A truly epic place unlike anything you'll find in the United States, the Summer Palace is a must-see attraction that you'll find on almost any tour offered in Beijing. Once the home of emperors, the extensive gardens and assemblage of pavilions, temples, and palaces bedeck Longevity Hill, which overlooks the sparkling waters of Kunming Lake.
You can take a day strolling through the nearly nine hundred years of dynastic history, with attractions like the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, and the Marble Boat, a pavilion on the lake-shore painted to resemble marble to represent Imperial power. Because it is a hugely popular tourist destination, you'll feel a bit packed going in, especially on the weekend, but there is enough open space that you'll still be able to find quiet spots of beauty.
Note:Located to the northwest of Beijing city center, take subway line 4 or one of many available bus routes. The cost for entrance is from 20-50Y, depending on which attractions you are looking to enjoy.