Playtime SOS Part 1

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1. Goose ‘n Duck Ranch
Better suited for younger kids than teens, the ranch’s activities include swimming, archery, horseback riding, fishing, soccer, basketball, badminton, softball and paintball. You can stay for a day or spend the entire weekend in one of the cabins. Shuttle buses depart from Goose ‘n’ Duck Pub. Single-day packages (RMB 260, half price for kids 4-12) include food, beverages and round-trip transportation; two-day packages (RMB 600, half price for kids ages 4-12, free for kids under 4) include the above, plus accommodation. Dogs are welcome. Reservations are required.

Daily 24hrs. Huairou Beizhai, Huairou District (6067 1097)                                   鹅和鸭, 怀柔区北寨

2. Star Trooper Laser Tag
Indulge your trigger-happy children in a very trippy atmosphere. This is a great option for birthdays or large groups (kids must be taller than 1.3m). Each game lasts 15 minutes. Groups of six or more can rent the entire venue for RMB 1,680 per hour. Pizza delivery is available.

RMB 40 (first game), RMB 30 (additional games). Wed-Fri 2-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-8pm. B1, 316 Wangjing Xiyuan Sanqu, Chaoyang District (6475 8329, 朝阳区望京西园三区316号楼,地下一层

3. Boating and More in Chaoyang Park
Cheap, fun and easy – this summer activity is a no-brainer. Bring a picnic and snack on the water, or head to any one of the family-friendly restaurants along Chaoyang Xilu. Once your kids are done playing pirates, enjoy the air conditioning – and the educational exhibits – at the Sony Explorascience center (displays in Chinese only). A special eco exhibit will be open until July 13.

Chaoyang Park Daily 6am-10pm (last entry at 9pm). RMB 5, RMB 2.5 (students), free for kids under 1.2m; boat hire starts from RMB 30 per hour (deposit required). 1 Nongzhan Nanlu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区农展馆南路1号
Sony Explorascience, Mon-Fri 9.30am-6pm, Sat-Sun 9am-7.30pm, closed on second Mon and Tue of each month.  Inside Chaoyang Park (near the south gate), Chaoyang District (6501 8800) 朝阳区朝阳公园里(南门)

4. China Science and Technology Museum
An oasis of educational fun featuring hands-on exhibits, robots, optical illusions, IMAX films (in Chinese only) and more. No wonder this museum is popular with school-age kids. There’s a vast, well-equipped indoor play area on the third and fourth floors of Building B, which can be mobbed by rugrats, so exercise common sense by avoiding peak times.

RMB 30, RMB 15 (students), free (kids under 1.2m); Building B: RMB 30, RMB 20 (students), free (kids under 1.2m).  Tue-Sun 9am-4.30pm. 1 Beisanhuan Zhonglu (North Third Ring Road at Anhua Qiao – look for the geodesic dome), Xicheng District (6237 1177 ext 3216) (Chinese only)中国科技馆, 西城区北三环中路1号

5. Rock Climbing at O’le
Let your little spider monkeys loose at this great inner-city rock climbing center. Facilities include an indoor bouldering area, 12m indoor wall for top-roping and lead climbing and a dedicated slackline area. Bilingual instructors and top quality equipment for hire.

RMB 50 (1 day), RMB 380 (10-climb card). Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-8pm. 5 Dongshimencun Lu, Baiziwan Qiao, Dongsihuan Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (6776 0608) 朝阳区东四环中路百子湾桥东石门村路5号

6. 798 Art District
This well-known arts hub has seen some updates in the past year, including stroller-friendly sidewalks. Filled to the brim with funky cafes and cool boutiques, this the perfect place to spend a day. Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA) has regular kid’s workshops (usually in Chinese) and their store is well worth a visit. Avoid the throngs of tourists and head out mid-weekend instead.

Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art. RMB 30, RMB 10 (students). Free for children under 1.3 meters. Free on Thursdays.Tue-Sun 10am-7pm. Dashanzi art district, 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District. (8459 9269)尤伦斯当代艺术中心, 朝阳区酒仙桥路4号大山子艺术区

7. Ritan Park
This 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, and a merry-go-round with Technicolor unicorns. Other attractions include the fishing pond, climbing wall and mini-golf. If you need a snack, Schindler’s Tankstelle, the Stone Boat and Xihe Yaju all have terraces opening onto the park.

Free. Daily 6am-8pm (summer), daily 6.30am-8pm (winter). 6 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang District (8561 6301)日坛公园, 朝阳区日坛北路6号

8. Go Bowling
The earliest version of this game dates back to ancient Egypt, but these days bowling is considered one of the easiest ways to plan a kids’ birthday party or get the family involved in some healthy competition. It’s also a great way to escape the summer heat.

Gongti 100. RMB 35/set, RMB 200/hour. 6 Gongti Xilu, Chaoyang District. (6552 1457) 工体100,朝阳区工体西路6号
Beijing Eastern Garden International Conference Center. RMB 35/set, RMB 248/hour. Beixiaoying Town, Shunyi District (6048 5588) 北京怡生园国际会议中心,顺义区北小营镇

9. Sunday Brunch
When in doubt, go to brunch. The food is plentiful, the environment is family-friendly, and in most cases the champagne is free-flowing. Try the Westin’s Bubbalicious brunch, popular among expats for their great playroom and dedicated ayis. If you’re seeking a more relaxed countryside vibe, try The Orchard near Shunyi. Children can relax with a video in the kids’ room, or head outside for a stroll around the lake with mom and dad.

Bubbalicious Brunch. Sundays, 11.30am-3pm. Adults: RMB 368+15% includes free-flow Veuve Clicquot. RMB 298+15% includes free flow of juices, smoothies and soft drinks. Kids (age 6-12) eat for half-price, and kids under 6 eat free. 2/F, Westin Beijing Chaoyang, 1 Xinyuan Nanlu, Chaoyang District (5922 8888 ext 8102)朝阳区新源南路1号朝阳威斯汀大酒店2层
The Orchard Brunch. RMB 180 (adults), RMB 100 (kids), free (kids under 4). Sundays 11am-3pm. Hegezhuang Village, Cuigezhuang Town, Shunyi District (6433 6270). From Jingshun Lu, turn west at the Shunbai Lu intersection (turn at the driveway just west of the Hegezhuang Village sign.果园, 顺义区崔各庄乡何各庄村(过何各庄村路标往南转)

10. Dine Al Fresco
Make the most of your summer by taking the clan for an outdoor meal. Bring wide-brimmed hats, lots of sunblock and let the afternoon roll by. Element Fresh has some of the best smoothies in town, Blue Frog will hit the spot with their great sharing platters, Let’s Burger gives the kids what they really want and Xiao Wang Fu offers families the ultimate Ritan Park location.

Blue Frog 1) Daily 10am-1am. L312, Europlaza, 99 Yuxiang Lu, Tianzhu Zhen, Shunyi District (8046 6337) 顺义区天竺镇欲翔路99号北京欧陆时尚购物中心(欧陆广场)L312室; 2) Daily 10am-2am. S4-30, 3/F, Bldg 4, Sanlitun Village South, 19 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 4030) 朝阳区三里屯北路19号三里屯Village南区4号楼3层S4-30
Let’s Burger Daily 11.30am-midnight. D101A, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Beilu, Chaoyang District (5208 6036) 朝阳区三里屯北路81号那里花园D101A
Xiao Wang Fu Daily 11.30am-2pm, 5.30-10pm. Inside the North Gate of Ritan Park, Ritan Lu, Chaoyang District (8561 5985) 朝阳区日坛路日坛公园北门内
Element Fresh 1) Mon-Fri 10am-11pm, Sat-Sun 7am-11pm. S8-33, Bldg 8, Sanlitun Village South, 19 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 1318) 朝阳区三里屯路19号三里屯Village南区8号楼S8-33; 2) Daily 10am-11pm. 6 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District (6433 5058) 朝阳区将太路6号

Don’t forget to check out Part 2 of this post.

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