We have all been to those fun centers where it’s utter chaos and parents are left standing around watching children run around like ferrets on quadruple espressos.
Big Al’s is different.
In fact, think of it as a fun center that caters to spending time with your kids, instead of just chasing them around.
I have been to Big Al’s several times for birthday parties and each time I find something new to do.
The approximately 67,000 square foot facility is built to resemble a stadium and is stuffed to the gills with things that kids, parents and guys really like to do: watch sports, bowl, play video games, play a few holes on golf simulator and more. If you want to have a party, or just watch the game on some gigantic screens, Big Al’s will meet your needs.
Most of my time has been spent in the bowling alleys – yes, there are two – and from bumpers to great seating and lounge seating, the bowling alone could keep you busy for an entire afternoon. The main bowling area has 30 lanes and enough space to support a family or group of friends in each lane. The 12 VIP lanes feature “cosmic bowling” all day, using black lights to create a more lounge feel.
There are a couple of food options, you can do a deli-style quick food, or spend time in the lounge/restaurant area where there are monster screens showing all types of sports. You truly have not experienced a football game until you watch one at Big Al’s because it’s in a league of its own. In fact, the main screen is a 55-foot monster (yes, foot) and is surrounded by other screens in the sports bar area. The food is good too, with a host of beers on tap, including several local micro-brews.
The bowling and sports bar is just the downstairs! Upstairs, you enter the world of video games… as a child of the ‘80s, I now know what heaven is definitely going to be like.
They have more than 200 games, and in fact there are so many that you simply can’t play them all in one visit. I found that going in with $20 is a good amount for tokens, but your stamina for video games may be greater than mine.
Before you go to Big Al’s, be sure to check the local newspapers or online for specials. There are several specials they run throughout the year that can really save money on your visit. In addition to the savings, they also have fundraising and charity events for local schools and even have events for the community where they invite professional athletes and teams.
Officials from Big Al’s said they see more than one million people a year between the restaurant, bowling alley, arcade and many other attractions. The place is very busy on the weekends, so my trick is to try to go during the week when there are fewer crowds.
So, if you want to bowl, eat, watch the game, practice your golf swing, save the princess or just hang out, Big Al’s is a great place to spend an afternoon.
About Big Al’s (from www.ILoveBigAls.com): FUN seekers flock inside Big Al's for a variety of reasons! Upscale bowling lanes, thrilling arcade fare, larger-than-life big game sports bar and grill experience, and a plethora of party and event opportunities!!
What to bring: I would suggest wearing nice socks, as you will have to change your shoes if you do bowl. Otherwise, just bring your appetite and eye-hand coordination!
Tip: I try to visit during the off hours as the bowling lanes can fill up; weekends are more of a challenge. If you are visiting Oregon in the summer, we do still have rainy days and Big Al’s can be a great alternative if you don’t want to get wet.
Season: They are open year-round.
Getting there: Big Al’s is located at 14950 SW Barnes Road, Beaverton.
From Portland: Take highway 26 to Highway 217. Take the SW Schools Ferry Road exit near Washington Square and take a right. Follow SW Scholls Ferry Road to SW Murray Blvd. and turn left. Then turn right on SW Barrow Road. Follow that and Big Al’s is on your left.
From Salem: Take I-5 North to Highway 217. Take the SW Scholls Ferry Road exit near Washington Square and take a left. Follow SW Scholls Ferry Road to SW Murray Blvd. and turn left. Then turn right on SW Barrow Road. Follow that and Big Al’s is on your left.
By Patrick Johnson