Map: Renmin ("People’s") Square

Starting early (no later than noon), go to the (1) Shanghai Museum (No. 2 Renmin Dadao; tel. 86 21 6372 3500; www.shanghaimuseum.net), sort of like Shanghai’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The historic Chinese collections—of both visual and decorative art—are outstanding and include ten galleries’ worth of coins, bronzes, sculptures, pottery, scrolls, furniture, jade, seals, and indigenous art; all of it best comprehended using the English audio device.

Head northeast, past the lotus pond toward Renmin Avenue. Cross the avenue and enter the (2) Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall (100 Renmin Dadao; tel. 86 21 6318 4477.) at the corner of Renmin Dadao and Central Xizang Road. “This is a Shanghai-style, ‘back to the future experience.’”—Damian Harper, author, Lonely Planet Shanghai. Check out the miniature replica of Shanghai on the ground level, then go to the second floor to read about Shanghai’s colorful history (don’t miss the festive historical dioramas along the north wall). Finally, ascend to the third floor, which is entirely filled with a scale model of the city’s ambitious future.

Continue northwest through the park to the (3) Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art (231 Nanjing West Road; tel. 86 21 6327 9900; www.mocashanghai.org). The multistory glass facade can house interesting and provocative exhibits, particularly during the city’s annual and biannual art festivals. Formerly a greenhouse, enjoy the sun-drenched promenade. Duck into (4) MoCA’s Caffee and Ristorante Italiano (tel. 86 21 6327 0856) for lunch and get a seat on the rooftop terrace. Make a stop at the tiny but excellent gift shop on the ground floor, then head back outside.

You’ll see (5) Barbarossa (231 Nanjing West Road; tel. 86 21 6318 0220), an open-style Moroccan building, which we’ll head back to later for a sunset drink. For now, continue north across the park, toward Nanjing West Road. Enter the (6) Shanghai Art Museum (325 Nanjing West Road; tel. 86 21 6327 2829; www.sh-artmuseum.org.cn), in the former location of the Shanghai Race Club. The museum, which houses local art, looks every bit the gentleman’s club, with its lacquered wood floors and airy design. Wander through the current exhibit, then retrace your steps back to Barbarossa in time to watch the sunset.

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