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Beijing with Kids

Education Without Yawns

Military Museum. A toy soldier-lover's dream come true, this museum contains endless collections of AK-47s, captured tanks, missile launchers, and other war toys. Your kids will love every minute of China's 5,000-year military history. Easy access by subway ensures they won't have to ask, "Are we there yet?"

Forbidden City. The largest surviving palace complex in the world, there are plenty of wide-open spaces here for kids to run amok. While you're appreciating the finest collection of imperial architecture in China, your little ones can imagine what it was like to have thousands of mandarins catering to their every whim. Sort of like having parents.

Blue Zoo Beijing. Not to be confused with an actual zoo, this is Asia's largest walk-through aquarium. Divers feed thousands of sea creatures, including sharks, twice a day. A visit here can be negotiated as a prize for letting you shop in peace at nearby Yashow Market.

China Science & Technology Museum. A paradise for curious kids, this museum features hands-on interactive displays with a strong focus on Chinese inventions like the compass, gunpowder, and paper. The on-site Fundazzle playground will keep your little one entertained even when the robot performance is finished.

Performances

Amazing Acrobats. Take the kids out for a night on the town to show them that hand-eye coordination doesn't only come from playing video games. To really inspire, look for a performance featuring child acrobats who dedicate every day to perfecting their awe-inspiring craft.

China Puppet Theater. Actors manipulate huge puppets through performances of Western classics like The Nutcracker and Chinese classics like The Monkey King. There's a playground, too, for kids who just won't sit still.

Activities

Go Fly a Kite. China's love affair with kites goes back nearly 3,000 years. Head for the open spaces of Tiananmen Square or the Temple of Heaven, where old folks with decades of flying experience will help send your child's kite soaring towards the heavens.

Climb the Wall. Do we really have to convince you? After climbing hundreds (or thousands) of steps, your little one will sleep soundly while dreaming of turning back the marauding Mongol hordes.

A Trip Around the World. World Park offers a bizarre collection of 100 scaled-down tourist attractions from across the globe. Kids enjoy climbing on the pyramids; parents can marvel at the outdated and politically incorrect international stereotypes.

Fun in the Sun. Ritan Park (Altar of the Sun), is an altar of fun for children of all ages. Little tykes can ride the merry-go-round, older kids can try their luck on the climbing wall, and you can stop in for a drink at the outdoor Stone Boat, perhaps the world's only kid-friendly bar.

Set Sail. Cruise the imperial lakes at Houhai in a paddleboat, and take the family for a rectangular pie at Hutong Pizza when you get back to shore. In winter the lakes freeze over, and kids in ice chairs gleefully glide across the surface.

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