Top Activities for Kids in Shanghai

Happy young Asian girl jumping of success in front of urban sun rise skyline in Shanghai
Yaorusheng / Getty Images

If you're bringing children to China, then it's easy to make Shanghai about them. Shanghai has a lot to offer kids of all ages when they get tired of being dragged to another classical garden, one more Chinese meal or another market for shopping. Between watching the kites fly in Century Park to checking out the Pandas at the Shanghai Zoo, you'll be able to entertain your kids for an afternoon or two, and probably be able to bribe them into coming with you to one more Buddhist temple while you're at it.

  • 01 of 20

    Aquaria 21 and Changfeng Park | (长风公园 | Changfeng Gongyuan)

    The Shanghai aquarium.
    The Shanghai aquarium. decade_null/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • Description: Large underwater aquarium
    • Address: Located at Gate 4, Chang Feng Park, 451 Da Du He Road, near Ji Sha Jiang Road (长风公园4号门)
    • Opening hours: daily 9am-5pm
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: No metro stops
    • Comments: Read the full profile here.
  • 02 of 20

    Century Park (世纪公园 | Shiji Gongyuan)

    • Description: Shanghai's largest park
    • Location: Pudong
    • Opening hours: early morning until sundown
    • Admission: sometimes the park is free for entry, sometimes you have to buy a ticket - it depends on different times of the year, government "tourist festivals" and all kinds of arbitrary rules.
    • Getting there: metro stop Shiji Gongyuan
    • Comments: read the full profile here.
  • 03 of 20

    Dino Beach Water Park

    • Description: Shanghai's largest water park
    • Location: Puxi outer suburbs
    • Opening hours: Summer mid-June through early September, generally 10am-10pm but it's best to check the website as hours are different on certain days of the week.
    • Admission: dependent on day of week, time of entry, age and gender (complicated, right?)
    • Comments: read the full profile here.
  • 04 of 20
    Fuxing Park, French Concession, Shanghai, China
    Jon Arnold / Getty Images
    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Eday Town

    • Description: education / entertainment center themed around real occupations
    • Address: 5/F, Zhongsheng World Mall, 5001 Dushi Lu, Minhang (near Chunshen Lu, Metro Line 1 Xinzhuang Station) // 都市路5001号仲盛世界商城5楼近春申路, 地铁1号线莘庄站
    • Opening hours: Daily 10am - 2pm / 3:30-7pm
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Comments: Though advertised for 3-15 year-olds, I think it's ideal for 3-8 years. Kids get to role-play, dress in costumes, earn Eday "money" and actually learn something about each occupation under the guidance of adult helpers. Parents: take a book to read, there's not much for you to do. Note - activities are in Chinese. See full description.
  • 06 of 20

    Jin Jiang Amusement Park

    JinJiang Amusement Center, school class, fun park, excursion, row
    JinJiang Amusement Center. Karl Johaentges / LOOK-foto / Getty Images
    • Description: large children's playground and amusement park
    • Address: 201 Hong Mei Lu (虹梅路201号)
    • Opening hours: daily 8am-9pm summer, 8am-5pm winter
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: no metro stops
    • Comments: ride choices include carousels, roller coasters, log rides and bumper cars among many.
  • 07 of 20
    • Description: Small all-year indoor ice skating rink
    • Address: Located on the 6th floor of the New World Department Store, 2 Nanjing Xi Road next to Xizang (Tibet) Zhong Road | 新世界百货,南京西路2号,近西藏中路
    • Opening hours:: daily 9:30am-10pm
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: Metro - People's Square Station | 人民广场站
    • Comments: Read the full profile here.
  • 08 of 20

    Ride a Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus

    • Description: Inexpensive ride on the open-top bus
    • Address: Several routes, a good place to catch one is on the north side of Huai Hai Middle road between Shaanxi Nan Road and Xiang Yang Road.
    • Comments: This is a fun, cheap activity that doesn't require much planning. All you need is some time and a nice day.
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  • 09 of 20
    View of Pudong from the river boat.
    View of Pudong from the river boat. Sara Naumann
    • Description: Short boat ride along the Huang Pu River
    • Address: Buy tickets on the west side of the river promenade (on the Bund)
    • Comments: This activity is great for everyone. Take a break from walking and see the buildings on both sides of the river from a tourist boat. Boats leave all day (last one around dusk) and kids usually love the novelty of riding on a boat.
  • 10 of 20

    Shanghai Luwan Sports Center (上海卢湾体育馆 | Luwan Tiyuguan)

    • Description: sports center with outdoor soccer pitch and 400m track - a great place to go running safely away from traffic (for kids and adults)
    • Address: Jianguo Xi Road 135 (near Shaanxi Nan Road) | 建国西路135号(近陕西南路)
    • Opening hours: daily 6-9am and 6-9pm
    • Admission: free
    • Getting there: Metro Line 9, Dapuqiao Station
    • Comments: read the full profile.
  • 11 of 20

    Shanghai Public Security Museum

    • Description: a museum dedicated to Shanghai's public security, i.e. the police and fire departments.
    • Address: 518 South Ruijin Road (near Xietu Road) | 瑞金南路518号 (近斜土路)
    • Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am-4pm
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: Taxi
    • Comments: If you have boy children and they're into guns, police and firemen, then this could be a fun short activity for you, though be prepared, there are some exhibits that are not appropriate for young children (photos of actual crime scenes and victims and a video showing gruesome traffic accidents - 3F). But there are a lot of interesting exhibits including old uniforms and guns, spy implements and stuffed carrier pigeons. The 4F is largely dedicated to firemen - the old firefighting tools are quite interesting.
  • 12 of 20

    Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

    Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
    Kids in front of the jellyfish display at the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. Sara Naumann
    • Description: Asia's largest aquarium.
    • Address: Yincheng Bei Road 158, near Oriental Pearl Tower, Pudong
    • Opening hours: daily 9am-8:30pm
    • Admission: free for children under 80cm
    • Getting there: Metro stop Lujiazui
    • Comments: this aquarium is a wonderful experience for kids, especially the walk-through glass observation tunnel where kids can see massive fish and sharks swim overhead. Try not to be offended at the special shark exhibit where the video shows you how shark's fin soup is made.
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  • 13 of 20

    Shanghai Railway Museum

    • Description: tiny museum dedicated to the history of Shanghai's railway
    • Address: 200 East Tianmu Road (天目东路200号)
    • Opening hours: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 9am-11:30am, 1:45pm-4:30pm, Saturday: 9am-4pm
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: metro stop Baoshan Road
    • Comments: if your kid is a real Thomas the Train fan, then a stop here may be needed. This very small museum is fun for real train addicts: with a 1920s era train outside and a simulated ride from Shanghai to Suzhou inside.
  • 14 of 20

    Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (科技馆 | Kejiguan)

    • Description: interactive museum with many activities to engage the kids
    • Address: Century Avenue (Shiji Da Dao) 2000, Pudong (north side Century Park) |世纪大道2000号
    • Opening hours: 9am-5:30pm (last ticket sold at 3:30pm) Closed Mondays.
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: metro stop Shanghai Kejiguan
    • Comments: very large facility suitable for younger and older kids. Great smaller kids' play area with toddler size construction site. Also check out their 3D and IMAX movies.
  • 15 of 20

    Shanghai Sculpture Park (She Shan)

    Asia, China, Shanghai. Nanpu bridge and Nanpu Square Park
    Philippe TURPIN / Getty Images
    • Description: wide open spaces with grass to run on, a man-made beach and lots of free kids' activities around Shanghai's "largest man-made lake".
    • Address: 1158 Linyin New Road, She Shan National Holiday Area, Songjiang District
    • Opening hours: daily 9am-6pm
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: Your best bet is to take a taxi, getting back, walk to nearby Le Méridien hotel to hire one for the return trip.
    • Comments: Really a fun place in the summer with the water park and beach, it's also a great spot to just get out of the city and walk, take a picnic and sit on the grass with a blanket.
  • 16 of 20
    • Description: outdoor garden displaying large sculptures, galleries and cafes surround green area.
    • Address: 570 Huai Hai Road | 淮海路570号
    • Opening hours: Daily 10am - sundown
    • Admission: free (yay!)
    • Comments: Nice break for you and kids when you're tired of parks with noisy amusement rides but you still want to be outside. Take a football or frisbee along; kids can run pretty freely around and you can grab a coffee. Have a wander inside the refurbished brick warehouse on the east side of the garden to see some more funky sculpture inside.
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  • 17 of 20

    Shanghai Wild Animal Park (Shanghai Yesheng Dongwuyuan)

    • Description: drive-through "safari" wildlife park with ability to purchase live prey to feed animals
    • Address: Nan Hui San Zao Zhen, Pudong (near Pudong International Airport)
    • Opening hours: daily 8am-5pm
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Getting there: no metro stops
    • Comments: visitors take buses through the park. Children who may not be able to handle the sight of live chickens being tossed to hungry tigers may prefer the Shanghai Zoo (see next entry).
  • 18 of 20
    South China Tiger enclosure sign detail, Shanghai Zoo.
    Lonely Planet / Getty Images
    • Description: typical animal zoo plus ferris wheel and other amusement activities
    • Address: 2381 Hong Qiao Road, near Hami Road | 虹桥路2381号,近哈密路
    • Opening hours: daily 6:30am-5pm
    • Admission: free for kids under 1.4m
    • Getting there: Shanghai Zoo Station Line 10
    • Comments: my family loves the zoo. You will not be horrified by the treatment of the animals in this zoo - unlike other zoos in Asia and China (and what you've heard). They've spent some money upgrading and many of the animals are in decent enclosures. Sure, it could be better but, for a Chinese zoo, it's not bad. Your kids will enjoy it.
  • 19 of 20

    YK Pao Summer Camp Program

    • Description: 14 day Mandarin immersion programs for 7-12 year-olds
    • Address: YK Pao School Campus, Jiangsu Road
    • Camp Operation: July-August
    • Admission: check for current fee
    • Comments: This program is ideal for students who are just moving to China, families who are interested in having their youngsters learn Mandarin or for families on an extended holiday or work assignment and want their children to learn Chinese. YK Pao is one of the 2 international primary education facilities in Shanghai that offer students a fully bi-lingual education program and it has a very good reputation. Students combine learning through practical activities including exploring Shanghai and the area. Contact summercamp@ykpaoschool.cn for more information.
  • 20 of 20

    The Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom

    Natural Wild Insect Kingdom in Pudong.
    Richard I'Anson / Getty Images
    • Description; "zoo" for all things creepy and crawly
    • Address: 1 Fenghe Road, around corner from the Oriental Pearl Tower, Pudong
    • Opening hours: daily 9am-5pm
    • Admission: kids under 80cm (32in) free
    • Getting there: no metro stops
    • Comments: first floor has a fun open area with fish to feed and snakes to watch. Go downstairs for your fill of turtles and lizards as well as a fishing area where kids rent a net and catch goldfish.