Excited to explore this part of the world some day. For now, I will keep dreaming thanks to Robynne.
A sprawling city of 20 million people, where the ancient shares close quarters with the modern, Beijing really embodies the phrase “something for everybody.” While adults will no doubt want to tick off major sights like the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, there is plenty to do to rouse flagging spirits and keep the little ones amused in between sight seeing. We’ve laid out a few of our absolute favorite things to do in Beijing when you’re traveling with kids in tow.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu
The Great Wall is a must on any china itinerary and with several parts of the Wall easily accessible from Beijing there is something for everyone, whether you want to make a quick trip or take a challenging hike along an unrestored section. Our favorite section is Mutianyu, which, while still accessible and equipped with good facilities, is slightly less crowded than tour group favorite Badaling. The very best thing about Mutianyu, however, is that you can take a hair-raising toboggan ride on the way back down – don’t worry though, the toboggans are all equipped with handbrakes!
Go ice-skating on a frozen lake
Proof that there is something fun to do in Beijing whatever the season, the winter weather might be cold but these low temperatures mean that many of Beijing’s lakes freeze over and Beijingers of all ages start getting out their ice skates. The most popular lake for skating is Qianhai, where you can rent ice bikes, ice slides, and much more, at very cheap prices.
Have fun at a theme park
If you’re in Beijing for a few days, take a break from the sightseeing completely with a visit to a theme park. The most popular one in Beijing is Happy Valley, located in the southeast of the city. Similar to Disneyland, the park is split into different themed areas including ones inspired by ancient Greece and the culture of Tibet and southwestern China. While the state-of-the-art roller coasters will delight thrill seekers and older kids, there are plenty of rides aimed at younger kids as well. The park is a bit off the beaten path, so ask your hotel to call you a taxi or take Subway Line 7 to ‘Happy Valley Scenic Area’ station.
Tour the hutongs in a rickshaw
The hutongs, Beijing’s traditional alleyways, are our favorite part of Beijing, with some new tidbit to discover around every corner (or so it feels like). Kids will love zipping through the winding streets in the back of a cycle rickshaw. Hop off at the home of a local family, where you can learn all about daily life in these traditional lanes, try some local food, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the crickets that many Beijingers still keep as pets.
Even the pickiest eaters will find something to enjoy among Beijing’s diverse dining options. One dish you certainly shouldn’t miss is the city’s eponymous Peking duck — kids will love wrapping up their own pancakes. We love Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant, hidden among the alleyways of south Beijing - the atmosphere is a little basic, but if it’s good enough for Al Gore, it’s good enough for us (look for his picture on the wall). Another favorite with families is Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung, famous for its xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings filled with soup). Kids will love to slurp these soupy treats — just make sure they wait until they cool down a bit first! Friendly service, clean toilets, and kids’ playrooms round out the experience.
The China Guide creates private, customized China tours. With our Western-style travel sense and passion for Chinese culture and history, let us send you on a journey you will never forget. Visit thechinaguide.com for more suggested itineraries and detailed information about all of the destinations we offer.
Robynne Tindall is The China Guide’s PR Manager. She has called Beijing home for more than five years and considers herself somewhat of an expert on the city’s dining scene. When she’s not out eating, she can be found exploring the hutong areas (and probably looking for something else to eat).