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Try these seven dares for summer fun

Make this a summer to remember by stepping outside your comfort zone.

Skydiving is the classic dare. One option is WNY Skydiving, which operates out of the Pine Hill Airport, 4906 Pine Hill Road, Albion. Be brave and your instructors will take care of the rest. You should set aside an entire day for training and, ultimately, jumping. The cost is $219 a person, $199 a person if you can talk a few foolhardy friends into going with you. Call 597-7393.

Take a zipline. You climb into a harness and zip forward, suspended from a cable. Wildplay's Mistrider Zipline to the Falls (3500 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ont.) lets you swing gently downward, at speeds up to 40 mph, over the panorama of Niagara Falls. The News' Rod Watson, at first panicked and pessimistic, was amazed at how much he enjoyed it. See if you agree. Cost is $59.99 until Sept. 4; $49.99 after that. Call (800) 263-7073.

Ride a coaster. Go to Darien Lake and ride the Ride of Steel. It's a hypercoaster – that's a roller coaster over 200 feet high. You zoom forward at about 75 mph, and the track is so skinny you think you'll fly into space. Darien Lake is one-stop-shopping for the coaster-phobic. If rickety wooden coasters freak you out, try the Predator. If you're afraid of being upside-down, the coaster you want is the Viper. Heck, do them all. Conquer that phobia.

Afraid of ghosts? Several local hotels are rumored to be haunted, but for sheer atmosphere you can't beat Lovejoy's Iron Island Museum (998 E. Lovejoy St., 892-3084), a former funeral home which, happily, accepts overnight visitors.  No need to provoke the ghosts. Just see if you can get through it.

Sensory deprivation tanks were seen decades ago as torture devices. Now, they are called "floatation tanks," and they are therapeutic. Or are they? It's a strange feeling to lie suspended in a tank of heavily salted water in complete darkness and silence.  Two places offering floatation therapy are Flo (221 Allen St., 770-1000), and Silver Essence Floating Spa (6 Los Robles St., Williamsville;  568-7985).

Another challenge for the claustrophobic: The Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride (5 Gooding St., Lockport, 438-0174) involves exploring an abandoned underground factory from the Victorian age. The guide even turns off the lights for a minute or so. To get into the factory, you have to walk a distance through an old pipe that once carried water from the Erie Canal. People sometimes turn back at that point, our guide admitted. Will you be among them?

Got an appetite for a culinary challenge? "Sea cucumbers" are really, according to Wikipedia, "marine animals with a leathery skin and an elongated body containing a single, branched gonad." In the wild, they look like slugs. Sample them at China Taste (1280 Sweet Home Road, Amherst, 568-0080), a restaurant that News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau praised as delivering "thrills and chills capable of taking the adventurous to the edge." Galarneau, just so you know, found the sea cucumber delicious. "It dissolved with a bite, leaving a faint whisper of sea."

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