Ritan Park

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Dine alfresco, stroll through the park and play lakeside

Ritan Park, a.k.a. The Temple of the Sun, was constructed in 1530, during the reign of Ming emperor Jiajing. It encloses a sacrificial alter to the sun, one of imperial Beijing’s four historical altars. After destruction in the early 20th century, Ritan Park was rebuilt in 1951. The Park packs a surprising amount of child-friendly stuff into a limited space. The playground area includes an inflatable playhouse, large trampolines, a mechanical bull, a merry-go-round with Technicolor unicorns and an indoor playhouse (albeit infrequently washed). Other attractions include the fishing pond, climbing wall and mini-golf – the latter attracts few customers, so don’t worry about triple-bogeying each hole.
The idyllic park has an array of alfresco dining options that allow kids to burn off energy in the park while parents sit back and relax. From German staples on the patio at Schindler’s Filling Station, to lakeside nibbles at the Stone Boat Boat, or Chinese cuisine upon the terrace of Xiao Wang Fu or Xiheyaju – Ritan Park is a kid-friendly food haven that combines fun and yum. Also, the newly opened Ritan Highlife, a complex with shopping, dining and relaxation facilities, offers other family-friendly dining options like Annie’s and The Elephant. To round off the day, head to Alien Market to purchase some toys for take-home fun.

Ritan Park. Free entrance. Daily 6am-8pm (summer). 6 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang District. (8561 6301) 日坛公园, 朝阳区日坛北路6号

Dongyue Temple
Hundreds of amazing life-size plaster figures make up the 73 Chiefs of
Departments and 18 Layers of Hell at this Temple of the God of Taishan
Mountain. Offerings can be given to deities responsible for anything from the Department of Resurrection to the Department of Fish and Animals. The temple is Taoist, but the “departments” are influenced by traditional folk beliefs. The Beijing Folk Arts Museum in the back of the temple features a collection reminiscent of the Panjiayuan antiques market. The wedding certificates and children’s toys from the Republic era are lovely, as is a small bronze in the shape of a cow’s head from the Song Dynasty. Daily 8.30am-4.30pm. RMB 10. 141 Chaowai Dajie, Chaoyang District. (6551 0151) 东岳庙, 朝阳区朝外大街141号

Xihe Yaju
This pleasant compound is a fine place to enjoy an al-fresco meal. Parents love it because it has many highchairs, patient staff, and, since it attracts lots of families, children don’t draw angry stares when they start screaming. Daily 11am-2pm, 5-10pm. Northeast corner of Ritan Park, Chaoyang District. (8561 7643) 羲和雅居, 朝阳区日坛公园东北角

The Elephant
Picky kids tend to like Russian food and this restaurant is a good place to load up on favorites like potatoes, meat and borscht. Expect lots of hearty food, especially the appetizers, like stuffed mushroom caps. Daily noon-midnight. 1-27, Ritan Highlife, 39 Shenlu Jie, Chaoyang District. (8561 4013) 大笨象, 朝阳区神路街39号院日坛上街1-27

Alien Street Market
The building is occupied by individual stall owners who sell all kinds of toys for indoor and outdoor use, including kiddie pools. Quality is uneven, so inspect toys
carefully before buying and be sure to haggle.
Laofanjie Shichang, Yabao Lu (south of
Fulllink Plaza), Chaoyang District. 老番街市场, 朝阳区雅宝路

Serves trattoria favorites like antipasto, soups, pastas and pizza. Parents give the restaurant gold stars for its numerous highchairs, while kids enjoy making their own small pizzas and playing in the well-stocked toy corners.
11am-11pm. 2-3-93 Ritan Highlife (across from north gate of Ritan Park), Chaoyang District. (8569 3031) 安妮, 1) 朝阳区神路街39号日坛上街2-3-93

Xiao Wang Fu
This chain offers Chinese food of consistently good quality and serves crisp-skinned roast duck. Laowai appreciate the English menu. To combat expenses, stick to appetizers or vegetarian cuisine. Snag a coveted outdoor table on the ground floor so kids can swing and run around the stone pathways – all within in view of parents. After excusing themselves from the table, kids can run around outside while the mamas and the papas chat on the terrace. Try the egg and tofu dish, the peanuts in vinegar, plus the famous meat dish that every Western kid loves: jinzhou rousi. 1) Daily 11.30am-2pm, 5.30-10pm. Inside the north gate of Ritan Park, Ritan Lu, Chaoyang District. (8561 5985); 2) Daily 11am-10.30pm. Bldg 2, Guanghua Lu Dongli, Chaoyang District. (6591 3255); 3) Daily 5.30pm-1am. 15 Qianhai Beiyan, Xicheng District. (6617 5558) 小王府, 1) 朝阳区日坛路日坛公园北门内; 2) 朝阳区光华路东里2号楼; 3) 西城区前海北沿15号

Ritan Outdoor Areas
Take a whirl on the merry-go-round, which is big enough for parents. The playground area also includes an inflatable playhouse, large trampolines, a mechanical bull, and an indoor playhouse. Other attractions includelthe fishing pond, climbing wall and mini-golf – the latter attracts few customers, so don’t worry about triple-bogeying each hole. Rock-climbing is available, but make sure kids are harnessed with the aid of a reliable person to belay (work the ropes).

Schindler’s Tankstelle
The perfect terrace for parents to sit back and eat while kids run around the park. Hamburgers, hearty sausages and French fries make this a family favorite. Parents can enjoy a frosty steins of beer with a lovely view of Ritan Park’s greenery. Daily 11am-late. 15A Guanghua Lu (200m east of Ritan Park South Gate), Chaoyang District. (8562 6439) 申德勒加油站,朝阳区光华路甲15号(日坛南门往东200米)

Stone Boat Cafe
One of Beijing’s more idyllic bars, the Stone Boat Cafe is perched on the edge of a lake in Ritan Park. Best to sit next to the boathouse, instead of on it so you don’t run the risk of little ones falling into the water. Try the dumplings and noodles, which are crowd-pleasers. Tranquil surroundings for a drink but there’s great music as the sun goes down. Daily 10am-11pm. Lakeside, southwest corner of Ritan Park, Chaoyang District. (6501 9986) 石舫, 朝阳区日坛公园西南角湖边

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