Most parents in Beijing don’t really know what their kids get up to when they’re off with their friends on weekends. Frequently I’ve heard parents worry that their teenager is probably getting themselves arrested or creating massive destruction in an unknown location. As a real, live teen I’m here to tell you where I really go with my friends and what we actually do.
The truth is, kids don’t tend to stray too far from the usual places in Beijing or do “crazy” things.Oftentimes, you’ll find us loitering around, chatting with our friends. Other times we could be shopping or eating out. Really, we stick to familiar, well-known places around town, perhaps not center crowd but not too far off. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.
A common location to spot your teen on weekends is Solana. While Solana is a large complex, there are specific places worthy of teen attention.
One of these would be the large water fountain near the entrance of Solana. This quaint little area is a common place for kids to dawdle. The surrounding shops include the renowned, but overly expensive Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery, which sells ice-cream with a huge variety of toppings. Often, kids will run around the edge of the fountain and take pictures.
Tai Koo Li (aka Sanlitun Village)
Sanlitun Village is another popular hangout spot for expat students. Though often crowded with foreigners, tourists, and locals alike, the sprawling outdoor mall has its share of small, half-hidden corners that are ideal for teenagers to idle away their time in.
One of these small corners is near the skateboard ramp across from the DVD shop on the east side of Yashow Market. Along with being able to skateboard on the small half-pipe, teens enjoy watching the skateboarding activity while seated on the stairs by the ramp.
Usually, there is also music from speakers below the ramp making the location more lively and enjoyable. Not too far from the half-pipe is the ubiquitous Starbucks. And right beside Starbucks, there is a range of shops, such as Marc Jacobs, MAC, and agnes b. that girls tend to gravitate towards as they chatter with their friends.
Though familiar, Pinnacle Plaza remains a trendy venue for high school students to gather in. This is a long strip of shops, most of which are restaurants that are perfect for teenagers. The shops include Baskin Robins, Starbucks and Pizza Hut.
Jenny Lou’s is right across the street, making it convenient for kids to run in and buy a bag of chips to share. This area is usually filled with teenagers from nearby international schools like the International School of Beijing and the British School of Beijing. Pinnacle Plaza also happens to be situated in the center of many foreign communities, contributing to the large crowd of children on weekends.
Nikita Gupta is currently an intern at beijingkids. Nikita moved to Beijing two years ago from Seattle, Washington. She is a grade 10 student at Western Academy of Beijing. She is passionate about writing and loves to read and play guitar.
Photos courtesy of Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park and Nikita Gupta