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The vast green expanses of Phoenix Park are Dublin’s playground, and it’s easy to see why. This well-designed, user-friendly park is crisscrossed by a network of roads and quiet pedestrian walkways that make its 704 hectares (1,739 acres) easily accessible. Avenues of oaks, beech trees, pines, and chestnut trees are shady hideaways, or you can sun yourself in broad expanses of grassland; livestock graze peacefully on pasturelands, deer roam the forested areas, and horses romp on polo fields. It’s a relaxing place to spend a restful afternoon, but there’s also plenty to do here should you feel active. The home of the Irish president is in the park, as is the Dublin Zoo. The visitor center is partly located inside Ashtown Castle, a tower house built in the 1430s that—hard to believe, but true—was only discovered in 1978, when a later building that had completely enveloped it was being demolished. Free parking is adjacent to the center. Also next to the center, the quaint Phoenix Park Tea Rooms ([tel] 01/677-0900) serves snacks and light lunches; it also has toilets. The park is 3km (2 miles) west of the city center on the north bank of the River Liffey.