This is the place to rest on a bench after a day of visiting museums, or to escape from the crush of city sidewalks -- or to imagine how Peter the Great spent his summer afternoons. The lush greenery (at least for a few months of the year) almost makes you forget that these gardens were entirely planned, designed for Peter's pleasure walks and adhering to the city's rules of classicism. Peter brought in marble Renaissance-era statues from Italy to give the park a more European feel. He and his successors threw grand receptions here with dancing, drinking, and fireworks under the endless sun of the White Nights. The statues and fountains serve as landmarks in case you get disoriented. The shrubbery was once carefully trimmed but now its groomers allow trees to take on more abundant forms. The Summer Palace is open to visitors, its rooms re-created as they would have been in Peter's time. The small two-story building was not heated, so it was a summer treat. Glance inside the Coffee House and the Tea House, too. The park closes for a few weeks in spring, usually in April, for a "drying out" period as the slush melts.