Bowladrome – Grinnell, IA

Key Alley Information

Address 915 State St
City Grinnell, IA 50112
Phone Number (641) 236-5827
Map/Directions See Below
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Rating: 7.0/10 (34 votes cast)

Deep in the cornfields of Iowa lives a vibrant bowling scene and a very cool classic alley. Located in the town of Grinnell, a community of under 10,000, The Bowladrome is certainly not a flashy center, but its vintage atmosphere appeals to many, including Leslie Jaworski who recently wrote to us:

Walking into The Bowladrome may send you back in time a few decades… but don’t let the brown shag that crawls the walls deter you from bowling. The place has 12 lanes, automatic scoring, a bar, and is located two blocks from downtown Grinnell and Grinnell College. If the pins aren’t falling for you, it’s still a great place to grab some friends and make memories.

The alley is also not short on history. It dates all the way back to 1947, and in those days bowling wasn’t the only thing to do; it also featured an indoor archery range!

Many local high schoolers also got their first jobs at the Bowladrome, working as pinsetters. The alley has been owned by the Buffum family since 1958, and although you no longer have to wait for a worker to set the pins for you, you still get a strong reminder of the good old days when bowling in general was a simpler, more friendly activity.

Grinnell was named One of the 100 Best Small Towns In America in Norm Crampton’s Nationwide Guide to the Best in Small Town Living. The Bowladrome, its only alley, has an enthusiastic community of local league bowlers, and the presence of the college means that college students from all over the world also join in on the fun.

Our Verdict:

Prices: B+

Atmosphere: B+

History: A-

Features: B-


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Have You Visited the Bowladrome? What Did You Think of It?

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Rating: 7.0/10 (34 votes cast)
Bowladrome – Grinnell, IA, 7.0 out of 10 based on 34 ratings


  1. Bowladrome is a very welcoming alley. The shag on the wall gives it a warm and cozy feeling especially when you are trying to get away from the cold and snow. Also it’s bowling league is a lot of fun with all the hooting and hollaring going on.

  2. this is where I beat Parker at every single game one semester! Great place 🙂

  3. Today I went to one of the saddest bowling alleys in the world. Against a wall was an antique Ms PacMan video game machine. There was a bar, in total disuse, though it was stocked with alcohol. In one of the side rooms, there were pool tables that were totally decrepit. In the 1980s, this place might have rocked. The bathrooms where quaintly labeled Kings and Queens….that might cause some confusion in this age. There are 10 lanes, pretty well oiled. One guy works the counter and he is also responsible for fixing any game malfunctions. Shoes rent for $1.00 and Games are $3.00 each. Beer is sold out of a cooler next to the shoes. $2.50. Only 9,000 people live in Grinnell, and most of that population is made up by the student body of Grinnell College. So each and every business needs everyone here and the surrounding area to exist.

  4. The Bowladrome is a great place to get together with friends or family and let loose on classic original wood lanes. It’s a bowling alley with a lot history and pride, that’s remained to stay open through out each year to provide a wonderful American past time for locals or people visiting. The staff is willing to accommodate and always very helpful. I personally remember in the 80’s & 90’s when this place used to be packed on league nights! To say it’s one of the saddest bowling alleys in the world is completely false. It’s a bowling alley made of memories and awaiting more memories if you step foot inside! Did it flourish years ago… yes, like many other past times that have.. pool halls, rolle bolle, shuffleboard & slow/fast-pitch softball to name a few.
    Automatic score tracking, snacks & beverages for all… and an aura like no other! Look them up on Facebook.. Bowladrome.

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