I once asked my driver about Chaoyang Park as my family and I zoomed by it in our car. He proudly told me that it’s the largest city park in Asia. "It’s very famous," he told me. "It’s in the guide books." It goes without saying that the best way to experience this green giant is to actually walk across its grassy fields, rather view it from the seat of an air-conditioned car. I’ve been there many times since my family’s arrival to Beijing. It’s a place you can go back to time and again and still experience something new – I still haven’t seen the tennis courts or the dog park. Chaoyang Park is a great spot for the kids to run and play, and a delightful respite from bustling Beijing.
There are great lunch options to be found around Chaoyang Park; taking a picnic is one. Option B: kick off the afternoon with lunch at La Pizza in Solana, which has a large variety of pizzas, pastas and salads. As a bonus: the kids can watch as chefs make pizza in the open kitchen. If the kids are too restless to sit still and are anxious to get to the park, then try option C: Subway. Located close to La Pizza, you can purchase some sandwiches to take into the park with you.
To get to the park, head to the rear of Solana(near the Ferrari Devani store) and walk across the parking lot to the ticket booth (RMB 5, free for kids under 1.2m, RMB 8 monthly pass). Once inside, a peaceful scene complete with a lily pond, ducks and fish, awaits. As you walk up the path you’ll see people sitting on the grass under tress or strolling hand-in-hand. Take it easy for a while or turn left at the end of the path. Follow the water, and on the right you’ll find paddleboats for rent.
Continuing along the water’s edge, you’ll soon see the Beach Theme Park on your left. You could spend the entire day here. The whole family will enjoy playing in the sand at the beach area and the kids will have a blast in the curved-shaped swimming pool with long windy slides. After a swim, walk a few steps to a little park near the east entrance of the beach area. Here you’ll find a play set and some games for little ones.
As you head into the Amusement Park, stop for some ice cream before checkingout the rides. Kids of all ages will love the roller-coasters, flying swings, bumper cars and water log ride. Plus, there are plenty of games to play and toys to buy. Pay for rides (RMB 15-30) at any of the small ticket booths scattered around the Amusement Park.
Before leaving this area, go to Bicycle Salon and grab a bicycle cart for the family. If you have older kids, they may fight over who’s going to drive. The pathways are crowded, so be sure not to run into anyone!
By the south gate, check out the Boat Pier. There are various kinds of boats to rent, but a family favorite is the bumper boats complete with water guns. In the water itself, there are also water-spraying devices that are sure to make the kids squeal with delight.
If you are not too tired, head to Gorilla Treetop Park near the east entrance. There, demonstrate your adventurer’s spirit and go on the zip line or climb the nets, ladders, bridges and swings. There are three different levels of difficulty so all ages can enjoy the courses. Those participating will be given safety instructions.
Once you’re done playing, take a load off and enjoy a leisurely dinner. Simply go back to Solana where you have your pick of family-friendly restaurants. Relax, drink something cool and congratulate yourself on having a fun day at the park.
Daily 10.30am-3pm, 6-11pm. SA-48, Bldg 3, Solana Mall, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5905 6106)
Chaoyang Park 朝阳公园
Daily 6am-10pm (last entry at 9pm). 1 NongzhanNanlu, Chaoyang District (6506 5409)
Beach Theme Park 沙滩主题乐园
Daily during Jul and Aug, 9am-9pm. Mon-Fri RMB 80, Sat-Sun RMB 120, free (kids under 1.2m). East Region, enter via Chaoyang Park East Gate (6508 3812)
Amusement Park 朝阳公园游乐场
Daily 9am-5pm. 1 Nongzhanguan Nanlu, Chaoyang Park, Chaoyang District. South Region, enter via Chaoyang Park South Gate (6538 3238)
RMB 60/80/100, RMB 300 deposit. Located in the Amusement Park.
RMB 30-50 (rowboat), RMB 40-100 (pedal boat), RMB 50-100 (battery-powered boat), RMB 20 (bumper boats). Located near Chaoyang Park South Gate.
Gorilla Treetop Park 快乐猩猩
Daily, 9am-9pm. Medium course RMB 190, RMB 180 (kids). Difficult course RMB 180, RMB 230 (kids). 1 Chaoyanggongyuan Nan Lu, Chaoyang District. Enter via Chaoyang Park East Gate, near the river (6591 4871) 朝阳区农展馆南路1号