16. Float in an inner tube.
The laziest summer fun of all. Delaware River Tubing, 2998 Daniel Bray Highway, Frenchtown, 908-996-5FUN, delawarerivertubing.com. Bucks County River Country, 2 Walters Lane, Point Pleasant, 215-297-5000, rivercountry.net. Northbrook Canoe Company, 1810 Beagle Road, West Chester, 610-793-2279, northbrookcanoe.com.
17. Go bowling.
When life puts you in the gutter, slinging a 10-pound ball at it helps. Also, beer. Lucky Strike, 1336 Chestnut Street, 215-545-2471, bowlluckystrike.com. North Bowl Lounge n Lanes, 909 North 2nd Street, 215-238-BOWL, northbowlphilly.com. Thunderbird Lanes, 3081 Holme Avenue, 215-464-7171, 1130 North York Road, Willow Grove, 215-659-1715, and 1475 West Street Road, Warminster, 215-674-8250; phillybowl.com.
18. Ride a roller coaster.
Screaming good fun! Six Flags Great Adventure, 1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson, 732-928-1821, sixflags.com. Six 180-degree hairpin turns on the Dark Knight. Morey’s Piers, 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, 609-522-3900, moreyspiers.com. The tallest and fastest wooden coaster on the East Coast. Hershey Park, 100 West Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, 800-HERSHEY, hersheypark.com. Yeah, that’s a 97-degree drop on Fahrenheit.
19. Eat with your fingers.
Go on, get messy. Marrakesh, 517 South Leithgow Street, 215-925-5929. Philly’s first Moroccan restaurant. Dahlak, 4708 Baltimore Avenue, 215-726-6464, and 5547 Germantown Avenue, 215-849-0788, dahlakrestaurant.com. Utensil-free Ethiopian and Eritrean. Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse, 7500 State Road, 215-331-3112, sweetlucys.com. BBQ fingers!
20. Root, root, root for the home team.
The swath of green, the sun on the stands, a hot dog in hand, and beer so cold you get a brain freeze — does life get any better than a Phillies game? Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way, 215-463-1000 (ticket line), philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/ticketing.
21. Ride go-karts.
Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting in a go-kart at Arnold’s Family Fun Center, wearing their standard-issue black helmet and clear plastic safety goggles, certain that I’m a dead ringer for that little alien guy who used to show up on Bugs Bunny, the one with the clenchy voice who said, “This … makes … me … so … angry.”
But do I care? I care not.
I first drove a go-kart when I was 11. I had an odd obsession with auto racing at the time — I used to listen to the Indy 500 on the radio — and so the chance to race a cart around a track went beyond fun into some other undefined space. My memory is still vivid: the thick rubber pad around the steering wheel, the pingy thwarp of the go-kart’s engine, the sulfury smell of the exhaust.
Has a lot happened to me since then? Yes, a lot has happened: 11 more years of school, seven jobs, one wife, two kids, two houses, five car purchases, 33 Indy 500s. But believe me when I tell you the thrill of sitting on the starting line is exactly the same.
The starter inches me forward, then, suddenly, I burst onto the track. It lasts exactly eight minutes.
You don’t do many things with abandon when you’re 44. You have happiness, you have joy, you have pleasure, if you’re lucky you have excitement. But it’s the rare day when you poke through the upper atmosphere and get to pure glee. — Tom McGrath
Arnold’s Family Fun Center, 2200 West Drive, Oaks, 610-666-0600, arnoldsfamilyfuncenter.com.