10 top things to do in Dubai with kids
From beaches to water parks, there’s plenty to keep the little ones entertained
Dubai may be best known for its shopping and nightlife, but it’s also a great family destination. This city has everything from water parks to cool mall attractions, all designed to entertain and, in some cases, educate. So, if you’re planning to visit with children, here’s where you need to go.
It might sound like an odd recommendation, but the largest shopping mall in the world is a must-visit for all ages. It’s a lot more than just shops. Families can check out the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, which houses more than 140 species in its large aquarium tank. Entry tickets also grant access to the aquarium tunnel, with a behind-the-scenes guide on how creatures like penguins and crocodiles are cared for. The Dubai Mall is also home to Kidzania (a children’s amusement centre), the Dubai Ice Rink and a virtual reality park – plenty to make the kids squeal in delight.
The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai;
For a… ahem… cool time, head over to Mall of the Emirates’ indoor ski slope, one of the biggest in the world. There’s a variety of experiences you can do in sub-zero temperatures, from slope sessions to Zorbing. The little ones can meet penguins with Ski Dubai’s Penguin Encounter programme, and there’s even a seasonal Snow Cinema, offering family-friendly movies, hot chocolate and blankets.
Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Al Barsha
This entertainment and shopping destination features pavilions from around the world, each selling unique wares and traditional food. Children are sure to enjoy the carnival area, and the cultural shows and dances. Plus, there’s a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! entertainment museum they can visit (for an additional price). Do note that Global Village is an outdoor destination that’s only open during Dubai’s winter months (usually October to March).
Along Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road
This is another popular outdoor attraction that’s open during Dubai’s cooler season. Dubai Miracle Garden is a lush flower garden featuring some jaw-droppingly beautiful installations, from a record-breaking flower-covered airplane to an umbrella tunnel. Children are bound to enjoy the sight of a giant floral Micky Mouse statue or the newly installed Smurf Village.
Treat young nature lovers to a day out at the UAE’s indoor rainforest. Green Planet Dubai is a biodome that simulates the temperatures and conditions of a tropical rainforest, and is home to more than 3,000 types of flora and fauna. Little ones will encounter everything from insects and bats to reptiles and sloths. Make sure to check out the special events run by Green Planet Dubai – there are often exciting experiences your kids can take part in, such as Zookeeper for the Day (where they learn more about the tropics) and Thunderstorm (an artificial rain system).
City Walk, Al Wasl
The largest integrated theme park in the Middle East, this place has more than 100 action-packed rides and adventures to choose from. It’s broken down into four main parks: Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park. Expect rides themed around world-famous movies, immersive experiences, plenty of food choices, and events happening all year round. Pro tip: If you want to go for a couple of days, nearby hotels Lapita and Legoland Hotel have packages that include tickets to the parks.
Along Sheikh Zayed Road;
Planning to visit during the warmer months? IMG Worlds of Adventure is a sprawling indoor (read: not excruciatingly hot) theme park that promises to keep the little ones busy. It’s spread out across four major zones – IMG Boulevard, Lost Valley (for roaring, dinosaur-themed rides), Cartoon Network (perfect for young fans of Ben 10 or The Powerpuff Girls) and a Marvel Zone.
Along Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road
If you feel like the weather’s getting a tad too warm, water parks are a brilliant and family friendly way to cool down. Wild Wadi, one of Dubai’s original water parks, is a great option thanks to its central location next to Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Its slides and lazy rivers are fun for everyone, but families will particularly enjoy Juha’s Dhow and Lagoon, a play structure with five slides and dumping buckets.
Jumeirah Street, Umm Suqeim
For an “edutainment” experience, there’s children’s play museum OliOli. The venue has eight galleries and 45 exhibits designed by professionals to nurture a love for learning in a fun manner. That includes everything from a Future Park to a Water Gallery that analyses theories of physics and engineering. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs, but we promise it’s done in an engaging way!
This long stretch of beach is one of Dubai’s most popular family locations when the weather is nice. Grown-ups can relax on the soft, white sand or take a stroll along the boardwalk, while the children frolic in the sand, take part in water sports, or frolic in the sand. Added bonus – it’s free!