As we bid farewell to this year and look forward to the next, it’s time for some life improvements. Whether it’s giving back to the community you love, upping your fitness or learning a new language, it all starts with a resolution – and here's ten doable ideas for the whole family.
1. Resolve To...Get Into Nature
Photograph: courtesy Green Steps
Embark on an outdoor adventure
Nature walks, cooking in the wild, clean-ups, kayaking... Green Steps
’ hands-on approach to getting kids excited about the natural world will get your mini eco-warriors out in the fresh air while developing stewardship for the environment and learning about the local ecosystem.
Day trip to the botanical gardens
One for future naturalists, the impressive Chenshan Botanical Gardens
in Songjiang district covers a whopping 200 hectares (or two million square metres) and houses over 9,000 species of plants making it the perfect place to soak up some natural beauty in Shanghai.
Spend a day at the farm
Help young ones learn the basics of where our food comes from at BIOFarm
. Guided tours will take you around the greenhouses and fields, explaining the importance of plants and animals and teaching all kinds of sustainability skills.
Visit biofarm.cn or follow ‘BIOFarmerskitchen’ on WeChat.
2. Resolve to...Give Back
Support your community
A platform that manages a number of different volunteering programmes covering education, environment, healthcare and more, with HandsOn Shanghai
you and your teens can find roles ranging from a storyteller at a children’s hospital to a companion at elderly care homes.
Clean up the coast
Your little ones can feel good tackling the rubbish that pollutes Shanghai’s coastline with local NGO Rendu Ocean Center
. The team holds regular clean-ups at Nanhui beach and other coastal areas near the city, while educating all ages on waste management.
Foster a dog or cat in need
Got little ones mad about animals? Long-running non-profit organisation Second Chance Animal Aid (SCAA)
is always on the lookout for volunteer foster families to temporarily house rescued animals while they look for new forever homes.
3. Resolve To...Explore the City from All Angles
Photograph: courtesy UnTour
See the sights from new heights
On a clear winter’s day, skyrocket 118 floors up to see the city from new heights at the Shanghai Tower
’s observation deck. Sitting 546 metres in the sky (the tower itself is 632 metres tall, the world’s second tallest building) it offers incredible, 360-degree views of the city below. As an extra bonus, the ground floor is also home to a small- but-cool exhibition that charts the tallest buildings all over the world.
Seek out your favourite sights in miniature
When the weather forces you to stay inside, keep your young explorer’s mind active with a trip to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center
. From photographs, dioramas and maps of Old Shanghai to real-time traffic camera feeds to predictions for the future, this massive museum is dedicated to showing Shanghai’s development over the years. But the reason you’re really here? To try and find your house and favourite city sights on the enormous scaled replica.
Call 6318 4477.
Eat, eat, eat!
Had your fill of big buildings? If you’ve been in Shanghai for more than five minutes, you’ll know it’s a city that’s food-obsessed and there’s so much you can learn about its rich culture through the cuisine. Who better to show you the way than the experts at UnTour Food Tours
? Early risers, eat your way around the lanes of Old Xuhui on the Street Eats Breakfast tour or if you’ve got keen cooks, take your turn in the kitchen with the Dumpling Delights tour.
4. Resolve To...Try a New Experience
Photograph: courtesy CieCAS
Level up your cooking skills with the pros
Feel like a professional chef in CieCAS
’ state-of-the-art kitchens. The cooking school offers something for the whole family, from one-off parent and kid classes to courses (including Young Chef and Homemaker) where you’ll learn the essentials of cooking while whipping up a selection of international and Chinese dishes under the watchful eye of chefs whose expertise spans cuisines from all over the world.
Follow ‘CieCAS789’ on WeChat.
Learn to play a musical instrument
Move over, Mozart! Led by a team of passionate musicians, at MusicLAB playing instruments is all about having fun and exploring sounds. They offer early age introduction programmes for tots first discovering music (best for 1.5 to five year olds) and one-on-one or small group instrument learning for kids five years and up, including guitar, piano, drums, singing and bass.
Add ‘musiclabcn’ on WeChat.
Try riding the waves
Just because you live in a heaving metropolis, don’t let that stop you dreaming of shredding and catching waves. Set in a Shanghai mall, with balmy 26-degree water, a trip to IGOsurfing
is a great way to introduce your little swimmers to the world of surfing. There’s the option for discovery sessions and longer-term courses for serious boarders.
Follow ‘Igosurfing’ on WeChat.
5. Resolve To...Be More Active
Photograph: courtesy Z&B Fitness
Sign yourselves up for a fitness class
When you and your kiddos need to blow off some steam, boutique fitness studio Z&B Fitness
has classes for all ages – think Zumba, Bootcamp and aerial yoga sessions designed especially for kids. As for parents? There’s everything from yoga, Pilates and barre to cardio sessions like spinning and HIIT to Les Mills favourites BODYPUMP and BODYATTACK and much more.
Follow ‘ZnBfitness’ on WeChat.
Hit the faux snow
The Swiss alps it ain’t, but indoor ski and snowboarding centre Snow51
’s ‘dry snow' moving slopes are good for burgeoning cold weather sports enthusiasts of all ages. You and your kids can take lessons led by qualified ski and snowboard instructors, plus there are extra activities to try like snow tubing and sledging.
Work the rink
Don’t let the chilly weather cramp your kid’s style. A great way to get your heart pumping, disguised as playtime, roller skate bar RIINK
is family-friendly during daytime hours. (Keep an eye out for regular Teenage Kicks skate parties for teens and tweens). If you’re more into skating on ice, Feiyang Skating Center
has everything your kids need to learn, tune-up and show off their ice-skating skills in no time.
Follow ‘riinkshanghai’ and ‘shanghaifeiyang’ on WeChat.
6. Resolve To...Stimulate Your Brain
Photograph: courtesy West Bund Museum
Put your minds to the test
Question everything you see at the immersive Museum of Optical Illusions. Here nothing is quite as it seems: rooms go topsy-turvy, heads float on platters, your own face appears in kaleidoscopic patterns and lots more. There are also a load of fun puzzles to solve. Make sure your phone is fully charged – this one’s all about the photo opps.
Visit an under-the-radar museum
Though we’re always down for a trip to institutions like the Natural History Museum
, Shanghai is home to a lot of lesser-known gems that are well worth a visit, like the Shanghai Animation and Comics Museum
. Hidden in Pudong, it’s great for parents and kids to geek out in with exhibitions that range from cave paintings (the OG animations) to modern-day video games, and Disney classics to Chinese animations.
Call 5895 7998.
Check out an interactive exhibition
Get a head start on the new year, new you vibes and let your little Da Vinci play hide and seek at West Bund Museum’s interactive exhibition Passing Through. Running through February 2021, the exhibition – designed by Françoise Pétrovitch – invites children (and parents) into a playground of magic forests filled with large-scale drawings of animals and plants. Book ahead for free guided tours and workshops.
7. Resolve To...Learn a New Language
Photograph: courtesy The Hutong School
Whether you’re looking to boost your kiddo’s Chinese skills or your own, The Hutong School
has courses for all ages. For young learners, after-school lessons cover the basics, but there are also extra activities like calligraphy classes for further immersion.
Get your kids psyched on all things France at international cultural organisation Alliance Française
. Taught by native French speakers, here the language classes start for tots from one year old and go all the way up to adult lessons.
Add to your young polyglot’s language repertoire with Spanish lessons at CuCuGua
. Finding creative ways to get kids learning and excited about new cultures, the Shanghai-based school currently offers private tutoring sessions at home or online classes via Zoom for children aged three and up.
7. Resolve To...Go Green(er)
Photograph: courtesy Zero Waste Shanghai
Get schooled on environmental issues
Have a budding eco-warrior on your hands? Help them find ways to lessen their footprint with Zero Waste Shanghai’s V.I.D.A (Very Important Daily Actions) e-learning sessions for kids aged six to 12 that delve into topics like food waste, plastic pollution, DIY urban composting and more.
Join the eco-lifestyle movement
Take your old clothes and toys and see them passed onto their next owner, pick up new secondhand goodies and find zero waste wares at Eco Design Fair – a kid-friendly community market that encourages a lifestyle of reusing and recycling. Take a break from browsing to check out the creative stations that offer all kinds of DIY activities using recycled materials.
Follow ‘EcoDesignFairCN’ on WeChat.
Support Shanghai’s local designers doing their bit for the planet. Boomi
creates toothbrushes, reusable facewipes and travel kits made using materials like bamboo and organic cotton, largely sourced from Zhejiang. And swap out single-use wrapping paper and plastics with Baluchon
’s furoshiki gift wrapping cloth and beeswax food wraps.
9. Resolve To...Treat Yo'selves
Photograph: courtesy Kerry Hotel Pudong
Go for an all-out kids-first staycay
It’s all about the youngest family members at the Kerry Hotel, Pudong
. Kids can hit slides and ball pits at Kerry’s 700sqm Adventure Zone, set off on a scavenger hunt across the hotel, or splash in the pool before snuggling into their own tent to sleep in a Family Fun Room decorated with Kerry Kangaroo.
Call 6169 8800 for details.
Escape the city for a weekend getaway
A great getaway for nature lovers big and small, escape the urban jungle and take your tots on a tour of Chongming Island
’s greatest hits. Only a couple of hours from downtown Shanghai, it’s home to Dongping Forest Park, Mahota Farm and more. As for accommodation? Go for a night of luxury at the pet-friendly Hyatt Regency Chongming
Splurge on an all-you-can-eat brunch (complete with A+ entertainment)
A luxe brunch with the X-factor for your whole gang, The Stage at The Westin Bund Center
ticks all the boxes for a Sunday treat. Set to rotating themes (past editions range from Turkish and Spanish to Bollywood and comic book characters), you and your minis can get stuck into a massive buffet spread. Plus, parents can let loose over a couple of drinks at the DIY cocktail station while entertainers keep your pint-size crew happy.
Call 6103 5048 or follow ‘WestinShanghai’ on WeChat.
10. Resolve To...Go on More Adventures!
Photograph: Magdaehlers via Pexels
Hit up China’s capital
North-South rivalry aside, Beijing has all kinds of exciting sights that should be on any China bucket list (especially for wannabe historians), from heavy hitters like The Great Wall, The Summer Palace and The Forbidden City (as well as Jingshan Park that overlooks it) to lesser-known gems hidden down old hutongs.
Seek out sunshine and sea breeze
Sanya isn’t the only place to get your island beach fix in China. Located off the southeast coast of Fujian, the island city of Xiamen is a great mini-break destination for jaded city- dwellers in need of a reboot. Whatever you do, don’t miss Gulangyu – a tiny pedestrian- only islet just off the coast of Xiamen offering chilled-out coastal town vibes.
Start ticking off destinations on your China bucket list by seeing the Terracotta Warriors and slurping on giant bowls of biang biang mian (thick belt noodles) in Xi’an, Shaanxi and paying a visit to the pandas in Sichuan’s capital Chengdu. Looking for breathtaking scenery? Point the compass south and take in the awesome beauty of Yunnan province at Yuanyang County’s famous rice paddies.