PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2016 and while it should still give you a great idea of the overall experience, it may also contain some outdated information. Please be sure to check their website for the most up-to-date information, especially about things like hours & pricing. If you notice something in this post that needs to be updated, please feel free to leave a comment with the updated information, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to make the updates. Hey, it takes a village, right? 🙂
Last Saturday was a “day for ducks” as my husband likes to say every time it rains. I’m not totally sure why ducks would like to be cold and wet in the rain (wouldn’t they much rather paddle around their ponds in the warm sunshine?), but in any event, his turn of phrase gave me an idea: why not take the kids bowling? DUCKpin bowling, to be specific 🙂
I have many fond memories of duckpin bowling– kids’ birthday parties (as in my own), date nights with other couples (pre-kids), and even a longstanding friendly rivalry in which my brother-in-law and I pair up against my husband (his brother) and their other brother and we make up for what we lack in bowling skills with creative trash-talking 🙂
But could I really find a place to go bowling where we could take a 2 1/2 year old? Sounded like just the kind of challenge we get excited about here at Out and About Mom! So after a few minutes of
thorough research random Google searching, I landed on a destination that seemed very promising: Highland Bowl in Cheshire, CT.
Highland Bowl is certainly not the closest bowling alley to me; it was about a 30-minute drive from my home in Glastonbury. But it was a very easy ride, and it was well worth it to be sure that we were going to find a family-friendly atmosphere. (I based my assumption on the fact that the website mentions that they carry bowling shoes as small as a kids’ size 6! My little guy wears a size 9 at age 2 1/2, so we must be talking about some little feet to fit those shoes! That sounded like a place that was happy to have families participate for sure.)
We pulled up to find a nice big parking lot that was very convenient to the front door. When we called ahead that morning they told us that they had a tournament going on that day (but there were some lanes still open to the public), so we weren’t totally sure what to expect. Turns out we had no trouble finding a parking spot, and we didn’t even have to wait for a lane!
The counter where you pay and rent bowling shoes is directly to your left as you enter.
As I mentioned, we didn’t have to wait for a lane. But if we did, there are lots of things to keep the kiddos interested– from snack food to arcade games!
The games only accept tokens, which you can get from a machine near the entrance that you insert your cash into. You can also win tickets from the games, which can be redeemed for small prizes over at the main counter.
Once we’d paid for our lane and bowling shoes, which came out to be what I thought was a very reasonable $30 for 1 game and 4 shoe rentals, we headed over to our lane to get shoe-ed up.
This, of course, brought back memories of my college days when bowling shoes were considered quite trendy and we actually, on purpose, went out to stores as mainstream as Macy’s and bought ourselves fake bowling shoes because they were a fashion statement. Does anyone else remember those days or am I just that old? 🙂
So anyway, bowling shoes on. We had asked to have “bumpers” put in the gutters on our bowling lane, which of course was no trouble at all. In case you are not familiar with this device, it is simply something that is placed in the gutters on either side of the bowling lane so that rather than end up stuck in the gutters and unable to hit any bowling pins, balls that are thrown a little bit (or a lot) astray will just bounce off the bumpers and continue on their merry way towards the pins. And I’m not gonna lie, those are just as much for me as for my kiddos!
This was the first time either of the boys had been bowling, so they were very excited to pick up the balls and learn about all the other interesting things like the foot pedal that clears the knocked over pins and the little button that resets the pins for the next player.
Although, it took them a few tries to be clear on WHEN exactly they needed to push each of these buttons 🙂
Also, in case you aren’t familiar with this contraption here, you want to make sure the kiddos don’t stick their hands inside the ball return as there is a live motor in there. We didn’t find it to be an issue as the kids were more interested in catching the balls as they were spit out than they were trying to reach in to get them, but just be aware.
So now we bowl!
I thought they did very well for their first time! They picked up that roll-the-ball-through-the-legs technique much faster than I anticipated.
As you may have been able to see in some of the pictures, there were lots of other kids around. We saw kids in a range of ages–from those who looked like they were under 2 up to kids who were in elementary school–all bowling in neighboring lanes. We felt totally comfortable with our little novices and no one seemed to be bothered by the occasional toddler antics of my younger guy.
Both boys did great up until about the 5th frame, which was the midpoint of the game. The little guy started getting antsy then, so we decided it was a good time for a snack. Outside food is not allowed, but fortunately, there is a snack bar with a very diverse (and kid-friendly) menu. It’s located at the other end of the building from the lane we were bowling in; back against that far wall. You order your food there and pick it up there.
Apparently the menu board hanging above the snack bar is out of date, so you should check the printed menu that is conveniently located on each table (and there is a table that is conveniently located right next to each lane). You can get a menu preview here.
We ordered the kids a couple of plates of chicken tenders with fries (that took a few minutes to come out) and a container of popcorn (that we got immediately). They had juice as a beverage option, which I really liked.
I think the popcorn was the biggest hit. My kids loooove popcorn. There is also a vending machine with snacks.
That gave them their second wind, and we were able to finish up the game. All in all, we were bowling for about an hour (that’s one game with four of us playing, so you can gauge what your crew might be up for).
And here is the point where I have to fess up and admit that BOTH the boys beat their mamma. I don’t know how that happened exactly, but there you go. See, I told you those bumpers were for me!
Fortunately, I think they will be up for a rematch 🙂
We had a great time at Highland Bowl in Cheshire, CT. It’s definitely going to be our go-to bowling destination for the foreseeable future!
Where do you like to take your family bowling?
Phone: (203) 272-6500
Hours may change without notice due to repairs or groups so it is always good to check their website to be sure, or even call ahead.
- Monday– 5pm-9pm NO Public bowling available
- Tuesday- 9am-3pm & 5pm-9pm Public bowling available
- Wednesday – 9am-1pm & 5pm-10pm Public bowling available 9-1 only
- Thursday – 5pm-8pm Public bowling available
- Friday- 5pm-10pm Public bowling available
- Saturday- 11am-11pm (dancing ducks starts at 7pm). Public bowling all day.
- Sunday– 11am-9pm Public bowling available
Opens at 11 am on almost every school holiday for open bowling.
Highland Bowl’s “ON A ROLL” CAFE will be open during open bowling hours.
Single game $4.50 per person per game.
Shoe rental $3.00 per pair (bowling shoes required). They go down to a child size 6.
Lanes also rent by time. Shoe rental is not included with hourly lane rental. See their website for more pricing options, including a family package that includes bowling, shoes, beverages and a pizza!
- Stroller Friendly: Pretty much. There was plenty of room to put a stroller over by the lockers if you just need it to get into the building. I don’t know if they’d let you take your stroller down near the lanes if you say, had a sleeping baby in it. It’s a little tight down there.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: NO. No outside food or drinks allowed, but they do sell coffee 🙂
- Restroom: YES.
- Baby Changing Station: YES. (In the women’s restroom.)
- Parking: YES.
- Food for Sale: YES.
- Outside Food Allowed: NO.
- Cash Required: NO for bowling and food; YES for arcade games (to change for tokens)
- Dress Code: Just remember that you will need to change into bowling shoes, so wear or bring your socks!
- Age Recommendations: I would say ages 2 and up based on our experience and on the smallest available kids’ bowling shoe size (size 6), although we did see some kids who may have been younger. Duckpins are not that heavy and little ones should be able to hold (and roll) them easily with two hands. Of course, be sure your kiddo is a steady walker. My 2 1/2 year old loved it. He got a little antsy about halfway through our game, but that may also have been because all four of us were playing and he had to wait for his turn 🙂 If you have kiddos who don’t like to wait (not that any really do!), you could just let them play while you watch and cheer them on. Then they just get to take turns and it will go faster. You’ll still have to wear the bowling shoes though 🙂
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
- Discounts: They accept most competitor coupons or ads; just bring them in (but NOT the “kids bowl free program”or Groupon). You can also visit their website to see if there are any coupons available.
- Birthday Party Venue: YES. Get more info here.
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