What’s to Love: If there’s one thing I love, it’s a sparkling clean bowling alley. You’ll definitely find it at Big Al’s and much more! This entertainment hub features plenty of lanes for public bowling, a private bowling area, a HUGE sports bar and grill, video and arcade games, bowling pro shop, and plenty of space for group events.
When you enter Big Al’s, you’ll notice right away the obvious…it’s BIG! Because of all the wood beams and floors, it feels more like a lodge. Within seconds you’ll amble up to a concierge-type desk where someone will quickly answer any questions and point you in the right direction. At Big Al’s, they take their customer service seriously! Wherever we went, the staff members were attentive and friendly.
If you’re going to bowl, you’ve come to the right place. Easily my favorite bowling spot due to the ease of the electronic system, automated bumpers, metal ball launcher, 6 pound balls for kids, and food and drink orders right at your lane. While serious bowlers will love Big Al’s, the Saturday night we were there was dominated by families with kids launching balls down the lanes. No attitudes…just fun!
If the lanes are busy, no problem! Just head over to play arcade/video games with the kids or get something to eat at their sports bar. When your lane is ready, they will send you a text message – how easy is that? If you’re in the middle of eating in the sports bar, no problem, they will transport your food right to your lane where you can eat and bowl. Everything is easy and relaxed at Big Al’s.
Caveats: With good reason, it’s a popular place during the weekend. You may want to call ahead, especially if your primary goal is bowling. If you’re looking for bowling only and want to avoid video and/or arcade-style games, Big Al’s is probably not a good fit for your family.
Distance from Portland: The Vancouver location is about 18 miles from downtown Portland. Here is a Google map. The Beaverton location is about 13.5 miles from downtown Portland. Here is a Google map for that location.
Recommended Ages: This is a great spot for a wide range of age groups – young and old. Because they have automated bumpers and ball launchers, even toddlers can enjoy some bowling. Teens will enjoy hanging out with their friends at either location as well.
Parental Stress Factor: Pretty low. In my opinion, Big Al’s is a very family-friendly place. Even when it’s busy, it’s so big that it’s easy to get around and doesn’t feel overcrowded. The staff goes out of their way to make everything stress free. It’s not so big that you’ll lose track of your kids.
Physical Difficulty: The venue is handicap-accessible with plenty of room for wheelchair access in and around the lanes. If you have kids with physical concerns, please contact Big Al’s directly.
Family Fun Factor: High! This is great place for the whole family. If you’re a parent who likes to watch sports, you can kick back and relax in the sports bar while your kids run around playing games and/or bowling.
Pet Friendly: N/A
Weather Considerations: Another great indoor activity for the rainy season in the Vancouver/Portland area.
Insider Info: Big Al’s has their own promotional video you can watch here. Here is a direct link to their kids’ menu. I thought the food and service were really good. It wasn’t super fast, but we weren’t in a hurry.
Check-out their “What’s New” page for special deals. The $2.00 bowling and $2.00 shoes from 10am to noon on Saturdays is a great deal! Also, Big Al’s would be a great spot for a birthday party. All their party packages are on this page. Check out “thatsweetgift.com” for gift ideas.
Family Tips: Make it easy on everyone and get your kids “Fun Cards.” These are like credit cards that are setup with a set amount of money. That way, you won’t end up spending too much on games a la carte. It also makes leaving easier when it’s time to head home. As a parent, you can set their spending limit. When their card is all used up, it’s time to go!
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