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What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Swimming, cycling, skating (at the rinks and on the frozen canal). Also professional hockey and soccer teams; the hockey games are particularly compelling. - Oct 19, 2017
Outside of some interesting architecture (Khan Shatyr, Baiterek, Mosque), the new National Museum and the rather mediocre museum to the women victims of the Women's GuLAG Alzhir, there isn't much to do in town. Borovoe is a beautiful area 2.5 hours north of the city with lakes and small mountains, however. - Oct 7, 2016
Borovoye is a nice drive out of the city into the mountains. Camping, hiking, swimming, resort, great day trip or long weekend. - Jun 18, 2014
In winter they build an ice city at the city park -- with ice slides which are fun to sled down -- and an ice rink. There is a small English library here with a coffee shop that serves American-style coffee. - Sep 13, 2010
Summer--strolling outdoors through the central park, people watching, pick-up sports with other expats. Winter--cross-country skiing, ice skating, saunas. Any time--swimming laps in one of the public indoor pools. Also, go to the resort area called Borovoye for hiking in the summer or a cozy getaway in winter. - Jul 20, 2008
Winter: cross-country skiing, skating, ice sculpture gardens. Anytime: bowling, monuments. - Jan 29, 2008