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Alternatives to Bowling: 25 Awesome Bowling Alternatives

Alternatives to bowling activies that you and your group or family will love

As much as we love bowling, there are times when we want to switch things up and try something different. Luckily, there are plenty of other fun activities that can provide just as much excitement and friendly competition. In this article, we’ll explore some alternatives to the traditional game of bowling that you and your friends can enjoy.

Top 25 Alternatives to Bowling

Here are our top alternatives to bowling!

Key Takeaways

  • Alternative Activities to Bowling: Explore exciting alternatives to traditional bowling, including laser tag, billiards, ping pong, indoor skydiving, soccer, and more.
  • Varied Physical Demands: These activities cater to a range of physical exertion levels, from relaxed options like board games to more intense activities like soccer and rock climbing.
  • Team and Solo Options: Many alternatives offer both team and individual play, allowing you to choose the level of competitiveness and social interaction that suits your preference.
  • Indoor and Outdoor Fun: Whether you prefer indoor adventures like escape rooms or outdoor experiences like beach volleyball, there are options for every season and setting.
  • Foodie and Historical Tours: Immerse yourself in local culture and heritage through guided tours, combining culinary delights and captivating historical narratives for a well-rounded exploration of a destination.

1. Laser Tag

Once you play laser tag, chances are you’ll be addicted. Laser tag is a fast-paced game that requires strategy, agility, and quick reflexes. Players wear vests equipped with sensors that detect laser beams from the other team’s guns.

The objective of the game is to shoot your opponents as many times as possible while avoiding getting hit yourself. Just know that it’s physically demanding – there’s a lot of running involved.

Green and bright yellow bullseye with laser tag in red color

2. Billiards/Pool

Bowling and billiards go hand in hand – that’s why so many bowling alleys also have billiards (the game where you use a stick to hit balls into holes). But did you know that pool can also be a standalone alternative to bowling?

With its strategic element and emphasis on precision, pool is just as fun and challenging as bowling. Plus, it’s a great option for those who want to engage in friendly competition without too much physical exertion.

Billiard balls in the rack, numbered 1-15 on a white background

3. Ping Pong/Table Tennis

Ping pong, also known as table tennis, is a fast-paced game that requires hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes. Similar to billiards, players can either play one-on-one or in teams.

The goal of the game is to hit a lightweight ball back and forth over a small net using paddles. Just like traditional games, you can play ping pong in a casual manner or give it your all in a competitive match.

Ping-pong rackets and ball, isolated on white

4. Indoor Skydiving

If you’ve ever been curious about skydiving but are too afraid to take the plunge, indoor skydiving may be the perfect alternative for you. It involves flying in a vertical wind tunnel and experiencing the sensation of freefall without actually jumping out of a plane. Indoor skydiving is a thrilling activity that can be enjoyed by people of most ages and fitness levels.

Indoor skydiving wind tunnel

5. Soccer

Just about everyone loves a good game of soccer, whether it’s playing in a league or just casually kicking a ball around with friends. This popular sport involves two teams trying to score goals by getting the ball into their opponent’s net using only their feet (or head). Soccer is best for anyone who enjoys the team aspect of bowling but wants something more physically demanding.

Soccer ball isolated on white background

6. Basketball

Dribble, shoot, score! Basketball is a fast-paced sport you can play indoors or outdoors. Similar to bowling, players can compete individually or in teams. You’ll try to shoot the ball into the hoop, earning points each time you’re successful.

At the same time, you’ll guard your own hoop so your opponents can’t score. With its mix of skill and physicality, basketball is an excellent alternative for those who enjoy the competitive aspect but want to get a little more active.

Brown basketball on hardwood floor with white brick wall in the background

7. Dodgeball

Got some pinned-up aggression? Dodgeball is a high-energy game that involves throwing balls at your opponents while trying to avoid getting hit yourself.

It’s a great option for those who love the friendly competition and physical activity of bowling but want something more intense. And don’t worry, unlike in elementary school, there are no headshots allowed in adult dodgeball leagues.

8. Beach Volleyball

Here’s a sport worth traveling to the beach for! Beach volleyball is a fun and challenging game that involves two teams trying to hit the ball back and forth over a net without letting it touch the ground.

You’ll love this sport if you like being active in the sun and sand and want to play something that promotes teamwork and friendly competition.

9. Bocce Ball/Lawn Bowling/Petanque

Looking for something a bit more low-key but still competitive? Bocce ball, lawn bowling, and petanque are great options for those who enjoy the strategic aspect of bowling but want a more relaxed physical activity.

These games involve trying to roll or throw balls as close as possible to a target ball while also trying to knock your opponents’ balls out of the way. Plus, they can all be played with a drink in hand (for casual matches only, of course) making them great for small gatherings with friends.

Three heavy petanque balls on a white background

10. Kickball

Remember playing kickball in elementary school? Well, it’s not just for kids anymore! Kickball is a fun and social sport that combines elements of soccer and baseball. The game is played on a field with a large rubber ball that is kicked by players and then caught and thrown to get opponents out.

You’ll love it if you miss the simplicity of childhood games but want to add a bit more competitiveness and physicality to their play. Plus, you can always grab a drink after the game with your teammates to relive your glory days.

11. Racquetball/Squash

If you’re a fan of indoor sports, racquetball and squash are two fast-paced options that will get your heart pumping. Both involve hitting a small rubber ball against the walls of an enclosed court using a racquet.

The goal is to hit the ball in a way that makes it difficult for your opponent to return it. These sports require quick reflexes, strategy, and agility. They’re great workouts for both the body and mind.

12. Golf

If you like the scent of grass and the sun on your skin, then golf may be the sport for you. This classic game involves using clubs to hit a small ball into 18 holes positioned throughout a large outdoor course.

While it may seem like a slow-paced and easy-going activity, golf requires precision, patience, and mental focus. Plus, the beauty of the surroundings can make any bad shots easier to handle.

13. Mini Golf

Don’t have the time or desire to navigate a full-sized golf course? Mini golf is the perfect alternative! This miniature version of the sport involves putting a ball through various obstacles and into a hole in the ground.

It’s a great activity for all ages and skill levels, making it perfect for family outings or dates with friends. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love trying to hit a hole-in-one?

14. Escape Room

Do you crave an adrenaline rush? Then, an escape room might be just the thing for you. This interactive experience involves being locked in a themed room with a group of people and working together to solve clues and puzzles and escape before time runs out.

It allows you to test your problem-solving skills under pressure, all while having fun with friends or coworkers.

Man, girl, boy, and woman in the mission mars escape room piegon forge tennessee escaped in just an hour
‎⁨The Island in Pigeon Forge⁩, ⁨Pigeon Forge⁩, ⁨Tennessee Valley⁩

15. Karaoke

If you like belting out your favorite songs, unleash your inner rockstar with karaoke. This activity involves choosing a song and singing along to a backing track in front of a group of people.

While it may seem daunting at first, karaoke can be freeing once you get into it. It also helps you to bond with friends or meet new people in a social setting.

Karaoke round stamp with ribbon. Sign. Label

16. Rock Climbing

For those who love heights and non-stop adrenaline, rock climbing is the ultimate challenge. Whether indoors on artificial walls or outdoors on natural cliffs, this sport tests both physical strength and mental focus.

It requires strategy, agility, and trust in your equipment and belayer (the person holding the rope). Plus, reaching the top and taking in the breathtaking view is a reward in itself. Be sure to enjoy this activity with an experienced instructor for added safety.

17. Board Games

Want to indulge in a laid-back, cozy, fun activity? Board games provide endless entertainment. From classic favorites like Monopoly and Scrabble to newer ones like Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity, there is a game for everyone’s taste.

Not only do they offer friendly competition, but they also promote critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. So gather your friends or family together and have a game night!

Group board games frustration, scrabble

18. Trampoline Park

Jumping on a trampoline may seem like child’s play, but trust us, it’s an intense workout – a fun one at that. And when you add obstacle courses, foam pits, and dodgeball to the mix, it becomes even more fun.

Trampoline parks allow you to release your inner child while getting some exercise. Plus, who doesn’t love jumping into a pool of foam cubes?

Man jumping on a trampoline indoors.

19. Painting Class

Unleash your creativity with a painting class! Whether you’re new to art or an experienced painter, these classes provide a relaxing and social environment to explore your creative side.

An instructor will guide you through step-by-step instructions to create a unique masterpiece. And the best part? You get to take home your artwork as a souvenir of your experience. So put on that apron and let your inner artist shine.

20. Dance Class

Get your body moving with a dance class! From salsa to hip-hop, there are endless styles to try and master. Not only is dancing a great form of exercise, but it also allows you to express yourself through movement. Plus, if you opt for a group class, you just might make new friends and build confidence in yourself.

Group of young people having dance class in gym

21. Outdoor Movie Night

Who says movie nights have to be confined to the living room? Skip the expensive food and ticket prices and bring the theatre with you.

Set up a projector and screen in your backyard or a local park, grab some blankets and snacks, and enjoy a movie under the stars. This is a unique and fun way to switch up your traditional movie night routine.

22. Board Game Café

If you’re a fan of board games, then this bowling alternative is perfect for you. Board game cafes offer many different games along with food and drinks.

It’s a great way to spend time with friends or family while challenging your strategic skills. Plus, if you find a game you love, you can always purchase it to play again at home.

23. Pickle Ball

Pickleball is a fun and fast-paced sport that’s a mix of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. It’s played on a small court with a low net, making it accessible for players of all ages and skill levels. The objective of the game is simple: hit a plastic ball over the net and into your opponent’s side, aiming to score points by making it hard for them to return the ball.

Top 10 Pickleball Points of the Month - May 2023

What sets pickleball apart is its user-friendly nature. Players use a paddle to volley the ball instead of a tennis racket, which makes it easier on the arms and more forgiving for beginners. The game’s rules are straightforward, making it a great option for families or friends looking for a social and active way to spend their time. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a newcomer to racket sports, pickleball is a fantastic, low-impact game that promises hours of enjoyment and a good workout.

Pickleball sport symbol with blue paddle and red ball

24. Foodie & Historical Tour Guide

Foodie and historical tour guides are my personal favorites! They offer a unique way to explore a destination’s culture and heritage. These types of tours combine passionate local experts and blend their knowledge with flavors entwined with fascinating tales from the past, creating an immersive and memorable experience for travelers.

On my most recent foodie tour, I visited Carmel, California. On the foodie tour, I embarked on a culinary journey through Carmel, savoring local restaurants authentic dishes and street eats, including, Dutch Door Donuts, Alvarado Street Brewery, and Carmel Honey Company. Our guide, Brian R., was a local food enthusiast, sharing insider tips, uncovering hidden gems, and revealing the history and traditions behind each dish and restaurant. It was a delightful way to indulge my taste buds while gaining a deeper understanding of the area’s gastronomic heritage.

Donuts, asian dish with rice, and honey and crackers in a tri framed picture
Dutch Door Donuts’ Almond Horchata, Rice and Sesame Chicken, Sample of local honeys

My historical tour guide, on the other hand, took me back in time, narrating captivating stories about the landmarks and monuments. Brian R., the Genius Guide, breathed life into Carmel Missio, with historical events, connecting the past to the present as we explored museums, ancient ruins, and architectural wonders. He was able to provide context and insights that enriched my journey, making history come alive before my eyes.

Woman taking selfie in front of historical carmel mission wearing a white jacket
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, also known as the Carmel Mission

25. Axe Throwing

Axe throwing is a thrilling and ancient sport that’s gaining popularity as a recreational activity. Participants take aim at wooden targets with small, handheld axes, competing for accuracy and precision. It’s an exciting social activity that offers a unique blend of skill, fun, and friendly competition.

In axe throwing, players stand a set distance from the target, and with a flick of their wrist, they release the axe, aiming for a bullseye. It’s a sport that requires focus, technique, and a bit of luck. Axe throwing venues often provide a safe and controlled environment, making it accessible to beginners and experienced throwers alike. Whether you’re looking for a new way to unwind with friends or a unique team-building activity, axe throwing offers an exhilarating experience that’s both challenging and enjoyable.

Other Bowling Alternatives to Consider

There are so many bowling alternatives to consider that there’s not enough room to give each of them their shine. Here are some other options to consider in lieu of bowling:

  • Cooking Class: Learn new recipes and techniques while honing your culinary skills in a fun and interactive environment. Discover the joy of creating delicious meals from scratch.
  • Trivia Night: Put your knowledge to the test and engage in friendly competition with friends or fellow enthusiasts. Challenge yourself with a variety of trivia topics and enjoy a night of brain-teasing fun.
  • Hiking: Immerse yourself in nature and explore picturesque trails, breathtaking landscapes, and stunning vistas. Experience the tranquility and beauty of the great outdoors while enjoying a rewarding physical activity.
  • Ice Skating/Roller Skating: Glide across the ice or roll on wheels, embracing the thrill and excitement of skating. Whether indoors or outdoors, skating is a fantastic way to have fun, improve balance, and get some exercise.
  • Paintball: Strategize, aim, and shoot your way through exhilarating paintball battles. Test your agility and aim as you navigate through various obstacles and compete in thrilling missions.
  • Virtual Reality Arcade: Dive into a world of virtual reality and experience immersive adventures, thrilling games, and mind-bending simulations. Step into a virtual realm where you can explore, interact, and be part of extraordinary virtual worlds.
  • Live Music or Comedy Show: Immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere of live music or laugh out loud at a comedy show. Experience the joy and energy of talented performers, creating unforgettable moments of entertainment.
  • Fishing: Relax and unwind by casting a line into calm waters. Whether you prefer freshwater or saltwater fishing, enjoy the serenity of nature, and challenge yourself to reel in the catch of the day.
  • Wine or Beer Tasting: Indulge your taste buds and explore a variety of flavors and aromas through wine or beer tasting. Discover new favorites, learn about different production processes, and savor the unique characteristics of each beverage.
  • Zip Lining: Experience the adrenaline rush as you soar through the air on a zip line. Enjoy breathtaking views, feel the wind in your hair, and embark on an exhilarating adventure that combines speed, thrill, and stunning natural surroundings.
  • Air Hockey: Get lost in this iconic arcade game that’s been around since the 1970s. It’s a mini version of hockey that’s sure to get your competitive juices flowing.

What Is an Alternative to 10 Pin Bowling?

Want to bowl but don’t want to play it the way you’re used to? There are several close alternatives to bowling that you may not have known about.

  • Nine-Pin Bowling: A predecessor to the more familiar 10-pin game, nine-pin bowling eliminates one pin from the formation. There’s also one red pin in play. If you knock down all of the bowling pins except the red one, you get 12 points. You get 9 points if you knock down all 9 pins. This version of bowling is popular in certain regions of Europe, and it provides a unique twist on the classic game.
  • Duckpin Bowling: Duckpin bowling offers another great alternative to 10-pin bowling. The balls used in this variant are significantly smaller, without finger holes, and the pins are shorter and squatter. While it’s generally easier to knock the pins down in 10-pin bowling, the smaller, lighter pins in duckpin add an element of difficulty, as they don’t fall as easily.
  • Candlepin Bowling: Originating in New England, candlepin bowling uses the tallest, thinnest pins of any bowling variant and balls that are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The slender pins (resembling candles, hence the name) are harder to knock over, which will no doubt change the dynamic of the game.
  • Five-Pin Bowling: As the name suggests, this variant of bowling only has five pins in a diamond shape instead of ten. The balls used are smaller and lack finger holes, making it challenging to control their trajectory. This style of bowling is popular in Canada, and it’s gaining recognition worldwide for its fast-paced gameplay and unpredictable outcomes.

Learn more about these bowling variations in this article.

What Activities Are Similar to Escape Rooms?

Escape rooms have become a popular activity for friends, families, and coworkers looking for a fun and challenging experience.

However, if you’ve already tried an escape room or are looking for something similar but with a twist, there are plenty of alternative activities to try.

  • Virtual Escape Rooms
  • Treasure Hunts
  • Murder Mystery Dinners
  • Scavenger Hunts

So, there you have it – alternatives to bowling that will provide you with a unique and exciting experience. Whether it’s trying out different bowling variations or exploring other activities, there are plenty of ways to have fun with friends and family. So next time you’re planning a group outing, consider trying something new and see where the adventure takes you! Happy bowling!