KIDS ACTIVITIES IN DUBAI: FROM INDOOR PLAY TO OUTDOOR FUN FOR EVERY AGE
It’s little wonder that Dubai is revered for being one of the world’s most family friendly destinations. With beaches to roam and a vast desert landscape to explore, plus every kind of kids’ club and activity available to keep children of all ages happy and entertained, the challenge comes with trying to fit it all in! We’ve found 10 of the best things to do with kids and as a family in Dubai, from wildlife encounters to the most innovative type of play – this city offers plenty of fun for all.
Best for Ages: 2-year-old to 12-year-old kids (but really there are no age restrictions here!)
Key Features: A beautifully designed indoor space in which children can learn, create and play, OliOli (which means ‘joy’ in Hawaiian) is the brainchild of parents who have taken inspiration from art galleries, museums, science centres and educators across the world and combined the very best of each to establish a truly visionary destination for kids. With eight galleries spread over two floors and over 45 hands-on activities for children to try, there is plenty to keep little ones of all ages busy and having fun while parents get to enjoy a spacious haven filled with natural light and quirky design touches.
Activities: Each of OliOli’s eight gorgeous galleries offers an innovative play/learn opportunity with a particular focus and an inspiring setting. From Toshi’s Nets, a gallery made almost entirely of a colourful nylon structure that’s been hand crocheted for over a year by 78-year-old textiles artist Toshiko MacAdam, where kids can swing, climb and navigate the trampoline-style nets to a ‘Future Park’ where art meets technology and little ones can see their drawings of sea creatures and a futuristic cityscape brought to life on interactive screens before playing with giant glow-in-the-dark neon soft balls.
There’s also a ‘Cars & Ramps’ gallery which allows budding engineers to construct their own mini vehicles from Lego before testing them on out, an area for ‘Forts & Dens’ which includes everything for building the ultimate personalised playhouse from special blankets, clips, foam shapes and wooden structures and a ‘Toddlers’ gallery where OliOli’s younger visitors can enjoy sensory exploration through carefully curated games, puzzles and climb-ons.
And it doesn’t end there – with a ‘Creative Lab’’, a STEAM focused space which allows kids to make just about anything with real tools and plenty of encouragement from a team of OliOli experts; the ‘Air’ gallery where children can ‘learn about the principles of flight, wind, gravity, aerodynamics, friction and resistance’ through playing with ‘floating shapes’, testing a hurricane booth, making paper airplanes, hovercrafts and a ‘Water’ area complete with ‘rain’ for splashing in, a retro VW beetle to wash and watery activities to try while sporting the cutest yellow macs – your 2 hour slot will be over before you know it!
Feeding the Kids: OliOli’s ‘La Petite Treehouse’ café is a calm sanctuary serving up snacks, treats and light bites for kids and adults – perfect for a post play coffee and recharge!
Need to Know:
Al Quoz 1 (near Oasis Centre)
Sunday to Wednesday: 9am – 6pm
Thursday: 9am – 7pm
Friday: 9am – 8pm
Saturday: 9am – 7pm
Child (2-16 years) AED 126 for 2 hours
Child (12-23 months) AED 63 for 2 hours
One parent free with each child, additional parents/adults AED 42
Membership also available
Advance booking required
2. XPark Jr
Best for Ages: 1 year old to 12-year-old kids; those who love to play the good old-fashioned way!
Key Features: A green oasis tucked away between Kite Beach and Jumeirah Beach Road, XPark Jr is an outdoor play space dedicated to bringing the joys of Mother Nature and the freedom of natural, inquisitive play to children. This lovingly created outdoor playscape is unlike anywhere else in the UAE, a magical garden meets jungle environment that incorporates beautiful old mature trees, natural elements including grass, sand, water, timber and wildlife too. XPark Jr is the perfect place for kids to be kids – where barefoot, messy play is encouraged along with a respect and understanding of the world we live in.
Activities: Entry to XPark Jr will allow kids access to roam an outdoor space which is big enough to explore, yet not so vast that parents need panic! There are timber forts, tree houses and bridges to conquer, natural style fountains and streams to splash in, a mud kitchen and sand areas for digging and making and sensory play plus a vegetable garden for children to help plant, nurture and harvest. Indoor areas have been carefully created to blend in with the outdoors, offering barn-style spaces for seasonal arts and crafts, reading and regular special activities. The XPark Jr team are on hand to help, encourage and support children around the park – but it’s the resident animals including goats, ponies, ducks, chickens, tortoises and kittens who steal the show with the opportunity for supervised cuddles, feeding, grooming and care.
Feeding the Kids: An onsite ‘Cafeteria Junior’ serves up coffee and soft drinks plus pastries and snacks – for up-to-date information it’s best to keep an eye on the XPark Jr website.
Need to Know:
Next to XDubai Kite Beach Skatepark, 35A Mizmelah Street, Kite Beach, Dubai
Daily from 8am – 6.30pm
Entry is at specific 2 hourly slots which must be pre booked
Child: AED 80 for 2 hours
One parent free with each child, additional parents/adults AED 42
Pony rides, planting, arts & crafts and animal food are charged separately
Advance booking required
3. The Green Planet
Best for Ages: All ages; mini Attenboroughs
Key Features: The Green Planet is an incredible indoor eco project which houses a tropical rainforest including 3000 different types of plants and animals inside a beautiful biodome that’s perfect for exploring with kids. The ideal place for curious little minds and a great indoor activity when temperatures soar, The Green Planet simulates an expedition to the tropics with lush vegetation, waterfalls, majestic trees plus insects, birds, reptiles and even sloths to look out for! At the centre of this four-storey space is the world’s ‘largest indoor manmade and life-sustaining tree’ around which each level of the rainforest is built. From the ‘flooded forest floor to ‘the canopy’ and everything in between, kids can see and learn about the intricacies of some of the world’s most fascinating ecosystems and meet a few very cool creatures along the way.
Activities: Whilst exploring the rainforest spotting all of the amazing creatures that live here is fun enough, there are plenty of extra activities to keep the kids truly amazed. Each level is dedicated to a different section of the rainforest and there’s something new to discover around each corner – from fish and river-dwelling rays to marvel at, to insects including leaf-cutter ants, tarantulas and giant cockroaches to watch. The Green Planet biologists are on hand to answer questions and kids can even handle some of the creatures – so if getting friendly with a snake or touching creepy-crawlies is a child’s dream then this is the place to do it!
Twice a day (1pm and 5pm), a tropical thunderstorm passes through the forest complete with rumbling thunder, wind and rain in which the kids are welcome to play (don’t worry, there are areas from which you can watch without getting wet!).
Looking out for The Green Planet’s free-roaming wildlife – from sloths to birds and monkeys is guaranteed to delight, while a visit to the centre’s Australian Walkabout experience takes visitors on a journey ‘down under’, meeting some of Australia’s famous creatures and going ‘walkabout’ through an Aussie landscape which includes wallabies, kookaburras and more.
And for anyone who wants to take The Green Planet experience to the next level, ticket add-ons include fun experiences from piranha feeding to up close and personal encounters with sugar gliders, birds, reptiles and even The Green Planet’s famous resident sloths.
Feeding the Kids: The Green Planet Café is a jungle-esque themed spot for meals or snacks – there’s an excellent kid’s menu and a play area complete with soft play, ball pits and more.
Need to Know:
City Walk at the junction of Al Wasl Road and Safa Road
Daily from 10am -6pm (last tickets sold at 3.30pm online and 5pm at the door)
AED 120 per person when paying at the door or AED 89 if pre booked online
Children aged 3 and under free of charge
4. Jumeirah Wild Wadi Waterpark
Best for Ages: All ages from babes in arms to grandparents!
Key Features: Whilst Dubai has plenty of water parks to choose from, Wild Wadi is definitely one of the best when trying to keep the whole family busy – there may be height restrictions for some of the faster slides and rides but still lots for little ones below 1.1 metres to enjoy. Operated by Jumeirah International and situated next to the iconic Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotels, Wild Wadi’s beachfront location is as convenient as it is inspiring – and the inside of the park itself offers a lush, palm-filled oasis with plenty of different areas to explore. Inspired by the tales of Arabian folklore character Juha and is perfect all year round as the water is controlled to a perfect temperature and walkways are sprayed to avoid burnt little toes!
Activities: With over 30 attractions allowing energetic kids (and their families!) to surf, body board, ride the slides or just splash about, there is absolutely loads to do here. Each ride at the waterpark is awarded a thrill rating, making it easy to decide on which is right for your age groups. Little water babies will love Juha’s Journey, a 360-metre-long lazy river and lovely slow ride which drifts along a gentle current and the interactive play structure (Juha’s Dhow and Lagoon) which is filled with over 100 interactive water activities including sprinklers, water guns and colourful slides that are perfect for little ones. Look out for the large water bucket that soaks anyone below every 2 minutes!
For children over 1.1 metres there are more adventurous rides to conquer – Tantrum Alley and Burj Surj offer fun in the form of travelling down slides and rapids in huge rubber rings, while the series of Master Blaster rides feature high-powered water jets to take you on roller coaster rides aquatic style. Braver kids might like to try the park’s famous Jumeirah Sceirah, the tallest and fastest free-fall water slide in Dubai or go for the ultimate surfing experience at The Wipeout and Riptide flowriders. And if you need a break from the thrills then Breaker’s Bay, the largest wave pool in the Middle East, has a shallow beach area that’s perfect for paddling, or you could book a premium sun lounger and 8 person Wadi Cabana complete with private refrigerator filled with soft drinks and fruit.
Feeding the Kids: Wild Wadi’s two main restaurants, Julshan’s Burgers and Dogs and Juha’s Family Kitchen serve fast food favourites including burgers, shawarmas and fries plus salads and sandwiches too. Traditional pizzas are available at Riptides Pizza and there are plenty of snack shacks for picking up treats and ice creams along the way.
Need to Know:
Opposite Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah St, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai
Daily from 10am – 6pm
AED 209 per person over 1.1 metre and AED 159 per person under 1.1 metre when paying at the main gate
AED 199 and AED 149 when pre-booked online.
Children aged 2 and under free of charge
Best for Ages: Kids aged 1 and over; budding Picassos!
Key Features: Thejamjar is a super cool community arts space in Dubai’s Al Serkal Avenue – an equally cool arts & culture district made up of converted warehouses which house galleries, cafes and artisan stores. A place for unleashing creativity, thejamjar’s bright, spacious and light-filled space offers everything from classes to events, parties and brilliant mini weekend sessions – but it’s the DIY painting slots which are such a huge hit with the kids and actually with the grownups too (thejamjar’s ethos is to make art accessible to all!).
Activities: Whether you have a budding Picasso to entertain or a little one who needs some encouragement with getting creative, there are all kinds of arty options available at thejamjar. First up, for ages 5-10, weekly short’n’sweet classes are the perfect way for kids to spend an hour learning a new medium or technique while creating their own masterpiece. Whether you want to commit to a class each week or simply book a one-off, themes include ‘patterns in nature’ where children can paint everything from butterfly wings to landscapes under the caring guidance of thejamjar’s resident artists – either indoors or, when the weather permits, outside in a lovely grassy courtyard.
Also available are toddler ‘artsploration’ sessions where tinier artists can paint with their parents and bond over colours and textures while listening to music jams and meeting other little people! And there’s plenty more to choose from, be it arts & crafts classes to kids acrylics, watercolours or multimedia – a weekly online schedule will give you all the information and choices you need.
If you and the little ones prefer to go it alone and get arty freestyle, then booking one of the daily DIY painting slots is just the thing – simply select a canvas size before getting equipped with everything you need to paint to your heart’s content! There are guided DIY sessions if you’d prefer a little direction and painting kits to buy and try at home too.
Feeding the Kids: There are no dining facilities at thejamjar but Al Serkal Avenue is home to a number of really lovely cafes which are perfect for a post-painting coffee or bite.
Need to Know:
Unit H74, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1, Dubai
Monday – Thursday from 10am-7pm
Friday from 2pm – 8pm
Saturday from 10am – 7pm
Kids sessions from AED 132 per person and toddler sessions from AED 105 per person
DIY painting sessions from AED 89.25 per person (depending on canvas size) for up to 2 hours
6. Magic Rugs Arabic Weaving
Best for Ages: Kids aged 4 years and older; arts and crafts lovers
Key Features: Magic Rugs is a beautiful treasure trove of a store which not only inspires a love of Arabic crafts, arts, cultures and traditions through its wares, but also offers the most brilliantly unique weaving classes for children and adults alike. Located in Dubai’s relatively new Al Seef district, a charming creek side area which fuses the city’s proud past with its bright future, Magic Rugs is a family business run by husband-and-wife team Mahmoud and Alyssa Kosyaem, whose relatives have handwoven rugs in Syria for generations. With a passion for weaving, Mahmoud and Alyssa have introduced daily weaving classes in their gorgeous space, a fun opportunity for kids to learn and understand traditional techniques while getting creative!
Activities: Weaving classes are available for everyone aged 4 years and up (under 7’s must be accompanied by an adult). Using specially made traditional looms and methods, kids can weave their own mini rugs or tapestries in whatever colours and designs they choose. Materials, instruction and plenty of enthusiasm are all provided over a 2-hour session and at the end of the day everyone takes home what they’ve made. The most perfect way to experience a little Arabic culture, surrounded by the beauty of old Dubai.
Feeding the Kids: There are no dining facilities at Magic Rugs, but Al Seef is a wonderful place to explore and there are cafes and restaurants galore to enjoy.
Need to Know:
Al Seef Street, Dubai
Weaving classes are offered between 10am – 4pm daily, pre-booking is essential
Kids AED 30 per and adults AED 50 per hour. Each weaving session is 2 hours long
Best for Ages: Kiddos over 95cm to teens; adventure enthusiasts.
Key Features: The latest addition to Dubai’s trampoline parks, Streetmaniax is a family trampoline and adventure park in a vast warehouse-style setup in Dubai’s Al Quoz area and is jam packed with activities that’ll get the kids jumping, flying, dodging and burning off all that energy! From learning to flip in the parkour area to honing their ninja skills on the ninja warrior course, dodgeball, obstacle courses and even a type of bungee jump for little daredevils. Street Maniax has it all and plenty in between. Vibrant, exciting and fun – the ideal place to let off steam indoors!
Activities: Streetmaniax is so much more than a trampoline park – so in addition to plenty of bouncing, there are some other very cool activities to enjoy. How about flying through the air superman style on the Cable Way zip wire? Or base jumping onto a giant inflatable bag from different levels of a special jump tower? Kids who love a challenge can be tested in the ‘Meltdown’ area where they’ll have to jump and duck to avoid the swinging inflatable poles, while wannabe Ninjas can perfect their skills on a Ninja Warrior course and try to beat the clock as they leap, balance and navigate the obstacles! And with parkour to try, the opportunity to leap (safely) bungee-style from a height, plus freestyle trampolining and a dodgeball arena, kids can literally climb the walls here rather than doing so at home!
Feeding the Kids: A contemporary mezzanine café is just the place for resting between activities or for watching the action from above – with child and adult friendly food options plus good coffee too.
Need to Know:
19 First Al Khail St, Al Quoz Industrial Area 3
Friday and Saturday 10am – 8pm
Sunday – Thursday 12pm – 8pm
From AED 40 for one hour. Day passes and other options also available. Discounts available when booking online
8. Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Best for Ages: All ages; underwater enthusiasts
Key Features: An absolute must visit in Dubai, the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo located inside the city’s vast Dubai Mall has to be seen to be believed. A fascinating world of aquatic exhibits and experiences, the aquarium is home to thousands of animals including over 400 Sharks and Rays which live in the mega impressive 10 million litre tank – one of the biggest and most beautiful in the world. Whether being pushed about in a stroller or running to spot the next incredible creature, this magical underwater world is guaranteed to delight.
Activities: Your Dubai Aquarium experience starts with a walk through the Aquarium Tunnel where you can come eye to eye with a shark, watch rays fly overhead or catch a glimpse of one of the resident divers during feeding time. From here, the Underwater Zoo opens up through three zones: Rainforest, Rocky Shore and Living Ocean – each with their own unique displays and equally unique creatures! From otters to piranhas, giant spider crabs to seahorses, garden eels to archerfish – there is so much life here and all behind really easy to see tanks with maximum viewing potential, even for little kids.
For little ones who love to touch, a rock pool exhibit allows them to meet some of its inhabitants and get their hands wet as they say hello – or if they prefer to watch, then seeing penguins underwater at eye level is just about one of the coolest sights ever! And then there’s 40-year-old Australian saltwater crocodile King Croc and his wife Queen Croc to wow you with their size and teeth!
At regular times each day, you’ll be able to watch the sharks, rays, otters and other animals at feeding time – and there are also presentations by onsite experts who’ll share fascinating insights and facts. If a visit to the Aquarium isn’t enough then booking one of the encounters might be for you –from stepping inside the Penguin Cove habitat to go face-to-feather with the colony of Gentoo Penguins to interacting with otters and touring their home, meeting, touching and feeding 50 beautiful gentle rays or even booking a glass bottom boat ride for a different view of the creatures below.
Feeding the Kids: Whilst there are no dining facilities inside the Aquarium itself, Dubai Mall has some of the best dining options in town, so you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Need to Know:
The Dubai Mall, downtown Dubai
Sunday – Thursday 10am – 10pm
Friday – Saturday 10am – 12am
From AED 169 per person. Ticket offers and extra experiences available to book online
9. Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park
Best for Ages: All ages and anyone who believes in a little magic!
Key Features: Anything is possible in Dubai – even a park where dinosaurs and glowing fairytale-esque landscapes come together! Now in its 6th Season, this isn’t one of the newer attractions but a popular one, nonetheless. Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park is located at Zabeel Park and is kitsch, colourful and perfect for combining the outdoors with something a little different. The park opens at 5pm (it has to be dark for the Dubai Garden Glow to be effective) so if you have very little ones with strict routines and really early bedtimes then they might have to miss out (or just allow for a later finish – they’re bound to sleep after all the excitement!).
Activities: Start with a walk through the dinosaur park, complete with very realistic prehistoric creatures that move and roar (and can be a bit scary if you’re only little). Showcasing more than 120 animatronic dinosaurs – there are also play areas and photo opportunities (climbing inside dino eggs or facing up to a set of scary teeth) along the way as you head to Garden Glow for dusk.
Dubai Garden Glow itself is a magical world of lights and glowing structures – and is completely delightful for children. Bright and colourful, there are fairy lit light tunnels to walk through, glittering displays to enjoy and plenty of scenes and structures from trees and flowers to animals and landmarks from around the world (twinkly Burj Khalifa included), all created from millions of energy-saving LED Lights and yards of recycled luminous fabric. Surreal and kitsch but totally unique and a real family favourite, definitely something to enjoy with the kids!
Dubai Garden Glow now also includes a ‘Magic Park’ which incorporates the art of science with optical illusions, fun exhibits and 3D artworks to surprise you (great for those Instagram shots too!).
Feeding the Kids: There are snack kiosks dotted around the park.
Need to Know:
Zabeel Park, Gate No- 6 & 7 Area – B
Saturday – Thursday 5pm – 10.30pm
Fridays 5pm – 11pm
AED 65 per person. Children aged 3 and under free of charge
10. Kite Beach
Best for Ages: Everyone who loves the feeling of sand between their toes
Key Features: Only a few years ago Kite Beach was nothing but sea and sand. Now it is one of the city’s most loved lifestyle destinations complete with activities, cafes and modern facilities as well, of course, as a vast stretch of sand to play in or lounge on, the beautiful warm waters of the Arabian Sea to enjoy and plenty of people watching to while the hours away.
Activities: If it’s just a chilled-out day on the beach that you’re looking for then the buzzing destination that is Kite Beach is the place! With sun loungers to hire, changing areas and shower/washroom facilities plus foodie hangouts that range from fast food options to seaside chic cafes for really good brunches, coffee and more. However, there are plenty of activities from fitness options to kids’ activities and heaps of fun for families here too if lounging around isn’t really your thing. Hire a SUP or kayak and take the littles for a spin on the water (life jackets are available) or treat the kids to a cool-down at Splash ‘N Party, a new splash pad with inflatable water slides and structures to climb all over.
For non-watery fun, Wire World Adventure Park is an aerial course on the sand featuring ziplines, ropes and wooden platforms (minimum height requirement 1 metre) and there’s even a mini trampoline park that’s perfect for a pre-swim cool down. And there’s nowhere better than Kite Beach to watch the beautiful sunsets over the water – you might even glimpse a dolphin or two.
Feeding the Kids: There are so many dining options on the beach – from Mexican at Taqado to Aussie style café Park House and, a family favourite, SALT serving up the best burgers on the sand.
Need to Know:
Umm Suqeim 1 between Al Manara and Umm Al Sheif
The beach is open from sunrise to sunset! With all activities and cafes operating at their own opening hours.
Free of charge, activities are charged individually and parking in the area is paid for
By Kaya Scott