The question of what there is to do in Dalian has been asked many times. Some Chinese cities are associated with historic relics. Others are known for existing natural or man-made wonders. While Dalian is not particularly known for historic relics, it's location on the Liaodong peninsula of northeast China has made it a coveted piece of land since the early 1900's. In the last century or so, Dalian has been under the control of the Russians, the Japanese, and the Chinese at various times. To this day there are a few structural remnants left from the Russian and Japanese occupations. One such attraction is the Russian Street where visitors and residents to go to see the old Russian town hall as well as some other Russian style buildings.
Dalian's coastal location is not without it's small hills either. There are many hiking paths in and around the city. One path of note that runs along the coastal hills of Dalian is the one that follows Dalian's coastal road, the Binhai Road. Dalian completed the worlds longest boardwalk in August 2009 running a total length of 20.99 km (13.04 mi) of Dalian's coastline according to the Guinness World Records. This boardwalk starts near one of Dalian's other attractions, Xinghai Square. Xinghai Square is one of the world's largest city squares in existence with the elliptical portion of the square alone taking up approximately half a million square meters. This square is definitely one of Dalian's largest attractions.
Dalian also hosts a couple of annual festivals that draw people in from all over. Usually sometime towards the end of summer Dalian hosts the International Beer Festival. Thousands of visitors gather at Xinghai Square for the food, music, and of course, beer from countries as far away as Germany. In September, the Dalian International Fashion Festival is held when fashion designers from all over the world come to Dalian to present their creations. Though not a festival, Dalian has also hosted the World Economic Forum Summer Davos every other year since 2007.
Other attractions around the city include the Dalian Zoo, Dalian Polar Aquarium, Golden Pebble Beach, Discovery Kingdom Amusement Park, and Big Black Mountain. In addition, Dalian has many seasonal activities around the city such as paint ball, outdoor laser tag, and skiing or snowboarding.
In addition to the sites in and around Dalian, there are a number of places and activities within a weekend's traveling distance. Dandong, a Chinese city along the China and North Korean border has an interesting museum dedicated to the Korean war, half a bridge that was bombed during the war, and a small portion of the easternmost end of the Great Wall. Another great weekend trip is a visit to the Bingyugou Valley. Bingyugou is a national park that covers about 110 square kilometers (42.5 square miles) and has been called the Guilin of Northeast China. The Benxi Water Caves, a bit more than 400 km northeast of Dalian, also draw in the adventurous who enjoy memorable underground boat rides.