beijing-gardens-consertavoryThe new 72-hour visa-free visit in Beijing is not a long time for a family visit from places as far as the US. But summer travel is just around the bend, and if you have the occasion to bring the kids to Beijing for even a short time, here’s one suggested Beijing family friendly itinerary (more details at the links provided):

Spend a day in the northwest corner. Start at the Beijing Zoo and Aquarium. The aquarium is an impressively sized area with a variety of fish and exhibits. It’s on the zoo grounds, so get the combo ticket.

When you leave the Beijing Zoo, cross the street to the Planetarium. 10 yuan (7 for kids) will get you in the door, but 3D or 4D movie or sky show in the dome tickets include general admission. Going out east from there, instead of getting in the subway, turn right and follow the crowds to the popular and cheap Zoo Market. It’s not marked but also not hard to find.

beijingbotanicalgardensFinish the day with a visit to the Children’s Library at the National Library of China. And/or visit Zizhuyuan Park next door for a stroll, boat ride, or some rides and games for the kids. 

Spend another day traveling the central axis. Starting from Qianmen in the south, it travels north through Tian’anmen Square (where you’ll find some free museums as well as the Mao-soleum) and then the Forbidden City.

Then head up through Houhai and Qianhai. Enjoy a stroll around the lakes and through the hutong alleys. Or take a ricksaw through the hutongs. In warm weather, go on a boat ride or in winter, skate.

Another day can be spent climbing mountains. In the north, Baiwang mountain is easy to get to and an easy enough family friendly hike. It’s also less populated than other mountains like Xiang Shan. If you visit Xiang Shan, also take some time for the Botanical Gardens. The combo ticket for the conservatory is worthwhile.

Or visit the Great Wall, or the Summer Palace. Or more museums. For younger kids, check out the Science and Technology Museum in the Olympic Park. It has a huge section that’s basically a playland. The Olympic park is also worth a visit.

Jenny Lin is raising 3 boys in Beijing while working as a writer/editor. You can follow her @twinlins or keep up with her sporadically updated cross-cultural familial adventures at