It was early Saturday morning and we had no real plans for the whole weekend. February was unseasonably warm in Western New York, but it started to cool back down a bit. So, we weren’t going to do anything outside, but we wanted to do some kind of family-friendly activity with the kids.

Right on cue, Ashley’s mom called and suggested a daytrip to Splash Lagoon in Erie, Pennsylvania. Splash Lagoon is an indoor waterpark that we had thought about taking the kids to before. It’s about an hour and half drive away. We agreed to give a try.

Knowing our kids, we were pretty sure they would only be entertained there for a couple hours so we weren’t in a huge hurry to get going. My dad came over as planned and helped me change out a couple of lights in our kitchen and then we had an early lunch before hitting the road. Ashley’s parents drove us all in their van so the kids could watch a movie on the DVD player. The kids watched Handy Manny until they both fell asleep. Our timing worked, we figured if we drove in the early afternoon the kids would probably nap.

We arrived at Splash Lagoon at about 2:30 p.m. and were immediately greeted with bad news. The lobby area was full of people and the lines didn’t seem to be moving. An employee was walking around telling everyone that the waterpark had reached its capacity and due to fire safety laws they couldn’t let anyone else in. He said that they were still selling tickets for people to enter after 4 p.m. though. Prices drop for people entering after 4 p.m. and apparently a lot of people leave the park by then so they would be able to allow more guests to enter.

So we had to decide, do we sit in the lobby for an hour and a half to get into the water park (after already driving for that long) or try to find something else to do instead. Another factor was the cost. Like I said prices drop at 4 p.m. but they are still $37.95 per adult and Noah would cost $29.95 (Charlotte would be free since she’s under two). I couldn’t imagine us being there longer than two hours, so the prices looked pretty steep. It would also still be very crowded; it looked like people could barely move in the water.

As you can probably tell, I was voting against staying. However, I also didn’t want us to all have to jump back in the van and drive another hour and half home after doing nothing. Then Ashley’s dad came up with an idea that saved our day. There were videos playing on TV’s in the lobby that advertised different things to do in the park and the area around it. My father-in-law saw bowling on one of the TVs and asked if we should consider that. I jumped on that idea. Noah loved bowling on a cruise ship before so I figured I’d probably actually enjoy that more than the waterpark.

We asked about an employee about bowling and he pointed to a building next to the large one we were in. He said it’s a restaurant with a few lanes of bowling inside. We decided to leave the waterpark, still considered returning after bowling.

We put our coats back on and walked the short distance beside the parking lot to Hooch and Blotto’s. The place is basically a sports bar with eight lanes of bowling. Despite half the establishment being a bar, it was a very family-friendly atmosphere. It was the kind of mini-bowling with shorter lanes and the pins that are attached to ropes that pull them back up after they are hit. Neon lights shined down on the pins. The bowling balls were smaller and lighter than normal and had no holes for fingers. We were also able to use bumpers. Perhaps best of all, you are allowed to wear your own footwear, no shoe rentals necessary.

The setup was basically identical to the bowling that Noah enjoyed so much on the cruise ship a year ago. Noah loved the bowling here just as much. He wanted to take everyone’s turn bowling (and we let him half the time). He usually used the “potty shot” method of holding the ball with two hands between his legs and heaving it down the lane. He did throw it in the wrong lane one time.

Charlotte tried bowling a couple of times, but the ball took about two minutes to make it all the way to the pins (and I’m pretty sure the ball only reached the pins because the lanes gently sloped downhill). Charlotte still had fun, though. Noah had an absolute blast. He’s not a big fan of swimming, so I’m sure he had more fun bowling than he ever would have had in the water. Charlotte probably would have had more fun in the water, so we’ll have to return sometime.

The adults had fun, too. Ashley, her dad, and I bowled with Noah. Ashley’s mom mostly spent time with Charlotte. I enjoy bowling, but I’m not very good. I was even worse at this mini-bowling. Ashley’s dad got pretty into it and won the first game. I took the second game (thanks bumpers). Noah did pretty well considering he’s three and a half years old. He had one strike and I think a couple of spares.

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It cost $34 for the bowling lane for an hour. That seems a bit pricy, but we did finish two games and it was a lot cheaper than Splash Lagoon next door. We also had enjoyed some tasty appetizers and there was a pretty good beer selection there. I wouldn’t recommend people drive an hour and a half to go bowling at Hooch and Blotto’s, but if you’re already going to Splash Lagoon I would definitely recommend spending an hour or two bowling to go with it. After all, the place saved our day.

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