While nightclubs litter the Gongti area, it still remains a great family-friendly destination during the light of day. Kite flyers can be found at the north entrance of Workers’ Stadium in the summer and the stadium itself has hosted crowds of enthusiastic fans cheering for the local team Beijing Guoan Football Club. If you’re looking for an easy-to-plan afternoon, the Workers’ Stadium is your giant playground. Browse a wide selection of French films and books, say hello to marine life at Blue Zoo Beijing and get the family into some healthy bowling competition at Gongti 100. From hot dogs and pizza to crepes and croissants, there’s also plenty of kid-friendly fare to keep the clan energized for the day’s activities.
If you worry that the cooler days might turn you into a couch potato, never fear – there are many opportunities for your entire family to remain active all winter long. Venture outdoors for skiing and ice skating, or go for an invigorating bike ride. Indoor activities also abound: Scale a rock wall, take an exercise class, or go for a swim. Just keep moving!
Christmas and Spring Festival (also known as Chinese New Year) have a lot in common. They are both about family reunions, and are the most important holidays in their respective
calendars. You might have celebrated Christmas last month; now, it is time to get into the holiday spirit for Spring Festival.
Spring Festival (known in Chinese as chunjie or 春节) falls on the first day of the first lunar month and ends with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the month. This year’s Spring Festival kicks off the Year of the Horse on January 31, with the last day of the celebrations falling on February 14.
A few weeks from now, airports, train stations, and long-distance bus stations will be flooded with people returning home for Spring Festival. The most important days are the eve of Chinese New Year and the subsequent three days. Most Chinese will do anything to make sure they do not miss this crucial time with their families.
Understanding – and embracing the traditions – of Spring Festival will go a long way towards engaging with Chinese culture and friends. We spoke to a modern yet traditional Chinese family to find out how they celebrate the country’s most important holiday.
As the icy northern winds pummel the city with arctic gales, it’s a good time to consider a day of indoor fun in one of Beijing’s many shopping sanctuaries, such as relatively recent newcomer, Joy City Chaoyang. This 11-story citadel, found on the corner of Chaoyang Beilu and Qingnian Lu, has something for everyone in the family. At Joy City, families can hunt for new clothes, grab a meal, watch a movie on the big screen, get a relaxing massage, ice skate, and play in a play center.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the holidays? Soak away those winter blues with a hot spring. Though many are concentrated in Daxing and Changping, there are also a few within the city if you can’t take off for an entire weekend. Though none of them list a minimum age requirement, high temperatures and a lack of activities for younger children make hot springs better suited for ages 5 and up.
Hot springs are known to promote blood circulation, relieve swelling and pain, and alleviate stress, but bathers should also take precautions to avoid injury or disease. Most commercial hot springs in China will provide towels, robes, and slippers; some will even supply sterilized bathing suits. It’s usually a good idea to shower before and after soaking.
Editor's Note: With so little traffic during Chinese New Year, now is the perfect time to explore the city by bike. Just make sure to be home by sundown or you'll have to contend with stray fireworks! Here's a bike guide for the Gulou area from our archives written by former editor Ellis Friedman.
With all the cars and scooters on the road, it sometimes seems bicycles in Beijing have gone the way of the floppy disk. But when you’re looking for a different sort of family day out, there’s no better way to see Beijing’s old-style neighborhoods than on two wheels. So pump up your tires, fasten your helmets, and peddle around the Gulou area.
Beijing might not be the first place you think of for snow sports, but in the winter, there are great options for skiers and snowboarders. Even for families with small children, there’s a range of affordable activities and features available. Here’s a roundup of the city’s local ski resorts.
Travelers: Robyn and Leonard Stewart and their sons Hamilton (age 6) and Isaiah (5), who attend the International Montessori School of Beijing (MSB).
Destinations: Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan
Travel dates: August 2014
Travel plans: The Stewart family flew from Beijing to Tokyo Narita Airpot with JAL (Japan Airlines). They stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Station in Tokyo and the New
Miyako Hotel in Kyoto. They used BCD travel agency to book their airline tickets and hotel.
Cost: Flights cost RMB 17,000 and tickets on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto were RMB 4,000. Hotel rooms came to
RMB 8,400, tours were RMB 3,600, and food was RMB 4,800.
How Do I Choose a School for My Child? Taking your first steps towards answering the million-dollar question
One of the perennial questions we get from readers and families moving to Beijing is "How do I choose a school for my kids?" It's a huge, tangled, and often emotional topic, provoking heated debate on parenting forums like Beijing Mamas. If there's one thing we learned while researching this article, it's that the reasons are varied, complex, and deeply personal.
On the surface, Isofit Beijing looks much like any other fancy Pilates studio in Beijing. It’s outfitted in soothing shades of cream and avocado green, with pots of white and purple orchids peppering the rooms and hallways. I’m here to sit in on a Pilates class with members of the International School of Beijing’s swim team, one of the first groups to take Isofit’s newly-launched Pilates program for kids and teens.
Founder and Head Instructor Lili Schloss, 51, is a petite woman with a warm smile, short hair, and flawless posture. Within a few minutes of our conversation, it’s clear that she is very passionate about Pilates and helping her students achieve their health goals. Schloss never strays too far from teacher mode, even as we have lunch at the LMPlus around the corner.