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Hot Places

Just pick your poison and we've got the place to try it.

Basketball > Venice Beach Calif.; New York City

You can get a good run on most playgrounds around the country, but once you and your boys have taken every team in the neighborhood, you need to seek out some stiffer competition. Few guys know playground ball better than Bobbito Garcia, editor at large and co-founder of Bounce magazine.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find somewhere as scenic and as passionate about hoops as Venice Beach. “Its so serene on the courts with the beach and the ocean behind you. They’ve got the crazy Venice Beach crowd, all the eccentrics,” Garcia told us. “It’s just a good place to play ball for people of all skill levels.”

The outdoor courts along the Venice Beach boardwalk offer quality competition year- round, so bring your A-game. If you think you’ve got the skills, it’s worth a West Coast pilgrimage to see how you measure up against the best.

If it’s an East Coast run on the courts you’re looking for, go no farther than New York’s very own Rockefeller Park in the Battery Park City section of lower Manhattan. “They play some good half-court there,” Garcia told us. “It’s not always a high-level run, but it’s a good place for guys who want to play in a cool environment with cool people. It’s right on the river, so it’s gorgeous. You’ll play with all kinds of people—Wall Street types from the neighborhood, dudes from Brooklyn, kids from Harlem, out-of-towners. It’s a destination point, and it’s really picturesque with the Hudson River right there as you play.”;

Kitesurfing > San Francisco Bay, Calif.

Nowhere are the summer wind conditions better for kitesurfing than in the San Francisco Bay, making this the country’s premier kiteboarding metropolis. “It’s clockwork,” says Jeff Ruoss, owner of Kite Wind Surf in Alameda. “Every day the wind is blowing.”

Kite Wind Surf offers lessons for surfers of all abilities in the area. Every other Thursday throughout the summer, the shop gives free trainer-kite lessons on land. When it’s time to get wet, instructors bring novices to spots where smooth water and consistent wind make
learning a breeze. Skilled riders can participate in the myriad of competitions the shop runs in the Bay.

Kite Wind Surf offers water lessons for $300,

Mini Golf > Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Forget the masters. “Myrtle Beach is the mini-golf capital of the world,” says Bob Detwiler, president of U.S. Pro Mini Golf. Best as we can tell, he’s right. Not only is Myrtle Beach home base for the Pro Mini Golf Tour, but the beach town also houses more than 50 mini-golf courses, including the undisputed best courses in the nation, Hawaiian Rumble and Hawaiian Village. Reading the greens and sinking a putt on a crazy course is tough enough, and at these venues you’ll find some serious obstacles, such as a 40-foot fire-and-smoke-spewing volcano.

But don’t break out your floral shirts just yet—mini golf is serious business in South Carolina. No wonder Hawaiian Village is home to the Mini Golf U.S. Open.

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