A family visit to Beijing should include a visit to the Botanical Gardens in the Western Hills of the city and right next to Xiang Shang (Fragrant Hills). The garden is on a huge grounds, including some memorials, flower/blossom gardens and a giant sleeping Buddha at the north end.
It’s worth buying the combo ticket that includes the conservatory. Be prepared for the changing weather inside though, whatever season you go. The jungle is damp and sticky but fun and beautiful with waterfalls and a wooden bridge kids will enjoy crossing.
This is followed by the desert (very hot!) and then orchids and “carnivores” (though try as we might we couldn’t find the Venus fly-traps). The central area is worth walking around too.
As with most tourist attractions, avoid during holiday times! And be prepared to pay double for food and snacks and games. A box lunch will set you back 20 RMB. Bring a picnic and blanket and spread out on the grass. Or head out the gate to eat and follow it with a trip to Fragrant Hills.
There are many buses going to the Botanical Gardens, but no subway yet. The roads are small so be prepared for traffic. The main entrance is in the south. Entrance is 10 yuan, 5 for kids/students or a combo ticket is 50 or 40.