Do extracurriculars really matter in high school and does it look better to take college classes rather than AP courses?
From my experience extracurricular activities do matter because it shows you are a well rounded individual. It demonstrates you have social interaction skills needed to excel in courses that require teamwork and you will be an active within the collegiate community. It doesn't have to be school sponsored activities. You can volunteer to work with local organizations in your home town for causes you believe in, you can participate in competitive sports with local sports clubs like fencing or martial arts.
College courses versus AP courses. hmmm, that one is interesting. I would say if you can take college courses and do well with them it demonstrates to the college that you will do well at the collegiate level. Colleges don't want students dropping out or not doing well because it hurts their rankings and ability to attract excellent candidates. But, the AP courses are sometimes a requirement for college admissions. My advice on this one would be to try to find a balance of the two.
Hope this helps.
With regards to AP/college classes, AP classes are a great way to show that you are challenging yourself and preparing for college. If your school doesn't offer AP courses, colleges usually take note of this since it's something that's out of your control, and not taking them shouldn't count against you if you don't have the choice. However, if they do offer college courses, this is a great alternative to taking AP courses and I would definitely recommend.