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Central Park Activities and Centers

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Central Park, bordered by 59th Street, 110th Street, Fifth Avenue and Central Park West, is closed between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.; entrance is free. The Central Park Conservancy (212-310-6600, http://www.centralparknyc.org/), which manages the park, offers offers free, printable maps (locating playgrounds, statues and other sights of interest) as well as info on free tours, many leaving from the points below.

* Pick up maps and souvenirs at the Dairy Visitor Center & Gift Shop; you can also borrow sets to play at the nearby Chess and Checkers House. Mid-park at 65th Street, 212-794-6564. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* The city's weather report is taken from Belvedere Castle, a Gothic-style structure that lends binoculars and bird books (just leave your ID); climb to the top for a spectacular view over the Shakespeare Garden and Turtle Pond. Mid-park at 79th Street, 212-772-0210. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

* The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre is open year-round, with breaks between shows. "Cinderella Samba" runs through June 17. Reservations required; $6. 79th Street and West Drive, south of Delacorte Theater, 212-988-9093. Shows Tuesday to Friday 10:30 a.m. and noon, Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m.

* Kids of all ages can ride the Friedsam Memorial Carousel and get "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" stuck in their heads. Mid-park at 63rd Street, 212-879-0244. $1.50. Open April to October daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7 p.m. on weekends); November and December, 10 a.m. to dusk; January to March, 10 a.m. to dusk, weekends and holidays only.

* Bait and rods for catch-and-release fishing can be found at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, on the Harlem Meer. 110th Street between Fifth Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard (Lenox Avenue), 212-860-1370. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Rods can be picked up until about 2 to 3 p.m., April-October.)

* Rental bikes and boats are available from the Loeb Boathouse, 72nd Street and Park Drive North, 212-517-2233. Bikes: March 4-Oct. 31, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m., from $9 an hour. Boats: April 15-Oct. 31, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m., $10 an hour.

* The Central Park Skate Patrol offers weekend "stopping clinics." There are no in-line skate rentals in the park, but Blades Board and Skate (156 W. 72nd St., 212-787-3911; $20 a day) has a location close to the park. 212-439-1234, http://www.skatepatrol.org/.

* November through March, half the rink is open for public ice skating at Lasker Rink and Pool; from July to Labor Day, the space is a free public pool. Mid-park between 106th and 108th streets, 917-492-3856 or 212-534-7639.

Wollman Rink opens for ice skating November through March; May 26 though Sept. 16, it's home to a small amusement park. East side between 62nd and 63rd streets, 212-439-6900 (rink admission from $9.50, skates $5) or 212-982-2229 (amusement park admission from $6.50).

* Day passes are available for tennis at the Central Park Tennis Center (between 93rd and 96th streets off West Drive, 212-316-0800; $7 for pass, $5 for rackets) and for indoor climbing on the (small) wall at the North Meadow Recreation Center (mid-park at 97th Street, 212-348-4867; $7).

Central Park Zoo admission includes a visit to the adjacent Tisch Children's Zoo, an open-air petting area. 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, 212-439-6500. $8. Open daily, March 31 to Nov. 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 5:30 on weekends); the rest of the year, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

-- Anne McDonough

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