Great Wall of China
Courtesy of Harald Sund/Getty Images
2. GREAT WALL OF CHINA
Just the fact that you can see it from space (albeit, under perfect conditions, if at all) will light up kids’ imaginations. Kids love superlatives, so the fact that the Great Wall of China is the longest man-made object ever built will surely impress. And the fact that they can conquer it (or at least a part of it) and own it, by walking a piece of it, is priceless. Plus, experiencing the Great Wall will give the kids a hands-on lesson in ancient history. The facts: Some of it dates as early as the 7th century B.C.; it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site (that was an easy call); it’s more than 13,000 miles long; and in some sections the wall is 30 feet wide.

The fact that it offers a varied visual experience — there are watchtowers, temples, and moats, not to mention the changing, dramatic landscape of jagged mountains and deserts — delivers an element of surprise and discovery. Practicalities: Beijing is a fine base from which to see such sections of the wall as Badaling, Jinshanling, Mutianyu, and Simatai.

Naturally, the less steep sections will attract more crowds, so weigh that against the age and physical condition of the whole family. If your kids are complainers, it’s best to avoid the height of summer (bring lots of water, no matter the season). Cut down the arduousness by taking the cable car up and the toboggan track down.

And finally, though most people regard souvenir hawkers as annoyances, for kids, few boasts can replace being able to say, “Oh, this? I bought it on the Great Wall of China.”  - BY DREW LIMSKY