Things to Do in Shanghai with Kids for a Fun Family Vacation

Create memories of a lifetime with a family vacation with the kids in Shanghai, the world’s third-most populous city. Shanghai is home to more than 24 million people, a world financial center and home to the busiest container ship port in the world. It is home to soaring skyscrapers and ancient temples.

Shanghai is a family-friendly vacation spot with attractions to entertain your children while providing adult family members lots of fun. Shanghai offers fun things to do with kids that the entire family will enjoy. From the city’s financial center to its seaport, you and your children will love the bustle of this ancient coastal city.

If you’re looking for things to do in Shanghai with kids, check out this list of our favorite kid-friendly activities, including…

Top-rated attractions include:

  • Shanghai Zoo
  • Yu Garden
  • Shanghai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
  • Happy Valley Shanghai Theme Park
  • Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
  • The Bund
  • And more…

Save on Admission to Kid Friendly Attractions

Many of these must-see attractions are available on the Go San Shanghai Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of popular San Francisco attractions and save up to 30% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

See all available Shanghai passes, attractions, & prices – Learn more.

Please keep in mind that some of the attractions listed in this post may be separately ticketed and not be currently included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Catch views from the Shanghai World Financial Center

View of the iconic Shanghai World Financial building

Visit one of the world’s top ten tallest buildings right in the heart of the Pudong District.

Zoom up to the 97th and 100th floors for panoramic views of Shanghai and beyond. You’ll have access to SkyWalk 94, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows for an all-encompassing view, SkyWalk 97, an open-air roof deck, and SkyWak 100, the most exciting floor of them all – here you’ll find transparent glass floors.

There are so many different ways to take in Shanghai, you quite literally won’t miss a thing at Shanghai World Financial Center.

Getting in: Shanghai World Financial Center tickets are included on Go Shanghai Card.

The Shanghai Zoo Offers Giant Pandas & Asian Elephants among its Over 200 Species

Located on over 180 acres, the Shanghai Zoo offers a chance to see rare animals rarely seen in other zoos. Besides traditional favorite animals such as giraffes, hippos, and sea lions, you’ll get to see:

  • Giant Pandas
  • Golden Monkeys
  • Bengal white tigers
  • South Chinese tigers
  • Manchurian tigers
  • Yangtze alligator

The zoo provides both walking areas and a safari bus for the larger viewing areas.

Getting in: Shanghai Zoo tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Yu Garden Provides a Glimpse of the Ming Dynasty

Experience the tranquility of a Ming Dynasty garden, preserved for over 400 years. Now, it’s in the midst of the old urban area of Shanghai. You’ll see traditional Chinese architecture along with tranquil water gardens. It’s a photographer’s dream.

Yu Garden is spread over 5 acres and is home to the Grand Rockery, created by the famous Zhang Nanyan, a celebrated rock artist of the Ming era.

Once you’ve completed your tour of Yu Garden, explore the Yuyuan Bazaar, located next door. It’s a great place to explore small Chinese streets to discover shops and restaurants. Stop at a Chinese tea house and do some souvenir shopping too.

Getting in: Yu Garden tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Explore Using the Shanghai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Exploring a big city like Shanghai is easy by using the Shanghai Sightseeing Bus service. You and your children will be in for a true city adventure on open-top double-decker buses.

You purchase either a 24-hour or 48-hour ticket and unlimited hop-on and hop-off unlimited service. There are several loops to choose from. You get off at the attractions you want to see and then get back on to go to the next stops offered.

Stops include all major tourist sites. There is a free audio guide available in eight languages so you don’t have to worry about missing your stop.

Getting in: Shanghai Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Happy Valley Shanghai Theme Park

Every child loves a theme park; they won’t be disappointed at Happy Valley. Located about 25 miles west of downtown Shanghai, the park covers 213 acres. There are seven themed areas:

  1. Gold Mine Town is a recreation of American Old West gold rush town. The mine cart is a high-speed thriller of a ride that offers the best high views of the entire theme park.
  2. Happy Ocean offers less extreme rides and more kiddie enjoyment for a nice change of pace.
  3. Happy Times is home to China’s first wooden roller-coaster appropriately named the Firecracker. The Twin-Towers Heroes attraction is located here too.
  4. Shanghai Bund provides fearless riders with a drop coaster that plummets 197 feet. Be sure to ride the Gyro Swing that rises 15 stories to provide spectacular views of the park and beyond.
  5. Shangri-la Woods offers nature-based entertainment like Rapid River and Jungle Rescue.
  6. Sunshine Harbor’s cinema (Soaring Dragon) will help your children experience the thrill of flying.
  7. Typhoon Bay provides water excitement including Shoot the Chute, propelling its riders down a chute from 85 feet high.

Dining options range from Pizza Hut and KFC to Chinese restaurants and tea houses. Shuttle service between attractions is included in your ticket.

Getting in: Happy Valley Shanghai Theme Park tickets are included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Shanghai Ocean Aquarium

Shanghai’s aquarium is on the largest in the world. You and your children will be amazed at the exotic sea creatures including species indigenous to China, South America, Australia, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Exhibits also highlight cold water creatures along with a polar zone. You’ll see creatures of the deep ocean along with sea animals more commonly found along the ocean shores.

The aquarium is known for its spectacular exhibit of Weedy Seadragons, a species related to seahorses.

Getting in: tickets are available for purchase upon arrival. Please note: tickets are not included with the Go Shanghai Card.

The Bund

No trip to Shanghai is complete without a visit to The Bund. The Bund (also known as Waitan)   consists of western-style buildings built in the 1920s through 1936 located along an almost 2,000-foot long flood wall. They are a focal point of culture and history.

Long associated with lovers who walked along this scenic area along the Huangpu River, this area still attracts visitors from around the world. The views along the river are spectacular. You might want to take a river cruise to appreciate the sights and sounds of Shanghai.

While there, don’t miss an exciting ride on the Sightseeing Tunnel, a high-speed train that travels from The Bund to the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower.

Getting in: The Bund is free and open to the public. Please note: tickets to the Sightseeing Tunnel train are an additional cost and not included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Water Town

Zhujiajiao canal 1.JPG
By BrokenSphereOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

No trip to Shanghai is complete with a trip to Zhujiajiao, known as the Venice of Shanghai. This amazing labyrinth of waterways looks exactly like you’ve seen in pictures of “old” China, with boats of every shape, color, and purpose plying the waterways.

The arched bridges date back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The bridges and buildings along the waterways define Zhujiajiao as the quintessential water city that dates back some 1,700 years.

Your children will love a boat ride and shopping for souvenirs.

ERA-Intersection of Time

Everyone loves a circus, especially an indoor Chinese circus. The name, ERA-Intersection of Time, fools visitors to Shanghai. That doesn’t sound like a name for a circus, but this is an extraordinary experience.

It is part acrobatics, part Broadway, part Chinese ancient arts and modern dance and music. Think of this performance as a blend of old Chinese culture with the vibrancy of the new urban China that Shanghai represents.

Getting in: ERA – Intersection of Time tickets are available for purchase online or upon arrival. Please note: tickets are not included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum

Children of all ages love museums that highlight science and high-tech inventions. You won’t be disappointed when you visit this museum.

It’s located near Century Park and offer 13 permanent exhibitions that feature the best of Chinese technology. From robotics to space travel, your children will enjoy an afternoon here. There are even two IMAX theaters.

Getting in: tickets are available for purchase upon arrival. Please note: Shanghai Science and Technology Museum tickets are not included with the Go Shanghai Card.

Let’s Recap

There’s our selection of some of the most popular and top things to do in Shanghai for first-time visitors.

From observation decks, gardens, and museums to cruises and theme parks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Consider visiting some of these attractions on your next trip to Shanghai, and we know you’ll come to love this city. Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, you’re sure to have a blast.

Don’t forget to pick up a Go Shanghai Card and save up to 30% on combined admission prices. Happy travels!

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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