For family outings, Shanghai offers both indoor and outdoor activities and public spaces. The season will probably dictate which you prefer to explore with your family. Shanghai’s parks are generally clean and well-kept, with walking paths, lotus ponds and manicured gardens. Shanghai residents make full use of these spaces, using them almost as open community centres.
When you visit a park in Puxi, you’ll see the elderly practicing tai chi, playing chess, taking impromptu dance lessons or enjoying picnics. In People’s Park, you’re likely to stumble upon Chinese parents busily pairing up profiles of their sons and daughters in what can best be described as a matchmaking market. These are fantastic places to comfortably observe Shanghai life and culture. What they frequently lack, however, is a wide green space for sprawling out or kicking a ball around. The lawns, gardens and ponds are beautiful to look at, but trampling about is often prohibited. Pudong, on the other hand, has been planned to provide more Western-style open green space for young families, and there are several newly-opened parks. Shanghai’s zoological parks are also popular.
In Puxi, the best parks are in the former French Concession and its vicinity. Highlights include Xuhui Park, Xiangyang Park and Hengshan Park – all ideal places to observe quintessential Shanghai park culture and have a stroll. The largest, Fuxing Park, is a landscaping gem with a maze of ivy-covered archways and with a large expanse of grass where it is possible to kick a ball, fly a kite or enjoy a picnic. Zhongshan Park, in Changning District, is a quiet getaway with green open fields and kite-flyers if you’re in the area, but not necessarily worth a trip from another district. The Shanghai Botanical Garden is home to a range of green expanses and various horticultural environments and man-made lotus ponds, including a greenhouse with jungle and composite desert. In many parks, such as Jing’an Park, you can pay a small fee to enter an inner sanctuary.