Shanghai’s M50 Art District and the World’s Largest Starbucks

After a lovely visit to Shanghai’s Yu Garden, the Former French Concession, Shanghai Botanical Garden, and Zhujiajiao ancient water town, Nicole insisted that I see some of the city’s modern art.

We met at the Shanghai Natural History Museum. The weather was too nice to spend the day indoors, but I couldn’t resist capturing some photos of the art and flowers in the sculpture park.

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We took the metro to 50 Moganshan Rd., also known as the M50 Arts District. Located on the south bank of the Suzhou Creek, M50 covers about 6.6 acres at the site of the former Xinhe Cotton Mill. You’ll find art galleries, artists’ studios, furniture stores, and antique dealers.

Outside M50, several blocks of retaining walls are decorated with graffiti art. If you’re in Shanghai, see them while you can, since they’ll be torn down as construction on the 1000 Trees development is completed.

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After lunch, Nicole offered to take me to the Moller Villa. This colonial-era mansion was built by British shipping magnate Eric Moller in 1936, and the design is something straight out of a fairytale. It features tiled Gothic and Tudor gables, spires, and steeples as well as intricately landscaped gardens, and it opened as a hotel in 2001.

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Moller Villa in Shanghai, China

When applying for a Chinese visa, Americans have to submit all sorts of paperwork, including airline and hotel reservations. I hadn’t decided where to stay by the time that I needed to submit my application, so I quickly found a hotel with no cancellation fees. That hotel happened to be the Moller Villa. While $900 was a bit steep for my budget and I wound up canceling the reservation, I still wanted to see it in person. It did not disappoint.

Something else that did not disappoint was the world’s largest Starbucks. The 29,000-square-foot Shanghai showpiece contains a full-scale roastery, cafe, and retail outlet and just opened last December. The merchandise area alone is bigger than any Starbucks I’ve seen elsewhere.

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The “Shanghai” sign at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is made of tea boxes.

We met Nicole’s expat friend Dave for dinner at his neighborhood Korean barbecue restaurant, where we cooked our own meal tableside. It was more food than three people could possibly eat, and a fun ending to another great day in Shanghai.

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About a third of our meal prior to being grilled tableside at a Korean barbecue restaurant in Shanghai, China.

Up next: Shanghai Urban Planning Museum