My first foray into solo sightseeing was with the Yonghegong 0r Peace and Harmony Temple. It was only one train change and 6 stops away from the hotel.
It is an actual Tibetan Buddhist monastery, with real monks living and worshipping there. The building complex was originally built during the 1700s to be a residence for palace eunuchs, but later became the residence of one of the princes. When he died, the emperor converted the palace to a temple, honoring Tibetan Lama Buddhism. It was shut down during the Cultural Revolution, but somehow survived mostly intact. When restrictions were eased in the 1980s, the temple began to flourish once more… and now is an example of a state-sponsored religious institution.