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The National Gardens off Syntagma Square have a small zoo, several duck ponds, a playground, and lots of room to run around. There's also a Children's Library with books in English and some toys and coloring materials. The library is usually open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30am to 3pm, and is closed in August. The National Gardens are open from sunrise to well after sunset.

Pedion Areos (Plains of Mars) is central Athens's largest and most beautiful park. With lawns, ponds, gardens, and fountains, it's the ideal park for the entire family to either stroll or bicycle through.

Among the many small parks and gardens scattered throughout Athens, the National Gardens are the best for children. If you're staying in Kolonaki, try Dexamini Square, which has a small playground and several cafes. (It's below the St. George Lycabettus hotel off Kleomenous.)

The impressive, privately operated Attica Zoological Park (tel. 210/663-4724; www.atticapark.com) is home to more than 2,000 birds from some 320 species, a butterfly garden, and a small farm. The zoo is open daily from 10am to 7pm and charges 8€ admission for adults, 4€ for children. It's not far from the airport at Spata; you certainly could pay it a visit if you have some time before a flight.

The ride up Mount Likavitos on the cable-car railway (teleferique) is often a hit with kids. It operates every 20 minutes in summer (6€ round-trip). A cafe at the top sells ice cream, and children can let off steam by running around on the paths.

The Museum of Greek Children's Art often hosts special activities and workshops (conducted in Greek). If your children might enjoy seeing what Greek kids like to draw, stop by 9 Kodrou, Plaka (tel. 210/331-2621; www.childrensartmuseum.gr; admission 2€; Tues-Sat 10am-2pm, Sun 11am-2pm; closed Aug). This small museum has changing displays of children's art from throughout Greece. The Children's Museum, around the corner at 14 Kidathineon (tel. 210/331-2995; www.hcm.gr; free admission), also runs workshops (the most popular one being the chocolate-making session) but has no exhibitions. In addition, sometimes Karaghiozis Puppet Shows (shadow theater) sets up a few doors away at the Greek Folk Art Museum, 17 Kidathineon. You don't have to understand Greek to appreciate the slapstick comedy of Karaghiozis.

In leafy and aristocratic Kifissia you will find two excellent museums that the entire family will enjoy. At the Goulandris Museum of Natural History, 13 Levidou, Kifissia (tel. 210/801-5870; www.culture.gr; admission 5€ adults, 3€ children; Mon-Thurs and Sat 9am-2:30pm, Sun 10:30am-2:30pm; Metro line 1: Kifissia), you will find a flawlessly researched exhibit on Greece's wildlife, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. Down the street is the impressive Gaia Center (Earth Center), 100 Othonos (tel. 210/801-5870; admission 5€ adults, 3€ children; Mon-Thurs and Sat 9am-2:30pm, Sun 10:30am-2:30pm). The two museums are affiliated, so if you wish to visit them both on the same day you can purchase a combination ticket (at either museum) for 7€ adults, 4€ children. The Gaia Center features three floors of interactive video, computer, and tactile displays of our planet, our systems, how we have slowly damaged our planet, and how to prevent further damage.

The multimedia center Hellenic Cosmos is an excellent museum that offers interactive exhibits that focus on Greek history and culture through the ages. You can visit ancient Miletus via virtual reality, take a 3-D journey through the Agora in ancient Athens, visit ancient cities and civilizations, browse the Web in the Internet cafe, and in the more traditional way, view a collection of Greek costumes. The center was founded in 1998 by the Foundation for the Hellenic World, 254 Pireos, Tavros (tel. 210/342-2292 or 210/483-5300; www.fhw.gr; admission: 5€-10€ depending on exhibition; Mon-Tues and Thurs 9am-6pm, Wed and Fri 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-3pm; Metro: Kallithea). The "Dome" is 10€ for adults and 5€ for children, but is worth every penny. The nearest Metro station is a 10-minute walk away, so if you're bringing small children, you might want to take a taxi.

Another museum children and adults will enjoy is the Hellenic Motor Museum inside the Athenian Capital mall, 33-35 Ilouianou and 3rd Septembriou (tel. 210/727-9918; www.hellenicmotormuseum.gr; admission: 8€ adults, 5€ children; Tues-Fri noon-8pm, Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 10am-6pm; Metro: Victoria). It features the impressive collection of Theodore Caragiannis, with 294 vehicles, including Paul Newman's Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, Robert Plant's pink Chrysler Imperial and even a vehicle used in the film The Flintstones.

Athens has the world's finest, most modern, and well-equipped planetarium. The New Eugenides Digital Planetarium, 387 Syngrou Ave. (tel. 210/946-9641; www.eugenfound.edu.gr. bus: B2, 550, E2, and E22 from Syntagma), is a 280-seat ultramodern auditorium with many shows daily and IMAX movies.

Allou Fun Park, Kifissou and Petrou Ralli, Rendi (tel. 210/425-6999; www.alloufunpark.gr; Mon-Fri 5pm-1am; Sat-Sun 10am-2am; tram 21 from Omonoia [Kan Kan stop]), is a large amusement park and a fun way to spend a family evening. You can free-fall from a 40m (131-ft.) shock tower, ride roller coasters, and take in a view of the city from the Panorama Ferris wheel. Next door is another amusement park especially for younger children (up to 13) called Kidom.

If you want to spend a day on the beach or by the coast with the kids, many of the city's private beaches have children's play areas, watersports, and gaming. If you want to linger by the coast with the kids, Flisvos Marina (tel. 201/987-1000; www.flisvosmarina.com; tram: Trocadero) is the perfect option for lunch/dinner/strolling by the sea and where children can check out the Averoff battleship -- now a museum (www.bsaverof.com). There's also an open-air cinema aptly named Cine Flisvos. You can also choose to walk along the waterfront -- head south to the nearby Alimos seaside resort where you will find one of the biggest playgrounds in the Balkans right by the surf. Check the English-language daily Athens News (www.athensnews.gr) or the daily Kathimerini insert in the International Herald Tribune for listings of American movies. A couple of hours in an air-conditioned theater is not a bad way to pass a hot afternoon.

The "Scope" section's "Kids' Corner" in the weekly Hellenic Times lists activities of interest to children, including hiking excursions and day camps.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.