Top 25 things vanishing from America: # 11 -- Bowling alleys

This series explores aspects of America that may soon be just a memory -- some to be missed, some gladly left behind. From the least impactful to the most, here are 25 bits of vanishing America.

While you may be seeing your local bowling alley closing down or getting very old and decrepit, the sport of bowling is not disappearing -- it's morphing into other things. Most people think of bowling as what has become a tradition in U.S. -- ten pins at the end of an alley that get hit by balls that have two or more drilled holes in them. BowlingBalls.US claims there are still 60 million Americans who bowl at least once a year, but many are not bowling in stand-alone bowling allies. Today most new bowling allies are part of facilities for all types or recreation including laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, video game arcades, climbing walls and glow miniature golf. Bowling lanes also have been added to many non-traditional venues such as adult communities, hotels and resorts, and gambling casinos.

If you've got the urge to bowl and want to find a bowling alley near you, go to Bowling Centers USA. New York has the most bowling alleys with 410 listed in the directory. Following clsoe behind are Michigan (393), Wisconsin (356) and Illinois (368). Only Washington DC has zero bowling alleys left, but those living in DC can travel to Maryland (95) and Virginia (101) if they feel the need to bowl.

Yes, ten pin bowling still has its followers, but there are other forms played both inside and outside. Popular indoor versions of bowling include candlepin bowling (eastern Canada and New England) duckpin bowling (mid-Atlantic and southern New England states), five-pin bowling (Canada), nine-pin skittles (Europe) and bumper bowling (primarily played at children's parties). Popular outdoor bowling varieties include lawn bowling, bocce ball, and petanque.

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