A former sugar plantation, the Quinta da Boa Vista (Av. Pedro II between Rua Almirante Baltazar and Rua Dom Meinrado, São Cristovão, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sun.) was where Brazil ’s imperial family took up residence between 1822 to 1889. Befitting royalty, the expansive grounds feature lots of parkland, tree-lined walkways, statues, flower gardens, grottoes, lakes, and even a zoo.
The emperors themselves lived in the stately neoclassical Palácio de São Cristovão, which is home to the Museu Nacional (tel. 21/2568-8262, www.acd.ufrj.br/museu , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$3). Brazil’s oldest scientific museum, the enormous and somewhat eclectic collection was started by Dom João VI. The archaeological section focuses on prehistoric Latin American peoples, while the ethnological collection has some interesting artifacts related to Brazil’s indigenous cultures.
Among the highlights in the mineral section is the Bendigo Meteorite, which landed in the state of Bahia  in 1888 and is the heaviest metallic mass known to have crashed through the planet’s atmosphere.
To get to the Quinta da Boa Vista, take the Metrô to São Cristovão. If you’re in search of peace and tranquility, avoid weekends.