TOP KIDS ACTIVITIES IN DUBAI FOR ALL AGES, ALL YEAR AROUND
Summer in Dubai can get pretty hot and humid, typically between the months of May and October. This doesn’t mean Dubai is not the perfect family destination during summer, after all this city is built for extreme temperatures and has plenty to offer in terms of indoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. Once the weather cools down from October, Dubai has even more to offer with some fantastic child friendly venues that are out of this world! It’s no wonder that Dubai is one of the most popular cities to visit in the world, with family, all year round.
1. Dubai Miracle Garden
Great for: A scenic walk with your kids in the most picturesque and sweet-scented destinations of Dubai. It will make you feel like you have stepped into Dubai’s very own Disneyland. Dubai Miracle Garden is suitable for children of all ages, your littlest ones can stroll and play in a beautiful and secure setting while older children most definitely will appreciate the stunning floral arrangements.
When to go: Dubai Miracle Garden is a seasonal attraction open in the cooler months between November and May. Best time to visit would be in the winter months, try to arrive early so you can capture beautiful pictures before it gets crowded.
What we think: With more than 150 million flowers in full bloom, this 72,000 sqm paradise is also home to the largest floral aircraft in the world, the A380 Emirates aircraft. In 2013, it was listed as the largest flower garden in the world in the Guinness World Records! The garden has a big variety of eateries, beautiful swings and play spaces for children. Tucked away in the corner are bouncy castles and a trampoline park with 12 custom-made trampolines. Kids can let off some steam while the adults bask in the beauty of the stunning environment.
Our top highlights: Make sure you don’t miss the Floral Castle – it is sure to make you feel like you’ve stepped out of a children’s fairytale book, some say you feel like Alice in Wonderland. Don’t forget to take pictures with Disney’s most iconic characters – Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disney Avenue, the 18-metre-high floral sculptures feature almost 100,000 plants.
Where to eat: There are numerous international food stalls and kiosks to grab a bite that you can enjoy in one of the gazebos or cabanas.
Address: Al Barsha South 3, Dubailand, Dubai
Phone: 04 422 8902
2. Dubai Butterfly Garden
Great for: An educational and interactive day out where your little ones can gain in depth understanding of the lifecycle of a butterfly whilst making their way through the domes surrounded by colourful, beautiful butterflies. This activity is suitable for children of all ages, it is a fun and unforgettable day out for the whole family. However, it is probably best enjoyed with older kids that can make sure to tread carefully and can refrain themselves from touching the butterflies.
When to go: Unlike Dubai Miracle Garden, Dubai Butterfly Garden is open all year round. The indoor domes are climate controlled to ensure the same weather conditions as the natural habitat of butterflies. It can get warm and humid, so the best time to visit is probably in the winter months.
What we think: Dubai Butterfly Garden is the world’s largest butterfly garden with over 15,000 butterflies from 50 species. Your little ones will have a chance to learn about and discover different types of butterflies and get a glimpse into their world within their natural habitat.
Our top highlights: A unique opportunity to get up close to these beautiful creatures and see them in their full glory, fluttering around or feeding on fruit and nectar. Make sure to watch your step as you make your way through the domes, you never know where a butterfly might be resting.
Address: Al Barsha South 3, Dubailand, Dubai
Phone: 04 422 8902
3. Global Village
Great for: Taking a trip around the world in one evening, through delicious street foods and numerous shop stalls whilst enjoying dance performances, carnival games and fairground rides. Operating like a giant fairground there’s lots to do for the younger generation, with the kids’ cinema, kids’ circus and carnival in full swing. The fairground with its rides and games is always a favourite with the older kids.
When to go: Global Village is a seasonal extravaganza open during the cooler months typically between November and May. Global Village opens its doors at 4pm and stays open until the early hours of the morning.
What we think: Global Village showcases food, entertainment and traditions from over 70 countries! It is a one-stop destination for leisure, shopping and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. So far it holds 22 Guinness World Records with the latest record being for the most nationalities on a theme park ride, and they don’t intend to stop. They are continuously coming up with new and larger rides, shows or other forms of entertainment.
Our top highlights: Not to miss Ripley’s believe it or not – this family friendly attraction is home to a host of eccentric displays from visual illusions and pop culture memorabilia to unusual artifacts and features of tales, so unbelievable they must be true. You must also make a stop to watch the Mission Speed stunt show that features a high-speed car and motorcycle chase and various pyrotechnics that is sure to leave even the youngest spectators amazed.
What to eat: It is impossible to go to Global Village without stopping for a snack or even a sit-down dinner. Here, you will be spoilt for choice! You will find vendors at every corner selling all kinds of foods imaginable from roasted chestnuts to freshly prepared kebabs and much more. Choose from one of the food stalls within each nation’s pavilion, walk down the streets filled with food kiosks or step onto the floating market and be transported to Asia. There is something and everything to satisfy everyone’s taste. Many delicacies are only available at Global Village such as Turkey’s kokoreç, mala noodles and mussels on the floating market, khachapuri and khinkali from Tbilisi, and rainbow burgers and taco ice cream from Choices by MT.
Address: Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road – Exit 37 – E311 – Dubai
Phone: 04 362 4114
Great for: A fun-filled day out with toddlers and young children, immerse yourselves in the world of film and creative storytelling. It is not age restricted, but most attractions have a minimum 100cm height requirement. To avoid disappointment, make sure to check the height requirements for the rides prior to your visit.
When to go: Motiongate is spread over a huge territory that requires a lot of outdoor walking, therefore it is best to plan your visit for the cooler months between October and May so you can spend a full day.
What we think: In Motiongate, you will find three different zones each replicating one of Hollywood’s three most iconic motion picture studios – Dreamworks Animation, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate. Immerse yourselves and meet your favourite characters from Shrek, Madagascar, Smurfs, Hunger Games or the Green Hornet and let the films come to life.
Our top highlights: Apart from the captivating rides and immersive story-telling experiences, there’re plenty other ways to feel closer to your favourite characters. Watch one of three live shows where you will be transported back in time, walk the red carpet at the movie awards show, or step on the dance floor at the high-energy live music and dance show Step Up! You’re also welcome to meet your favourite characters up close at the meet and greet experience where you can meet Dracula and Mavis from Hotel Transylvania, meet the smurfs at Smurf Village, meet Master Po and learn his secret Kung Fu techniques, head on over to meet Hiccup, Astrid and Toothless, or meet King Julien and Alex the Lion who will transport you to the magical place of Madagascar. Take a ride on one of the motion simulators for an aerial tour, underwater adventure or Kung Fu Panda awesomeness.
What to eat: Don’t forget to stop for a pit stop in one of many eateries found around the park. You can grab a coffee or a sandwich on the go at the Supporting Rolls Bakery; have grilled chicken or mini pizzas and Smurf themed desserts at the Very Smurfy Café; head down to King Julien’s Side Show Café where you will be treated to fish, mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie and vegan quiches all with a side of a spontaneous live show. For a heartier meal head to Mr Ping’s Noodle Shop where you can indulge in delicious noodle soup, fried rice and steamed dumplings, or stop by Dragon Flame Grill for a hearty chili or curry.
Address: Parks & Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Phone: 04 820 0000
Great for: Lego enthusiasts, an amusement park and waterpark featuring real life Lego creations. Great fun for the whole family, but make sure to take the measuring tape out at home as the majority of the rides have a height restriction of 105cm.
When to go: Legoland can be visited and enjoyed all year round, it offers shelter from the heat in several air-conditioned indoor attractions, and on those extra hot days you can cool off at the Lego themed waterpark.
What we think: Miniland is by far the most impressive attraction of the park, an indoor air-conditioned exhibition hall featuring 20 million Lego bricks that are built to replicate Dubai’s iconic skyline and key landmarks around the Middle East. You can spend a whole lot of time sightseeing and travelling around the Middle East while pleasantly cooling off.
Our top highlights: Legoland theme park consists of six themed zones: ‘Factory’ – take a factory tour and see how Lego bricks are made, you will also receive your very own Lego brick fresh from the production line. ‘Imagination’ – build and race your very own Lego cars. ‘Adventure’ – dodge water blasts on Wave Racers; take a journey through ancient temple ruins at Lost Kingdom; or go on an underwater mission at Submarine Adventure. ‘Kingdoms’ – explore the castle and conquer the dragon. ‘Lego City’ – take the wheel at Driving School and get your very own Legoland Driving License. ‘Miniland’ – delve into this air-conditioned interactive area that features Dubai’s iconic skyline and key landmarks around the Middle East, all made up of 20 million Lego bricks.
What to eat: Get unlimited pizza and pasta at Caesar’s Pizza and Pasta Buffet, accompanied by a wide range of fresh salad. What could be a better way to refuel before continuing on your Lego adventures with gluten free, vegan pizza and pasta, available upon request. Pop into Market Restaurant if you are looking for a big selection of international cuisine to suit everyone’s pallet. You can choose from Asian, Indian, and Arabic cuisine. The Café also offers a wide range of food and drink if you are looking to have a quick bite by grabbing a sandwich or baguette on the go, or savour delicious quesadillas. If you are craving burgers and fried chicken – Knight’s Table is the place for you. You’ll have a choice of beef, chicken, fish or a vegetarian burger.
Address: Parks & Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai
Phone: 04 820 0000
6. IMG Worlds of Adventure
Great for: Delve into the world of Marvel and Cartoon Network in Dubai’s largest indoor park, hop on some thrilling rides where you and the family will have the time of your lives. There is plenty to do for children of all ages. If you are planning your visit with toddlers there is still plenty for them to do and see in the Cartoon Network zone, also under the height of 105cm they enter for free!
When to go: What makes IMG that much more special is the fact that it’s an indoor theme park, open all year round regardless of Dubai’s heat. Perfect for the chillier winter days or the scorching hot summer months – you can literally spend all day there.
What we think: IMG Worlds of Adventure is the biggest indoor theme park in the world, where your favourite characters come to life. It is spread over a massive 1.5 million square feet which is equal to 28 football fields! The massive park is home to themed attractions by four major fictional world themes of Marvel, Lost Valley, Cartoon Network and IMG Boulevard. The park is designed to give you the full experience with themed attractions, rides, dining and shopping outlets. After a thrilling day-out you can wind down in Novo Cinemas, a state of the art 12-screen futuristic multiplex – it’s an experience in itself!
Our top highlights: The park has 22 exciting rides and attractions, 17 of which are theme rides, each aiming to provide you with a dose of adrenaline or leave you in a state of wonder. The Cartoon Network Zone hosts live shows whereas the Marvel Zone has the epic 3D attraction – Avengers: Battle of Ultron. In the Lost Valley, you’re destined to see animatronic dinosaurs and ride rollercoasters. The IMG Boulevard hosts the busiest and most anticipated ride among the park visitors, The Haunted Hotel. Be sure to check this out before you leave. All Avengers fans better try out IMG World’s famous Iron Man Experience. This is a 3D motion simulator based on the beloved Marvel comics character, Iron Man. In this experience, you will get to see what it’d be like if you were Iron Man, with the help of state-of-the-art CGI and 3D technology. Suit up (virtually), check your weapons, and enjoy your flying abilities – all while defeating evil. This amazing, augmented reality is a must for all those visiting IMG Worlds of Adventure.
What to eat: At IMG, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the abundance of food options whether you are looking to grab a quick bite or sit down for a proper meal, you can do it in the company of your favourite characters! Refuel on the go from one of many food stands along your way. Have a hot dog at Hotdog Express, a churro or pretzel at Churro and Pretzel Station, or if you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth you have plenty of options there too – stop by the Powerpuff Ice Cream Parlour, Captain Scoop, The Candy Palace or Sports Candy Station that is sure to give you a boost of energy. If you are looking to wind down and have a sit-down meal you can enjoy a steak at Tony’s Skydeck, indulge in delicious Pan-Asian dishes while watching the spectacular flaming woks in the open kitchen at Chang’s Golden Dragon. Or why not have the best wood-fired pizza in town at Mama Scano’s of Yancy Street.
Address: E-311, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Dubai
Phone: 04 403 8888
7. Dubai Safari Park
Great for: Explore the 119-hectare animal sanctuary and take in the diverse array of wildlife that is rarely seen in the Arabian Desert. Learn about the various animals on-site. Drive into the different zones on eco-friendly solar-powered vehicles and spend your day taking in the unique experience. With special activities for the kids, the park is fun for the entire family and offers a memorable experience.
When to go: Dubai Safari Park is well prepared for the hotter months with air-conditioned buses and numerous outdoor cooling mist fans. As you make your way around the park, you can opt for the ‘safari plus ticket’ to avoid walking too much – instead take the safari bus. Otherwise, we’d recommend you visit in the cooler months between November and March in order to enjoy the outdoors and the beautiful safari setting.
What we think: Spread across 119 hectares, Dubai Safari Park houses over 2,500 animals from all over the world, in their specially crafted habitats. The park is divided into different zones, each with a different geographical theme to it. These include the Arabian Desert Safari, African Village, Asian Village, and Al Wadi. There is also a special village called the Explorer Village where visitors can ride around in a safari car. Kids are given special importance in the park, and this is highlighted by the amount of kid-friendly, interactive exhibits, and activities. The park uses modern interactive methods in control and movement to ensure it provides a distinctive and unique experience for visitors. Kids can indulge in a range of interactive experiences like the interaction with farmyard animals at the kids’ farm, giraffe feeding, elephant feeding, birds feeding and a behind the scenes tour. Hop on the safari bus where you will head straight into the animal enclosures.
Our top highlights: Dubai Safari Park is a total immersive wildlife experience. After having explored the different zones and ecosystems head over to one of the two theatres to watch some of the smartest animals up close and in action. Make sure not to miss the 30-minute fun-filled edutainment, it will most definitely be the highlight of your visit. The Bird Show showcases the most colourful and magnificent birds, where you can learn about their contribution to our environment and understand their complexities. Catch the Amazing Creatures of the World at the largest amphitheatre of the park, where you will get to meet a variety of animals as they showcase their natural behaviour – whether they are soaring in the air, swimming in the water or walking on land! Learn about the different roles that these magnificent creatures play in our environment and their importance in our lives.
What to eat: It offers a large variety of cuisines and cafes, all with authentic flavours and a wide range of choices. You may visit any of the seven restaurants – all with different cuisines, or indulge in the street food experience at the venue.
Address: Al Warqa 5, Dubai
Phone: 800 900
8. Dolphin Bay at the Atlantis
Great for: Dolphin Bay, located in the Atlantis Palm resort, is one of the themed water parks that offer visitors of all ages an unrivaled experience. The resort is spread across 11 acres of ponds, beaches, and astounding waterfalls. It is home to one of the most human-friendly creatures of the world, the Dolphins. You can choose from a variety of encounters that provide an up-close look at these incredible mammals and how they are cared for. The aim of this experience is to build a life-long appreciation for marine life and to hopefully teach your little ones the importance of preserving marine ecosystems.
When to go: Dolphin Bay is open to visitors all year round. It is an outdoor in-water experience so if you are sensitive to heat, or susceptible to overheating, you might want to avoid visiting during the summer months. On the other hand, the cool waters can offer refuge during Dubai’s summer heat.
What we think: This is one of the most unique and memorable activities you can do in Dubai – swimming with bottlednose dolphins. Dolphin Bay in Atlantis is one of the most sophisticated dolphin habitats in the world. In addition to the up-close encounter with these fantastic mammals you may take an escorted behind the scenes tour of the bay, where you also get a chance to learn from the qualified sea mammal consultants about the medical laboratory, record room, resident pools and the health regimen of the dolphins.
Our top highlights: For a once in a lifetime experience for you and your child, choose the ‘Dolphin Encounter’ where you can get up close with these intelligent marine animals in waist deep water and learn more about their biology and behaviour. This activity is suitable for all ages and swimming abilities. If you and your child are confident swimmers, you might opt for the ‘Swim and Explore’ experience that is a deep-water activity where you will get the chance to swim and interact with the dolphins and learn how they are taken care of by a team of specialists. If you are looking for an unforgettable underwater experience you must try the ‘Dolphin Trek’, where you will dive below the surface and be surrounded by a group of resident dolphins swimming around you in an underwater high-tech helmet. You will not need any diving qualifications, but your child must be at least eight years old to join.
What to eat: Dolphin Bay is located at the Atlantis resort, where you can choose from a great array of eating experiences: buffet, casual dining, outdoor dining, romantic dining, or opt for a royal dining experience – a meal prepared by one of the celebrity chefs. Depending on your mood and cravings, you have a choice of ten restaurants catering to all your needs. If you’re in the mood for a casual meal you can opt for a buffet meal at Saffron or Kaleidoscope or you can try Wavehouse and enjoy some live music and games while you wait for your food. Perhaps enjoy a delicious Mediterranean meal in White Restaurant, a casual day-to-night venue. For a more sophisticated meal, indulge at Seafire Steakhouse and Bar, where you’ll find prime American beef and luxurious seafood paired with sommelier recommendations. Or stop by Ossiano for the finest dining experience with an incredible underwater backdrop.
Address: Atlantis The Palm, Crescent Road
Phone: 04 426 2000
Great for: Aquaventure water park has recently undergone a massive expansion making it the largest waterpark in the world. It is an award-winning waterpark with 105 fantastic slides and attractions, many of which are record-breaking. Also, there’s a pristine sandy beach that stretches for 1km. This is an ideal getaway for the entire family. There are numerous dedicated play areas for children and shallow pools. Furthermore, it is home to the largest kids-only waterpark experience in the Middle East – the Splashers’ Cove. However, if you have an adventurous thrill-seeker on your hands that wants to enjoy the mega slides along with you, it’s important to note the minimum height restriction is 120cm on all slides.
When to go: Aquaventure is open all year round, but keep in mind that it can get quite cool in January and February, or too hot in the summer months to spend all day under the sun. The waterpark can be best enjoyed in autumn or spring.
What we think: Splashers Lagoon and Splashers Cove are two custom-built adventure towers within Aquaventure Waterpark, especially for children under 120cm tall. Your little ones will have a blast zooming down the record-breaking kid-friendly waterslides, dodging the fun spills, climbing towers and running around the soft play areas. For parents, it provides the peace of mind of safety and privacy, with soft surfaces, lifeguards, and a dedicated entrance just for families.
Our top highlights: Aquaventure has seen the biggest expansion in waterpark history, and one of the greatest additions is without fail the Splashers’ Lagoon and Splashers’ Cove dedicated to the youngest adventurers, making it the best waterpark in Dubai for families with small children. There are 16 brand new slides including the world’s first kid’s rally-racer, tornado slide and many more. This incredible family zone features shaded sun loungers, direct access to the Aquaventure beach and river, and padded play areas.
What to eat: Once you have worked up an appetite choose from one of 26 food and beverage outlets to cool down and recharge. Whether you would like to indulge in a gourmet meal or choose from an array of international cuisines at the food court, grab a quick and delicious snack at one of the outdoor kiosks, there’s something for everyone’s taste. At Barracuda, you will have plenty of options to satisfy the whole family: wagyu burgers, shawarma sandwiches, tandoori and curries. Try delicious noodles from Asia Republic Express, or at Snappers there are crowd-pleasing favourites such as pizza, burgers and fried chicken.
Address: Atlantis The Palm, Crescent Road
Phone: 04 426 2000
Great for: Encouraging education through play. Kidzania is an excellent indoor activity platform designated for polishing the social skills of children while they have great fun. It is an indoor mini city where children can become adults for the day. It caters to children from two to 16 years old, but probably best enjoyed above the age of four.
When to go: Kidzania is open all year round and offers amazing refuge from the heat in the hotter months of the year.
What we think: Kidzania is a 7000m2 replica of a real city, providing over 70 role-playing activities from a police officer to a dentist, to a restaurant owner and many more where children can learn all about jobs, money and the real world. The city has its own Kidzania currency that your child uses to pay for goods and services, which helps them to understand the value of money, transaction and dealing. The city has everything a child encounters in daily life, such as experiences at the bank, hospitals, supermarkets, theatres, pizzerias, and more. The best part is that all the activities are designed keeping in mind the height, mentality and expectation of children.
Our top highlights: Just like adults in the real world, children will earn money for their work – they will be paid in kidZos. What an incredible way to teach children about money management and budgeting. On top of that. they can spend their hard-earned money on items and activities in the city. They can also open a bank account and save their kidZos for future visits.
What to eat: There are three food outlets available within Kidzania – Pizza Express, McDonald’s and Mum Mum, or you can choose from an endless list of eateries at Dubai Mall.
Address: Level 2, The Dubai Mall
Phone: 800 382 246255
By Anna Banna