Wood represents spring fever, a fertile time of heightened creativity, vigor, and expression.
Ebullient Peruvian restaurateur Eduardo Vargas enjoys a devoted following rivaling that of Shanghai's celebrity chefs. After winning international praise for his tapas bar, Azul, Vargas followed up with 239, which serves modern cuisine family style. "I partner with first-class chefs who are as passionate about food as I am," Vargas says. The partnerships work; 239's tables are booked solid with patrons sampling seafood pot stickers, pumpkin tortellini, and the irresistible chocolate lava flow cake. 239 Shimen Yilu, 011-8621-6253-2837, www.239shanghai.com.
This former factory district has evolved into the Soho of Shanghai. Studios, boutiques, cafés, and galleries line the rambling lanes and sell handicrafts as diverse as Tibetan silver jewelry, Danish fashion designs, and intricate embroidery from China's Miao minority. Lane 210, Taikang Lu.
Hu & Hu Antiques
Marybelle Hu worked at Sotheby's in Los Angeles and Taipei's National Palace Museum before partnering with her sister-in-law, Lin, on their wildly successful furniture showroom in Shanghai. Their high-quality wooden pieces - altar tables transformed into computer desks, wedding cabinets turned into entertainment centers - reflect China's ancient culture yet are designed for the here and now. 1885 Cao Bao Lu No. 8, 011-8621-3431-1212, www.hu-hu.com.
Shanghai's first boutique hotel, 88 Xintiandi has capitalized on its trendy address and carved a niche among business travelers. The 53 stylish suites all have kitchens, broadband access, and subdued wood decor. Guests have access to Alexander City Club's extensive gym as well as the members-only Club by the Lake, perfect for business dinners before hitting Xintiandi's bars for a nightcap. 380 Huangpi Nanlu, 011-8621-5383-8833, www.88xintiandi.com.
Suzhou Creek Art District
The burgeoning modern art scene along Suzhou Creek reflects Shanghai's remarkable transformation as vividly as the city's skyscrapers. Studios such as ArtScene Warehouse and ShanghART Gallery specialize in contemporary artists whose works celebrate a freedom of expression their predecessors could only imagine. 50 Moganshan Road, Building No. 4, 2/F, 011-8621-6277-2499, www.artscenewarehouse.com, 011-8621-6359-3923, www.shanghartgallery.com.