Dexter Filming Locations: The Starlight Lanes Bowling Alley (Season 2)


The location: The Starlight Lanes Bowling Alley

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Starlight Lanes, a bowling alley.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. In Miami, Florida, at 1690 Michigan Avenue.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. More than once.

    Starlight Lanes is the very first location shown in the second season of "Dexter".

    It pops up first in Episode 1 (of Season 2), "It's Alive", when we see Dexter and his co-workers bowling.

    Dexter is being followed by a suspicious Doakes (who is watching him from the bar), and Dexter is determined to seem as mundane as possible, in hopes of boring Doakes into submission. So he takes up bowling. (Dexter is surprised to discover that he's good at it.)

    The same bowling alley shows up again later in the same episode.  We see Dexter in his car as he pulls into the parking lot of Starlight Lanes. He walks up to Doakes (who is watching him from his own car), and greets him in a mock-friendly manner.  It works, and Doakes (faced with another night of watching boring bowling) soon gives up in disgust and leaves, freeing Dexter to pursue his darker interests.

    The bowling alley turns up again in Episode 8 (of Season 2), "Morning Comes", where we first see Dexter's group bowling inside, joined by crazy Lila.

    The action later moves out into the alley's dark parking lot, where Dexter is attacked by a knife-wielding assailant (Jimenez, the guy who killed Dexter's mother). Dexter survives with a minor cut, but for Lila (who had put the man up to the attack), it serves its purpose, allowing her to get closer to Dexter.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. An actual bowling alley, but not in Miami.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. In the first season, when they first showed a "bowling alley" (in the scene where Dexter dumps his father's ashes), they settled for a fake exterior (using the outside of a Long Beach hotel). disguised by darkness and a fake sign.

    But in the second season, since they spent a lot of time at the location, they opted for a real bowling alley.

    Instead of Long Beach, they traveled all the way to Santa Monica, and shot the scenes at the AMF Bay Shore Lanes, at 234 Pico Blvd, in Santa Monica, CA.

    That's less than a half mile east/southeast of the Santa Monica Pier, at the corner of Pico & 3rd Street (half a mile southeast of the Third Street Promenade).  The parking lot (where Dexter encounters Doakes, and where he is later attacked by Jimenez) is on the northeast side of the bowling alley. The big red & white "Bowl" sign is out by Pico, on the northwest edge of that same lot.

    Here is an aerial photo of the bowling alley. And here is a map link.

    I shot the photo below in Sept. 2008

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. The main clue here was the big, vertical, red & white sign outside that reads "BOWL".  At first, I thought it might be the Palos Verdes Bowl, on Crenshaw in Torrance, in San Pedro, which has a very similar vertical sign that also reads "BOWL". But when I checked it, it wasn't the same kind of lettering. So I went to Google Maps, got a map of the L.A. coast, and typed in "bowling alley". It popped up quite a few, but since I started north and planned to work my way down south along the coast, Santa Monica's Bay Shore Lanes was one of the first I encountered. Google StreetView gave me a perfect confirmation shot of the alley's exterior and its familiar sign.

    However, there was still the question of whether or not they shot the interiors there as well. So I Googled for images of "Bay Shore Lanes and Santa Monica", and up popped this photo, which perfectly matches the interior seen on the show.

    And finally, I went there in person to double-check, and to shoot the photo above..

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