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Pony express: Horsing around at Claremont Academy.
Best Kids' Activities

The Sporting News

Gymnastics
The Field House at Chelsea Piers
West 23rd Street at the West Side Highway
212-336-6500
Colorful, gigantic, and safe. Includes horse, rings, balance beam, parallel and uneven bars, plus a pool of sponge cubes that kids flip into, with professional spotting. Parents can watch their little Olga Korbuts from a special mezzanine. Classes start at 17 months. Group classes are $350$380 for seventeen weeks; one-time trial class is $25; private lessons are $72 per hour.

Swimming
Sol Goldman YM-YWHA of the Educational Alliance

344 East 14th Street
212-780-0800
Since it opened in 1996, the Y has been a recreational haven for Lower Manhattan youngsters. The ultraclean pool bubbles with the bobbing tushies of kids who stay afloat with the help of spongelike life preservers belted to their bellies. Group classes are $150$185 for nine weeks; private lessons are $30 per half-hour.

Horseback Riding
Claremont Riding Academy

175 West 89th Street
212-724-5100
The stables are more than a century old and the teaching program goes back some 70 years. Rides in Central Park are a big draw but so are the personable and very kid-friendly teachers. (Cushier alternative: the Manhattan Riding Academy at Chelsea Piers, 212-367-9090.) Group lessons are $40 per hour; private lessons are $50 per half-hour; riding in Central Park is $100 per hour with a chaperone, $45 per hour if child is accompanied by an experienced rider.

Ice Skating
Wollman Rink Skating School

Inside Central Park at 59th Street and Sixth Avenue
212-396-1010
So it's crowded on weekends. But generations of school kids have gotten their skating legs in one of the most beautiful spots in the city. Group classes are $350 (which includes all-day skating on lesson days) for twelve weeks; private lessons are $37.50 per half-hour.

Tennis
U.S.T.A. National Tennis Center

Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
718-760-6200
Kids have been learning to serve and volley here since the center opened in 1978. There are excellent facilities, skilled instructors, and free parking. One-hour, indoor beginner group lessons for fourteen weeks are $140. Private indoor lessons are $66$76 per hour, depending on time and day. Outdoor private lessons are $50 and $60.