Dubai for kids - is it?
Ever seen snow in the desert or fancied masquerading as Lawrence of Arabia on a sandy safari? If you think hot deserts and sky scrapers are just playgrounds for adults, think again. There is more water than you would imagine in surprise ski centres, fountains, water parks and underwater zoos – aquatic entertainment for the whole family. Even flowers grow in this desert. Check out these top 10 things to do in Dubai with kids ideas, hot off the press from insider and author of dubaiwikia.com, Neha Singh.
What are the best things to do with kids in Dubai?
1. Be like a camel - Go wild in Dubai's deserts on a Desert Safari
To my mind Dubai and desert are practically synonymous. As soon as you get off the plane you are going to want to explore the vast stretches of golden sand on a desert safari. Starting with 21st Century pursuits, you can cruise in the modern conditioned comfort in a 4×4 vehicle, bumping you across the dunes. For the even more desert-adventurous, you might want to try your hand at “dune bashing” in a quad bike or sand boarding – think snowboarding but on sand dunes.
Alternatively (or in addition), step back in time and hire yourself a camel for a ride through traditional Bedouin camps, trying on some traditional Arabic clothes for instagramable photographs against spectacular desert sunsets. Ladies can go fully authentic with a spot of henna hand painting. In the evening, relax watching belly dancing, and fire shows whilst tucking into a BBQ dinner under the stars. A desert safari should be top of your family Dubai tours list.
2. Hang out with desert fish in the underworld at the magical Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Stroll through the Guinness Records’ certified ‘World’s Largest Acrylic Panel’. essentially an underwater pedestrian tunnel, and come eye to eye with giant crocodiles, stingray and jellyfish. The bravest in the family can opt to feed the crocodiles and sharks. Or go behind-the-scenes with the kids’ internship program and learn about the sea life in a surreal desert setting. Dubai Aquarium is an eventful Dubai indoor activity when you’ve had enough of the desert heat.
3. Become an aquatic creature yourself at Wild Wadi Water park
Your family activities in Dubai list has to have at least one theme park on it. Theme parks in Dubai come with a culturally different theme. Wadi Water Park‘s theme is the Arabian folk hero, Jura, a wise old fool and his trusty donkey, who since the 9th century has had the starring role in a thousand Middle Eastern stories. Locally, he is more famous than Sinbad.
Thirty Jura themed water slides and attractions whizz adults and kids around the pools. A dedicated kids pool houses small slides, climbing frames, and dumping buckets. Big kids (aka the parents) can enjoy all the fun of the water fair on the water roller coaster, gravity-defying slides and lazy river. It’s one of the best places for a view of the iconic Burj Al Arab, a 5 star luxury hotel and seventh tallest building in the world, built in the form of a sail (in keeping with the general water-in-the-desert theme). Wadi Waterpark provides top drawer kids’ entertainment in Dubai, keeping the whole family cool.
4. Snow in the desert - winter exhilaration in Ski Dubai
If you can have an Ice Bar in Cairo, you can have a ski park in Dubai. Ski Dubai is, not surprisingly and indoor activity. The park maintains a temperature of -4-degree Celsius throughout the year and provides a perfect family respite from the intense Dubai weather. It contains an 85-metre high mountain down which you can toboggan, sledge or snowboard on 5 slopes of varying difficulty. Kid heaven can be found in the snow park in the form of an ice cave and giant snowballs. Like being in the world’s other and very different desert type, Antarctica, you can interact with penguins in the March of the Penguins show.
Makes for a great surprise weather page in your Dubai Facebook holiday album. Definitely makes the top 10 places to visit in Dubai with kids. Factor this into your packing plans as flip flop are not going to work.
5. Fun at Legoland - just add water
Legoland Dubai offers building opportunities and water slides or a combination of the 2 in the build your own raft area, where children can build boats and then sail them down a stream. (Build wisely! Maybe get an adult to help.)
The Lego constructions add local flavour. In Miniland (a refreshingly air-conditioned area) you can wander amongst Lego models of Burj Khalifa, Ski Dubai, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai Creek and Dubai International Airport.
Just like a trip to Windsor, the Lego is interspersed with rides. The big boys include Splash Safari, Joker Soaker, Lego Wave Pool, and Twin Chasers. Most of the rides here are aimed at children aged 2-12. This construction and ride combo make it one of the top activities in Dubai for families.
6. Go to work in the mini city - KidZania
KidZania Dubai replicates a tiny indoor city where the streets are filled with offices, a bank, fire stations, restaurants, and hospitals. Like a modern day (but bigger) Bourton-on-the- Water, it is the built to scale and comes with vehicles and paved streets.
Children get to live out their dream careers for the day this mini but functioning economy, role-playing up to 80 adult professions including doctors, chefs, journalists, teachers and firefighters. You can make your own chocolate in a chocolate factory, assist in dental surgery, learn how make a Pizza Express pizza or edit your own TV show. Don’t miss the KidZania Space Centre where, although you cannot actually launch into space, kids get to learn about the universe and astronauts using simulated attractions with an optional Virtual Reality space walk.
Children even earn money and are paid in KidZania currency which can be redeemed at the stores inside. Think of it less as child labour and more of a fun careers fair with take home chocolate wages.
7. Visit the mesmerizing Dubai Miracle Garden - flowers in the desert
Touted as one of the most beautiful and largest manmade flower gardens in the world, Dubai Miracle Garden is nature lover heaven with a man made twist. The garden has a collection of more than 100 million flowers with unique arrangements spread over 72000 square metres. Making it into a place to visit in Dubai for kids, are the flower models of Mickey Mouse, an enormous teddy Bear, heart shaped flower tunnels and floral castles. Disneyland in a garden (with a butterfly and trampoline park as bonus family fun features).
If you need to spend money, there is a souvenir shop, photo booth, and Disney merchandise store.
8. Watch the beautiful dolphins at Dubai Dolphinarium
From flora to fauna – one thing to do in Dubai with kids is to visit the Dubai Dolphinarium, which houses 6 bottle-nose dolphins, seals. Watch the shows with little ones, or go one better and pop in for a swim with your bigger ones!
For some family fun bird action head to the Creek Park Exotic Bird Show, where you can see performances by brightly plumed celebrities of the bird world – African Greys, Macaws, Red-billed Hornbills, Parrots and Sulfur-Crested Cockatoos.
Fish and birds – kids love ’em, making this a top Dubai for kids attraction.
9. Watch the all-singing all-dancing Dubai Fountains
Whether you travel to Barcelona. Bellagio Las Vegas or the Middle East, a holiday with kids staple is to catch a musical fountain show. One of the tallest fountains in the world, Dubai Fountain shoots water to a height of more than 500 feet and is located on the Burj Lake with the boaty yet magnificent Burj Khalifa as a backdrop. The Dubai Fountain dazzles you in the sunshine by day and and it’s light show will beguile you by night, to the accompaniment of mystical Arabic music (with a few modern numbers thrown in – this is Dubai after all). As with the music, you can go traditional or contemporary with your viewing options. For a 21st century shopping themed experience, a good place to catch the show is the Waterfront Promenade outside Dubai Mall or Dubai Fountain Boardwalk. If you opt to step back into the mists of time, and add water, set sail on a traditional Abra wooden boat on the Burj Lake and watch the illuminated jets cascade in front of the whole family.
10. Be entertained in a cartoon kingdom at IMG Worlds of Adventure
In this Dubai park, kids come face to face with all their favourite characters from Marvel Comics and Cartoon Network. Spend a fun day with Spiderman, Superman, Thor, Iron Man and Hulk in the Marvel Zone and try a few Marvel theme based rides.
In the Cartoon Network Zone, hang out with Ben 10 and Powerpuff Girls. Be transported to the prehistoric era in the Lost Valley zone with its dinosaurs based rides – the most popular are Dino Carousel, The Velociraptor and the Forbidden Territory. Comic book characters, dinosaurs and rides make this a chart topper of things to do in Dubai with kids.
Summary of attractions in Dubai for kids
Dubai offers more water and flowers that you would expect in the desert and a whole array of things to do in with kids.
If you have time to spare for more activities on your trip to Dubai check out the impressive Burj Khalifa itself. If your children are the type to tolerate shopping, then the Dubai Mall is the place to be. Other entertainment options about at the VR Park, Museum of Illusions, and Glow Garden (a bit like a permanent LongLeat light spectacular). To experience the bling, visit Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. With so many things to offer, Dubai is everyone’s favourite adventure playground.
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