Shanghai Family Day Out: Urban Planning Museum + Dumplings

With its multitude of parks, markets and riverside spaces, Shanghai is an easy place to entertain the kids. But when the plum rains hit, or the air quality drives you indoors, the city’s many museums offer an equally fantastic day out with the family.

One of our favorite stops is the Urban Planning Museum. Situated in People’s Park, it’s easily accessible by Metro- take line 1,2 or 8 to People’s Square, Exit 2 or 3.

Kids and adults alike will enjoy discovering the past, present and future of Shanghai while exploring the 5 floors of the museum.   The “Old Shanghai Street” at the lower level, while not part of the museum, is a fun re-creation of Shanghai in the 1930s. Inside the museum itself, highlights of “old Shanghai” include a model of Yu Garden, and a treasure trove of photos comparing photos of famous Shanghai landmarks in the past with the same locations today.

The exhibits on the 4th floor highlight Shanghai’s focus on becoming a green, technologically advanced city of the future. There are plenty of hands on exhibits here- kids can go inside a model of Shanghai’s famous maglev, plan out their own green city of the future or pilot a model boat underneath the Donghai bridge, one of the world’s longest.

The highlight of the visit is without a doubt the model of Shanghai on the museum’s 3rd floor. It gives you an entirely new perspective on the scale of the city, and for first time visitors, offers a really fantastic introduction to Shanghai. We always like to bring our visitors here towards the start of their trip- the museum gives a fantastic overview of both the history and layout of Shanghai that is a great foundation for further explorations of the city.

The museum opens at 9 AM from Tues-Sunday (closed Mondays) and 2 hours is generally enough time to see it all. When it’s time to refuel after your visit, the nearby Yunnan Snack Street provides plenty of options.

Da Hu Chun’s shengjian bao (fried pork buns) are legendary, but kids will only care that they are fast, filling and delicious. Each order is 4 pieces, and each time we go the kids manage to eat way more of these than I could have imagined. Be cautious with the first couple of bites- the insides are really hot!

Da Hu Chun (大壶春) 71 Yunnan Nan Lu, near Jinling Dong Lu 云南南路71号,近金陵东路. Telephone: +86 21 6249 3683. Hours: Usually about 7:30am-8pm; Closed from 2-3pm. Chinese menu only.

Also worth a visit for any noodle and dumpling loving kid is Shaanxi restaurant Laoshan Dumpling House. The terracotta warriors at the front will let you know you’ve found the place. On the menu is a wide variety of noodle and dumpling dishes. Take a chance on finding something you maybe haven’t tried before, like the tomato and egg dumplings, or the sour and hot noodles. You can also head to the back of the restaurant to the glass-walled kitchen to see them making noodles and dumplings by hand – a sure sign of a great local joint. It’s connected to a hostel, so you’ll find some English menus and perhaps English speakers around if you need assistance.

Laoshan Dumpling House (老陕饺子馆) 15 Yunnan Nan Lu, near Yan’an Dong Lu. 云南南路15号, 近延安东路. Telephone: +86 21 6373 1496

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