Countryside Daytrip: Italian by
The Great Wall
Age: 3 and up
Cost: RMB 800-1,000 for family of four (includes parking, tickets, lunch)
Time: 5-8 hours
Good to know: Not pram-friendly. Parking is no problem.
Address: The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu. Daily 7-10am, 3-5pm. Mutianyu Village (see website for detailed directions), Huairou District 怀柔区慕田峪 (具体路线请查看网站信息)
Contact: 6162 6506, www.theschoolhouseatmutianyu.com
Mutianyu is one of the more developed sections of the Great Wall. Getting there involves an easy 1.5-hour drive; just follow the signs. The village has many amenities, making it a fun daytrip. For those who’d like to make a weekend out of it, there are also some lovely accommodation options. (Check out www.chinacountrysidehotels.com for their range of family-sized villas.)
We recommend that families take the cable car up to the Wall – it’s the fastest way to get to the great view. When you tire of walking along the top of this 50,000km-long giant, take a break in the shade of a watchtower, then toboggan back down to the base. In the summer, Mutianyu is very hot – don’t forget to bring hats, sunblock and plenty of water.
Treat yourselves to an Italian lunch at The Schoolhouse. The restaurant supplies kids with paper and crayons; they also have clean toilets and baby-changing facilities. If you’d prefer to stick with a Chinese theme, head to the nearby Xiaolongpu Chinese restaurant, which has ample room for the kids to run around, as well as a bilingual photo menu for those of us with rusty Chinese skills. On the way home, don’t forget to keep an eye out for roadside vendors selling seasonal fruits – yum!
Countryside Daytrip: Pretty Lakes and Yummy Fish
Where: Huanghua Village
Age: 3 and up
Cost: RMB 300-400 for a family of four (includes parking, tickets, lunch)
Time: 5-8 hours
Good to know: Partially pram-friendly. Limited English spoken.
Address: Take the Jingchang Expressway; turn off at the Xiguan Exit. Once on Huaichang Lu, follow the signs to Ansi Lu, which takes you all the way to Huanghua Village (黄花城).
Huanghua is a village near the Great Wall that is famous for its crystal-clear lakes. The one-hour drive is fairly straightforward and is marked with signs. Once you arrive, park the car and take a stroll though the village. Park admission is RMB 25 but the fee doesn’t include special activities like boating. There are some great walking paths; we recommend taking the left route over the bridge and finding a quiet place for a picnic. To get back to the entrance, you can either walk around the lake or take a boat across. This trip can be done with a very sturdy pram if you stick to the main trail. Afterwards, if you’re still hungry, try one of the village restaurants for fabulous barbecue fish. No English is spoken, so if you’re having trouble ordering, simply point at other tables and use the "zhe ge/na ge" technique.
Countryside Daytrip: Into the Mountains
Where: Longqing Gorge
Age: 3 and up
Cost: RMB 500-1,000 for a family of four (includes parking, tickets, lunch)
Time: 6-8 hours
Good to know: Not pram-friendly. Teenagers will love the zip line.
Address: Take the Badaling Expressway to the Yangqing Exit and follow the signs.
Longqing Gorge, a 1.5-hour drive north of Beijing, is a perfect all-day outing for the family, involving escalators, boats, cable cars and toboggans. Best of all, it’s a chance for everybody to enjoy the fresh mountain air (note: Longqing is usually a few degrees cooler than Beijing). Families with young children should ditch the pram and opt for a baby sling or carrier. For those with teenagers, there are great hiking opportunities and the 30-second zip line is not to be missed. After you’ve worn yourselves out with all the walking and sightseeing, head out of the parking lot to find some small restaurants that serve home-style country dishes. No English menus, but the food is delicious.
Countryside Daytrip: Theresa’s Organic Farm
Where: God’s Grace Garden
Cost: RMB 200 for a family of four (including lunch)
Time: 4-5 hours
Good to know: Not pram-friendly. Organic produce is available for purchase.
Address: Take the Jingshi Expressway to the south Sixth Ring Road, heading toward Fangshan. Exit at Guandao. After you pass the toll gate (RMB 15), turn left and drive straight. After Changzhou Lu, follow the road to Jiang Village. Look for the red gates at the front of the farm.
Contact: 137 0127 7398, www.youjinongzhuang.com
Theresa Zhang’s organic farm, otherwise known as God’s Grace Garden, makes for a fabulous family outing. The farm is open to visitors on weekends, but be sure to book your tour in advance. You’ll find fields of fruit trees, organic vegetables and the cleanest, happiest cows in Beijing. Following your farm tour, you can arrange to have a mostly vegetarian lunch made from the farm’s fresh produce. Before you leave, don’t forget to buy a huge box of vegetables, eggs, tofu, soymilk, noodles and whole wheat flour to take home. If you like what you taste, weekly deliveries are available to members.
City Outings: Beat the Heat Indoors
Where: The Ice Zone and All Star Champion Skating Club
Age: 4 and up
Cost: The Ice Zone: RMB 30 (Mon-Fri), RMB 50 (weekends). Price includes unlimited skating, skate rentals and lockers (RMB 1 deposit). Noon-5pm (Mon, Thu), Noon-4pm (Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun). All Star Champion Skating Club: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm: RMB 30. After 6pm: RMB 40 (Mon-Thu), RMB 50 (Fri). RMB 50 (weekends and holidays). Price applies to 90min sessions. Time: 2 hours
Transportation: Car and taxi
Subway: The Ice Zone, N/A. All Star Champion Skating Club, Line 10, Liangmaqiao station
Good to know: Hot dogs and soft drinks available at All Star Champion Skating Club
Address: All Star Champion Skating Club: Daily 10am-10pm 1/F, Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区朝阳公园路6号蓝色港湾国际商区首层
The Ice Zone: Noon-5pm (Mon & Thu), Noon-4pm (Tue-Wed and Fri-Sun). River Garden Clubhouse, 2/F, 7 Yuyang Lu, Houshayu, Shunyi District顺义区裕京花园会所2楼(入口在裕京路)北京顺义榆阳路7 号
Contact: The Ice Zone: 8046 6092, www.icezonechina.com. All Star Champion Skating Club, call 5905 6328
Get out of the sun and into a pair of ice skates. Almost every shopping mall in Beijing has an indoor ice skating rink to help you cool down this summer, but we recommend The Ice Zone in Shunyi or All Star Champion Skating Club in Solana. The rinks are clean, kid-friendly and there is some English-speaking staff on hand. Both rinks offer classes for even the littlest of skaters. Snacks are also available, but our vote goes to All Star Champion Skating Club for their yummy hot dogs. Also, their Solana location means you can make a day of it and fit in some shopping as well as a run through their water feature.
Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this post.