One thing we lack here in Washington, DC is nearby and cheap options for bowling. Sure, there are the Bowl America outposts in West Falls Church and Fairfax, Bowlmor stranded far from the Metro in Bethesda, and the odd business model of $20-per-game-plus-fancy-schmancy-dress-code at Lucky Strike in Chinatown. None of these are really viable if your aim is cheap bowling in the nation’s capital. Luckily, the Fort Myer Bowling Center, on an Army base just behind Arlington Cemetery, offers the chance to fulfill your ten pin dreams. And learn a bit about military history while you’re at it.
Also known as the “Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall,” a result of a 2005 initiative to create more efficiency, Fort Myer and Fort McNair are currently home to thousands of men and women providing military services—disaster relief, security, etc. to the National Capital Region. And due to its proximity to Arlington Cemetery, many assigned to Fort Myer take part in official ceremonies there. Indeed, the “Old Guard,” the Army’s oldest active infantry regiment, is based at Fort Myer, and is the “premier ceremonial unit” and escort to the president. The fort was also the location of the first powered-flight fatality, when the propeller split on a military test plane carrying Orville Wright and a lieutenant, who died in the crash.
Needless to say, you’ll be surrounded by history when you set foot on the base—well, drive onto it, as it is most easily accessed by car. Keep in mind that as you drive in, all members of your party will need a photo ID and your car will be searched from hood to trunk.
A few minutes onto the base is the “Strike Zone,” which is bowling as you remember it in all its glory: low-lighting, bright paintings of bowling balls and pins on the walls, etc. And cheap! Games run $2 or $3 per person, depending on the time, and shoe rentals are $2 each. I wasn’t there for rock ‘n roll bowling on Friday and Saturday nights, but from all accounts it’s pretty neat. Don’t expect much from the snack bar, which consists of hot dogs, pizza, and the like. Buckets of mini-beers are kind of entertaining, if a tad overpriced.
There’s not much more to say about bowling at Fort Myer, only that it is just the kind of bowling experience that I expect many Washingtonians are looking for!
To get there: Bldg. 411, McNair Road, Ft. Myer, VA. (703) 528-4766. M-Th 7am -10pm/Fri. 7am-12am/Sat. 10am -12am/Sun. 12pm – 6pm. Yelp reviewers claim it’s possible to walk onto the base, but because of its size a car is the easiest option.