Entertainment options for the under-21 crowd


Photo: David Livingston/Iowa State Daily

Perfect Games is open until Sunday to Thursday until midnight, and Friday to Saturday until 1 a.m. They have a large collection of arcade games, as well as bowling lanes, pool tables, and a separate laser tag course. Thursday nights they offer three sessions of laser tag for the price of two. Photo: David Livingston/ Iowa State Daily

As each weekend approaches, college students scramble for something to do. While those over 21 have a wide array of options, students under the legal drinking age are much more limited with their choices. Though Ames’ nightlife caters mostly to an older crowd, there are some places trying to create entertainment for younger students.

One organization that has this goal in mind is ISU AfterDark. This student-led group plans late-night events three times a semester for students to participate in. Each night has a different theme ranging from “Snow Much Fun” to “Fiesta Night” according to student adviser, Lauren Sandstrom.  Earlier this month, a Mardi Gras-themed event featured a juggler, tie-dying and mask-making.

“Each event includes activities like bingo, crafts and a live performer,” Sandstrom said.

ISU AfterDark has recently changed its format. In past years, there would be an event every week. However, according to Sandstrom, having bigger events less often provides a variety of activities that appeal to more people. The majority of students that attend are freshmen and sophomores, but even some graduate students like to participate in the events.

Every late-night event is hosted in the Memorial Union on Fridays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

ISU AfterDark isn’t the only option available. A local business in West Ames is also trying to appeal to a younger crowd. Perfect Games offers bowling, laser tag and a wide variety of arcade games for those that are looking for a fun night out. Perfect Games provides entertainment that appeals to all ages, according to General Manager Jason Mikkelsen. 

“We have a full-service restaurant and bar and offer daily specials that create a good mix of college students and families,” Mikkelsen said.

Some of these daily specials include “2-Fer Tuesday” which offers bowling and shoes for just four dollars after 6 p.m. Three sessions of laser tag are available for the price of two on Thursdays. For those over 21, there are daily specials on bar items as well.

“It’s a fun place,” Mikkelsen said. “If you’re looking for something fun to do, you can find it here.”

The music scene in Ames can also be enjoyed by those of all ages. The Space, previously known as the Ames Progressive, features many local bands like Mumford and The Sun Company. Shows at The Space typically have cheap cover costs. While The Space offers a look into some local talent, The Maintenance Shop in the Memorial Union brings in some bigger names at a good price, sometimes even for free.

There are also cafés located around campus that offer live music on the weekends, including Stomping Grounds Café in Campustown and Café Milo in West Ames.

For those that are struggling to find something to do on the weekend because of your age, try checking out some of these places. You might just find something fun for you and your friends at a great price.