1. Gongqing Forest Park
Though a bit far from downtown, Gongqing Park is a wooded wonderland split into a north and south portion. The northern section is the much larger "Forest Park," with little roller coasters, rock climbing, go-karting, horseback riding, space for outdoor BBQs, and tons of beautiful green spaces, gardens and lakes. The southern Wanzhuyuan, across Nenjiang Lu, features a mini-lakefront water-town. You won't get bored here. One tip -- get up early for this park. You'll want a full day, and they close at 4.30pm. The entrance fee is 15rmb and other activities cost between 15–30rmb. They open at 6am.
Good For: Dates, family outings, picnics, and photography
2. Houtan Park
Unlike other parks in Shanghai, tucked between skyscrapers, Houtan Park has serious countryside vibes. Lots of wild greens and flowers along the way, plus some fish and tadpoles in the stream. The park is quite scenic and comfortable to hang out in. Bring a blanket and a picnic. Free entry, open 6am to 6pm.
Good For: Waterfront strolls, family outings, picnics.
3. Expo Park
One of the nicest parks in Shanghai, and once the location of JZ and Strawberry music festivals, this one's worth visiting even (or especially) where there isn't a major event on. Lots of gardens and chill spots for picnics. If you follow the trail to Houtan Park, you'll pass under the Lupu Bridge and catch a fine view of the Huangpu river. Many families come out on the weekends so it's best to find a spot early before they take it. Free entry. Open 8am to 8pm.
Good For: Dates, walking, photography, riverside strolls
4. Xuhui Riverside Green Space
Xuhui Riverside Green is a huge outdoor space with a decent skatepark that's lit up at night, with basketball courts, a climbing wall, places to run without the fear of cars, and plenty of grass to lay down in. This is more of a place to come play sports or go for a long walk. Also a favorite for public workout communities like FitFam. You've also got two of Shanghai's biggest museums – Long Museum and Yuz Museum. Always free and open 24/7.
Good For: Sports, skating, biking, running, climbing
5. Nanyuan Bingjiang
Lot of history in this medium-sized park -- The Party used to gather here. It’s like a large garden, with a small lake in the center, some animal statues made of flowers, and a nice view of the Lupu Bridge. So far, no one's kicked us off of the grass. No entrance fee here and it's open 24/7.
Good For: Dates, blankets on the grass
6. Century Park
If you want to visit a big park without traveling one or two hours, Century Park is the one. Fine landscaping, beautiful flowers, a massive lake, and tons of green spaces to lie down on, play frisbee, or whatever. You can also rent tandem bicycles or sightseeing boats. The park has a kids amusement area too. Be aware, it's a popular one, but the sheer size of the park means it feels fairly peaceful in places. Entrance is 10rmb, with free entry for the elderly and children under 1.2m tall. It's open 7am to 6pm during the summer.
Good for: Dates, families, picnics, photography, kites, running
7. Dagu Lu Park
Located on the very corner of Lao Chengdu Bei Lu and Dagu Lu and technically called the "Yan'an Zhong Lu Large Public Green Space," this is one of the nicest downtown parks. Lots of cherry trees, waterfalls, and opportunities for scenic selfies. The southern edge also houses the Site of the Second National Congress. As with most parks, tons of elderly folks playing board games too. Free all day. Open 24-7.
Good for: Dates, people watching, lunch breaks
8. Yanzhong Guangchang Park Part 1
Just north of K11 on Jinling Lu is a parkland that spans several city blocks, stretching northwest and ending around Dagu Lu near Chengdu Lu. All of these parks have ample grass space, lots of benches, some lakes and ponds, and lots of street cats. Basically just bright spaces in the city center that offer escape from the madness. Depending on the time of day, an angry man may chase you off of the grass. No entrance fee at any of these parks. Open 24/7.
Good For: Dates, chilling, maxing, relaxing, rebooting, deep thinking, dog walking
9. Gucun Park
Gucun Park is another large park up north in Baoshan Qu, with its own metro station on Line 7. Take Exit Two. The space gets really busy on the weekends, with families enjoying the lake, flying kites on the green space, and riding roller coasters. Watch out for the sightseeing train that races around the park. Also, lots of 3D dinosaurs / haunted houses here. You can also rent a boat to pedal for a few hours, or seek out some hidden spots that look like a jungle. Entrance is 20rmb for adults, half-price for young kids, and activities will cost 15–50rmb. Open 5am to 7pm until Sep 30.
Good for: Dates, families, picnics, the dinosaurs
10. Yanzhong Guangchang Park Part 2
Plenty of tranquil places along the north eastern-side of Yanzhong Guangchang, with lots of water features, bridges, a mini-exercise center, and benches under ample tree cover. Nice spot for stroll, just north of K11, maybe good for a 3am game of Kick the Can...
Good For: Moments in solitude, meditating, forgetting the city without leaving the city
11. Julu Park
Another continuation of the extensive Yanzhong Park. This place really goes on forever. This one straddles both sides of Chengdu Nan Lu. There're a bit of gentle elevation going on in this area, and plenty of decent spots to sit among the trees. Not as many people in this part of the park, which makes it a fine place for a low-key date. No entry fee, open 24/7.
Good For: Meditation, dates
12. People's Park
People's Park is like Shanghai's Central Park. Lots of places to sit here, the MOCA museum, Barbarossa, ponds with lilies, a few patches of grass to sit on, lots of benches where grandpas play board games, and a mini amusement park that's just for kids. This one stays busy every day, especially on the weekend. It's always free. Open 6am to 6pm.
Good For: Dates, Families, Kids, People Watching, Lunch Break
13. Fuxing Park
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. Hint: they grow the grass during the spring -- that's why people can't sit on it yet. It's 2rmb to get in and it's open from 6am-6pm.
Good For: Dates, picnics, people watching, photography, lunch break, reading
14. Xiangyang Park
Definitely on the smaller side, this newly-renovated park won't hold much for nature-seekers, but it's a nice dash of green in the midst of the Xuhui business district. Its tree-lined promenade is a favorite for evening dances, often packed out with couples doing the tango, foxtrot or even the occasional waltz. It's also got a decent sized lawn (which you can't go on), a fountain and a central pavilion that hosts in musicians and cultural performances. Plus, they finally knocked down that fence, which means it's free and open 24/7. It's busy, but it's convenient and it's just nice to have around, honestly.
Good For: Lunch breaks, people watching, ayi dance ragers
15. Daning Park
This large park on the north side near Shanghai Circus World has a human-made beach (you can't swim here) 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, including a tulip field and fake windmills, and several Roman style features. It's 2rmb to get in. 5am to 7pm.
Good For: Families, kites, photography
16. Lu Xun Park
Lu Xun Park, once and sometimes still known as "Hongkou Park," is named after the famous writer from the early 20th century. Great park, this one, lots of chatty, friendly older people dancing and exercising in the mornings. Some stay for the whole afternoon. There's a big lake here with boats for rent, and lots of green space. You can also pay an extra 15rmb to check out Lu Xun's cemetery. Park entry is free, though. Open from 5am to 9pm until Sep 30.
Good For: Dates, families, people watching,
17.Huashan Green Space a.k.a. Xingfu Lu Park
This park is on the corner of Xingfu Lu and the little street with no name. 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. Probably something to do with DADA being across the street.. 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, open 24/7.
Good For: People watching, dogs meeting dogs, relaxing, basketball
18. Xujiahui Park
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, bit of water feature, and often some ayi dance parties at night. Several restaurants and shopping destinations are just around the corner, too. No entry fee. Open 24/7.
Good For: Picnics, families, basketball, relaxing
19. Jing'an Park
In terms of square-footage, Jing'an Park is one of the smallest of Shanghai's parks -- but what it lacks in space it makes up for in charm. Surrounded on all sides by office buildings and cranes, and not really a haven from that hum of traffic ever-present in Shanghai, it is still the perfect example of a city park. There's not much grass but they have benches and pagodas and even a playboy-mansion style waterfall (complete with grotto). No entry fee, open from 6am-9pm.
Good For: Lunch Break, families, people watching, cruising (no. Not anymore).
20. Jing'an Sculpture Park
Located next to the Shanghai Natural History Museum, this park is full of art and statues, some of which rotate throughout the year to make room for the work of international artists. There is only one green space to run around and sit on, and usually the security guards come around around 8-8.30pm to kick people out. Still, it's great, and always free. 5am to 9pm until Sep 30.
Good For: Dates, families, public art
21. Changfeng Park
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. 5am to 9.30pm until Oct 31.
Good For: Dates, families, dad rock
22. Tianshan Park
Though small, this park is perfectly formed, with lots of small hills, lakes, pavilions, river bridges, lots of greenery, and Yuyintang -- one of Shanghai's best live houses. You can usually lie down in the field without getting chased away, and it's always free. Open 8.30am-6.30pm. There’s also the the Shanghai Art Collection Museum inside the park, which is open Tue-Sun, 10am-4.30pm.
Good For: Dates, people watching, weekend picnics,
sneaking into YYT without paying
23. Zhongshan Park
This park in Changning 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 fighting 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. Open 24/7.
Good For: Families, hanging with friends, people watching
24. Shanghai Xin Hongqiao Center Garden
Mid-sized park in Gubei, also known as Yili Park, with plenty of flowers, green space, and water features. There's a nice spot to feed the ducks and geese, and a couple of spots to flick a fishing rod into the water. Best for leisurely strolls. It used to have this kickass DIY BBQ spot but it appears to have been absent recently. Free to get in, open 5,30am to midnight (for the benefit of commuters who take Line 10).
Good For: BBQ Parties, birthdays, families
25. Xinjiang Wancheng Park
Xinjiang Wancheng provide a little green and blue respite for the local neighborhood in the form of a few well-manicured grass fields and a little water space next to which one may stroll. It's a stone's throw from Fudan University, and on the northern shore you'll find China's biggest skate-park, SMP Skate Park. It's open 5am-9pm until Oct 31, and there's no entry fee.
Good For: Lunch break, low-key dates, peace and quiet
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