My dad was a good bowler. This year, we decided to skip the tears and go bowling on his birthday. I hate to admit that I wasn’t sure where we should bowl in San Diego. I wanted it to be kid-friendly, have some good food and drinks as well as offer the ability to reserve a lane in advance. It doesn’t really sound like your average bowling alley, does it? But, all of these upscale perks exist at East Village Tavern and Bowl in downtown San Diego near PETCO Park.

We wound up having a fantastic time (thanks to East Village Tavern and Bowl offering to unexpectedly host us). The kids loved it the experience just as much as the adults did. Here’s why.

1. Easy Reservations and Parking

I called to make a reservation a few days in advance for promptly at 11:00 a.m. when East Village Tavern and Bowl opens on Sundays. Within a few hours, an email confirmation hit my inbox and we were set to go. There wasn’t a Padres game, so street parking was plentiful and paid lots were mostly empty. We opted for a paid lot because we’d exceed two hours by just a bit.

Tip: Ask for a lane by the wall if you have kids. I felt better about not having a group of bowlers on each side of our lane.

2. You Don’t Have to Bring Gear

But, you’re welcome to tote your own ball and shoes, of course. My husband used my dad’s bowling ball. And, I think my dad would have laughed at the number of gutter balls he threw… rubbish bowler that he is (unlike my dad).

East Village Tavern and Bowl has shoes and lightweight bowling balls for kids. They can also program the lane to raise bumpers when the kids bowl and lower them when it’s your turn. Forget your socks? No problem, they have you covered. Of course, adult bowling shoes and a variety of ball sizes are available.

3. Gourmet Food and Drinks

Does this look like your average bowling alley food? I think not.

Buffala salad at East Tavern + Bowl

The caliber of this Farmer’s Market Burrata salad is one that I would expect at an upscale restaurant in La Jolla. It was delicious and so were the filet mignon tacos.

Amazing tacos at East Village Tavern and Bowl in San Diego

Of course, my husband and friend dove into the wings. They asked our server (service was excellent) which of the three available sauce choices were most popular. The answer is kick-a$$ sauce and they enjoyed the wings so much that the devoured this plate and one more.

Delicious tavern wings at East Village Tavern and Bowl in San Diego

Also popular are the flatbreads. The kids split an order of chicken wings and fries. I bet you weren’t expecting a post about bowling to highlight food, right?

4. Sometimes You Want to See Friends (But Not at Your House)

East Village Tavern and Bowl is perfect for the times you’d like to meet good friends who also happen to have kids, but don’t have the bandwidth to offer up your house as an option. The kids are kept active by bowling (and they love watching parents bowl, too) while you catch up with friends over a craft beer. It’s win-win. We had a friend who we hadn’t seen in a long time, my mom and his daughter in tow.

Now in the evenings, East Tavern and Bowl becomes a place where you’d want to leave the kids at home order a bunch of drinks and take an Uber home.

5. You Can Book Events Like Birthdays

The lanes at East Village Tavern and Bowl

The twelve lanes at East Tavern and Bowl are split into rooms of six. How fun would it be to get a bunch of people together to rent all six lanes and have the space more or less to yourselves? There is plenty of high table and lounge seating for those who aren’t bowling, with space to stand and walk around a little otherwise. You can even book kids birthday parties and corporate events here.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Wow! Looks like a fantastic place to bowl. Recently moving from MN to CA, I haven’t yet found a bowling alley that incorporates so many great features into one place. I would love to bring my three children bowling at The East Village Tavern and Bowl and show them what fun bowling is and give them a glimpse into my childhood and bowling with family.

  2. That sounds awesome! I would love to take the kids and friends here because it is close and the food sounds amazing!

  3. I went there a long time ago and it was very crowded and hard to get service. The food was pretty tasty when we finally got it. Looked like fun bowling but didn’t try it because of the crowd. But it sounds like your experiences have been better. We try again for a better customer experience.

  4. My family loves bowling. I haven’t been to this location yet, but we could sure use a night out and have some fun!!

  5. We LOVE Tavern & Bowl! Bowling is on our summer bucket list for days that are too hot to be outside. We would take our good friends the Beasley family with us – another family of 5 who loves bowling!

  6. Good idea – we’re due for a bowling outing soon! I’ve been to networking events here, but never laced up the shoes to work the lanes. Looking forward to it!

  7. I’m expecting my first child in December, so this year is full of last child-free hurrahs with my close friends. Would love to win this package.

  8. I’d love to take my family as a fun summer activity. My oldest will also be starting school in East Village this fall which provides an extra interest for me to get to know the area better.

  9. As a mother of busy boys this looks like a perfect place to get together with another family for a fun afternoon out! Bowling, food, drinks, friends…everyone’s happy! It’s a win-win!!

  10. My daughter turns 17 on June 10 and this would be a fun way to celebrate her birthday! The food is so good there!! We love the Chicken Wings! Great place to watch my Padres baseball when I am not at the games!

  11. This would be a great activity and good fun for the kids and be able to see a different part of San Diego