Avoid the grass Nazi: 5 Shanghai parks where grass stains are permitted
Brush a toe across a blade of grass in many Shanghai parks and you'll incite the wrath of a seething security patrol.
But at these five parks you can always score a patch of grass without getting hassled by the authorities.
1. Fuxing Park
You don’t have to support public juggling or break dancing to appreciate the kind of park that allows exhibitionists the freedom to play at the feet of a statue of a co-joined Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Designed like a Parisian park with tree-lined walkways, fountains and flowerbeds, Fuxing Park stays open late into the evenings when local clubs Park97 and Guandii empty and the daytime cube monkeys reacquaint themselves with the comfort of warm grass and, occasionally, the supine position. Free entry.
105 Yandang Lu, near Nanchang Lu 雁荡路105号, 近南昌路
2. Shanghai Opera House Garden
From the street, you’d hardly suspect that a Shanghai park is hidden behind Cantonese fast food chain Bi Feng Tang’s, but turn down the unmarked lane (famous last words) next to the restaurant to find yourself in a secluded 600-square-meter park with a well-kept lawn and shade trees that are as old as the people who periodically practice tai chi under them. Actually, there are arguments on both sides for which is older. No grass Nazi in sight, this plot of green makes you want to peel through a quick libretto in the shadow of the exceptional French Neo-classical opera house next to it. Free entry.
100 Changshu Lu, Lane 10, near Changle Lu, near Bi Feng Tang restaurant 常熟路100号10 弄, 近长乐路, 近避风塘
3. Xujiahui Park
This modern Shanghai park is built on the site of an old brick factory, but the only bricks to be found these days are on the basketball courts and in the industrial cone-shaped chimney that serves as a landmark on the southwestern side of the park. Surrounded by the commercial towers of Xujiahui, the park, a favorite of local 9-to-5ers during lunch, also has a playground and a gaggle of black swans that patrol a man-made pond. Free entry.
Entrance at Tianping Lu and Zhaojiabang Lu, Metro Line 1, Exit 14 天平路和肇嘉浜路之间, 地铁1号14出口
4. Gongqing Forest Park
Because you can’t just leave a massive plot of parkland alone -- this 131-hectare behemoth north of the city is so big that a shuttle is available to haul visitors around it -- roller coasters, horseback riding, bumper cars, go-karts and a rock-climbing wall have been brought in. Even with these diversions, there’s plenty of nature left, with bamboo groves and a whopping 300,000 trees interspersed with the grass you came to enjoy and designated areas for picnics and barbecues. RMB 15 admission, free for children under 1.2 meters. Open 6am-5pm (no entry after 4pm).
2000 Jungong Lu, Metro Line 8 to Shiguang Lu station then a short taxi ride 军工路2000号地铁8号市光路站
5. Century Park
Sprawling over 140 hectares in Pudong, the largest Shanghai park features a mix of British, Japanese and Chinese gardening styles and is arguably Shanghai's premier outdoor space. With a huge lake and more than enough room for sun-tanners, football players, three-person tandem bikers and semi-controlled tots on Rollerblades to co-exist peacefully, Century Park feels more like a little city than a mere park full of green grass. RMB 10 admission, free for children under 1.2 meters and seniors over 70. Open 7am-6pm
1001 Jinxiu Lu, near Minsheng Lu, Metro Line 2 to Shanghai Science & Technology Museum station, exit 4 or 5 锦绣路1001号, 近民生路, 地铁2号 上海科技馆站4, 5出口