Located northeast of Beijing, Shunyi is home to one of Beijing’s largest expat communities. It’s a popular destination for families seeking organic farms, fruit picking expeditions, golf courses and fishing resorts. A 45-minute drive from Downtown, Shunyi is an easy getaway for families who crave a village atmosphere and want to get away from the rough and tumble of urban life. Two subway lines (lines 14 and 15) are currently under construction, and will soon provide city-dwellers the chance to venture out without having to contend with Beijing’s traffic. Once in this idyllic suburb, munch on a bagel at Mrs. Shanen’s Bagels, peruse one of Shunyi’s bookshops, shop for kid’s dress-up clothes or brush up on your Chinese astrology at the Yin Yang Community Center. So pack up the little ones and discover some of the area’s hidden and not-so-hidden fun spots.
Start your Shunyi adventure by havinga hearty breakfast at the popular Mrs. Shanen’s Bagels (1). The hub of Beijing’s best bagels, you’ll find a wide assortment of flavors to suit every palate, as well as a range of artisan breads, pizzas, sandwiches, cakes, cookies and an extensive breakfast menu. Organic tea and coffee, as well as other products from the owner’s organic venture, Green Cow Farm, are available. Adjacent to the restaurant is a children’s playroom in the style of a miniature Chinese kitchen.
Next, head to Pinnacle Plaza, one of the oldest plazas in Shunyi’s relatively short history. Shunyi Bookshop (2) is well worth a visit for its extensive selection of kid’s books, including DK Eyewitness, the Brain Quest series, and the popular Twilight series. Pinnacle Plaza also has a variety of other shops: Tot to Teen for kid’s clothing and Kids Plus for fun dress-up clothing, artisan bread shop Boulangerie Nanda for wholesome baked goods, Lohao City for organic food, as well as a Jenny Lou’s supermarket for foreign food products.
For lunch, you can’t go wrong with the family-friendly Little Italy (3) in Pinnacle Plaza, which serves reliable Italian fare in a relaxing setting. The kids’ menu includes pasta, fish fingers, burgers, and milkshakes. The restaurant features a children’s playroom, which is enclosed in soundproof glass to make the dining experience more serene.
After lunch, walk northwest for ten minutes along Yuyang Lu (榆阳路) to River Garden Club for some ice skating action. Ice Zone (4) opens at noon and the entrance fee includes skate rental. It also offers skating classes for children of different age groups (from toddlersto 14-year-olds) including jump and spin classes, private lessons, and hockey (training and competitive) for both kids and adults. Downstairs, you can find a decent selection of kids’ books at Chaterhouse Booktrader (5).
If you still have some energy, continue to the nearby Euro Plaza, just around the corner from Pinnacle Plaza for more shopping and dining options. A warm, spacious Comptoirs de France (6) is ideal for leisurely sipping an afternoon tea or coffee. Indulge in a selection of freshly baked bread and pastries alongside tempting chocolates and ice cream. Children will beg for a cup of rich, silky smooth hot chocolate to shake off the winter chill. On a warmer day, the outdoor seating area is great for enjoying the sun.
The Yin Yang Community Center (7) is definitely worth a visit. The center offers arts, Chinese culture, and well-being courses each day of the week, covering topics such as the ancient form of Chinese astrology (bazi), pilates and the spiritual healing techniques of reiki. Visit their website for the full range of classes and workshops available. Their bookshop and café makes for a nice pit stop should you need it.
Finish the day by visiting The Orchard (8) for dinner. Their menu of Western food has an emphasis on locally sourced, organic produce. The setting is peaceful, with fruit trees leading up to the front door, while the back door opens up to a lake and a big outdoor activity space. The interior is tastefully decorated with a mix of Chinese and Western furniture and paintings. It also has a colorful indoor playroom with toys, videos and cushy chairs. If the clan is too tired to make it through dinner, their sumptuous Sunday brunch is a great alternative; be sure to book ahead, as tables fill up fast. After a full day of feasting on wholesome food, browsing through books, ice skating and brushing up on Chinese culture, it’s time to head home.
Mrs. Shanen’s Bagels 单太太贝谷面包房
Sun-Thu 7.30am-8pm; Fri-Sat 7.30am-8.30pm. Kaifa Jie, Xibaixinzhuang (next to Capital Paradise), Houshayu , Shunyi District (8046 4301)
Shunyi Bookshop 顺义书店
Daily 10am-5pm. 606 Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu Real Estate Development Zone, Shunyi District (8046 1276)顺义区天竺开发区荣祥广场606号
Tot to Teen 红马车儿童用品商店
Daily 9am-7pm. 703 Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu Real Estate Development Zone, Shunyi District (8046 4419) 顺义区天竺房地产开发区荣祥广场703号
Kids Plus 北京格林塔儿童用品商店
Daily 9am-7pm. 701 Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu Real Estate Development Zone, Shunyi District (8046 4572) 顺义区天竺房地产开发区荣祥广场701号
Little Italy 小意大利
Kids menu RMB 15-30 per dish. Daily 10am-10pm. Pinnacle Plaza, Tianzhu Real Estate Development Zone, Shunyi District (8046 4679/80) 顺义区天竺开发区荣祥广场813号
Ice Zone 冰点地带
RMB 50 (weekends) and RMB 30 (weekdays) and includes skate rental.
Tue, Fri, Sat, Sun noon-4pm; Mon, Wed, Thu noon-5pm. 2/F River Garden Clubhouse, 7 Yuyang Lu, Houshayu, Shunyi District (8046 6092) www.icezone.china.com 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
Daily 10.30am-7.30pm. 1/F River Garden Clubhouse, 7 Yuyang Lu, Houshayu, Shunyi District (8046 6211) www.chaterhouse.com.cn
Comptoirs de France 法派
Daily 7am-8.30pm. L-111, Euro Plaza, 99 Yuxiang Lu, Tianzhu Zhen, Shunyi District (8046 6309) www.fapai1855.com
Yin Yang Community Center 易.阴阳社区中心
Mon-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 8am-5pm. The First Courtyard, Hegezhuang Village (across from The Orchard), Chaoyang District (6431 2108)
The Orchard 果园
Sunday brunch RMB 180 for adults, RMB 80-100 for ages 4 and up. Tue-Sat noon-2.30pm, 6-9pm. Sunday brunch 12-3pm. From Jingshun Lu, turn left (west) at Shunbai Lu Intersection, (turn at the driveway just west of the Hegezhuang Village Sign), Shunyi District (6433 6270) www.the-orchard.com.cn 顺义区崔各庄乡何各庄村(过何各庄村路标往南转)