Wild at heart: great Shanghai outdoor activities for kids

Got an aspiring adventurer in the family?

Photograph: courtesy YCL Riding Center
Got an aspiring adventurer in the family? Ignite their passion for the great outdoors with these fun (and physical) activities in and around Shanghai.


2.used-Kayaking - courtesy Dragon Events
Photograph: courtesy Dragon Events

Get your young water sport enthusiasts into the seaside spirit by paddling around the crystal-clear waters of the dreamy Dianshan Lake. Tour planners Dragon Events (WeChat ID: ‘Dragon Events’) offer day-long regular retreats to the area that leave from Zhongshan Park metro station (a 90-minute journey). The trips include transport, equipment, coaching from an experienced instructor and other aquatic activities like paddle boarding and swimming.


2.used-cycling - courtesy Culture Shock Tours
Photograph: courtesy Culture Shock Tours

There’s no better way to get out and take in the city than on two wheels. Children can stretch those legs and see the sights of Shanghai with the friendly folks at Culture Shock Tours (WeChat ID: 'CultureShockTour’) who allow families to devise their own tour-de routes and times. Cyclists over 12 can ride solo, as long as they’re accompanied by parents, and there are tandem bikes for families with younger kids. All the trips are led by well-versed guides in four different languages (English, Spanish, French and Chinese).

Horse Riding

Photograph: courtesy YCL Riding Center

Give your kids a chance to saddle up in the heart of the city at YCL Riding Center (400 777 6238). Here, experienced riders are catered to with group lessons while beginners are taught the basics through relaxed one-on-one sessions. All gear is provided and the classes are carried out by highly qualified trainers, who’ll guide your future show-jumpers from rookie to seasoned pro in an international-standard arena.

High Ropes

Magic Jungle
Photograph: courtesy Magic Jungle

Aspiring thrill-seekers chasing adrenaline rushes are spoilt for choice in the city. Taking the little ones on the lift up the Shanghai Tower is an easy one, but those looking to level up will love the 30 metre-high structure at the North Bund’s Magic Jungle (also boasting those impressive skyline views). It’s four levels of free-roaming fun with 78 climbing features, making it the perfect playground for children to unleash their inner Tarzan.


2.used-Climbing Wall - courtesy Michael MacLaren
Photograph: Michael MacLaren

Kids who’ve been practicing their climbing skills indoors over the wet-weather season will be pleased to know they can take their wall-scaling talents outside at the West Bund Climbing Wall. Great to get active on a sunny day, the bouldering wall here is huge (and free to use!) with lots of different grips. A warning, though: ropes or harnesses aren’t provided.


Photograph: Yu Zhiming

Also located in the West Bund is an outdoor skate park (3398 Longteng Avenue, near Dongan Lu), so if there’s a skater boy or girl in the brood they can get in on the action too. The space is decked out with rails, ramps and smooth concrete, and suits all abilities – teens or anyone else attempting their best Tony Hawk impression. BYO boards and helmets.


Photograph: Marc van der Chijs via Flickr

Less than three hours from downtown Shanghai, the idyllic hills of Moganshan provide bigger kids with the ideal setting to get in touch with their wild sides. The Discovery Adventures Park offers one-day guided hikes (for children over 120cm) around the key landmarks, waterfalls and bamboo forests that make up the main scenic area. If that’s not enough for adventurers, the park also does rock climbing, obstacle courses and more for the complete immersive nature experience.

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