Earth symbolizes the late summer, a time of ease, well-being, abundance, and balance in all things.
Old House Inn
Considered Shanghai's first B&B, this 1930s villa along a quiet lilong, or narrow lane, offers a comfy retreat from the bustle of the city. "Our guests get to see what life is like for the laobaixing (ordinary people of China)," says owner Vivian Dai. Since there are only 12 rooms - all simply furnished with wood floors and Ming-style furniture - Dai and her staff regard visitors as honored guests. 351 Huashan Lu, No. 16, 011-8621-624-6118, www.oldhouse.cn.
The city's cultural center, People's Square, attracts Shanghai residents at all hours to participate in hobbies unchanged for generations: qigong in the morning, mah-jongg in the afternoon, kite flying in the evening. The square is bordered to the south by the Shanghai Museum, showcasing China's history, and to the north by the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, projecting the Shanghai of 2020. It's the past and future, timeless and timely, captured in one broad panorama. Renmin Dadao at Xizang Beilu.
Chairman Mao would be seeing red. The site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party, where Mao launched the party in 1921, is now surrounded by Shanghai's capital of conspicuous consumption. Xintiandi, or "New Heaven on Earth," is the city's most popular upscale shopping and dining complex. Its restored shikumen (stone gate) buildings house nearly 100 tenants. (Sorry, Chairman; Mao suits aren't available.) 181 Taicang Lu, 011-8621-6311-2288, www.xintiandi.com.
The Yongfoo Elite
With a name that translates as "elegance" and "fortune," it's no wonder that stars and socialites favor this refined Shanghainese restaurant. The elegant 1930s villa, formerly the British consul's residence, boasts a stunning East-meets-West interior that mixes art deco antiques and Gucci couches with Chinese paintings and calligraphy. The sprawling pine- and magnolia-shaded grounds provide a degree of privacy lacking in Shanghai's other A-list venues. 200 Yongfu Lu, 011-8621-5466-2727, www.yongfooelite.com.
Old China Hand
Photographer Deke Erh is known for his beautiful coffee-table books about Shanghai architecture. He provides the coffee, the tables, and books at this laid-back café/library/bookstore. Designed as a personal study, circa 1930, with soft jazz and shelves lined with volumes on China, this cozy corner easily beats gourmet-coffee chain stores hands-down on atmosphere and culture. 27 Shaoxing Lu, 011-8621-6473-2526.