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What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

World’s Largest Bowling Pin, Tampa, FL

World's Largest Bowling Pin

30 feet of bowling pin!

I’m taking a break from the Montréal series this week, because I’ve been dying to post this one!

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

During our April trip to Florida to visit family, my whole clan spent the evening together at Splitsville, a bowling alley in Tampa, FL. Outside the front door stands the world’s largest bowling pin, towering 30-feet over the courtyard of the Channelside entertainment complex.

Let’s just say things went much smoother than they did the day before while on the world’s longest continuous sidewalk.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Not only can my dad bowl, he takes great photos, too!

I hardly need to justify my need to see a 30-foot bowling pin, do I? Is there a more compelling symbol of retro Americana? Just the site of it evoked childhood memories of loud, fluorescent-lit alleys; worn, ill-fitting shoes; greasy french fries; and filling in score cards with a nubby pencil. Of course, now a computer does the score-keeping for you, requiring none of that pesky arithmetic.

If I did need to justify the Pin Pilgrimage…why are you doubting my choices?!?!…I would just say that going to Splitsville offered the promise of a great evening with my whole family, including my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, and 12-month old niece (sporting her black “Kiss” T-shirt, no less).

Okay, what was so cool about it?

On the inside, this is not your father’s bowling alley. It’s a hipster space with glam décor, like black leather banquette seating. With only 12 regulation-size lanes, and a few pool tables, there’s a cozy ambiance rather than an echoing cacophony of bowling balls striking pins.

I loved the piped-in soundtrack with tunes from KC and the Sunshine Band, U2, and the Mighty Mighty Boss Tones. I liked every other song that I heard, but didn’t always know the artist. Apparently, there’s an app for “I’m standing in a bowling alley listening to music I can’t identify but need to know the name of the artist right now.” It’s called Shazam, and of course Matt has it on his Droid. Now I know that the name of The Clash tune I like is “Train in Vain.”

Despite the cool factor, this is still an ideal place for family entertainment. You can program the lanes to raise the gutter guards when it’s the kids’ turns to bowl. They can even roll their balls down 2-foot high metal ramps rather than trying to lift and throw them themselves. Note The Girl’s hand flourish technique:


There’s something for everyone on the varied menu, including sushi and a full bar. They serve 64 oz. “Big Bowl” drinks, which must lead to some interesting scores. Your meal is served lane-side, so you can continue your strike streak uninterrupted.

Waiting for food

Waiting for our pizza and Buffalo chicken sliders!

Oh, and I learned that my parents were in an amateur bowling league on Long Island back in the 70’s. Wha???  Dad still has a pretty decent bowling game, even without the sideburns!

High score of the evening belonged to The Boy: 107. The lowest? Me, with 61. (I was distracted by the great music.) So we’re not bowlers. Moving on.

How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):

Again, I reiterate, a 30-foot bowling pin! Glorious. It rates a solid 8 when supplemented by a fun evening of family bowling.

p.s. Matt says “the food was pretty good.”

Hey YOU! Go BIG:

Splitsville Luxury Lanes and Dinner Lounge, 615 Channelside Drive, Suite 120, Tampa, FL. 813-514-BOWL

Disclaimer: Parts of our trip to Tampa were organized with assistance from the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. Splitsville hosted our game. We paid for our own meal.

Tampa Things To Do on raveable

Child Bowling

Time it takes for a ball to roll off the kids’ ramp, down the lane, and reach the pins: 2 hours, 10 minutes, 33 seconds.

8 comments

  1. Mike said,
    September 3, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

    Having been there myself, I can confirm that this place is great. If you are trendy and cool and want to be seen, or if you are toting the kids out for a fun family night, it really is a great location. Personally, I think that the food is better than “pretty good”, especially when compared against normal bowling alley fare.

  2. Lymaris said,
    September 4, 2010 @ 8:23 am

    No need to justify anything. A day of bowling with the family
    sounds very good to me, with or without a giant bowling pin. The place looks really nice and you had fun!

    And when you said “Just the site of it evoked childhood memories of loud, fluorescent-lit alleys; worn, ill-fitting shoes; greasy french fries; and filling in score cards with a nubby pencil.” it reminded me of the bowling alley I used to go in my hometown, Mayagüez. Thanks for bringing those memories back to me.

    • Traci Suppa said,
      September 6, 2010 @ 6:16 am

      Thanks, Lymaris! The family time was the most important part of this outing. But I still really liked seeing the bowling pin! I’m glad it brought back fond memories for you!

  3. Andew said,
    September 6, 2010 @ 8:52 am

    No need to justify. I just spent the day going to look for the world’s largest rocking chair and would’ve continued on if Tampa was any closer to Gulfport, MS. You are right, the sights are fun, but the slowed down times spent together is the true attraction.

  4. John Congdon said,
    September 6, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

    Awesome story Traci. The sad part is, we are located in Daytona Beach Florida, sell bowling equipment at bowlingball.com, and I had no clue we were only two hours from the worlds largest bowling pin. Would you mind if we included your story on our site and/or used in one of our weekly newsletters?

    I love the sentiment of family time. Bowling is such a great sport to help entertain an entire family from young to old, skinny to hefty, able-bodied to handicapped. It’s one of the only all-inclusive sports.

    I saw your post on Twitter, even though you referenced the competition 🙁
    We are @bowlingball, and I am @johncongdon

    • Traci Suppa said,
      September 6, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

      Thanks, John! Appreciate the mention on your blog! Maybe your company’s next team building activity should be a field trip to Splitsville?!

  5. February 11, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

    Hi Traci 🙂

    Love it!
    Our family loves large fiberglass objects. We have a stockpile of pics we are in the process of getting up on our blog. Thanks for finding our blog and facebook page and letting use know about yours!

    All the best,
    Dana and Tim
    FeastingOnAmericana.com

  6. May 10, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

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  2. Talk Bowling said,
    September 6, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    The Worlds Largest Bowling Pin…

    I just read an interesting blog post on Go Big or Go Home. This looks like a great blog of a fun loving family that visits the world’s largest _YOU NAME IT_. In this post they visited the world’s largest bowling pin. And I didn’t even…