A Fantastic Family Day in Shanghai
Shanghai is a beautiful city combining both old architecture and gleaming modern skyscrapers in really interesting ways. It is a great city to travel with kids because there are beautiful parks in each neighborhood leaving kids an opportunity to escape the congestion. Crowded Shanghai is with a population of — million not to mention tourists certain areas are incredibly busy; the parks definitely offer respite. Shanghai is not a slower paced city with a bit of a café culture be prepared to sit at meals a bit longer than you might be accustomed to and take time at the cafes to people watch.
- Urban Planning and Exhibition Hall: Shanghai’s city planning museum is a great place to start your visit. The overview of Shanghai’s architecture and the information on the future plans is interesting and helps visitors better understand both the culture and the geography of the city. Be sure to watch the short movie on the 5th floor it ends with fireworks and explains the districts of the city well. The entire museum takes about 45 minutes to view and is not only a lesson on Shanghai but on Urban Planning in general.
- People’s Park: With views of all of the skyscrapers around it People’s Park is a beautifully landscaped central park perfect for getting energy out or just a stroll. It is also home to two of the most important museums in Shanghai, Shanghai Museum of Art and MOCA. Whether or not you are going to the museum the park is worthwhile for the peaceful .
- Sideways Tour, This tour on motorcycles with sidecars was by far my son’s favorite part of the trip. I am scared to ride on motorcycles but in the end this was actually a great way to see the architecture of the city while getting a tour. The tour went through the French concession to the old city and back again. Our guide, Anthony, told us details about shanghai life, architecture and culture while riding through the streets. Shanghai is so beautiful and diverse architecturally this is a great way to see all of the historical architecture.
- Lunch : Ask your sideways tour guide to stop by local market to grab some local treats or have something at one of the numerous cafes near either of the sideways drop off points. Lunch is casual in Shanghai and reservations are only needed at formal restaurants at this time.
- Bund Walk; Strolling along the iconic Bund is a must do in Shanghai, this riverside promenade offers the iconic views of modern Pudong on the far side and art deco architecture on the Shanghai side. Starting at the signal tower and walk north for as long as you please. You can always back track to 300 Bund, which is where the sightseeing tunnel starts. Just make sure to save energy for a stroll on the other side.
- To get views of both Pudong and the bund – walk on the Bund first then take either sightseeing tunnel ride or ferry across the Huangpu River then walk on Pudong Riverside promenade, this offers views from both sides to really get a sense of the architecture. The Bund sightseeing tunnel ride is a bit of a rip off at 70 Yuan round trip, however it is also a three minute ride with lights and sounds which is entertainingly bad if not educational. On a beautiful day or night I would probably opt for the 2 Yuan ferry but when climate control is needed take the tunnel for amusement at its’ ridiculousness if nothing else.
- If you still have energy head over to M50 or Morganschan art area. Although most of the original galleries have been replaced by small stores a few like ShanghART remain and the area itself is a converted textile mill that is now an art complex with lots of open courtyards and alleys and tons of fun stuff to look at. There are tons of sculptures in the alleys allowing kids to interact with the art as they are running through the maze of buildings.
- Built up an appetite yet, for dinner two options in the French Concession French or Chinese depending on your mood, both restaurants require reservations.
French: My favorite restaurant in Shanghai is Francks in the French Concession. They are kind to children without being condescending and the French food is expensive bistro style, simple and delicious. The restaurant is on a courtyard called Ferguson Lane where the kids are safe to wander around if it is warm enough to sit outside. The servings are generous and although there is no children’s menu my children shared one steak as was recommended by our waiter.
Chinese: Yong Foo Elite housed in a former consulate building is a beautiful Chinese restaurant with a huge courtyard with lots of nooks and crannies for kids to discover. This used to be a private club and there still are portions closed to only the cream of the crop. However early in the evening when we dined here it was family central with every table having at least one if not two or three children at it. The food menu is enormous with every type of Chinese food offered. Everything we ate was delicious, although no photographs are allowed so you will have to trust me. The food is expensive but the experience felt worth the money.
Accommodation: There are so many options in Shanghai it is really about budget and location. Recently I stayed with my family at the Shangri La Jing An which was a 10 -15 minute taxi away from everything we wanted to do and had a mall and Metro station attached to the hotel. It is right across from Jing An temple that allows for a beautiful view. The kids loved the pool and the staff was kind, courteous and helpful. They also allowed the four of us to stay together in a superior king room, which had doors between the living area, where the kids slept and the bedroom.
Details: Shanghai Urban Planning and Exhibition Hall, 100 Remnin Avenue, Open Tuesday –Sunday, 9am – 5pm; Sideways Tour, Book in Advance at www.shanghaiinsiders.com; Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, 300 East Zhongshan, No. 1 Rd, 8am-10pm; M50 50 Morgenshan Road, Open:Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-6pm; YongFoo Elite, 200 Yongfu Rd, 5466 2727, open daily 11:30am – 12am; Franck, Ferguson Lane, 6437 6465, Open Tuesday – Sunday, 6pm – 11pm