July Nightlife Guide: Tropical Fun, Cold Beer, Dancing, and Sommore

July can be a month of tropical heat in the ’Burgh, so we may as well get into the spirit of it. The National Aviary is holding its big annual fundraising party with Night in the Tropics. It’s an informal summer good time. Another cool spot for temperate intemperance is Paradise Beach on Neville Island, where they have a sand volleyball court, palm trees, and an outdoor bar right next to the Ohio River. You will also notice a bowling theme to this nightlife guide. In researching a few nightlife spots, we saw that they also have bowling alleys. That made us think of the happening Arsenal Lanes in Lawrenceville, and we decided to include them as well. Summer nights are great for dancing and so is South Hill’s The Linden Grove. Crafthouse Stage & Grill is also in the South Hills and takes care of three needs: beer, music, and food.  And for laughs, we threw standup comedian Sommore into our nightlife mix. She will be appearing at the Pittsburgh Improv.

Saturday, July 8

Blue and yellow macaws.

Blue and yellow macaws.

Pittsburgh’s National Aviary hosts its “hottest” party of the year—the 15th annual Night in the Tropics. The nation’s “only independent, indoor, nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds” invites you to don your snazziest tropical or casual dress as you enjoy live entertainment by hula and fire dancers from Tuika’s Polynesian Island Magic. Attendees will also partake in food and drink from dozens of local favorite restaurants, breweries, and bakeries. Dance under the night sky to Latin beats with DJ 007 and live music by The Lava Game. The Aviary is one of Pittsburgh’s oft-unsung gems, and proceeds from the party will, of course, benefit the stars of the show—the birds themselves (whom, by the way, guests may interact with up close). Food and drink sponsors include Atria’s Restaurant & Tavern, Ditka’s, Graeter’s Ice Cream, Juniper Grill, Wigle Whiskey, and many more. 7 – 11 p.m. (6 p.m. VIP ticket.) 700 Arch St., North Shore. (EC, RH)

Friday, July 14 – Sunday, July 16

Sommore, who is billed as the Queen of Comedy, makes a royal appearance at the Pittsburgh Improv for a five-show run. Known for her combination of “sass and class,” Sommore has appeared in such films as Family Reunion (2002), Soul Plane (2004), Something New (2006), and Dirty Laundry (2007). She has also been a guest on many  television shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The View,” and “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher,” and was even a roaster on Comedy Central’s celebrity roast of rapper Flavor Flav. Cedric the Entertainer chose her to be in his TV movie The Urban Circus. 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, Homestead. (EC, RH)

Friday, July 14 – Saturday, July 15

Drink regional and national craft beer while helping animals. Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest returns to Stage AE with proceeds going toward Animal Rescue Partners, a nonprofit which supports rescues, adoptions, and spay/neuter programs. Over 120 breweries will be on site for this two-day event. Area breweries include Arsenal Cider, Block House, Church Brew Works, East End, Fat Heads, Helltown, Voodoo, and many more. Designated drivers can buy a discounted ticket online. All attendees can partake in the live music and food trucks. A map of brewery distributors is on the event’s website or at the venue’s entrance. A regular-admission ticket includes a five-ounce souvenir sampling mug. An early-admission ticket includes 6:30 p.m. admission and an eight-ounce mug. 7:30 – 11 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

What other Pittsburgh-area bowling alley also boasts sand volleyball? Paradise Island Bowl & Beach has one of the longest running sand volleyball leagues in and around the city. The beach is open for the summer and includes a river-side bar, bocce, and horseshoes. The 32 bowling lanes are open year-round. Spectators can watch from the bar, where they can also catch the Bucs, Steelers, or Pens on one of the HD televisions. A myriad of arcade games sit ready for your quarters. Events occur daily and include live music and DJs. Monday is all-you-can-eat crab legs night. Bottle specials run every day. Friday also features $2 well drinks, and on Saturday, Long Island Iced Teas are $5. The beach opens 5 p.m. weekdays and 1 p.m. weekends. Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Friday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 3 a.m. Sunday: noon – 11:30 p.m. 7601 Grand Ave., Neville Island. (CM)

The “Craft” in Crafthouse Stage & Grill refers to not only craft beer (50 drafts total) but also craft food and craft music. The menu features starters, entrées, burgers, sandwiches, and salads. Other offerings get top billing throughout the week. (Yes, there is a Taco Tuesday.) Boneless wings are half-off Wednesday and Thursday. Summer Happy Hour runs 5 to 7 p.m. every day and is half-off all food and drink. If tobacco is your vice, the Crafthouse also houses a cigar bar. The craft music runs the gamut of Country Line Dancing with DJ Neal (1st and 3rd Thursday of every month) to live bands. Most weeks they run four nights of live music. For a list of all events, check the website. Valet parking is free. The Crafthouse is affiliated with Legacy Lanes, so bowl, work up an appetite, and stop by the restaurant for music and merriment. Monday – Thursday: 4 p.m. – midnight. Friday: 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Hours for Legacy Lanes can be found here. 5024 Curry Rd., Baldwin. (CM)

Arsenal Bowl is a longtime entertainment stalwart of the Lawrenceville entertainment scene. It’s been in business since 1938. We’ve all heard of “all-you-can-eat restaurant” specials. At Arsenal Bowl, they have all-you-can-bowl specials during certain time periods every day of the week except Tuesdays. During Rock and Bowl (Wednesday night, 9 p.m. – midnight), you get all-you-can-bowl and a live band on the lanes for $8 (no, if you bowl, you won’t be able to hit them with your ball). For Top Shelf Saturday Night (9 p.m. – midnight), the bowling alley brings in a DJ. You can bowl all you desire for $10.95, plus there’s $1 off top-shelf liquors. The kitchen offers munchies, burgers, and pizza. Monday-Thursday: noon – midnight. Friday: noon – 2:00 a.m. Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. – midnight. 4310 Butler St., in the heart of “the Ville,” Lawrenceville. (RH)

If you like history and having a good time, then Castle Shannon’s The Linden Grove is the spot for you. The short line Pittsburgh-Castle Shannon Railroad started it in 1872 as an amusement and picnic area set among a stand of linden trees. Its aim was to draw more people to ride the train out from Pittsburgh (similar to Kennywood Park starting as an end-of-the-line trolley destination). Linden Grove continues as a venue for dining, entertainment, private parties, and banquets. The Grove features a happy hour Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m., an oldies dance Wednesday nights from 7  to 11 p.m., karaoke on Thursdays, and some of Pittsburgh’s best dance bands on Fridays. A DJ spins top 40 hits on Saturdays. Menu highlights include chicken parmesan, lemon herb salmon, New York strip steak, burgers, salads, pizza, wraps, and wings.  Let’s keep the Grove rocking into 2072! Monday – Wednesday: 5 – 10:00 p.m., Thursday:  5 – 11:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday:  5 p.m. – 2 a.m. 1100 Grove Road (off of Rt. 88), Castle Shannon. (RH)

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.

Christopher Maggio also contributed to this story and is a writer, editor, and beer aficionado.