Columbus Square Bowling Palace
5707 Forest Hills Blvd., North Side
Serving Columbus for over a quarter-century, this sprawling, 64-lane bowl-arama rightfully deserves the title of palace. Open round-the-clock, it packs a crowd at all hours, from tipsy late-night gutter-ballers to gray-haired grannies at sunrise. Yet despite its popularity, Columbus Square Bowling Palace's long stretch of tournament-quality lanes means it's unlikely you'll have to wait to knock down some pins, plus there's plenty of cushy chairs and hypnotic carpeting to spread out on.
A remodeled exterior and slick new, tropical-themed bar - featuring pub grub, big-screen TVs and a heated patio - help the Palace feel fresh, but it's still nice to see retro touches like the outer-space-themed arcade room with pinball and stellar old-school cabinets like The Simpsons. Most late nights, music videos glow from the bowling alley's projector screens and bop over the loudspeaker - the corresponding all-you-can-bowl special is a popular outing.
For avid bowlers, the Palace offers tournaments and sanctioned leagues, but there's also a wealth of just-for-fun leagues and special interest groups like the Columbus Blue Jackets League. If you're really sweating your gutter balls, they even offer bowling instruction - or you can take the easy way out and just bumper bowl.
Runners up: AMF Sawmill Lanes, Ten Pin Alley