Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Hidden Silver Spring Gem - White Oak Lanes

There used to be a number of places to bowl in Silver Spring when I was a kid, but many have been demolished or converted to other uses. The alley at Piney Branch Rd. & University Blvd. has been transformed into a grocery store and restaurant while the Bowl America in downtown Silver Spring has been gone for a few years now.

Still going strong is a hidden gem of Silver Spring - the White Oak Duckpin Lanes, located in, or technically underneath, the White Oak Shopping center at the intersection of 29 and New Hampshire Ave. This place is definitely "old school". There is no manual scoring (it must be done with pencil and paper) and you have to clear after each roll by pressing a button. It really doesn’t look any different than it did when I used to go there for birthdays many years ago. I think they may even have the same video games.

Duckpin bowling, which purportedly originated in Maryland, uses smaller balls and gives you three shots to knock down the pins. It’s definitely more challenging than standard tenpin bowling, and there are a lot less lanes to be found. It’s also fun because you can hurl the balls a lot faster than standard-size balls.

Don’t feel like reserving a lane for $75/hr at the Lucky Strike downtown or waiting two hours at Strike Bethesda? Try the cosmic bowling offered at White Oak Lanes – just $12 all-you-can bowl plus free shoe rental from 10:30-1AM. (The website actually says “free show rental”, but it’s clear what they mean.) A large beer is just a few bucks and there are tons of junky snacks available to munch on. I would just be prepared to feel like the oldest person there if you are over 18.


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