Semi-extreme sports for fearless kids
There’s no better way to spend those last lingering days of summer like a quiet ride on horseback through the wilderness. And though Ascot it is not, that doesn’t mean Beijing doesn’t have its fair share of equestrian options. Horseback riding is a great way to get the kids active in the great outdoors and allows kids to build bonds with animals as well as the natural environment. Both owners and instructors stress that teaching a student to care for and understand the horse is almost as important as the actual riding. Try Asgard Horsemanship Club for professional instructors.
Hit the courts
Attention budding Wimbledon wannabes! Tennis gets the heart-rate thumping, is a great social game and provides stress relief with each satisfying smack.
Hot Shot Tennis
Tennis lessons and camps for youth and adults are offered at locations throughout Beijing. Classes are taught in English by foreign coaches. All skill levels welcome. See Directory for details.
Potter’s Wheel Tennis School
Offers a junior tennis education program for kids ages 5 and up. Instruction is by international coaches following the LTA curriculum. Group classes RMB 160 for 90min (ages 5-8), RMB 210 for 2hrs (ages 9-14). Tailored classes RMB 190/hr. See Directory for details.
Families with young children can find plenty of ideal spots for easy hiking within a two-hour drive of Beijing. With some planning, you can organize your own trip to the woods, but it may be easier to connect with other families with hiking experience or to contact Beijing Hikers, whose group tours include pick-up and drop-off, English-speaking guides, and lunch and refreshments.
If taking small children along, stay away from bushy trails. For families who want to hit the trail independently, research the directions carefully and take a knowledgeable guide, as trails can be hard to find. Families can contact Beijing Hikers to find an experienced driver or consult the organization’s forthcoming Hiking in Beijing, scheduled for publication later this year.
Immortal Valley (pictured here) is located in Miyun District, northeast of Beijing; it is merely one-and-a-half hours from Beijing by car. During the rainy season, a spring rushes down from the mountain, cooling the hot air as hikers journey through the valley. Kids will love putting their feet in the small pools of fresh water or paddling with the small fish. Some steps can be steep, but families don’t have to head all the way to the top. If you do, it’ll take about two hours to reach the 800m peak, where hikers are rewarded with great views of the surrounding hills and valleys. The roundtrip loop of 16km takes 4-5 hours.
Kids naturally love climbing things. Rock climbing is a great way for them to work off that excess energy, have fun in a safe environment, while getting fit, and learning about teamwork and responsibility. To build trust, Xiao Bai, an instructor at O’le, suggests climbing blindfolded (see photo). The staff and facilities at the O’le Climbing Center are all geared towards safety. They also provide harnesses and gear as well as belay (aka the ropework). If you want to experience the real thing, they take outdoors trips to Shidu, Baihe, Huairou, Miyun and other areas around Beijing.
Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-8pm. Dongshimencun Lu, Baiziwan (just outside east fourth ring, just off Baiziwan Lu). 5128 2825, 6776 0608. www.oleclimbing.com, firstname.lastname@example.org 东四环中路百子湾桥东石门村路5号