As we stroll into spring, there always seems to be more days off from school and early-dismissal days that can take us by surprise. While the Rock ‘N’ Bowl’s neon bowling pin is hard to miss when driving down Carrollton Avenue, it’s easy to forget one of the city’s best music venues is also a great place for an after-school outing that gives a slight update to the bowling nights most of us remember from our childhoods.
While many of us have had raucous nights at the Rock ‘N’ Bowl, the daytime is a very different vibe, offering “Family” bowling Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (including free shoe rentals). My family of four (with a 5-year-old in tow) completed a game and even got in a few extra frames during our allotted hour, and we all emerged into the sunlight refreshed and energized by the adrenaline rush that comes from knocking pins down with a weighted ball in your favorite color. (Parenting Pro Tip: Look across the lanes for an appropriately weighted ball for your child’s age in his or her favorite color while they put on shoes.)
When Rock ‘N’ Bowl opened in 1993, it became famous for its Zydeco music on Thursday nights in an era when southwest Louisiana music was notably absent from the local music scene. While they still boast a lively and diverse music calendar, the daytime bowling is a much quieter scene even as the jukebox still plays. While the alley has had visitors from all over the world – including a group of Buddhist monks that bowled barefoot – it’s also a great family event on those rainy or muddy afternoons when kids need to blow off some steam and you don’t want to sit at a playground. Although Rock ‘N’ Bowl isn’t the only bowling alley in the city, it provides a different experience that combines the unique space of a music venue with a traditional bowling alley, allowing kids of multiple ages to interact with each other, learn about taking turns and experience winning and losing – all with a disco ball and a dance floor nearby.
Long gone are the days of everyone having to use bumpers to accommodate younger players and parents trying to keep track of kids and keep score at the same time. Rock ‘N’ Bowl’s lanes are equipped with iPads that both keep score and also place bumpers (they’re actually side barriers) for the players that need them and removing them for those that don’t. The staff is attentive and kind when the occasional child-related technical issue arises, and the lanes are spacious enough to handle a fair amount of children. There is even a good selection of video games for older kids or teenagers that don’t want to bowl.
The menu has your traditional bowling alley favorites of pizza, burgers and fries. However, in true New Orleans fashion, the food will prove better than your childhood bowling memories. The chicken fingers, fries and pizza stand above similar offerings at other venues, and the boudin bites were a surprising, and delicious, improvement on the average after-school snack. Rock ‘N’ Bowl’s menu even includes the famous bread pudding from Ye Ole College Inn next door. The full bar has a good selection of local, domestic and international brews.
Although reservations are recommended, you can usually get them the same day. Meanwhile, there’s almost nothing better than picking kids up from school after a long day and seeing their faces when you ask, “Hey, you wanna go bowling?”
Just the Facts …
Where: Rock ‘N’ Bowl
3000 South Carrollton Ave.
Family Bowling: Mondays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (shoes included!) Reservations are recommended.
Price: $24 per hour per lane