The last days of the lost summer 2022 are upon us with only 10 more days or so of school holidays left. With most schools requiring students and teachers to be back in Shanghai already, a lot of the city's major attractions are packed with families looking for things to do before the new year begins. The Shanghai Natural History Museum or the Shanghai Astronomy Museum, for instance, are fully booked for the week.
Here are a few more family-friendly ideas that aren't those.
Museum of Art Pudong
Ages: Open to any age. But, y'know. Maybe one for older kids.
Price: Family passes (2 adults, 1 kid) are 260rmb on weekdays; 400rmb on weekends. Reservation through their WeChat account required, search for 浦东美术馆 or in English here.
Keeps kids busy for: A couple hours.
The huge museum near the Pearl Tower in Pudong is worth a visit in itself for it's architecture and great views (or its roof-top restaurant). Exhibitions run the gamut of classical and contemporary Chinese and International art, often transpiring concurrently with one another, which can make for a really eclectic afternoon at the museum. The big room-filling artworks make for a great day out with the kids.
Museum of Illusions
Price: Free admission for ages 5 and under; 78rmb for kids under 16 or 1.2-meters; 98rmb for adults. Tickets here.
Keeps kids busy for: A solid 90 minutes.
The latest edition of the globe-trotting Croatian "Museum of Illusions". The popular international attraction features puzzles, holograms and general optical trickery that will leave you well and truly bamboozled. A fantastic photo opportunity or just a good time out with friends and family. All age groups will appreciate it but kids especially will have a blast here. Just as they thought they had object permanence and depth perception figured out!
Ages: 10 and up.
Price: 388rmb for adults; 60rmb for kids. Kids must be with one adult. Tickets here.
Keeps kids busy for: 40 minutes.
Did you know we have the worlds highest sky walk right here in Shanghai? Yep, we do. It's on the side of the Jinmao tower. For real, you can strap into safety equipment and walk 360.4 meters above street level, along a 1.2 meter wide glass ledge around the outside of part of the building. You'll have trained professionals there to instruct you and on-walk photo opportunities for you to lean over the edge and look fearless with the Shanghai as your backdrop.
Ages: 4 years or over 1.4 meters tall.
Price: 200rmb weekdays; 239rmb on weekends and holidays. Tickets available here.
Keeps kids busy for: Two hours or so...
A high ropes course right next to the International Ferry Terminal, consisting of 94 (94!)elements varying in difficulty. A clear day will give you a spectacular view across the river while you are suspended 60ft in the air. Suitable for both kids and adults with trained safety staff on-site.
Kerry Center Water Fountain
Keeps kids busy: An hour...
There's a water fountain area outside the Kerry Center in Jing'an, right next to Calypso restaurant, that gets super busy with kids of pretty much any age. There are 3 scheduled slots when the water is on and for younger kids it's a nice spot to spash around for a bit. Bring a small cooler, invite some friends, and make an afternoon of it.
Binjiang Forest Park
Ages: All ages.
Keeps kids busy: Two hours. With travel time, it's half a day.
Shanghai Binjiang Forest Park is located at the city's northernmost edge, where the Huangpu River meets the Yangtze River. It is the closest forest park to Shanghai's downtown area — but it's still a bit of a trek. This is a half-day sort of outing, but it's actually quite big and spacious, and it's the best, closest option if you're looking to spend some time around some greenery. It's pretty well manicured with lots of different ecological areas, gardens, and wetlands, with walking paths throughout the area.
Ages: All ages.
Price: 10rmb, with free entry for the elderly and children under 1.2 meters.
Keeps kids busy for: However long you want to be in a city park for...
No introduction needed. If Binjiang is too much of a commitment and you just want a decent nearby park for a walk-about, here's Century Park. Fine landscaping, beautiful flowers, a massive lake, and tons of green spaces to lie down on, play frisbee, or whatever. You can also rent tandem bicycles or sightseeing boats. The park has a kids amusement area too. Be aware, it's a popular one but the sheer size of the park means it feels fairly peaceful in places. Sometimes. It's open 7am to 6pm during the summer.
Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Gardens
Ages: All ages.
Price: Free for kids below 1.3 meters or younger than 6; 30rmb for kids, 6-18; 60rmb for adults.
Keeps kids busy for: Half a day.
Good for a day out and a picnic, the Chenshan Botanical Gardens is Shanghai's largest and most involved botanical gardens. It's out in Songjiang district and it's huge, home to several scenic and ecological areas, a big greenhouse exhibition, lavishly ornate gardens, and several lakes, right in the middle of it. Bring your own drinks and snacks though. Very photogenic afternoon with the family, this one, if the weather isn't too hot.
Zotter Chocolate Theatre
Ages: All ages.
Prices: Around 250rmb for one kid and one adult; around 400rmb for two adults and a kid; student tickets, around 150rmb. Tickets available here.
Keeps kids busy for: An hour and change...
A trip to Zotter Chocolate is a viewing of their chocolate production, a tasting tour, and plenty of opportunities to buy more chocolate, chocolate, chocolate from this Viennese convectionary. They offer a wide range of chocolates, too, from simple and traditional favorites to more adventurous flavor combinations, like bacon bits. Call ahead to get their tour schedules.
Ages: 6 and up.
Price: Same prices for kids and adults. 188rmb for one; 388rmb for two. Includes a selected drink plus skates. Tickets available here.
Keeps kids busy for: A couple of hours...
Nothing like a classic afternoon at the roller rink -- or "Riink" rather. Riink is especially kids friendly during the daytime when everyone else is at work, and they've also got a kids friendly food and drinks menu, lots of safety gear for new skaters, and package deals for groups buying food and drinks. They also host kids birthday parties as well if you're looking for a fun venue experienced in hosting kids' parties.
Temple of Light
Age: Good for kids of any age but the show gets a bit loud -- might not be ideal for really young kids.
Price: Free entry for kids under one meter but they must be accompanied by an adult. 128rmb for adults on weekdays. Tickets available here.
Keeps kids busy for: 40 minutes.
There's about a month of so left to see "Temple of Light", the unique art exhibition that uses projection technology to recreate famous works of art. It's roughly a 40-minute show in which you walk through a room and watch the big, arresting light show projected on the walls. Plenty of ooo and ahhh moments. It's not busy anymore so there's no lines and no reservations required on weekdays. It's open to kids of any age.
Age: All ages.
Price: Free entry for kids under 3; 199rmb for kids 3-11years; 249rmb for everyone else. Tickets available here.
Keeps kids busy for: Around 2 hours.
A futuristic wonderland of a museum, by Japanese digital art collective teamLab. Inside, it's a fantasy world spread across many rooms, with endlessly changing and interactive projections creating a disorienting trip akin to that bit in 2001: A Space Odyssey where things get super weird. Sensory overload. It's only the second one in the world, after the original in Tokyo.
Keith Haring and Picasso Exhibitions
Ages: Older kids into modern and post-modern art.
Prices: Keith Haring kids, 98rmb; Picasso kids, 138rmb. One adult and one kid for Keith Haring: 199rmb. The same for Picasso: 239rmb. Tickets available here for Keith Haring, and here for Picasso.
Keeps kids busy: How precicious are they? Two hours?
Meet You Museum currently has two interesting exhibitions on featuring some art world heavyweights. The first large-scale solo exhibition in China of Keith Haring, showing over 70 original art works by the New York pop art artist. The same museum is also hosting a Pablo Picasso exhibition, including two major works from his bullfighting series: "Toros y Toreros" and "Tauromaquia".
Legoland Discovery Center
Ages: 3-10... or 3-99...
Prices: 210rmb for both kids and adults.
Keeps kids busy for: A couple of hours.
It's one of those places in Shanghai that everyone has heard of, but for some reason, not many have been to. This is China's first Legoland Discovery Center, and the only place in China where you can purchase lego products in bulk. It's a 30,000 square-meter center designed for kids age 3-10 years old, and sadly, adults are not allowed in without children. There are 10 themed zones inside, so expect to spend at least a couple of hours in here. More info and pictures in our feature article.
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
Age: Any age
Price: Kids tickets 105-110rmb for a day pass, 155-160 for adults. Need to book in advanced through their WeChat account, search for 上海海洋水族馆.
Keeps kids busy for: 2-3 hours.
A popular attraction for visiting and local families, the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is the largest and most varied in China, and home to some 10,000 varieties of sea creatures, as well as the longest underwater tunnel in the world. Jellyfish, giant sting rays, sharks, oh my. Exhibitions and ocean animals are grouped according to their global origin, with all major oceans in the world represented. Honestly? Yes, the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is actually a really great aquarium and highly recommended for an afternoon trip. Beautiful, mesmerizing, and captivating oceanic vistas.
Urban Planning Exhibition Center
Age: 12 and up.
Prices: Free but reservations are required through their WeChat account. Search for: 上海城市规划展示馆.
Keeps kids busy for: Two hours or so.
This one just opened last week after two years of renovations so it might be hard getting in. Always known as one of the better museums in town the Urban Planning Center 2.0 has gone in the direction of new technologies. Now, the exhibits incorporate virtual reality, interactive elements, digital maps, and screens, screens, screens everywhere. The Shanghai Urban Planning Center is still worth a visit, though, if you're interested in the past, present, and future of Shanghai city planning and development. The models are really neat. It's good for an afternoon for families, especially if you've got some budding architects in the fold.
Ages: 8 years and up.
Price: 128rmb on weekdays; 158rmb on weekends. Tickets available here.
Keeps kids busy: 1-2 hours.
Located in a new-feeling mall right by Line 7's Dachang Town in north Jing'an is W1NNER -- a slick, neon-drenched indoor go-karting track. To save you from petrol fume headaches, W1NNER uses all sleek, vibration-less electric cars. The wheels squeal suggestively, there are lots of contorted hairpin turns to fold yourself around, and the up-and-down bits at the end keep it interesting. It's a little pricier than other spots around town but cleaner and safer than your average karting circuit. The cars accelerate fast and the tires go wheeeeeee -- what's not to like...
Ages: 7 and up.
Price: 178rmb per hour. Tickets available here.
Will keep kids busy for: An hour or two...
A good one for older gamer kids and gamer parents looking to take it up to the next level. Motrix VR is a virtual reality gaming venue but what sets it apart is this trio of cooperative escape room games they've got from Ubisoft: Escape the Lost Pyramid and Beyond Medusa's Gate are based off the Assassin's Creed franchise, while the third, Dagger of Time, is based on Prince of Persia. Legits VR games for the discerning gamer.
For more ideas browse SmartShanghai's new Kids & Family directory.