A Breath of Fresh Air
The Chinese regard October as "the month of golden Autumn" (jīn qīu shí yuè 金秋十月) because of its reputation as the best time of the year to be out of doors. Of the many places in Beijing where such days can be enjoyed, we recommend five suitable for kids of different ages. Amani Zhang
The Temple of Heaven
Venue: The Temple of Heaven 天坛公园
Phone: 6702 8866
Hours: Daily 6am-10pm; halls open at 8am, last ticket sold at 8pm
Cost: RMB 15 (Apr-Oct), RMB 10 (Nov-Mar); halls RMB 35 (Apr-Oct), RMB 30 (Nov-Mar)
Location: 6 Tiantan Xili, Beijing 北京天坛西里6号
Visiting the Temple of Heaven (Tiān Tán) is a good way to get to know the southern part of Beijing. With a total area of 273 hectares, the park has many corners to explore and plenty of things to discover. The splendid Qi Nian Dian (the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) situated against a deep blue sky offers a picturesque symbol of Beijing; the Echo Wall lets your kids experience the magic of architectural acoustic edifices built by the Chinese in the 15th century; and the Heaven’s Heart Stone at the top of the Circular Mound Altar puts you so close to the clouds, you really do feel like you’re in heaven.
In addition to the magnificent architecture, Tiantan is also well known for its trees and inhabitants. It is said that the park contains more than a thousand different species of trees, some of which are hundreds of years old. Another attraction of the park is the local residents who can be seen playing chess, practicing calligraphy, martial arts and Beijing opera. Visitors are free to watch or participate if they choose!
Beijing Botanical Garden
Venue: Beijing Botanical Garden 北京植物园
Phone: 6259 1283
Hours: Daily 6am-9pm
Cost: RMB 5, RMB 2.5 (students); Yellow Leaf Village RMB 10
Location: Xiangshan Nanlu, Haidian District 北京市海淀区香山南路
If you’re wondering where you can take your baby out for a nice walk, the stroller-friendly Beijing Botanical Garden is a good choice. Located at the foot of the Fragrant Hills, 15 kilometers to the west of central Beijing, it is peaceful yet colorful with an assortment of trees, flowers and other types of flora. Enjoy the fall breeze by the lake while serenaded by different kinds of birds, or take a stroll in one of the many-featured gardens, such as the Desert Garden House, Exhibition Flower House or the 10,000-square meter Rain Forest Conservatory.
If your school-aged kids have a hankering for Chinese literature, just east of the garden lies a special treat: The Yellow Leaf Village (黄叶村 huáng yè cūn), is the former residence of 曹雪芹 (Cáo Xǔeqín), author of the literary classic, Dream of the Red Chamber. It was here that the author was inspired by the beautiful and romantic landscape to write his masterpiece. You and your kids can enjoy both natural splendor and living history at the Beijing Botanical Garden.
Ruins of the Yuan Dynasty City Wall
Venue: Ruins of the Yuan Dynasty 元大都城垣遗址公园
Phone: 6422 5767
Hours: Daily 24hrs
Cost: No charge
Location: Jian’an Donglu, Chaoyang District (South Gate); Beitucheng Donglu, Chaoyang District (Northeast Gate); Beitucheng Xilu, Chaoyang District (Northwest Gate) 北京市朝阳区健安东路 (南门), 北京市朝阳区北土城东路 (东北门), 北京市朝阳区北土城西路 (西北门)
Located between the Third and Fourth North Ring Roads, the Yuan Dynasty Ruins Park is the longest park in Beijing. Like a hiking trail, the park runs over nine kilometers, from Haidian in the west to Chaoyang in the east, and 73 percent of the park is covered with vegetation.
A river called "Little Moon River" (小月河 xiăo yùe hé) runs through this hiking trail, dividing it into two major parts. South of the river are the remains of the Yuan dynasty city walls, and to the north is a cultural park with statues of famous figures from the Yuan dynasty and reconstructed historical scenes. This park is an ideal place to go for a hike on a clear and cool autumn day.
Venue: Chaoyang Park 朝阳公园
Phone: 6591 5258
Hours: Daily 6am-10pm (summer); 6am-9pm (winter)
Cost: RMB 5
Location: Nongzhanguan Nanlu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区农展馆南路As Beijing’s largest park, Chaoyang Park features a multitude of recreational facilities and is suitable for all ages. Large grassy areas are ideal for family picnics; pleasant pathways surrounded by tall trees make for tranquil afternoon strolls, and a popular recreational area offers amusement rides that will keep your kids entertained for the entire day. Father and son can bond at fishing ponds or team up in the sports area for volleyball, basketball, ping-pong, soccer or tennis, while mother and daughter indulge in girl talk by the water fountains in Century Square. The entire family can enjoy a boat ride together on the lake.
On a breezy day, kite flying in Chaoyang Park’s open fields can be a lot of fun. If it gets too windy, escape to the Sony ExploraScience Museum at the south end of the park, where interactive exhibits will show your kids just how fun science can be.
Shentangyu Natural Scenic Area
Venue: Shentangyu Natural Scenic Area 神堂峪自然风景区
Phone: 8961 7093
Hours: Daily 7am-sunset
Cost: RMB 20
Location: Buses 916 or 936 from Dongzhimen to Huairou No.3 Middle School, from there take a mini-bus to Shentangyu; alternately, take the Shentangyu Tourist Bus from Xuanwumen 东直门乘916或936路汽车至怀柔三中转乘小巴可直达: 从宣武门乘神堂峪旅游专车可直达
Shentangyu Natural Scenic Area is situated in Huairou County, 65 kilometers northeast of Beijing, and was the first scenic spot in Huairou to open to visitors. It was an important fortress for Beijing during the Ming dynasty, and the section of the Great Wall in this area is relatively well preserved.
You and your older teenagers will find it an ideal place to hike: There are hills to climb, brooks and streams to wade through, and the ruins of the Great Wall to explore. The geographical features of this area have formed gorgeous scenes and inspired romantic names such as Dragon Pool, Love Birds Lake and Crocodile Pond. The Yanxi River runs through this area with its transparently clean water, in which the renowned Huairou County red trout can be spotted swimming.
Shentangyu is also a good place for photography. The ruins of the Great Wall offer beautiful light and shadows depending on the time of day. Large rocks eroded over time create the illusion of animal forms such as eagles, camels and turtles. Locals will sometimes tell stories and legends of how these rocks came to be. One trip to the Shentangyu Natural Scenic Area will supply a day of hiking, photography and historical instruction.