#05: Bocce
Leave it to the Italians to come up with a more elegant sport than just chucking an object at another object. In Bocce, you roll an object at another object – that's way classier! This is another popular family vacation activity, although the rustic setting adds a few unintended challenges, like having to avoid various roots, holes, and a wicked slope that leads straight down into the lake. I'm also obligated to try and knock someone else's ball away from the pepperino**** at least once every match, only to miss by an embarrassing margin and watch as my ball rockets away into the forest. Bocce!

#04: Handyslap
Don't bother trying to google Handyslap, because you'll probably just end up with a bunch of perverted Glover fan-fiction that I definitely didn't write under a pen name. This was a game my brother and I invented at our grandparents' house one day, and it quickly became a favorite competition among the two of us whenever we visited them (they didn't have a lot of toys). Handyslap plays a bit like tennis, and uses a tennis ball – not a gigantic one, though. However, instead of a racquet, you slap the ball with your hand (duh), and it's allowed to bounce twice instead of once. There's also no net, and the "court" dimensions were dictated by the pavement slabs of the street outside their house. Handyslap ranks as high as it does on this list mostly due to nostalgia; nothing is more fun than making up your own game as a kid, and we spent a lot of hours playing it – not to mention chasing runaway balls down the street.

#03: Pushy/Trippy
Another made-up game we played at our grandparents' house, Pushy/Trippy wasn't nearly as refined as Handyslap, but it was a marvelous test of a competitor's strength, endurance, and a tolerance for skinned knees. One half of the front yard was reserved for trying to push your opponent down, the other half was for tripping, and the sidewalk in-between was more or less just a super-dangerous hazard zone. Pulling, hitting, or grabbing an opponent was expressly forbidden, but involuntarily including your younger sister in the game was permitted. There was also a scoring system in place, though most matches just continued until someone got hurt. Come to think of it, my grandparents did a terrible job supervising us...

#02: Crazy-Fast Adult Go-Karts
Childhood nostalgia can't beat tearing around corners at 45 miles-per-hour in a go-kart that's technically designed for adults, but requires you to completely lack the common sense of adulthood to even get in it. I went go-karting last weekend for my soon-to-be brother-in-law's bachelor party, and it was a ton of fun – like Mario-Kart-in-real-life fun. In fact, I can't think of another activity that so closely captures the reckless abandon of a video game...at least not a legal one.

I didn't have the best lap times out of the group, but I dare say I had the most fun, primarily because I stuck to the same racing maxim I follow in video games: if you're in control, you're not going fast enough. However, all the power-sliding (which I don't think you're supposed to do in real-life, but whatevs) and guardrail deflections (which you're definitely not supposed to do) took their toll – my entire body has been bruised like an overripe peach for days. Some of the bruises don't even make sense; the hard-plastic bucket seats did a number on my back and shoulders, and the seatbelt left marks on my hips, but where the hell did the bruise on my inner thigh come from?!

While go-karting is probably the most fun activity on this list, I don't plan on going again anytime soon. Screeching around the track made me feel like a kid again, but the subsequent three days of groaning every time I move? Not so much...

#01: Swimming Floating
Despite living in a state that offers 10,000 opportunities, I rarely get to go swimming. However, it remains one of my favorite activities; nothing says summer like chilling in an outdoor pool on a hot afternoon (lakes are less relaxing thanks to my phobia of things swimming underneath me, which may or may not have been spawned by that damn eel in Mario 64's Jolly Roger Bay level).

Once again in the interest of complete accuracy, I can't really call what I do swimming. I mean I can swim if I have to – like if a shark is closing in or I need another beer – but otherwise I'm perfectly content to float around until I look like one of those godawful abominations people sometimes mistake for pets. It's not the most exciting summer activity, but it beats staring at your calendar while you wait for fall to get here.

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****I'm pretty sure that's not what it's called, but I can never remember and Pepperino definitely sounds Italian, so good enough. (back to top)