Drum and Bell Towers 钟鼓楼
Located across a square from each other, the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower offer surprisingly great views of the city. Both towers are accessible through a steep flight of stairs, but younger children can make it with Mom or Dad’s help. Atop the Drum Tower, you’ll experience unimpeded views in every direction except the north, which is closed to the public. The Bell Tower isn’t quite as high as its neighbor, but you’ll be able to admire the skyline.
RMB 30 (through ticket for both Drum and Bell Towers). Daily 9am-5pm. 9 Linzi (near Zhuyuan Hotel), Zhonglouwan Hutong, Dongcheng District (8403 6706) 东城区钟楼湾胡同临字9号 (竹园宾馆附近)
Beihai Park 北海公园
Located northwest of the Forbidden City, Beihai Park has a storied pedigree and an international reputation. Among its many architectural features are the White Pagoda, Five-Dragon Pavilions, Nine-Dragon Wall, and Hall of Received Light. You could easily spend an entire day here admiring the sea of lotus flowers, walking through classical Chinese gardens, visiting temples, or simply hanging out in the shade of ancient cypress trees.
RMB 10 (Apr-Oct), RMB 5 (Nov-Mar), half price for students. Daily 6.30am-8pm (Nov-Mar), daily 6am-9pm (Apr-May, Sep-Oct), daily 6am-10pm (Jun-Aug). 1 Wenjin Jie, Xicheng District (6403 1102) www.beihaipark.com.cn 西城区文津街1号
Located just across the north gate of Beihai Park, the area commonly referred to as “Houhai” is actually the Shichahai lake district. The latter is comprised of three lakes: Xihai, Qianhai, and Houhai, the last of which is undoubtedly the most popular. The lakeshore is chock-a-block with rooftop cafes, bars, and restaurants, as well as historical attractions like Prince Gong Mansion and Song Qingling’s Former Residence. Refuel with pizza and stuffed potato skins at Hutong Pizza, or enjoy lakeside views and Vietnamese cuisine at Nuage.
Prince Gong Mansion 恭王府
RMB 20, RMB 60 (with guide). Daily 7.30am-4.30pm. 17 Qianhai Xijie, Xicheng District (8328 8149) 西城区前海西街17号
Song Qingling’s Former Residence 宋庆龄故居
RMB 20, RMB 10 (university students), RMB 5 (middle and primary school students). Daily 9am-5pm. 46 Houhai Beiyan, Xicheng District (6404 4205) 西城区后海北沿46号
Hutong Pizza 胡同比萨
Daily 11am-11pm. 9 Yindingqiao Hutong, Xicheng District (8322 8916) 西城区银锭桥胡同9号
Daily 11am-11pm. 22 Qianhai Dongyan, Xicheng District. (6401 9581) www.nuage.com.cn 西城区前海东沿22号
Nanluogu Xiang and Beiluogu Xiang 南锣鼓巷和北锣鼓巷
Many quieter and more interesting hutongs branch off the restored tourist street of Nanluogu Xiang. Penghao Theatre on Dongmianhua Hutong (东棉花胡同) hosts a variety of performances, workshops and festivals and serves as the unofficial headquarters of Beijing Improv. The in-house rooftop cafe serves up coffee, cold drinks, and a revolving daily menu of sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Northwest of Penghao Theatre, Mao’er Hutong (帽儿胡同) is home to Wuhao, a French-owned boutique with a curated selection of local and international brands and designers.
Beiluogu Xiang, Nanluogu Xiang’s northern counterpart, is located across the street on Gulou Dongdajie. Take your time ambling by the quirky shops (including one dedicated entirely to miniature cacti) and numerous cafes, including the small but friendly Beiluo Bread Bar. The cafe lives up to its motto of “mean beans and bad-ass bread” with excellent coffee and homemade bread. Try one of their pastas or sandwiches, or kick back with a latte (RMB 20).
Beiluo Bread Bar
Daily 10am-midnight. 70A Beiluogu Xiang, Dongcheng District (8408 3069) 东城区北锣鼓巷甲70号
Penghao Theatre 蓬蒿剧场
Daily 10am-11pm. 35 Dongmianhua Hutong, Dongcheng District (6400 6472, firstname.lastname@example.org) 东城区东棉花胡同35号
Wed-Sun 2-8pm, or by appointment. 35 Mao’er Hutong, Dongcheng District (6400 5435, 189 1135 5035, email@example.com)
Photo by Ellis Friedman
This article originally appeared on p56-57 of the beijingkids June 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com