Leave the city behind and escape into Ritan Park
At the center of the CBD lies Ritan Park, an oasis from the busy and congested streets. Though at first it might seem like just another park with quiet tree-lined paths, it also offers plenty of things to do for active kids with energy to burn. Whether you want to mini-golf, rock climb, fly a kite, or just run around, it’s easy to spend a few hours or even a full day here in the heart of Beijing.
Almost 500 years ago during the Ming dynasty, Ritan Park was originally built as a temple to the Sun God, hence the characters for its name: “sun” (日, rì) and “altar” (坛, tán). Since the 1950s, the park has been open to the public; its 20 hectares of grounds still house some remnants of the ancient architecture, like the large red gates and altars.
But the park’s main appeal lies in the natural scenery and other diversions. Lying on the southwest side of Ritan is the fishing pond and pavilion of the “Southwestern Landscapes” area, one of the park’s most scenic spots. While kids clamber up, down and around the rocks that line the pond, parents can follow via steps and footpaths.
More organized rock climbing is available just a few steps away. On the western side of Ritan Park, an outdoor rock climbing area is open every day (weather permitting), which offers a climbing wall with three routes, as well as a bouldering wall. Climbing shoes are available for rent, and options include a single climb for RMB 20 or an all-day pass for RMB 40. Even if you and your kids don’t rock climb, it’s worth a stop on a nearby bench to watch others attempt the summit.
If the climbing wall doesn’t enthrall the kids, try some of the machines in the nearby exercise park. Though not a particularly big area, the equipment – including basic elliptical and stretching apparatus – is well-maintained and child-friendly. For a more sedate form of exercise, an 18-hole mini-golf course sits just a few hundred meters north. The nearby playground features bumper cars, a carousel and a trampoline. Kids can also express their inner Picasso at the painting area, or hop on a mechanical horse to ride around the mini-racetrack.
Of course, quiet observation is another way to enjoy a day at the park, and at Ritan, there are many things to be seen: local Chinese who play their two-stringed erhu or kick around shuttlecocks, kite-flyers at the wide-open Circular Mound Altar, and grand views from the central pagoda of the entire park beyond the trees and against the CBD skyline.
Exploring the park can work up an appetite, and fortunately, there are several restaurants inside the park that cater to different cravings. For those with an appetite for German food, Schindler’s Tankstelle serves up sausages and grilled meats, and their terrace is a perfect spot for lunching outdoors on a nice day. If your taste buds incline towards Chinese food, head over to Xiao Wang Fu near the north gate, where you can feast on roast duck or sweet and sour dishes in an elegant dining room or outdoor patio. Or enjoy a simple refresher of coffee or soda at the Stone Boat Cafe, complete with views of the pond and pagodas. A convenience store located in the middle of the park makes it all that much easier to spend an entire day among the trees and quiet surroundings.
With plenty of space to run around and activities to occupy both parents and kids, Ritan Park is the perfect urban escape, and every bit as fun and relaxing as parks on the city’s outskirts.
Daily 6am-8pm (summer), 6.30am-8pm (winter).6 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang District (8561 6301) 朝阳区日坛北路6号