Fun spring park activities: from swing-dancing to star-spotting

Claudine Zap

Warm weather means shedding the winter coats and heading to the nearest park. Here's a roundup of some of the activities going on with the coming of spring.

Golden Gate Park: Get ready to swing in San Francisco

For people who hit the San Francisco park this spring, let the 1940s big band music lead you to Lindy in the Park. Since 1996, pros and novices alike have met to swing dance on Sunday afternoons, on John F. Kennedy Drive, near the de Young Museum. Crowds of people at all levels join in. It's free, and there's a lesson before each session. Watching can be just as fun.

Central Park: Put your skates on in NYC

A tradition since the groovy 1970s, the skate circle at Central Park, just east of Sheep Meadow, is as fun to watch as it is to join in. Skaters head over on the weekends to a smooth piece of pavement for a DJ-hosted roller-disco dance party.

Newbies are advised to know the basics, like how to stop. And unlike indoor rinks, there are no railings, so wear a helmet. The safest bet is to watch the talented roller skaters boogie to the beat from the sidelines.

Lake Shore Drive: Bike for a cause in Chicago

Chicago's Lake Shore Drive is a stunning freeway that runs along Lake Michigan, usually appreciated in a car. But a charity ride, Bike the Drive, gives participants an opportunity to take to the route on two wheels.

Runyon Canyon: Go star-spotting in L.A.

Stars may arguably be the last remaining wildlife -- or possibly the shyest -- that can be spotted in a park in L.A.'s Runyon Canyon Park. They come out to hike the trails and take in the vistas of the city, just like ordinary folk.

The 130-acre park is run by the City of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation and is just two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard. The so-called urban wilderness offers eye-popping views of the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory -- and, yes, maybe a few famous people out for a walk.

Get in free: National Park Week, April 22 to 28

This is a great time to check out the national parks -- all 401 of them. Entries to the nation's natural wonders are free through Sunday. Some fun facts about our nation's parks:

There's at least one national park in every state, and these include seashores, battlefields, historic homes, archeological sites, and natural areas. Find one near you.