Get Outdoors: Parks for Playing

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Chaoyang Park
Kitschy but fun. Kids can kick or throw a ball on the big grass fields near the southern and northern entrances. There’s lots of room to stroll, a range of boating options, a handsome merry-go-round and many rides including a roller coaster, flying dinosaurs, bumper cars, sky swings and several large inflatable castles. The delightful northwestern section of the park includes a lake, flower beds and grassy expanses where families can enjoy a picnic. RMB 5, RMB 2.5 (students), free for kids under 1.2m. Daily 6am-10pm (last entry at 9pm). 1 Nongzhan Nanlu, Chaoyang District. (6506 5409) www.sun-park.com 朝阳公园, 朝阳区农展馆南路1号

Go Fly a Kite
If there’s one thing Beijingers love, it’s kites. So head on down to your local park and try your hand at this local obsession. Basic tips: Don’t run. Hold the kite string, and when a gust of wind blows, swing the kite upward. As the kite rises, give the string some slack as it becomes taut. If the kite begins to fall, tighten up on the string to catch more wind. Don’t have a kite? Make a day of it and find the perfect one at the San Shi Zhai Kite Store. Daily 10am-7pm. 25 Di’anmen Xidajie (east of Lotus Lane). (8404 4505, 6403 0393) 三石斋风筝,地安门西大街25号(天荷坊东边)

Si’de Park
This Lido-area park has plenty to keep the young’uns amused, including an inflatable castle, indoor funhouse, outdoor playground, merry-go-round, foot­ball pitches, a rollerblading rink and a fishing pond. A circular walking track is popular with morning walkers. If you can get the crew out the door early enough, have fun watching the tai chi practitioners. Free. Daily 6am-9pm. Jiangtai Xilu, Chaoyang District. (6438 6093) 四得公园, 朝阳区将台西路

Park Yourself at Home
For those of you who live in sunny Shunyi, why spend a day traveling to a park when the park is right in your backyard? Throw a frisbee, build a fort with the kids, or relax with a bevvy on your own banana lounge. For inner city dwellers, make your outdoor balcony your backyard. Add a palm or two, install a BBQ and voila! If you’re currently lacking in outdoor gear, head to Villa Lifestyles for everything from trampolines to four-burner BBQs (Weber model pictured here). Daily 9.30am-7pm. 4/F, Europlaza, 99 Yuxiang Lu, Tianzhu, Shunyi District. (6457 1922) www.villalifestyles.cn 别墅生活方式, 顺义区天竺镇裕翔路99号欧陆广场4层

Happy Valley Amusement Park
Beijing’s best amuse­ment park sprawls out across a square kilometer of land outside the East Fourth Ring Road and offers 40 rides, an IMAX theater, more than 100 games and seven cinemas. The park is divided into a number of themed areas inspired by such civilizations as the Mayan empire, Minoan Greece and Shangri-la – the little kiddies play in Ant Kingdom. The roller coasters are world-class, the park is well-maintained, and the lines for rides are fairly reasonable. RMB 160, RMB 80/students and kids 1.2-1.4m, free for kids under 1.2m. Mon-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun 8.30am-10pm. Xiaowuji Beilu, Dongsihuan Lu, Chaoyang District. (6738 9898 ext 0, 6205 0088) http://bj.happyvalley.com.cn/park 北京欢乐谷,朝阳区东四环路小武基北路

Beijing by Bike
The best (and some say only) way to see Beijing is from a bike. Reduce the chances of theft by investing in a good lock and parking your steed in designated zones monitored by an attendant. Alternatively, you can rent a bike. The Shuangren Yizhan chain of bike rental shops charges RMB 10 per hour for a one-seater, RMB 20 per hour for a tandem. Rental requires leaving an ID card/passport or cash deposit (RMB 100-200). Daily 6am-11pm. 1) Qianhai Nanyan, near Han Cang, Xicheng District; 2) across from Di’anmen Department Store, Xicheng District; 3) Houhai Nanyan, near the amusement park, Xicheng District. (6089 1616) 双人驿站,1)西城区前海南沿汉仓旁;2)西城区地安门商场对面; 3)后海南沿儿童乐园旁

Picnic Perfection
Pack a picnic basket, round up the troops and enjoy a day at the park. But what’s better than a picnic in the park? A picnic on the grass! Kick off your shoes and stroll among the flowers at these scenic spots.

Summer Palace
Apr-Oct 6.30am-8pm (last ticket 6pm), RMB 30, students half price. Yiheyuan Lu, Haidian District. (6288 1144) 颐和园,海淀区颐和园路

Ditan Park
RMB 2, RMB 1 (students). Daily 6am-9pm. 2A, Andingmenwai Dajie, Dongcheng District. (6421 4657) www.dtpark.com 地坛公园, 东城区安定门外大街甲2号

Yuyuantan Park
RMB 2, RMB 1 (students). 6am-8.30pm (Apr-May, Sep-Nov), Daily 6am-9.30pm (Jun-Aug). Xisanhuan Lu, across from CCTV Tower, Haidian District. East entrance on Sanlihe Lu (just south of Diaoyutai), south entrance (with park­ing lot) behind China Millenium Monument, Haidian District. (8865 3804/6) www.yuyuantanpark.com 玉渊潭公园, 海淀区西三环中央电视塔对面 (东门在三里河路, 南门在世纪坛后面)

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