Ideas for Moms’ Trips to Shanghai

I’ve been away from blogging recently as my parents were here visiting their new granddaughter. It was only their second trip to Shanghai, and before they got here I spent some time wracking my brains for good things to do. There are tons of things to do in this city, but so very few of them are obvious. The best ideas always seem to occur to me too late.

Mary Ann, an AllSet Learning client of mine who is a mother herself, had recently compiled a list of mom-friendly activities for her own mother-in-law’s visit, and she kindly shared it with me, along with her comments. I thought some readers might find it useful, so here it is, with her persmission:

Urban Planning Museum. I find it interesting, and I think most people who like cities are usually into it. The top floor now shows a short movie which shows a 360 panoramic view of Shanghai from Hongqiao to Pudong. I haven’t seen it but my kids and visitors have and everyone has liked it!
– “Ghost Market.” That Antique market on early mornings on Saturdays and Sundays near Yuan gardens. I find it fascinating that so many people come to Shanghai from the countryside to sell ceramic shards. I like to watch the background social scene but picking through some of the stuff is fun too.
Old China Reading Room on Shaoxing Lu. Restful place to browse books and drink tea (nice Austrian cakes at Vienna Cafe nearby)
Glasses Market above the Railway Station. Since your parents aren’t shoppers, the one market that they might be able to get something at and take part in Shanghai commerce madness is the Glasses Market. They should bring a prescription with them from the U.S. and get some glasses made. People with glasses can always use a spare and much much cheaper than in Europe, I’m assuming the same in the U.S. My friend’s ophthalmologist sends all her patients to Bright Eyes Optical (stall 4056). I have taken people to get glasses done there and they were all were happy afterwards. Speak to Linda; she speaks English (in case your parents go on their own).
Historic houses on/around Sinan Lu. Visit the ones converted into museums.
Walking Tour. Yes, I’m insisting on this! And no, you can’t walk them around with an app instead! All parents like this sort of thing. Of course skip the cheesy ones but do go for the historian-led ones, or at least the ones led by guides with more street cred. The highly recommended guy who does the tours of the Jewish Heritage sites is an Israeli journalist/historian who runs
Hang out at a Tea House. You probably know of a good one. [Actually, not really!]
Foot Massage or other treatment at Xiao Nan Guo (Hongmei Lu). Have you been here? I’ve only eaten there a few times. The spa part of it has all spa typical treatments available PLUS there’s entertainment, which I think is daily. I think it would be great to take them to a foot massage while watching a show of russian dancers. Why, they may ask? Well… why not? Sounds kooky but that’s the point. Anyway, supposed to be pretty affordable so it could be something to do.
Propaganda Poster Museum.
– I accidentally came across a place in the Old town where they sell books by weight… quite amusing. Have you seen this? Isn’t one of your parents a librarian? Might be worth a bit of a hoot if in the area…
Spin Ceramics on Kangding Lu. Something for themselves or for a gift. Do you know this place? Fab stuff at great prices.

Sadly, my parents only got to do the first thing on this awesome list, but they did have a great time (despite Shanghai’s inhospitable winter weather). Hopefully someone else will find it useful.

Another client recommended Shanghai Pathways for tours, but we ended up just not having time for so many activities.

If you’ve done any of these things or have anything else to add, please leave a comment!

Related Posts:

China Lite (2011)
Micah and John on Touring Shanghai (2008)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. It’s a shameless plug but I think it has its place here:

    If your parents are into cooking, bring them to a wet market tour and cooking class with local shanghainese, through

    It’s a unique way to meet local people and a good introduction to chinese culture.

  2. Congratulations on the newborn baby girl:) Thank you for the info!

  3. – viewing Shanghai from a vintage motorcycle provides a different perspective on the city! Not necessarily baby-friendly, but older kids and adults should enjoy the experience.

  4. The City Planning Museum is very interesting. The 360 degree movie (simulated flight) is neat; like a 9 minute tours of Shanghia’s places of interest for possible additional exploring. Also the 1:500 scale model of Shanghai is worth seeing there. Maybe you can find on it where you’re staying. Ours was too far west. The Museum’s next to the People’s Park and you can take the Metro to the People’s Park station.

    I would be helpful to know an address, major intersection, or Metro stop to help find specific places, like the City Planning Museum or the “Ghost Market”. Have you hotel write the address on a piece of paper if you want to get there by taxi.

    Also, get a ‘traffic’ card; it’s good for the Metro, buses, and taxis.

    Seeing some of the major malls can be fascinating too. Cloud 9 and Bingo come to mind. Both are near/on Metro stations.

  5. The Shanghai glass museum is great and seniors (over 70. John, your parents won’t be that old, but others might be) with a picture of their passports for proof, get a discount.
    It is glass art, glass history in different countries, super glass technology and a glass blowing demo. Great place.

  6. Strongly recommend the Shanghai Municipal History Museum! Much better than the Shanghai Museum, far more interesting! I went there with my mother (52 yrs) and she enjoyed it a lot and we spent a good few hours in there for a reasonable price too.

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