Lu Xun Park (also known as Hongkou Park) is a wonderful place to get a feel for the lives of everyday Shanghainese. If you show up on a pleasant weekend day, you’ll find groups of retirees singing old songs, dancing in the open air and watching their grandchildren fly kites, boot footballs and race remote-controlled boats and cars as their parents look on, happy to have a few moments to relax on a park bench after a busy week.
Off the beaten path of most tourist itineraries, the park and all that the area around it have to offer are still close enough to the Bund and downtown to make for an easy half-day trip. You’ll likely arrive via the metro opposite Hongkou Stadium—quickly cross the busy street and head into the park; the change from the frantic pace of the traffic near the station to the relative calm of the park is remarkable. Even more remarkable is the contrast between the neighborhood on the west side—new high-rises, malls and construction—and that on the east side, which consists of well-tended shikumen brick lane houses lining tidy, tree-shaded streets.
The north end of the park is home to the museum honoring its namesake, Lu Xun, China’s preeminent Modernist writer who sharply criticized traditional Chinese culture, as well as that of the troubled Republic which emerged in the wake of the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912. Check out our entry on the Lu Xun Museum for more on the man and his work. Also within walking distance of the park are the Duolun Museum of Modern Art and running alongside it, Duolun Lu, which was, once upon a time, Lu Xun’s haunt, gathering place for his many revolutionary and literary cohorts to discuss the culture and politics of their time.