St. Petersburg doesn't seem like a child-friendly place at first, with its business-oriented service industry and surfeit of strip clubs and casinos, but a little perseverance can make your child's visit unforgettable. Russia's world-famous circus traditions wow children and adults alike, particularly the acrobatics, though anyone sensitive to animal rights should probably stay away. St. Petersburg Circus (Tsirk; tel. 812/314-8478) performs at 3 Naberezhnya Fontanki (Fontanka Embankment). Tickets cost 400 to 1,000 rubles, including a hefty 300-ruble foreigner surcharge for adults and children over 7. The closest metro station is Gostiny Dvor. Performances are at 3 and 7pm, ticket office open 11am to 7pm.

St. Petersburg Zoo, 1 Alexandrovsky Park (tel. 812/232-8260; metro: Gorkovskaya), is a perennial child-pleaser, though it's in need of an upgrade. It costs 250 rubles for adults, 100 for children and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

Boat rides along the Neva River or the city's canals, or simply boat-watching along the embankment, are good ways to give kids a sense of the city's marine geography and history. The Peterhof palace and grounds are well worth the journey if you're with kids and it's summertime. They can play in the musical fountains, explore the grotto beneath the main cascade, and clamber through the extensive park. For older kids with an interest in science or just in being grossed out, visit the Kunstkamera, with its bottled body parts. Victory Park's many attractions include a Ferris wheel and other rides, though some are in sorry repair. Victory Park and Taurida Gardens also offer skating rinks in winter and paddle boats in summer.

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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.