Bowling Cost

Last Updated on January 13, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Bowling is a classic American pastime that people of all ages can enjoy. But before you head to the lanes for a night of strikes and spares, you may be wondering – how much does bowling cost?

Bowling alley prices can vary quite a bit depending on where you go and when. This article will break down the typical costs of bowling so you know what to expect before your next game.

Highlights

  • Standard bowling rates are $5-$8 per game, with shoe rentals around $5
  • Peak weekend and evening bowling costs more – aim for slower times to save
  • League, group, and party rates offer bowling discounts
  • Factor in costs for food, drinks, arcades, lockers, etc.
  • Joining a league equals cheaper bowling for members
  • Buying a bowling ball is recommended for avid, serious bowlers

How Much Does Bowling Cost Per Game?

The average cost to bowl one game is $5-$8 per person depending on the time and location. So if you bowl three games during a typical visit, expect to pay $15-$25 per bowler.

Many alleys charge per hour rather than per game. Hourly rates ranging from $20-$40 per lane are common during peak hours. This allows groups to maximize the number of games bowled during that time frame.

Cosmic bowling and other specialty bowling sessions may cost an additional $2-$5 per game on top of standard bowling rates.

Leagues and tournaments usually have discounted pricing to encourage repeat business. For example, you may pay $15 for 3 games during league play versus $24 as an open bowler.

Reddit users report that open bowling can cost anywhere from $4.50 to $5.00 per game, with some alleys charging up to $7.00 per game. Shoe rental prices are around $1 to $4, and some alleys offer hourly rates or special deals for unlimited bowling.

The Rookie Road website states that a typical game of bowling will cost each person between $2 and $5, with some alleys charging an hourly rate instead of per game. Shoe rental costs are mentioned to fall between $3 and $6 per pair.

The Split Happens Bowling website provides an average price range for bowling costs in the USA, including a per-person game charge of $3-$6 per game, a per-hour charge of $20-$40 for unlimited games, and a shoe rental charge of $4-$6 per pair. The estimated total cost is mentioned to be $46 per hour or $12 per person per game.

What Factors Determine Bowling Prices?

Several factors impact how much you’ll pay to bowl:

  • Location of the bowling alley – Bowling in a major city usually costs more than in rural areas. Lanes in prime locations also charge higher rates.
  • Time of day and day of week – Bowling on weekends and peak evening hours generally costs more. Specials are usually available during slower times.
  • Type of bowling – Traditional 10-pin bowling is the most common. Candlepin, duckpin, and 5-pin bowling may have different pricing.
  • Group size – Bowling alleys offer discounts and packages for large groups and birthday parties to attract business.
  • Extra amenities – Upscale bowling lounges charge more for lounge areas, full-service bars, and expanded food menus.

Do You Have to Rent Bowling Shoes?

Bowling alleys require proper footwear to protect the lanes. You can either bring your own bowling shoes or rent a pair from the alley.

Shoe rental fees are generally $5 per person. If there are enough serious bowlers in your group who own shoes, it can save money.

Investing in your own bowling shoes starts around $50 for basic performance shoes. High-end options with advanced slide soles and other technologies can cost $200+.

Additional Bowling Alley Fees

Beyond just bowling, most alleys have additional offerings that come at an additional cost:

  • Food and drink – Food menus include appetizers, pizzas, burgers, snacks and more. expect to pay typical rates for laneside food service and bars.
  • Arcade games – Many locations have massive arcades to entertain guests between bowling frames. Arcade coins or game cards usually start at around $5-$10.
  • Locker rentals – Bowlers can pay $1-$5 to rent locker space for their bags and personal items.
  • Party packages – Bowling birthday parties and corporate events often add services like invitations, reserved lanes, food/cake, and amenities for a group fee.

When budgeting for a bowling outing, account for these extra potential fees on top of the standard bowling costs. Some venues require reservation to guarantee lane availability.

Bowling League and Membership Discounts

Joining a weekly or monthly bowling league can lead to discounts and preferred rates. League members may pay reduced rates for open bowling outside of league nights.

Seasoned bowlers can look into annual memberships for extra perks. At Bowlero, for example, membership starts at $29.99 per month ($359.99 annually) and includes discounted games plus lounge access, free shoe rentals and more.

How to Get the Best Bowling Rates

Taking advantage of coupons, specials, and off-peak pricing is the key to saving money:

  • Bowl during off-peak times like weekday mornings and afternoons
  • Check websites and social media for online coupons and promos
  • Sign up for email clubs to get special offers sent right to your inbox
  • Ask about unadvertised discounts for seniors, students, military/first responders
  • Plan a group outing and take advantage of group rate packages
  • Avoid Friday evenings when rates are highest

Booking online in advance may also secure better pricing if lanes are filling up. Walk-in customers usually pay full price at the counter.

Average Costs at Popular Bowling Chains

Pricing can vary quite a bit between local independent bowling alleys and national chains. Here’s an overview of typical per game rates at some major bowling brands:

  • Bowlero – $5.49-$8.49 per game depending on location
  • AMF – $6-$10 per game ($25-$35/hour per lane)
  • Bowlmor Lanes – $10-$26+ per game depending on location and peak hours
  • Pinstack – $8-$14 per game
  • Main Event – $8-$10 per game

Party and group packages at chains like Dave & Buster’s, Lucky Strike, and Splitsville can run $20-$50 per person including bowling, food, and activities.

Should You Join a Bowling League?

Bowling AlleyJoining a regular bowling league can be a fun, social way to make new friends and improve your bowling skills. Plus bowling leagues offer some financial incentives:

  • Discounted lineage rates for league bowlings
  • Lower cost equipment rentals for the season
  • Paid end of season banquets and prize funds
  • Discounts at pro shops and bowling retailers

Of course, joining a league requires an ongoing commitment to show up weekly or multiple times per month. But financially it offers cheaper bowling prices versus paying open bowler drop-in rates.

Tips for Affordable Family Bowling

Bowling is an ideal activity for families with kids of all ages. Here are some ways to keep the cost manageable:

  • Visit the alley during lower priced daytime hours and slower days like Monday through Thursday.
  • Stick to shorter 1-2 hour outings to limit games
  • Split lanes with another family to save money
  • Bring snacks/food from home instead of buying food from the bowling center
  • Check for kid bowling birthday party packages
  • Rent fewer bowling shoes (let little kids play in socks)

Many locations also offer Kids Bowl Free summer passes to keep children engaged and active.

Is a Bowling Ball a Worthwhile Investment?

Professional bowlers may consider buying their own custom bowling ball. Pro quality bowling balls offer better grip, consistency, and pin action but come at a price. Expect to invest $150-$300+ for a premier bowling ball fitted to your hand by a pro shop.

This expenditure only makes sense if you bowl very frequently and want to take your skills to the next level. Casual once-a-month bowlers will find house balls sufficient.

Drilling and plugging balls can also add to the cost. But your own ball is worthwhile if you compete in leagues or tournaments.

Final Words

The price to bowl at your local lanes can fit nearly any entertainment budget. Knowing when to visit and which deals to take advantage of makes bowling an accessible activity for all. Grab your friends and family and hit the lanes while keeping more dollars in your pocket.

Alec Pow
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