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The bowling date is a classic, and one of my personal favorites. While not generally recommended for a first date (it can be a bit stilted trying to get to know someone in alternating 30 second increments while the pins reset) it is great for a group date, or for couples who enjoy a little friendly competition every now and again. “Social bowling” has experienced a resurgence in popularity recently, giving rise to slick and cavernous enterprises which seem to cater to large parties or corporate events, complete with fancy finger food, flashing lights, and frenetic music. That’s fine, but for a date it can be a little overwhelming, not to mention expensive. That’s why I was so thrilled to discover PEP Bowl at 1200 Broad street in South Philly. Small and laid-back, this six-lane establishment opened in 2009, but dates back to the 1950’s and maintains a retro-ambiance that is both winning and romantic in its charm. At the same time, its scoring mechanism, lanes, shoes and equipment are all modern and well-maintained, guaranteed to satisfy even the most serious of recreational bowlers. It’s also 100% handicapped accessible.

How cheap we talkin’: $3.50 per game per person and $3.00 shoe rental. Tuesdays they do one better, with $2.50 shoe rental and games from 5-11pm. And it’s BYO!

Why this will impress your date: At PEP, you are also bowling for a good cause. Patronage of PEP Bowl helps support PEP’s mission to provide education, recreation, vocational training, and job placement services to people with disabilities.

Score extra points: By throwing a gutter ball at least once. Now that may seem counter-intuitive, but it depends what kind of points you are really trying to score.

The Inside Game: Because there are only 6 lanes, it’s a good idea to call ahead and reserve one. 215 952-BOWL.

Next Date: Anytime! Well, almost. Lanes are reserved some early evenings for league play hours. Check here for the complete schedule, and here for special deals.

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