Whenever we come down with a bad case of cabin fever, our family heads over to one of downtown Chicago's swank but kid-friendly bowling alleys. My ten-year-old always manages a strike or two or three, and my little girl is a bowling champ-in-training at the ripe old age of 2.

Thanks to lane rails that prevent those notorious gutter balls, every kid has a shot of beating mom and dad. Be sure to ask for them when you register for your lanes and shoes. My daughter makes good use of what we have named the B.A.D. or Bowling Assistive Device, a moveable ramp that lets kids point and roll their balls into the direction they want (with Mom or Dad serving as the official "ball-picker-upper"). My daughter thinks picking a colorful ball out and watching it roll down the lane and hit a pin or two is the absolute bees knees.

10 Pin and Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge are our two fave downtown bowling alleys, both an easy walk from the main North Michigan Avenue shopping drag.

Located just next to the House of Blues, 10 Pin is a spacious, hip bowling alley with 24 lanes topped with huge video screens playing a variety of music videos. Get there early - it opens at noon - before it becomes swamped with the 21-and-over-only crowd after 8pm. Besides bowling, 10 Pin offers an outstanding menu featuring small plates that encourage family-style sharing.  The loaded cheese tots and spinach and artichoke dip are unbeatable. Be sure to save room for dessert: they've got s'mores!

Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge is located within a huge River East entertainment complex. You can catch a Hollywood big-screen blockbuster at the AMC theater, grab a bite to eat  and then catch a few rounds of bowling without having to step foot outdoors.  18 state-of-the-art lanes are polished to perfection and kid-ready. Large video screens will broadcast major sporting events, so this is the perfect spot to catch that Bears game while the kids bowl. Just like 10 Pin, Lucky Strike offers bowling fare at its best: we love their selection of signature burgers.

10 Pin  330 North State Street; Tel. (312) 644-0300

Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge  322 E Illinois St (at Columbus Dr); Tel. (312) 245-8331