Bowling in Niagara

image001One of the best parts about taking a vacation — especially with your family — is that the simple act of carving out time to spend together allows you to do all the fun things you could do back home but never
seem to make time for. From mini golf to matinee movies, going on vacation to a new location allows the freedom to more fully focus on the art of having fun, even on those easy afternoons when we don’t want to totally reinvent the wheel.

Niagara Falls is home to plenty of out-of-the-ordinary fun, like a giant, indoor waterpark and climbing behind the waterfalls, but it also offers a lot of the ordinary kind of fun, too — like bowling. That being said, in Niagara, ordinary bowling is anything but.

When you go bowling in the Niagara region, you have your choice of two similar, but distinct, games. Regular 10-pin bowling is certainly an option, and if you’d like to try your hand and luck with bowling’s most popular version, you can head to any of these bowling alleys:

  • Strike Rock ‘N Bowl at Clifton Hill
  • Cataract Bowl (which also has a family fun center)
  • Bowl-O-Rama Lanes in Welland

However, the Niagara Falls region is home to another type of bowling called five-pin, and if you’ve never heard of it — let alone played it before — it’s a game all its own.

Five-Pin Bowling

image003Five-pin bowling is a type of bowling played only in Canada. Invented at the beginning of the 20th century by a Toronto bowling alley owner whose customers found 10-pin too tiring. The less strenuous version involves five pins that are about 25 percent smaller than a standard pin and feature a heavy band made out of rubber around their centers.

Unlike 10-pin, a five-pin ball is small enough to hold in one hand, which makes five-pin a great game for kids. Because the balls are lighter and smaller, they don’t need finger holes.

To start play, the five smaller pins are arranged at the end of a standard wooden lane in a V-shape. The ball is rolled with the intention of knocking down as many pins as possible just like in 10-pin. However, in five-pin, each pin is worth a different number of points. The center pin is worth five points; the pins on each side of it are worth three points each; and the two pins at the farthest edges are worth two points each. The total you can get for knocking down all five is 15 points.

Players play ten frames, and each frame allows a player three balls to topple as many pins as possible. Scoring is like it is in 10-pin, so that a strike adds in the scores of the next two balls, while a spare adds in the score of the next ball. A perfect game in five-pin bowling occurs when a player scores 12 strikes in a row across the 10 frames and ends up with a score of 450. You can five-pin bowl at these establishments:

  • Fairview Lanes in St. Catherines
  • Bowl-O-Rama Lanes in Welland
  • Hillside Lanes in Welland
  • Pla-More Bowling Lanes in St. Catherines

For a game that’s both familiar and brand-new, try five-pin bowling the next time you and your family find yourselves north of the border.

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