Best Places for Crashing Candlepins
Chances are pretty good that when the weather gods throw in a rainy day or two this summer, families can find another engaging way to enjoy the Granite State: candlepin bowling. When the rain falls, so do candlepins.
New Hampshire friends of mine who own candlepin bowling centers sport big smiles when the summer sun throws a gutter ball. Crashing pins, video games, hot dogs, french fries and happy kids are all part of the deal. The small-ball game is as close to being local as can be, having been invented in nearby Worcester 143 years ago. Proud Granite Staters call it “real bowling,” because it is more challenging than its older, 10-pin cousin (to this day, there’s never been a perfect 300 candlepin game), which makes it endlessly fun.
Here are a few of my favorite candlepin alleys.
Bowl-O-Rama Family Fun Center
599 Lafayette Rd., Portsmouth
When I took daughter Liz to Bowl-O-Rama when she was a kid, we always had to have their pizza. Thirty years later, they’ve upped their food game with Shenanigans at Bowl-O-Rama Restaurant. And they’ve added a bunch more games to their arcade.
Park Place Lanes
16 Rockingham Rd., Windham
With 36 lanes (the state’s largest candlepin center), Park Place always has room for you, rain or shine. Boasting a full food and beverage service lane-side and ridiculously fun karaoke nights in their lounge, Windham’s candlepin center is one of the most entertain-centric in the Granite State.
2171 Candia Rd., Manchester
Just a stone’s throw from Lake Massabesic, Lakeside Lanes first opened their doors in 1959 and are currently owned by professional bowler Tim Lipke and his wife, Wendy. While I miss the big stuffed bear that used to greet customers at the door, there is always plenty of fun to be had at this Manchester staple.
More from Mike Morin
Read Mike’s story, The Glorious Past and Bright Future of Candlepin Bowling, which appeared in New Hampshire Magazine in January 2019.