Several former private estates seized by the Soviets have been turned into museums or concert spaces, with their extensive grounds now used for picnics, jogging, and cross-country skiing. The Kuskovo estate boasts a porcelain exhibit and a luxurious orangerie. On the Fourth of July it's taken over by the American Chamber of Commerce for a bash that Muscovites have come to love (tel. 495/375-3131; palace Wed-Sun 10am-5pm; metro: Ryazansky Prospekt). The neoclassical Ostankino mansion, like Kuskovo, belonged to the prominent noble family the Sheremetevs. It has a small exhibit of 18th-century art and artifacts, and hosts chamber music concerts throughout the summer. Bikes, scooters, and in-line skates available for rent. (Ostankino Park; tel. 495/683-4645; May-Sept only, Wed-Sun 11am-7pm; metro: VDNKh).

The Tsaritsino estate is Catherine the Great's never-finished masterpiece, meant to be her residence on Moscow's outskirts before she lost interest in and money for the project. The lush grounds, now within city limits, are easy to lose yourself in on a lazy summer day (1 Dolskaya Ulitsa; tel. 495/325-4844;; park daily, museum Wed-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-5:30pm; metro: Tsaritsino).

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