2 hours to Shanghai
Families in search of urban glitz will find plenty of kid-friendly entertainment in the Pearl of the Orient. Check out performances by the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe, stroll the Nanjing Road pedestrian mall for play areas and toy stores, and on the Pudong side of town, treat the kids to combo tickets for the Oriental Pearl TV tower and the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium.
3 hours to Huitengxile
You don’t need to go far to feel like Beijing is worlds away. A one-hour flight to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, followed by a drive into Huitengxile will put you in the middle of the Mongolian grasslands, where family fun includes horseback riding, overnighting in a modern yurt, watching wrestling competitions and dancing to traditional Mongolian music. July and August are the best times to visit.
6 hours to Shangri-La
Named after the Himalayan utopia from James Hilton’s novel, this Tibetan town in Yunnan province is worth the two-leg journey. Fly to Kunming (3.5 hours), transfer to the short flight to Shangri-La (morning or evening flights only), and find yourself amidst snow-capped mountains and hillsides dotted with yaks. Tour monasteries and markets, or lace up hiking boots and head to Tiger Leaping Gorge.