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An unmistakable landmark from the top of Corcovado and a breathtaking view as you leave the tunnel, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is largely used by locals as a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors to Rio should take advantage of the wonderful water-side walk and bike path or maybe the public tennis and volleyball courts, the baseball diamond and soccer grounds. At night, the many kiosks offer good food and live music - some are informal branches of great restaurants.
Lots of fun for the whole family, Parque dos Patins is a place that everyone can enjoy. It is good for rollerblading, skating, soccer and tennis and there are additional special activities for children. You can choose to rent a bicycle and grab a quick meal from the various stalls. At night, people stop by for a draught and a meal in one of the restaurants with live music. It is a must during the summer. It is always cool and the view of the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas is superb.
With exotic gardens, beautiful sculptures, tropical wildlife and wonderful views, Parque da Catacumba is the perfect place to come and escape the heat and pace of life in Rio. Located in the pretty waterside neighborhood of Lagoa, the park is little visited by tourists, which makes a trip here all the more peaceful. As well as offering short hiking trails, the park serves as an outdoor art gallery, with sculptures from local artists dotted around the gardens. You'll also spot little monkeys in the trees, and keep an eye out for parrots and toucans. A clearly-marked trail leads visitors on a quick and easy uphill hike (about 20 minutes), past a lovely bamboo garden to a vantage point with magnificent views over the lake.
Praia do Arpoador is one of the best surfing beaches in the area, even at night, with clean, almost transparent water. Locals come from all over to sunbathe on this small stretch of sand between Copacabana and Ipanema. It is also popular with elderly people who gather to play checkers every morning and families who are content to simply watch the surfers have a go at the waves. The Arpoador rock offers a great view of both Copacabana and Ipanema and the sunset is absolutely astonishing.
The most famous beach in the world, Copacabana has lost little of its mystique and charm over the years. Positioned in a wonderfully rich setting with a backdrop of sharp rising hills and a concrete jungle, this is the best place to feel the carioca spirit. Sit at one of the many restaurants along the beachfront to enjoy a batida or caipirinha, or take a stroll on the famous and often imitated Burle Marx designed sidewalks. In summertime, go early, as it may be hard to find a spot on the sand. Also, take note that the currents are deceptively strong. A perfect place to eat, drink, relax and people watch.
Parque Lage is a beautiful public park in Jardim Botânico. Nestled at the foothills of the Corcovado mountain, this natural oasis is somewhat secluded and off most tourist maps. It is home to the former abode of industrialist Enrique Lage, from whom the park gets its name. Take the hiking trail and explore its subtropical plantations and mysterious spots, and make your way to the top of the peak.
Praia da Joatinga is a stretch of pristine white sands and blue-green waters which can be accessed during low tides. The beach is lined with the high rocky hills which border the coastline. Even when the tide is low, the waves are quite high, thus making this place highly popular among surfing-enthusiasts. Body-boarding is the most popular sport at this beach. Though mostly sandy the edges of the beach are quite rocky and one can hike along this part looking for tide pools.
Jardim Zoológico is located in the neighborhood of São Cristóvão. Inaugurated in 1945 and recently renovated to give the animals a better living space, there is a wide variety of rare and endangered Brazilian species including nocturnal ones. There is also a large walk-through aviary that is sure to thrill grown-ups and children alike. To make things even better for the kids, there is a shop selling stuffed animals from the various regions in Brazil.