One of the first things you’ll want to find out is where to take the kids for fun. When Beijing does have blue sky days, they can be spectacular. The best way to take advantage is to plop down on a picnic blanket and let the kids run wild in one of the city’s many excellent parks. But let’s face it – on days when the AQI is over 250, playing outside just isn’t an option. That’s why we also included some suggestions for indoor fun, from play centers for the very young to go-karting for older kids. You’ll find all the addresses in our Directories. These are just a few ideas to get you started; for more, visit our website at www.beijing-kids.com.
Chaoyang Park 朝阳公园
Located on the site of a former palace, Chaoyang Park is the largest park in Beijing at 288 hectares. On any given day, you’ll see couples taking lavish wedding photos, old people flying kites, and families picnicking. Activities include a 4D movie theater, treetop obstacle course, a children’s amusement park, a science museum, and paddle boating. There are many restaurants near the west gate, including Annie’s, Alio Olio, and Muse. The park has relatively clean public bathrooms with squat toilets but no changing tables or toilet paper.
Beihai Park 北海公园
Located just northwest of the Forbidden City, Beihai Park is home to the famous White Pagoda and Nine-Dragon Pavilion. Despite its status as a tourist attraction, the park is large enough that you can find quiet nooks among its lilies, peonies, and flowering trees. You can skate on the frozen lake in the winter or take a boat ride in the summer to escape the heat. A visit to Beihai Park would fit nicely into a day trip to Gulou and its surrounding hutongs. Jingshan Park (景山公园) just to the east is also worth checking out for the view of the Forbidden City from atop the hill.
Olympic Forest Park 奥林匹克森林公园
Built for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Olympic Forest Park is an underrated gem located in the north of the city. Bisected in half by North Fifth Ring Road, this expansive park is a haven for bird watchers, runners, hikers, and families. There are some amusement rides in the southeast corner; families can also visit the well-curated China Science and Technology Museum just south of the park. There are bathrooms with sit-down toilets, but no toilet paper or changing tables.
Ritan Park 日坛公园
A favorite with CBD families, this relatively small park features landscaped gardens, a small hill with a pavilion, and plenty of rocks for kids to climb and play on. Highlights include an outdoor rock climbing wall, old architecture, lakeside dining, free admission, and a kids’ playground. There are public bathrooms with squat toilets, but no changing tables. Toilet paper tends to run out, so bring your own. Nearby restaurants include Schindler’s Tankstelle, The Elephant, and Dacha. The U-Town shopping mall is also close by.
Tuanjiehu Park 团结湖公园
Located just outside Third Ring Road, Tuanjiehu Park has a cozy neighborhood feel with merry go-rounds and carp ponds. In the summer, there’s a popular water park with a kids’ area and water slides; however, it can get very crowded in nice weather. Other activities include paddle boating and roller skating. Tuanjiehu Park is ideal for families living in Sanlitun, Xingfucun, or the CBD. There are squat toilets with toilet paper but no changing tables.
Also check out: Si’de Park, Jingshan Park, Yuyuantan Park, Longtanhu Park, Ditan Park, Honglinjin Park
The New City Center新城文化中心
Ages 7 and under. This Wangjing community center, indoor playground, and cafe has a Mommy and Me Club, After School Kids’ Club, and English Corner for parents. The New City Center can host events and birthday parties with friendly English- and Chinese-speaking staff on hand. Parents can kick back at the Corner Cafe while the kids play in the ball pit (RMB 100 for ten visits or free admission with every purchase of RMB 30 or more at the cafe).
China Science and Technology Museum 中国科学技术馆
All ages. The expansive China Science and Technology Museum has tons to see and do, including a “huge-screen theater,” hands-on science activities, and exhibits covering Chinese innovations, human biology, nature, and future technology. There’s a section just for kids (ages 3-10) that charges separate admission and features a jungle gym, science-themed obstacle courses, and age-appropriate presentations given by museum staff on topics like health.
SMJ Bowling Club北京沙明建保龄球俱乐部
Ages 8 and up. Also known as Cosmic Bowling, this Lido bowling alley is a great venue for birthdays or impromptu fun. It has 20 bowling lanes, a pool table, and support racks for younger kids. The many surrounding restaurants include Element Fresh, Mugen Japanese Restaurant, The Taj Pavilion, Eudora Station, Parkside Bar and Grill, and Baskin Robbins. Both Si’de Park and Lido Park are nearby if the weather’s nice.
Ages 10 and up. U-Speed’s 4,000sqm facilities include go-karting tracks, VIP rooms, a bar/restaurant, conference rooms, and a game center with foosball, pool tables, and an arcade. It’s not cheap (RMB 120/six-minute session), but go-karting provides hard-to-beat thrill for older kids.
Most shopping malls in Beijing have an entire floor or section reserved for kids with a ball pit or indoor climbing frame. Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park is popular with both local and expat families thanks to its open-plan design and proximity to Chaoyang Park. An entire wing is dedicated to children’s wear, maternity products, and baby gear with stores like Mothercare from the UK and Motherswork from Singapore. There’s also an indoor ice rink, kids’ play area, Gymboree branch, and cinema with English movies.
Located between 798 Art District and Lido, Indigo Mall is also a good choice for families. The mall often runs children’s events either outdoors or in the main atrium. There’s a cinema and a wide selection of restaurants, including Blue Frog, Muse, Element Fresh, and Flamme. Next door, EAST Beijing also has its own eateries such as Hagaki, FEAST, and Domain.
Other venues to check out: Mitty Jump, Family Box, Fundazzle, Blue Zoo Beijing, StarTrooper Laser Tag, Adventure Zone