Dubai is a wonderful destination for families! There are tons of activities to keep children happy and engaged meaning parents will be happy too. I’ve picked the 21 Most Exciting Things to do with Kids in Dubai and broken them down into indoor and outdoor activities. Dubai gets incredibly hot and humid in the summer months – a time when many families visit – so it’s vital to have a plan of indoor activities to keep the kids occupied. I’ve linked to the venues where possible and hope you find this list helpful.
The 21 Most Exciting Things to do in Dubai with Kids
Dubai Desert Safari
Older children (8+) will love getting out into the desert and taking a ride over the sand dunes in what’s known as ‘dune bashing’. To me it’s like a slow motion roller coaster going up and down the dunes and it’s thrilling. A standard desert safari will drive you out to the desert and do the dune bashing as the first part of the evening. After dune bashing, and possibly sand boarding, you can watch the sun set from the top of a dune before heading to the desert camp for dinner and entertainment, generally including a belly dancer, camel rides, shisha, henna painting, and the chance to hold and take photos with a falcon. My favourite companies are Desert Rangers and Destination Insight.
For a different experience, Platinum Heritage offers the most upmarket safaris in town. There is no dune bashing and you explore a private area of desert belonging to a member of the Royal Family in vintage 1950s Landrovers. The highlight for most children is seeing desert wildlife close by, including endangered Arabian oryx and gazelles. There is also a falcon display at sunset then a high quality dinner at a beautiful private camp.
On a hot day there’s no better way to cool down than by hitting a water park. Wild Wadi is the original Dubai water park and has stunning views of Burj al Arab. The park has a large wave pool, a ride where you can surf, a lazy river and some scary rides too. There are also sun beds with umbrellas if you need a rest and restaurants on site.
Abra Ride Across Dubai Creek
Nowhere else in Dubai can you have such fun for the princely sum of 1 dirham! The traditional, public abras (wooden boats) cross back and forth between the Deira and Bur Dubai sides of the Creek from early morning till late at night. It’s great fun for children and adults alike to be part of the water traffic for a few minutes and the best way to get between the various souks – gold, spice, and textile.
If the children would enjoy a longer ride you can hire an entire abra for yourself and cruise up and down the Creek for as long as you like.
Beach camel ride
Kids will be thrilled with a camel ride along the beach. If you are staying in the Dubai Marina area then head to the beach near the Hilton hotel and you’ll find camels offering short rides for 50 dirhams. It’s a great photo opportunity and adults can ride too.
Adjacent to Dubai Mall and lying at the foot of Burj Khalifa, the huge musical fountain is a spectacular sight that all the family will enjoy. With water blasting up into the air as high as 500m and music ranging from Michael Jackson to opera, Arabic and Swahili songs, it’s a not-to-be-missed free attraction.
Creekside Park offers lots for children to do – mini golf, go-karts, playgrounds, and Children’s City. At Children’s City kids play and learn about the world around us at the same time. It’s fun and education all rolled into one. The park also has picnic areas and is home to a cable car ride which gives views over the park and Dubai Creek from 30m up in the air.
Another welcome area of wide open space and greenery in Dubai. Zabeel Park included an interactive kids’ Technology Zone, boat rides and a barbecue area.
All aboad a bright yellow, rigid inflatable for an exhilarating ride from Dubai Marina to see some of the city’s more iconic buildings from the water of the Gulf. Tours include information about the buildings, including towers in Dubai Marina, Atlantis The Palm, and Burj al Arab and, of course, the all-important photo stops. Manned by fully qualified and experienced boats crews the Yellow Boat tours get rave reviews and are very popular with older children.
The 21 Most Exciting Things to do in Dubai with Kids
Even if your kids have seen snow back home it’s still fun to go to the snow park in Ski Dubai and throw snowballs while it’s sunny and hot outside. The snow park is suitable for young children and non-skiers but experienced skiers can hit the slopes and have a hot chocolate half way down at Avalanche Café. Jackets and ski trousers are included in the ticket costs but you need to bring hats and gloves – if you forget there are shops next door selling them. But don’t let little ones go in without them; it’s between -2C and -4C inside.
Keeping with the cold and icy theme, your kids might also enjoy a spot of ice skating in the world’s largest mall, Dubai Mall. If the youngsters are fed up of going round the shops then this is one of the many activities in Dubai Mall that will soon put a smile back on their faces.
Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
This huge aquarium is home to over 140 different species, including sharks and rays. You can get a good view of the main aquarium tank for free from the mall or, if you pay, you can walk through a tunnel with the tank above and around you. There is also an underwater zoo. (Location: Dubai Mall)
After being on the ice or underwater, what’s the next? The rainforest, of course! Kids love the Rainforest café with its jungle décor and moving model animal. There are an adults’ and kids’ menus and face painting to keep the little ones entertained till the food arrives. (Location: Dubai Mall)
Again in Dubai mall you’ll find a built to child-scale indoor city where children can role play performing adult jobs. From police officer to doctor to journalist to bank teller, children work and earn ‘kidzos’ currency which they can spend in the shops in this mini city. Good for children from ages 5 to 12.
An indoor amusement park with amusement games and video and arcade games, Sega Republic is sure to keep older children happy for many an hour. Also in Dubai Mall.
At 828m tall, Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. Children will love the view of tiny cars and buildings far below and budding architects or engineers will enjoy the education exhibits on how the tower was built. Burj Khalifa has observation floors on the 124th, 125th and 148th floor. Ticket prices vary according to how high you go, what time of day and when you book. It’s always best to book online as soon as tickets become available (which is 30 days in advance) to get the best price and make sure you get the date and time you want. Sunset is the most popular time. Burj Khalifa is adjacent to Dubai Mall and overlooks Dubai Fountain.
A venue in Marina Mall where young children can go on kiddie rides or play in a pretend kitchen, pretend dress up, or learn to use arts and crafts.
At Café Ceramique on Jumeirah Beach Road, children can paint cups and other ceramics while the adults relax with a drink and some food or the whole family can join in the fun in this café/art studio. There’s no need for any experience and the café provides ceramics, paint, stamps and everything else needed; all you need to provide is imagination.
Lots of F1 drivers start off in karting so if your youngsters fancy themselves as a future Lewis Hamilton then they’ll love Dubai Autodrome’s 1.7km karting circuit. Located a little bit out of town in the aptly named Motor City it’s easily accessible by taxi.
Al Alhmadiya school in the Heritage Village in Bur Dubai was the first school in Dubai and of interest to older children who will learn about what such a old school was like from the classrooms to the teaching materials.
A vertical wind tunnel that gives youngsters (and adults) the feeling of sky diving or flying. Ideal for those too young (or too scared!) to actually jump out of a plane and much cheaper too! Located in Mirdiff City Centre mall.
As you might expect from such a family-friendly destination, many hotels have excellent kids’ club, especially the beach hotels. You can have a break and a day of relaxation on the beach or by the pool while the children are indulging in exciting activities with experienced kids’ clubs staff.
So that’s it! The 21 most exciting things to do with kids in Dubai. Have you and your family enjoyed any of these activities? Or do you have any that you’d like to add? Please let me know in the comments below. And enjoy your holiday to this great, family-friendly city!