So many parks! Shanghai's parks range from neighborhood green spaces to massive destination forests. Interesting note: many of them were originally cemeteries before New China decided they would be better off as parks. Another note: most public parks close by 6pm, don’t allow dogs, and won’t allow you on the grass. Still. In 2020. Come on, grass police. Lighten up! But after many days of trekking, we present to you 18 of the city's finest parks. Good for enjoying your green spaces, weekend picnics and catching a bit of shade on a bench.
This traditional Chinese garden charges a whopping two rmb entrance. Inside its peaceful and famous for the Osmanthus trees in the garden. This place was originally built as the residence of Shanghai pre-war gangster Huang Jinrong.
The Chinese-style garden was originally the family tomb and garden for the Cao family, who were in the clothing business. Now it’s popular with saxophone players, but it's still good for a promenade or a sit-down with a book.
Surrounded on all sides by museums and landmarks old and new, People’s Park is the site of the old Shanghai racecourse. The current Shanghai History Museum used to be its clubhouse. Inside, the park is home to the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Arts, long-running restaurant-lounge Barbarossa and newcomer the Ministry of Crab, a Sri Lankan restaurant serving monster-sized seafood. Lots of buskers and dancers on the fringes.
A good sized French-inspired park on Huaihai Zhong Lu, nice for coffee breaks. Lots of trees and shaded areas to sit (though not on the grass) including the tree-lined boulevard starting at the entrance facing IAPM mall and ending at a hexagonal pavilion. The park is open 24 hours. Grandparents with their grandkids congregate, as do people playing badminton, doing taiji, painting water calligraphy and even the outdoor yogis. Evening times there’s ballroom dancing. A classic Chinese park.
Yanzhong Guangchang Park (East)
The eastern most section of the broader Yanzhong Park. In this dense city, it can feel difficult to get some quiet alone time. Sometimes you need a quick bit of solitude in nature, away from the gossiping retirees and playing children. This no-frills green space is the best option. Actually a string of parks, they are perfectly unspectacular. There are no big amenities that draw crowds. No kiddie amusement rides. But they are just nice. Serene.
Lu Xun Park
Named for revolutionary writer Lu Xun, his mausoleum and a museum of his work are located within the park. This one draws a lot of the older generation living in the area, who come to chat and do things that old people like to do. Like chat. And chat some more. Good for people watching, walks and families.
Daning Lingshi Park
This large park on the north side near Shanghai Circus World has a manmade beach and lake where people play, fish, and take wedding pictures, and ample green space for flying kites or running around. Lots of elderly photographers chill here all afternoon with their pro digital cameras. The park also has a garden and several Roman style features. Entrance is 5rmb. Good families, day camping, kites and photography.
This park in Changning District is so big, it has its own metro station. Great place for families to come fly kites on the weekends, paddle around in boats, and lay out on the grass. Place is full of elderly folk doing tai chi and sword forms in the mornings, and people like the routes for jogging. Generally quite busy but you can always find a spot to chill. It's always free, though you'll have to pay for some activities. Good for families, hanging out with friends, reading and people watching.
Shanghai Houtan Park
Unlike other parks in Shanghai, Houtan Park has serious countryside vibes. Lots of wild greens and flowers along the way, plus some fish and tadpoles in the stream. You might find some wild animals on the path that connects to the Expo Park. The park is quite natural, so bring a blanket if you plan on sitting down for a picnic. Free entry. Good for dates, picnics, families, finding some nature and photography.
Hard to go wrong with Century Park. Hard to miss it too, in terms of square mileage, it's one of the largest in Greater Shanghai (and definitely the largest downtown), located just behind the Lujiazui concrete and glass jungle. Mostly it's just grassy areas, with plenty of lake-views and wooded copses. Portions of it can get pretty crowded, but keep walking and you're liable to find some peace and quiet. Good for people watching, dates, walks and finding some nature.
Changfeng Park on the west side is a large, landscaped park with a lake in the center. Lots of benches by the water but it's hard to get a seat on the weekends. You can also rent a sightseeing boat or see some fish in the aquarium. They've got some auntie and uncle bands spreading their warm sounds around the park too. Lots of nice Chinese tunes. REALLY busy on the weekends, probably because of the free entry. Good for families and walks.
Dagu Lu Park
Located on Lao Chengdu Bei Lu and Dagu Lu, this is one of the nicest downtown parks. Lots of cherry trees and waterfalls for selfie-opportunities. Many elderly folk playing board games too. Seems fine to lay down in the grass here. Place is free all day. Good for dates, people watching and lunch breaks.
Yanzhong Guangchang Park (West)
Another continuation of the broader Yanzhong Park. This place really goes on forever. Not many people in this part of the park, which makes it a fine place for a low-key date, meditation or just chilling out.
Yanzhong Guangchang Park (Middle)
Really peaceful continuation of the broader Yanzhong Park. Tranquil place with lots of water features, bridges, a mini-exercise center, and lots of benches. Good for moments of solitude, some exercise, and forgetting about the city without actually leaving the city.
According to legend, this park was built on top of the old graves of foreigners. Used to be a popular crusing spot too. Now it's a busy place for families and the elderly to chill in the middle of the hustle. Lots of caves, benches, water features, and grass here, plus some restaurants in the park and just outside. Sitting on the grass is heavily discouraged. Still, good for lunch breaks, family walks and people watching.
Just across the street from Sinan Mansions and a quick walk from Xintiandi, Fuxing Park has several gardens, lots of benches, statues of historical figures, lots of grass (can't sit on all of it), and a children's area with rides and activities. A Shanghainese rap crew even wrote a song about this place. Fuxing Park is full of older people every morning, and lots of families and picnicking young people on weekends. Tip: they grow the grass during the spring -- that's why people can't sit on it yet. This one is always free. Good for dates, picnics, people watching, photography, a lunch break and reading somewhere quietly.
Xujiahui park feels bigger than it actually is. It's a perfect place to escape the hustle of Xujiahui, and it's also where most of the city's top basketballers play. Lots of grassy areas to sit down in, and often some Ayi dance parties at night. Several restaurants and shopping destinations are just around the corner, too. Good for picnics, families, basketball, relaxing, and dates.
Huashan Green Space
This park on the corner of Xingfu Lu and the little street with no name stays busy 24/7. In the mornings and daytime, the elderly come through to hang out, play board games, and practice tai chi. By night, partiers often pass through to do god knows what. It's also popular for dogs, and while laying on the grass is allowed, one should always watch out for canine doo doo. Also has some nice water features, a basketball court, and a jogging track. Always free. Good for people watching, dogs meeting dogs, relaxing or playing basketball.