Beijing for Families knows what kids want. What most kids who visit Beijing love most is a camping trip to the Great Wall. Head to Sanfo Camping Shops to buy or rent any camping gear you don’t have with you, then follow our step-by-step guide for how to get to Great Wall: Zhuang Dao Kou. Or get in touch with Great Wall Box, a superb hostel beside the Great Wall at Gubeikou. Back in the city itself, a day cycling around the hutong can be a lot of fun. Arrange bicycles for the family the day before from Bike Beijing; they have bike helmets and kids bikes as well as child seats and child trailers.
Ride in convoy from your hotel to Cafe Confucius for a familiar Western breakfast, plus good strong coffee for mum and dad, before wheeling your bikes to Jingcheng Baixing Clay Shop where the kids can try their hand at making and painting their own traditional Chinese clay models.
Next, back on the bikes for the short cycle to Three Stone Kite Shop, where you can pick out your favourite kites from the wonderful selection of handmade ones they do here; the owner’s great grandfather used to make kites for the imperial court, so they know what they’re doing! From here you can wheel your bikes, or just lock them up and walk, to nearby Beihai Park, where you can attempt to get your newly-acquired kites to soar gracefully above the park’s huge lake. No doubt friendly locals will be on hand to tell you you’re doing it all wrong!
===> Explore more itineraries via the RELATED links below.
Once the kids start getting peckish, leave the park and cycle back past the kite shop to Cross The Bridge Noodles, a small noodles restaurant specialising in cuisine from Yunnan in southwest China. After lunch, cycle further north to Qing Nian Hu Park where you can all cool off in the outdoor water park. Beside it, you’ll also find some low-key amusement-park rides for little-uns. Next stop, the lakes at Houhai. First head to Houhai Exercise Park where you can all join in with the locals as they perform their body-bending stretches on the various outdoor exercise contraptions that are great fun to mess around on. Next to this, there’ll be lakeside table tennis going on – why not get one of the kids to challenge a Beijinger to a game? If that tires them out, go for some boating on Houhai; there are pedal-boat rental places all around the lake, and it’s a popular thing to do come nightfall.
Finish the evening off with either a picnic on your pedal-boat, or some Peking roast duck – always a winner with children – at nearby Qi Tian Lou Roast Duck (at 26 Gulou Dongdajie).
If you’re here with your family in winter time, then the lakes at Houhai are also the place to come. They freeze over completely and Beijingers take to the ice on skates, ice-bikes and ice-chairs, and there are food stalls dotted around the place. There’s usually a huge ice slide too, which kids can hurtle down on small mats. See here for more details.