The countryside just south of Beijing city proper is one of the heaviest watermelon producing regions in the world, so it makes a distant sort of sense that the Panggezhuang township government would choose this as the site for their hydrating homage to the citrellus lanatus.
Founded in 2002,the China Watermelon Museum is 4,000 square meters of exhibits tracing the origins of the watermelon from its birthplace in southern Africa to its eventual ascent into, apparently, space. The futuristically modern museum is packed with wax watermelons, displaying the various varieties from around the world, surrounded by abundant neon lighting. The displays cover just about every aspect of watermelons from their history, to growing methods, to China’s “watermelon culture.” There are ancient Chinese poems on display that make reference to melons, and all sorts of informational signs and plaques. Even the building itself is emblazoned with a giant impressionistic watermelon over the front doors.
And if you find the permanent fake melons a bit disingenuous, there is also an outdoor exhibition area where a number of actual watermelon varieties are growing. This museum is definitely about watermelons.
Sadly, none of the exhibits here are subtitled in English, but your eyes will be so full of wax melons and bright neon, and your ears so occupied with the sweet strains of the instrumental Titanic soundtrack (on loop, naturally), that you’ll be hard pressed to notice the lack.
Know Before You Go
Take subway Line 4 to the southern terminus at TianGong 天宫, then head south on bus numbers 28, 30 or 55 to Panggezhuangqiao 庞各庄桥. The Watermelon Museum is on the northeast corner of the Panggezhuangqiao intersection. Note: it's closed on weekends. It's open Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 4:30. 20RMB admission. There's no watermelon tasting anymore.