Things To Do Duckpin Bowling in Indianapolis

Duckpin Bowling in Indianapolis

Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling in Fountain Square is a blast for families … and a blast from the past!

More Info About Duckpin Bowling
Curious about duckpin bowling? Here’s some history on the unusual sport!

What is Duckpin Bowling?

According to Fountain Square Theatre Building’s website, duckpin bowling started in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1900. People would typically only bowl during the winter, and most bowling alleys closed during the summer. However, some bowling alleys remained open to bowlers who wanted to bowl using smaller balls. Over time, these bowlers trimmed down the standard pins to match the size of the small balls.  Bowling with small balls and small pins was more difficult to get strikes and spares. So, the rules were changed, and duckpin bowling was born. Duckpin bowling gained popularity in the 1920s, and spread from Maryland to states all along the East Coast. Today, duckpin bowling alleys are only found around the East Coast, with the exception of Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square. It is the only duckpin bowling alley in the Midwest!

Why is It Called Duckpin Bowling?

Contrary to what some might think, the pins are not shaped like ducks! How duckpin bowling got its name is not quite clear, but some people think that it is called duckpin bowling because when the pins are hit by the ball, they go flying everywhere like a flock of ducks.

Indianapolis is home to many bowling alleys. But Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling, located in the Indianapolis neighborhood of Fountain Square, is probably the most unusual — and perhaps the oldest — bowling alley you’ll find in the Midwest. Family-friendly and fun for all ages, duckpin bowling uses smaller, lighter balls, so it’s perfect for the smallest bowlers in your bunch.


Duckpin Bowling in Indianapolis

Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling is a great place to visit any time of the year, but it’s an especially great place to consider when you’re looking for someplace near downtown that’s a) fun for families, b) indoors and c) not crowded, which can be a tall order. (During the pandemic, the bowling alley caps the number of visitors, and uses every other bowling lane). When my family and I visited, it was during a drizzly, cold afternoon, and we were the only people in the bowling alley.

Reservations are suggested, so we made a reservation over the phone, as Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling doesn’t take reservations online. The price per lane is $30 per hour and lane on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $40 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Up to six people can use one lane.

When we arrived at Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling, we were amazed at all of the vintage bowling memorabilia. As we made our way to our lane, it was like stepping back in time to 50 years ago, when telephone booths were still a thing. 


Duckpin Bowling with Kids

One thing is for sure: Duckpin bowling is fun! It’s especially fun for kids, because the bowling balls are smaller (about the size of a small coconut), so they are easier to hold and throw. 

Not only are duckpin bowling balls smaller, but the bowling pins are smaller, too. So this means that it’s a little more difficult to get a strike or a spare. It’s helpful to keep your expectations in check! When my family and I played, we tried to focus on just having fun. In duckpin bowling, each player gets three chances to hit the pins (as opposed to two chances with typical 10-pin bowling), so you get more tries to knock them down!

When you are doing any kind of activity with kids, it’s helpful to take breaks. Fortunately, there is a small cafe inside the bowling alley, so we snagged some snacks. They have pizza, pretzels, wings, nachos, fries and lots of other foods to share. You can order your food and take it to your lane to eat. 

We spent about an hour and a half duckpin bowling, and it was time well spent for our whole family. Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling is an Indianapolis gem that you should definitely check out!

Location, Hours, Parking and Other Information

Action & Atomic Duckpin Bowling is located at 1105 Prospect Street in Indianapolis. Enter the double doors under the neon duckpin sign.

Hours are Tuesday & Wednesday, 1-9 p.m.; Thursday, 1-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 1 p.m.-Midnight; Sunday, 1-7 p.m. It is closed Mondays.

Parking is free in Fountain Square. You’ll find street parking near the building, or public parking lots at the corner of Shelby and Morris Street behind the Forte building, as well as a smaller public lot on Woodlawn Avenue, between Virginia Avenue and Shelby Street.

For more information and to make a reservation, visit or call 317-685-1955.




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