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Does the White House Have a Bowling Alley? An Honest Answer.

President truman, nixon and eisenhower standing on the white house's lawn were the starters of the old school secret bowling alleys

Have you heard the one about the White House, home of the President of the United States, having a bowling alley in the white house basement?

But one question that has piqued the interest of many is, “Does the White House have a bowling alley?” That’s what we’ll address in this article. Let’s get right into it!

Does the White House Have a Bowling Alley?

Yes, the White House has a bowling alley. In fact, there are more than one bowling alley at the White House.

The first one was built in 1947 and was named after President Truman. It was located in the West Wing of the building. This wasn’t a cheap endeavor – read this article to learn how much it costs to build a bowling alley. Interestingly enough, Truman wasn’t a die-hard bowling enthusiast, but the bowling alley still got a lot of love over the years.

Those who worked at the White House played in the White House bowling alley during Truman’s presidency, forming the White House bowling league at one point. They were very skilled.

Key Takeaways

  • White House Bowling Alleys: Two alleys exist; the first was built in 1947 under Truman and later moved by Eisenhower; Nixon installed the second, a one-lane alley, in 1969.
  • Location and Accessibility: The original two-lane alley is now in the Old Executive Office Building; both alleys are operational but not open to the general public.
  • Historical Significance: The alleys reflect presidential leisure activities; Truman initiated, Eisenhower relocated, and Nixon personalized.
  • Condition and Use: The alleys, especially the two-lane, are dated and have operational issues; they are used for White House staff and private events.
  • Touring Opportunities: Public White House tours are available, but bowling alley visits are rare and not guaranteed.

How Did the First Bowling Alley Look?

The first bowling alley had two lanes and, due to the times, a very vintage look and feel. It was fully functional and equipped with everything you’d find in a typical bowling center (ball return, pinsetter, scoring desk, etc).

This two lane bowling alley, constructed during the truman administration was built with the white house staffers in mind
source from the White House Historical Association

The First Bowling Alley Was Moved

In 1955, during President Eisenhower’s presidency, the first bowling alley, put in during Truman’s presidency, was moved. It was relocated across the street, in the basement beneath the Old Executive Office Building, and situated beneath the North Portico. In its new location, people who frequented or worked in the White House would play from time to time.

President Truman opens first White House bowling alley

The Second White House Bowling Alley

In 1969, during President Nixon’s time and the golden era of bowling, the second White House Bowling Alley was constructed. This was a one lane alley meant to be a personal alley only for Nixon; he was a huge fan.

President Nixon Bowling (no sound)

How Does the Second White House Bowling Alley Look?

Now, as for aesthetics – though it’s a very cool bowling alley, it looks different than many may expect. It’s a relatively modest, intimate 1-lane alley with a sleek, yet homey aesthetic to it. As of 2019, with recent renovations, it featured gorgeous navy blue sofas, wooden cabinets, and red, white, and blue bowling balls.

President nixon's original bowling alley still operational today
President Nixon’s Original Bowling Alley

Both Bowling Alleys Are Still in Operation

Though America still very much loves bowling, the sport’s popularity did tank a couple of decades ago. Yet, both White House bowling alleys are still in operation. The two-lane alley is open to those who get a reservation. Just know that it’s incredibly hard to obtain one – you’ve got to have the right connections by knowing someone on the inside.

The one lane bowling alley is a little more low-key. With recent renovations, it’s mostly used for private events.

President nixon's bowling alley updated
President Nixon’s Alley with Renovations source

How People Feel About the White House Bowling Alley

Thousands of people have visited the White House Bowling Alley, many of which are super high profile people who are outspoken. According to a former Biden administration official, the 2-lane bowling alley isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Though, they wouldn’t turn down an invite, they do say that a certain chain of bowling centers offers a better experience.

One of the main reasons people may have an issue with the 2-lane bowling alley is that it’s incredibly old. It’s been in operation for several decades, and that brings along with it some operational issues. We’re not sure whether this issue has been remedied, but there have been complaints about the ball or pins getting stuck mid play.

The main thing that brings people back to this bowling alley isn’t necessarily the equipment, but rather the history and significance of the place. It’s not every day you get to bowl in a place where past presidents have unwinded and socialized with their staff. It’s an incredible honor.

All things considered, you may get onto the White House lanes and be mesmerized by the sights and sounds. Still, everyone’s experience will be a little different, of course.

How to Get Invited to the White House

Want to get on the White House lanes (or lay your eyes on them)? You’ve got a chance, as there are tours made specifically for the public. Per the White House website, you can call to request a tour through the Member of Congress or Congressional Tour Coordinator.

To find out more, go to this page.

If you’re approved to go on a tour, know that you’re not guaranteed to see the bowling alley – each tour may be a little different and cover a different area. Be sure to adjust your expectations accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which President Installed the Bowling Alley at the White House?

33rd President, Harry S. Truman.

The first bowling alley was installed by Harry Truman and moved across the street by Dwight Eisenhower. The second bowling alley was installed on White House grounds was by Richard Nixon.

Did President Obama Take Out the Bowling Alley?


In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke about taking out the bowling alley and installing a basketball court when elected. Doing so may have invited public scrutiny, and it never happened. As a result, the bowling alleys still stand today.

What Sports Facilities Are in the White House?

tennis/basketball court, putting green, and jogging track

Bowling isn’t the only thing that Secret Service Agents and other White House personnel can do at the White House. There are other sports facilities on the grounds. They include:

tennis/basketball court
putting green
jogging track

What Are 2 Recreation Options in the White House?

For those who want to have a little fun outside of sports, there are options available for that. Here are some of the main recreational activities available at the White House:

A movie theatre
A game room with ping pong tables and billiards
A heated indoor swimming pool
Golf simulator

*Note: This information came from the White House website, which is subject to change at any moment.

Who Has Access to the White House Sports Facilities?

White House staff and their guests, as well as visiting dignitaries and approved members of the general public.

Can I Go Bowling at the White House?

No. The White House bowling alleys are not open to the general public.

They are primarily used by White House staff and their guests, as well as visiting dignitaries. It’s a rare opportunity for most people to experience these historic lanes.

Bowling in the White House basement
Getting to bowl at the White House

So, there you have it – everything you need to know about the White House and its bowling alleys. We hope you found all the information you were looking for and we wish you the best as you explore all things bowling! If you’re a beginner and want to learn more about bowling, start here.