/Ed Rhee

Bowlero Lanes & Lounge


A favourite for its old school vibe, Bowlero Lanes & Lounge is the place to go for a fun laid-back experience. The alley’s Pocket Lounge is where you’ll find the bar and grill, and the venue hosts parties as well as a number of leagues.


Cadieux Café


The Belgian Cadieux Café is the venue to go to for feather bowling. Lauding Flemish culture, the speakeasy-style bar serves up Belgian beers and culinary specialties (including mussels cooked in a number of ways – some smoked, some steamed, others with various toppings) as well as hosting feather bowling, a bicycle club and nightly live music performances.


Virgin Atlantic operates daily flights to Detroit, making it easy to discover these top bowling alleys on your next trip.


Have you experienced the bowling scene in Detroit? Which bowling alley did you choose to go to? Let us know in the comments section below.


Written by Lauren Hill


Lauren Hill

Between living in Japan, Singapore and London, Lauren has spent the past few years working as an editor, sub-editor and travel and lifestyle writer, with a focus on luxury and adventure travel. She is currently based in London, exploring the city’s eating and drinking scene and seeking out its outdoor green spaces.

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