Over 100 miles southwest of Shanghai you'll find the scenic city of Hangzhou, best known for the West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the heart of the city. While it is massive and swelling with crowds at each turn, the lake offers rare moments of calm. No matter the time of year, a cruise along the lake guarantees surreal views. Temples and pagodas punctuate the hazy sky, sure to distract you, if briefly, from the the wincing cold (like during my trip) or stifling heat.
If you go: take the high-speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station (about 45-50 minutes).