Best Shanghai parks for a picnic

Best Shanghai parks for a picnic

Grab some grub and spread out a blanket. These are the spots for the perfect afternoon meal in Shanghai

Although it sometimes gets nippy in the morning and after sunset, autumn is the time in Shanghai for a picnic.

The basic pre-planning required for picnics sometimes leaves the lazier of us overwhelmed.

Here’s what you need to do: buy a couple meters of cloth at the South Bund Fabric Market, or a cheap bedsheet at a corner stall down your street.

Now all you need is the perfect spot and some food. That's where we come in, with this list of the best parks around and information on where to get everything else you'll need.

Century Park (世纪公园)

Century ParkChill out at Shanghai's downtown green heart. Century Park has plenty of space and activities.

The scene:
The largest park in downtown Shanghai offers a slew of different ways of getting around -- paddle boats by the hour (line up early to avoid a major wait), bikes and group pedal cars that can fit up to four people.

Once you’re ready to settle, the mini-amphitheater is a fun place to sit back and watch people.

Watch out for: While most parks in Shanghai are free, this one costs RMB 10, and ticket lines can be lengthy.

Nearby supplies: The Family Mart right outside the Metro Line 2 Century Park station has all your picnic grub: Great Wall wine, takeaway sandwiches and salads, and disposable cups.

Don't miss: Walk off lunch by strolling around the many lakes.

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1001 Huamu Lu, near Baiyang Lu 花木路1001号, 近白杨路, +86 21 5833 0221, March 16-November 15, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; November 16-March 15, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. 

Shanghai Zoo (上海动物园)

Shanghai ZooPicnic together with giant pandas, South China tigers and other unique Chinese animals.

The scene: Formerly a British-run golf course, the Shanghai Zoo’s well-manicured gardens among the animal exhibits lend themselves to picnicking, even if only inside the front gate.

The South China tiger, as well as hundreds of other native Chinese animals, are particularly popular.

Entry is RMB 40 per person and kids under 1.3 meters can get in for free.

Watch out for: Some of the animals seem a little depressed in their smallish cages.

Nearby supplies: Hawkers outside the gate sell two-kuai waters and bubble blowers.

Don't miss: Giant pandas

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2381 Hongqiao Lu, near Hongjing Lu, Metro Line 10 Shanghai Zoo station exits 1 and 4 虹桥路2381号, 近虹井路, 地铁10号线上海动物园站1号和4号口, +86 21 6268 7775, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m, animals on view from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Lu Xun Park (鲁迅公园)

Lu Xun ParkCheck out Lu Xun park's diverse public events, such as group singing and afternoon tai chi.

The scene:
Named after Lu Xun (鲁迅), the Chinese literary master, this active and boisterous park has plenty of intimate gazebos.

Near the main square is a prime spot to watch dozens of people sharing the space to sing, dance, practice tai chi and play badminton. Catch a soccer game at the Hongkou Football Stadium after you pack up.

Watch out for: The park patrol has a long and bizarre list of things that are not allowed in the park, including mental disorders.

Nearby supplies: Street vendors sell BBQ snacks and books outside the front entrance.

Don't miss: Joining seniors in some group singing.

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146 Dong Jiangwan Lu, near Sichuan Bei Lu 江湾东路146号, 近四川北路, +86 21 5666 7122, April 1-June 30, 5 a.m.-6 p.m.; July 1-September 30, 5 a.m.-7 p.m.; October 1-March 31, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

People’s Park (人民公园)

People’s ParkHead to People’s Park where you can combine picnicking, shopping, museum going and matchmaking.

The scene:
The most centrally located park in Shanghai, People’s Park spans blocks across the city center and is hemmed in by the Shanghai Museum and mega-modern buildings.

The large, flat area near the museum is probably the most popular spot for lunch on the grass. There's a terraced snack stand nearby. Head to the koi- and water lily-filled pond near Barbarossa’s for a quieter locale.

Watch out for: Persistent kite salesmen

Nearby supplies: Slurpees from the 7-11 next to the entrance, and games from the nearby Hong Kong Underground Mall (inside People's Square metro station).

Don't miss: The art shows at MoCA and the bustling "marriage market" that takes place every Saturday and Sunday afternoon from noon till about 5 p.m.

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39 Renmin Da Dao, near Huangpi Bei Lu, Metro Line 1, 2 and 8 People's Square station exit 1 人民大道39号, 近黄陂北路, 地铁1,2和8号线人民广场站1号口, +86 21 6358 6128, April 1-June 30, 5 a.m.-6 p.m.; July 1-September 30, 5 a.m.-7 p.m.; October 1-March 31, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.‎

Fuxing Park (复兴公园)

Fuxing ParkFuxing Park is one of the best locations to observe Shanghai's public dancing.

The scene:
Fuxing Park is just a kite’s flight away from commercial hub Huaihai Zhong Lu. Lounge on the main lawn next to the fountain near Yandang Lu and watch soccer games.

Loudspeakers blast out ballroom music as locals dance away their afternoons and evenings. Our post-picnic favorite is riding the aging bumper cars.

Watch out for: Major crowds on the weekend … and more kite salesmen.

Nearby supplies: Lawson’s (100 Yandang Lu, near Nanchang Lu) for ice cream and View Café Bar for main food items (Rui Jin Guesthouse, 118 Ruijin Er Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu).

Don't miss: The huge Partyworld karaoke club next to the front entrance.

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516 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu 复兴中路516号, 近淮海中路, +86 21 6372 0662, April 1-June 30, 5 a.m.-6 p.m.; July 1-September 30, 5 a.m.-7 p.m.; October 1-March 31, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

Suzhou Creek Mengqing Environmental Park (苏州河梦清园)

Suzhou Creek MengQing Environmental Park An off-the-beaten-track park that many locals don't know about.

The scene:
Since you can’t picnic on the concrete at M50, relax a few blocks away at this eco-park situated next to Suzhou Creek. The central pavilion near the constructed wetland is a peaceful place to eat; then take a walk toward the creek through the myriad pathways of the park.

Watch out for: Noise from ongoing construction.

Nearby supplies: Traveled Coffee and Tea at M50 does takeaway food and drinks (50 Moganshan Lu, near Nan Suzhouhe Lu).

Don't miss: The “Tin Shui Xiao Pin” sculpture that lets you listen to water rushing underground. 

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130 Yichang Lu, near Jiangning Lu, Metro Line 3 and 4 Zhongtan Lu station 宜昌路130号, 近江宁路, 地铁3, 4号线中潭路站, +86 21 6227 0428, Saturday-Sunday, 9:15-11 a.m (individual visitors); Thursday, 9-11 a.m., 1-3:30 p.m. (group visitors)

Red Town (红坊)

Red TownRed Town is the best Shanghai outdoor space for art aficionados.

The scene:
 Camp out for a few hours on the main lawn of this industrial-style art center, surrounded by boutique art and design galleries and the prominent Minsheng Art Museum. The laid-back security doesn’t seem to mind if you pose with the super-contemporary sculptures (we like the towering legs) as you document your afternoon.

Watch out for: A distinct lack of trees rules out midday picnics during summer, so try going early or late to escape the heat.

Nearby supplies: Grab coffee from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf inside the compound, or beers at the convenience stores outside the entrance.

Don't miss: Doing a photo shoot with the Transformer-esque sculptures.

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570 Huaihai Xi Lu, near Hongqiao Lu 淮海西路570号, 近虹桥路, no telephone