The ultimate family-friendly destination Dubai
With a decade of experience living as a family in the UAE, we’re here to show you exactly how to enjoy the best of Dubai with kids. From thrilling theme parks to world-record breaking buildings and the magical desert dunes, there’s sure to be a part of Dubai that can capture your family’s heart.
In this post we will cover:
- Is Dubai child-friendly?
- 80+ things to do in Dubai with kids
- More family things to do in the UAE
- Where to stay in Dubai with kids
- Important Facts you should know before visiting Dubai with kids
This guide is mega! You may want to save it to Pinterest for later or bookmark this page so you can come back to it when you are about to travel to Dubai.
Is Dubai Child Friendly?
In a word, ABSOLUTELY!
Dubai can be a family vacation paradise if you plan your trip well. And by this, we mean you need to pay careful attention to your seasons and your budget.
Emirati’s themselves have large families and family is central to everything they do. Much of the city’s modern attractions are built with the family in mind.
And a lot of Dubai’s attractions can be enjoyed for free or very little cost. If you do start visiting several of the major theme parks and attractions the costs will very quickly add up, but we recommend you to look at the Dubai Pass for family cost-savings – learn more about the Dubai Pass here.
So when is the best time to visit Dubai with kids?
Dubai doesn’t really work on traditional seasons, more like hot, very hot and OMG can it seriously get that hot! This does mean the winters are very mild, but summers can be uncomfortable – but not impossible – for visiting with kids.
We’d suggest the most pleasant time of the year for visiting as a family is between November and early April. Those who like their heat may still find it pleasant from October through to mid-May. Visiting during the traditional European school holiday periods over Christmas/New Year and Easter are the busiest times – and prices rise accordingly.
We have a really detailed guide breaking down visiting Dubai for every month here to help you plan the perfect time based on both weather and events about town.
80+ Best things to do in Dubai with Kids
There are honestly so many things we could recommend to do with kids in Dubai, it’s hard to know where to start. To make it a little easier on you, we have summarised our mega list of attractions and things to do here, but read on for the exact details and where to find out more below:
Dubai major attractions
- Burj Khalifa
- Dubai Mall
- Dubai Fountains
- Palm Fountain – NEW
- Dubai Frame
- Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
- Dubai Creek & abra ride
- The Old Souks of Deira
- Global Village
- Ain Dubai (opening soon)
- Jumeirah Mosque
Dubai theme parks
- Legoland Dubai
- Motiongate Dubai
- Bollywood Dubai
- IMG Worlds of Adventure
Beaches, water parks & cruises
- Wild Wadi
- Legoland Water Park
- Splash n Party
- Laguna Water Park
- Kite Beach
- The Beach JBR
- Sunset Beach
- Jumeirah Beach Park
- Black Palace Beach
- Al Mamzar Beach Park
- Marina Cruise
- Dubai Canal Ferry
- Desert Safari
- Dubai Safari Park – NEW
- The Camel Farm
- Camel Racing
- Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
- Al Qudra Lakes
- Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
- Hatta Dam
- Mushrif Park
- Aventura Parks
- Dubai Miracle Garden
- Dubai Butterfly Garden
- Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park
- Umm Suqeim park
- Zabeel Park
- Quaranic Park
- XPark Jr
- Dubai Creek Park
- Dubai Marina Zipline
- More Dubai Parks
Dine & Stroll in Dubai
- The Walk, JBR
- Dubai Marina
- La Mer
- Al Seef
- The Pointe
- Souk Madinat Jumeirah
- City Walk
- Dubai Festival City
- The Palm Boardwalk
- Rise Dubai Creek
- Friday Brunch
Dubai indoors with kids
- The Green Planet
- VR Park
- Dubai Ice Rink
- Emirates A380 experience
- Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
- Ski Dubai
- The Lost Chambers
- Oli Oli Museum
- Mattel Play! Town
- Chillout Ice Lounge
- Hello Kitty Spa
- Museum of Illusions
- Yalla Bowling
- Gravity Air Park
- Bounce & X Park
- Adventure Zone
- Mountain Extreme
- Rock Republic
- Dubai Autodrome
- Flip Out
- Etihad Museum
- Dubai Opera
Dubai’s major tourist attractions
Dubai’s top tourist attractions are all winners with kids as well as adults, so don’t feel you need to plan an exclusively kid-centric itinerary for all of you to enjoy touring around Dubai. We will, however, pick out our favourite parts for kids, and any times and places you may want to avoid if you are travelling with children.
Visiting the world’s tallest tower has got to be on every kid’s bucket list right? Whether you plan to admire the Burj from beneath or ascend to the observation decks on level 124 & 125 there’s plenty of different ways to enjoy the Burj Khalifa.
This is one Dubai attraction we do recommend booking a time slot in advance. Not only are advanced purchased tickets to At The Top significantly cheaper than buying them at the door, you can avoid some – but not all – of the queuing involved. Primetime tickets, even with timed slots can draw hefty queues especially on local weekends, beware of this when planning to visit on a short stopover.
The most visited of Dubai’s landmarks, Dubai Mall really serves as the central tourism destination of the city in an area known as “Downtown”- it can be easily reached by taxi or Metro from DXB Airport making it a great stopover hub for tourists.
Whilst the Mall itself is a spectacle at over 13 million square feet of shopping and entertainment, it’s also packed full of family attractions – many of which we will talk about in more detail below. Even without spending a dirham, there’s plenty to enjoy in Dubai Mall from stunning fountains and waterfalls to the world’s largest suspended aquarium tank and countless toy stores and eating outlets.
You can read our complete guide to Dubai Mall with kids here.
Also known as the dancing fountains, this is a spectacular free attraction in Dubai for families. There are two lunchtime shows then from 6:00 pm and throughout the evening as the sun sets there are half-hour performances. A perfectly choreographed sound and light show, you can enjoy the fountains as part of a visit to Burj Khalifa or the Dubai Mall.
With kids, it’s imperative that you get into position early and avoid the night time crush that can occur around main entrances. Even better, arrange dinner at one of the restaurants with spectacular fountain views to avoid the overwhelm and see several different performances.
The Palm Fountain
A brand new inclusion for 2020 set to level up the wow-factor. The (soon to be) record-breaking Palm Fountain can be seen at leisure and entertainment venue The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah. With plenty of waterside dining and seating options, the nightly shows from 7:00 pm to midnight will certainly lighten the little one’s evening. The fountains can also be seen from adjacent Atlantis The Palm if you are seeking a spectacular end to a day in the sun.
If the Burj Khalifa feels out of price range or you’ve already ticked this one off, the Dubai Frame is absolutely your next best option (and with kids we’d argue even a little more fun and manageable). The Dubai Frame is literally a giant frame in Zabeel Park that captures “Old Dubai” to one side, and the modern skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai to the other.
A glass-sided lift shoots you up one side of the 48-floor high frame to enjoy spectacular views of old and new Dubai. You can choose to navigate the glass-bottomed floor – if you dare! – or stick to the sides. Enjoy a chorepgraphed fountain show in Zabeel park and enjoy picking out your favourite land marks from the superbly positioned skydeck.
There are exhibits to enjoy on the ground floor too, from the past to the present Dubai in the Future Dubai Gallery.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
Formerly known as Bastakiya, this area of the city can be dated back to the 1890s. Almost lost beneath the modern, city painstaking work has taken place to bring this corner of Dubai back to its former glory. There are many important landmarks you will want to capture including the Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Museum, and beautiful galleries and cafes.
Numerous cafes and galleries dot the side streets and beautiful not to be missed landmarks such as the Bur Dubai Grand Mosque and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, a brilliant location to visit if you’d like to understand more about local culture and religion (pre-booking for tours and meals required).
Our complete guide to exploring Old Dubai coming soon
Dubai Creek & Abra Ride
Right beside the historic neighbourhood is the bloodline of the city where trade has been central to life for well over 100 years – the Dubai Creek. Dividing the old city in two, you have Bur Dubai to the west and Deira to the east.
Riding in a traditional abra across Dubai Creek is a must for all visitors, at only 1AED per passenger, this is an absolute steal of an experience!
The Old Souks of Deira
Once you have taken an abra across Dubai Creek from Bur Dubai, you will arrive in bustling Deira and be transformed to another time. The adjacent Gold Souk and Spice Souk are the most well known, but there are also textiles and electronics markets to explore.
They are bustling and crowded places though, we recommend discretion taking young children especially in the hotter months without air conditioning. This is an essential visit though to get a true taste of old Dubai.
Feel like taking a trip around the world in one evening? Then welcome to the eclectic and amazing Global Village Dubai – a seasonal extravaganza held on the outskirts of Dubai showcasing food, entertainment and traditions from over 70 countries.
Operating like a giant fairground, entry is cheap and you only pay for any additional activities once inside. Shopping to free dance performances and show ground rides, it is truly a global taster session and one of Dubai’s buzzing evening destinations.
We are still anxiously awaiting this new opening but included it here for your future planning as the world’s largest observation wheel is guaranteed to be a hit when it opens later in 2020. Situated on a new man-made peninsular Bluewaters Island is nestled between the Palm Jumeirah and JBR. The heart of Dubai’s tourist and beach district it will afford passengers incredible views over the cityscape of Dubai.
We have cautiously included this one in our interesting places for kids as it may not hold the attention of your younger ones, but for your school aged+ kids, this will be a brilliant opportunity to introduce them to the Islamic culture. Daily tours run for religious education in one of Dubai’s largest and most beautiful mosques.
Dubai theme parks
Dubai Parks & Resorts
Based on the outskirts of Dubai, and the main highway E11 to Abu Dhabi, this is actually several family attractions in one including:
- Legoland Dubai
- Legoland Dubai Water Park
- Motiongate Dubai
- Bollywood Parks Dubai
Each theme park is ticketed separately but there are great deals to be had buying a multi-park pass. The parks include both indoor and outdoor attractions, based around a central entertainment area Riverland.
IMG World’s of Adventure
Dubai’s only entirely indoor theme park includes thrilling rides with Marvel experiences through to Powder Puff girls in the Cartoon Network zone. Enjoy the Velociraptor and Predator roller coasters in the Lost Valley. Due to height restrictions best suited to your older school-aged kids.
Don’t forget to also check out day trip options to Abu Dhabi. Yas Island has some amazing family-friendly theme parks, including Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World and Ferrari World that are great for families.
Dubai’s Best Beaches and Water Parks
Many family’s will visit Dubai specifically for the amazing water parks. Whilst many resort hotels will even include their own lazy rivers and mini water parks, here’s our pick of our favourite water parks around town for extreme outdoor fun and cooling down in Dubai:
Wild Wadi Water Park
Dubai’s first water park filled with family-friendly attractions. With an Arabian theme, you will find Wild Wadi adjacent to Jumierah Beach Hotel with a stunning backdrop of the Burj al Arab. The highlight ride here is the Jumeirah Sceirah, a 120m long tandem racer slide that reaches speeds up to 80km/hr! The wave pool and dedicated kids section make it a family favourite.
Guest staying at any of the Jumeirah chain hotels can get entry tickets to the waterpark.
Part of the giant Atlantis the Palm complex on Palm Jumeirah, this is certainly one of the most incredible water park settings in the world. Famous rides from the Aquaconda to the terrifying Leap of Faith draw in the adrenaline junkies, but there’s plenty for families to enjoy too. The Splashers kid zone includes replica rides designed especially for those under 1.2m so there really is something for everyone here.
Just like Wild Wadi, guests staying at the adjoining Atlantis the Palm can enjoy entry to the waterpark as part of their hotel stay, so it can be well worth
Legoland Water Park
As mentioned above, this park is part of the much larger Dubai Parks & Resorts complex. This is your ideal waterpark for your under 12’s crowd who need something a little more than a splash park but may not need such huge adrenaline rides. Everything is colourfully Lego-themed down to the lazy river build-a-raft, though there only a few actual Lego-related activities.
Laguna Water Park
A great addition to the La Mer waterfront development, Laguna is a more compact water park than Aquaventure and Wild Wadi but does include AquaPlay and a Splash Park for the younger kids. Otherwise, a lot of ride restrictions do apply here for under 1.2m.
(We’ll talk more about the La Mer area under dining below!)
Splash ‘n’ Party
There are two branches of Splash ‘ n’ Party in Dubai perfect for junior thrills and spills. The first is tucked away in the suburban area of Al Safa, whilst the newer and perhaps better-known branch now sits on Kite Beach – a giant inflatable waterpark. Splash n Party is perfect for younger kids giving them a safe space to cool off, water fights to slides.
Situated in JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences) this waterfront area is one of the hottest beach spots in Dubai. Not only immaculately groomed beachfront and deck chairs, but there are also dining options aplenty spotted along the waterfront, change facilities, Sea Breeze leisure attractions and water sports, even camel rides!
A highlight for families with small kids to look out for is the Splash Pad. A perfect spot for cooling off, there are wet and dry play equipment zones within the splash park. You can pay by the hour os a 24-hour pass, ideal if you are staying in one of the nearby apartments. Learn more about the Splash pad here.
A fun new addition to The Beach has been Flying Cups, the ultimate dine in the sky experience where you can enjoy a beverage or a meal perched an incredible 40m above the beach! Learn more about Flying Cups here.
The Beach is also home to Aqua Fun, a giant inflatable water park in the shape of “I love Dubai”. Containing 72 challenging obstacles, its superb fun for your older kids. Learn more about AquaFun here.
This is the one you may be most familiar with from photos of Dubai as it has the “7 Star” Burj Al Arab hotel along its shores – you don’t get more quintessentially Dubai than this! You may also here these beach referred to as “Umm Suqeim Beach” – the adjacent park and area of Dubai.
It is one of the only to really get enough swell that surfing – or at the very last bodyboarding – is possible. It is popular and can get crowded especially on beautiful mild weekends.
This idyllic coastal spot is one favoured by locals as it’s not always as busy as many of the others but still has plenty of family-friendly facilities. As the name suggests, it’s a popular spot for kite flying and many water sports including kayaking, kite surfing and jet ski hire.
Families can enjoy the deck chair services from Sole Mio and change facilities on site, as well as extensive dining options. Aside from the Splash n Party mentioned above, there is also a ropes course for kids to try Wire World and Dom Tak trampoline arena.
This long stretch of beach as the name suggests is located in Jumeirah, A “Blue Flag Beach”there are life guard services here as well as water sport facilties, long palm tree-lined stretches of golden sand and the adjacent Jumeirah Beach Park with children’s playground, cafes and BBQ facilities.
Black Palace Beach
This one can be a bit of an unspoken hidden gem that few know about in Dubai. Nestled between the entrance to the Palm Jumeirah and the royal fortress Al Sufouh, it is not developed like the other beach fronts so don’t expect change rooms and food trucks but lifeguards are on duty. This one is all about good old fashion beach frontage and swimming.
Mamzar Beach Park
Located on the Deira side of the Creek this is a park and beach in one. As well as swimming and water sports, there is a large green park attached with everything from kids play equipment to picnicking spaces and jogging tracks. Lifeguards are on duty as well as change facilitates and small chalets for rent on a daily charge.
A small municipality entry fee applies of 5 AED per person for the upkeep of the grounds. This is payable on a Nol card. Note there are lady-only days on Monday & Wednesdays.
Dubai Marina offers many cruise boat options from traditional dhows to luxury yachts. A favourite is taking a speedboat tour around the Palm Jumeirah (not restrictions may apply based on size/age of child and suitable lifejackets being available), or you can try some more sedate evening cruises.
Dubai Canal Ferry
This public transport option is a really fun journey for the kids taking you past some of the cities most spectacular highlights. You can journey from Dubai Marina to Dubai Canal. Under 5’s use public transport for free.
We have detailed guides to Dubai’s Public transport system, helping you get between Dubai’s major attractions here.
Best of Dubai Outdoors with Kids
In addition to this incredible list of water parks and beaches, there’s a fabulous list of outdoor adventures you can make your way through with kids in Dubai. Obviously these are best tackled in the cooler winter months or after the sun goes down and the heat begins to subside.
An absolute must on most Dubai visitor’s bucket lists is seeing the desert – and rightly so, after all, there is a lot of it! You don’t have to head far beyond the city’s outskirts to come to the rolling red dunes of Dubai. There are literally dozens of Dubai desert safari’s operating in a similar area of the desert and offering a similar format of experiences.
The most common type of desert safari is dune bashing followed by a traditional Bedouin camp, including an international BBQ buffet dinner, live dancing and entertainment, along with henna painting, shisha and camel rides and sandboarding thrown in.
Just be mindful of age restrictions for this one. We would not recommend taking under 6’s dune bashing, nor pregnant mammas. There are, however, desert alternatives where participants can skip the dune bashing element and still enjoy the desert camp experience. Be prepared for the heat even in the evening when visiting over summer it may not be the best family activity.
Dubai Safari Park
The newly-opened Dubai Safari Park is back after a prolonged closure to upgrade habitats and make improvements to their conservation and educational offering. Visitors to the Dubai Safari Park can expect to experience four different animal “villages” with Asian, Africa and Arabian offerings, as well as a safari experience – Explorer Village. There’s a daily program of feeding times and live educational shows to enjoy.
The Camel Farm
This is a great one for those that don’t want to join a large organised dune bashing tour. Much more sedate is the privately run camel farm, just near to the Al Qudra area of Dubai. There are small fees for animal interactions from camel therapy (yes, that’s a thing) through to longer camel rides and feeding baby goats.
Which brings us nicely to camel racing! Another wonderfully unique experience that can be enjoyed in the cooler months. The Marmoom Camel Racing Track is not far south of the city in the Al Lisaili area. Races start early in the day around 7:00 am and it’s all over by 9:00 am.
Watch electronic jockeys pound their charges around the sandy track (followed by a thundering parade of 4×4 with owners enthusiastically supporting their steads – almost as much of a spectacle as the actual race).
A long time producer of camel milk products in the UAE, Camelicious has also started offering farm tours and an opportunity to note only meet the resident camels but see how camel-mmilk products are made – a fun and tasty experience! By appointment only.
Still looking for camel-related ideas in Dubai? We have a complete list of recommended camel experiences in the city and the desert here
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
This is a unique part of the city, separate to where most desert camps are set up on the outskirts of the city, The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a protected area of the desert so no extreme sports, it’s all about connecting with the wildlife and environment here.
Some activities are off-limits to the younger kids such as hot air ballooning at dawn, but there are still family activities on offer from star gazing experiences to dawn safaris. Only a limited number of licenced operators are permitted to run desert activities here. Our recommendation is Platinum Heritage, pricey but worth the quality for a premium desert experience and more morning wildlife drive options as supposed to dune bashing experiences.
Al Qudra Lakes
Made famous most recently as they have made part of the landscape into the shape of love hearts – the “Love Lakes” have become an Instagram hotspot in the city.
Aside from the Love Lakes, the actual Al Qudra Lakes area has long been a beauty spot on the outskirts of the city, known for free camping and its wildlife. Part of the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, it is also home to one of the city’s best bike tracks (including an 85km continuous loop! plus some shorter tracks for little legs), and loved family desert resort Bab Al Shams.
There are food trucks nearby at The Last Exit Al Qudra. Entry is free and a 4×4 recommended to get into the heart of the reserve and camping.
Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
A visit to Ras al Khor wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of Dubai is a truly unique urban experience. Over 170 native species call this protected wetlands area home. Within the grounds are airconditioned viewing platforms and a Lagoon Hide for quiet observation of its residents.
The wetlands are free to visit during daylight hours and provide a delightful urban oasis, with the skyline of Downtown Dubai as your backdrop.
This one is a little further outside the city so you will ever need to arrange a hire car or join a private tour to head deep into the Hajar Mountains and the Dubai enclave of Hatta. This stunning area has been transformed in recent years to include amazing outdoor recreation facilities. Visit for the day or stay overnight in one of the camping or glamping options offered.
It has hard to believe that such a large green space exists so close to the city – only the regular hum of A380’s coming in to land at Dubai International Airport reminds you just how close to town you are! Unlike many of the delicately manicured parks of the inner city, Mushrif is very much more a nature park, popular for weekend family gatherings and BBQ’s.
Inside you will find a huge range of facilities from bike tracks to sports fields, a model house display village, children’s games area, playgrounds, restaurants even a miniature train service. A 3 AED per person or 10 AED per car municipality fee is payable by Nol for the upkeep of the park.
Situated within Mushrif Park is one of our favourite kid’s outdoor attractions. Suitable from 115cm+, this zip lining and ropes course takes you through 5 different levels of courses as you build your strength and stamina.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Who could believe that the largest flower garden in the world by total number of blooms is situated just off the E311 in an area of Dubai known as Dubailand. Inside, a magical maze of pathways between floral and topiary creations, larger than life cartoon characters, creatures and famous sites turned into floral arrangements.
The crowning glory to be added to the garden was a floral A380 Emirates aircraft, you guessed it, the largest floral aircraft in the world! The garden has plenty of eateries, beautiful swings and play spaces as well as relaxing swings and utterly instagrammable.
Top tip with kids – go early. Especially mid-winter weekends that gardens get incredibly crowded, best tackled pre-lunch for relatively crowd-free snaps and enjoyment. Open November to early May
Dubai Butterfly Garden
Adjacent to Dubai Miracle Garden (separate entry fee) you will find the Dubai Butterfly Garden. With its temperature-controlled domes, it is open year-round to visitors to admire the 15,000 butterflies that live here.
Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park
Another magical seasonal spectacular, this is, in fact, several attractions all rolled into one in the city’s beautiful Zabeel Park. Open from 4:00 pm daily in the winter, enjoy the wonders of a very life-like dinosaur park, before the sunsets and the gardens light up with magnificent light sculptures.
It can get extremely busy on weekends especially so we do recommend going early at opening time, then your little ones can be home before the crowds. Advance purchasing tickets will save time. There’s also an option at the gate to add on tickets for the “Ice Park”- incredible ice sculptures in a temperature-controlled feature inside the park.
Umm Suqeim Park
This park is situated very close to Sunset Beach and is a beautifully landscaped family park. During the week it is a women’s only park, at weekends men may visit with families. A nominal entry fee is charged.
Home to both the Dubai Frame and Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park we have already mentioned, this park also has expansive walking paths and other attractions. There are plentiful additional family entertainment options including boats to hire on the ornamental lake, playgrounds, bikes to hire and restaurants.
Open in 2019, this beautiful new park is dedicated to the Holy Quran. Covering 60 acres, don’t be put off by the name, it is very much open to all faiths (but do bear in mind appropriate dress standards in this family park). The first attraction visitors come to is the Cave of Miracles, with interactive displays (in Arabic), then there is a glasshouse which displays plants mentioned in the Holy Quran.
A peaceful and beautiful landscaped garden situated in the Al Khawaneej area of the city (near to Mushrif Park) entry is free but there are small fees for the special attractions. There are play parks inside and a small food cart.
An outdoor adventure park for the junior crowd, you’ll find this little gem just off Kite Beach. An outdoor learning and play experience in a beautiful setting with cafe.
Dubai Creek Park
You may notice this park not long after you land at DXB, you will most likely go over the park on the freeway. It has become somewhat lost beneath the city these days but is still a great outdoor space for families to enjoy. Attractions within the park include bike hire, a Dolphanirum and Children’s City, an edutainment and learning centre including Planetarium.
In the winter, the Creek Cable Cars run daily across the park (summertime evenings only). The park has a small entrance fee, individual attractions within the park cost more.
Dubai Marina Zipline
Great for your older kids who love a thrill but may be too young still for skydiving. Enjoy the world’s longest urban zipline through the Dubai Marina, reaching speeds up to 80km/hr (minimum weight 50kg and height 130cm) and enjoying some of Dubai’s most spectacular urban views.
More outdoors parks and playgrounds to try in Dubai
With a large family community in Dubai, there’s little wonder the city is literally teeming with outdoor playgrounds. Most are free or have a minimal municipality fee 3-5 AED (payable by Nol card, the same card you need for using public transport).
The top 5 we’d recommend to visitors that we’ve not yet mentioned above if you are looking for some green space for the kids to run about:
- Al Barsha Park / Al Barsha Pond
- Safa Park 2
- Al Khazzan Park
- Al Sufouh Park
- Al Ittihad Park (under the Palm Jumeirah monorail line)
Indoor Activities in Dubai for kids
When it’s too hot to spend daytimes outside for a good six months of the year, it should come as no surprise that many of Dubai’s most popular attractions are entirely indoors. We believe you can still fill your days with kids on a summer stopover in Dubai (though it’s certainly not beach weather from late June to September) – just use sensible precautions to fill the day times indoors then head to the pool and outside walking in the evenings only.
These first five are all located within Dubai Mall. For a complete guide to indoor activities and attractions in Dubai Mall with kids, check out this guide.
An indoor mini-city within Dubai Mall, a similar concept to branches around the world where kids are in control of their own destiny. They can choose to earn or spend on different activities within the city, learning new skills and having lots of fun along the way.
Take a virtual reality journey with interactive rides, VR Games and arcade-style amusement. Entry is free, however, you need either a games card or purchase a “Super 7” pass for favourite rides.
Dubai Ice Rink
A full-size Olympic ice rink within a shipping mall? Why of course! Suitable for all ages groups this has always been a crowd winner in the summer heat, all necessary equipment available to rent.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
You can stare in awe at the world’s largest suspended tank aquarium, basement level Dubai Mall, or journey inside the aquarium to experience the walkthrough tunnel and glass-bottom boat. This is one that can get super busy later in the day and cost much more at the door.
Emirates A380 Experience
Ever fancies yourself taking the controls of an A380 aircraft? You will find this simulator experience on Level 2 of Dubai Mall (immediately opposite the Aquarium entrance). Suitable from 9 years plus.
The Green Planet
A wonderful biodome experience that takes you from the rainforest canopy to the forest floor through a circular ramp and giant artificial tree. It is hard to believe such a place exists in the entre of the city! From adorable sloths to snakes and stunning tropical birds, this is a wonderful interactive learning opportunity for city kids and temperature-controlled it’s perfect for visiting year-round.
Not just an indoor ski slope but an entire indoor snow park including bobsledding, snowball fight and even a Snow Friends Penguin Encounter program.
The Lost Chambers
Part of the giant Atlantis the Palm complex, you can get a cheeky look at the main tank for free just from the hotel foyer, or dig deeper to enjoy the full experiences. You can get tickets with Aquaventure waterpark entry, or entry is free if you are staying at Atlantis the Palm.
OliOli Childrens’ Museum
An indoor, interactive children’s’ play museum situated in an assuming building in Al Quoz. The “museum” has eight interactive galleries suitable from tots through to around 12 years old.
Of all the indoor play centres, this would be our top pick with the toddlers. Found in the City Walk complex (near to the Green Planet), this family fun indoor park includes toddler & preschooler favourite characters Barney, Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder.
Gravity defying fun at the indoor skydiving centre at Mirdif City Centre, a large shopping Mall on the outskirts of Dubai. Enjoy an indoor “freefall” in the purpose-designed air chamber
Another fabulous interactive indoor experience for kids in Dubai, the SkyTrail is par of Magic Planet family entertainment complex, we haven’t mentioned every branch as they are available in many malls across Dubai, but the Skytrail and climbing walls make this one of the more unique family entertainment centre experiences.
Chillout Ice Lounge
For a totally unique experience, visit the Chillout Ice Lounge in Times Square, just off Sheikh Zayed Road (about halfway between the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates). Kids will be rugged and booted up then enjoy warm beverages in amongst the ice-carved park of subzero temperatures in the middle of the desert, of course. (We have taken smaller children but the warm clothing isn’t a great fit, better for your school age+ crowd).
Hello Kitty Spa
A bit of pampering fun for those of you travelling to Dubai with your little princesses, not many spas are built with the younger ones in mind but this one is just for you!
Museum of Illusions
Based in the new Al Seef waterfront area of Dubai (more below), you will find this small but fun tourist stop. Full of optical illusions and magic eye tricks, its a great way to spend an hour away from the heat.
Bowling is always a winning indoor sport and this state-of-the-art venue is no exception. You will find Yalla Bowling inside the Mall of the Emirates, connected to Magic Planet indoor entertainment centre for kids (which also includes Gravity Air Park).
Bounce & X Park
A great one for kids that need to burn off some indoor energy, this is a giant indoor trampoline park and X Park adventure obstacle course with different difficulty levels. X Park height limit is 110cm, shorter bouncers are permitted in the trampoline park over the age of 3.
We have a detailed guide to all of Dubai’s trampoline parks here.
Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ
This sports shop come indoor adventure playground has everything from ropes courses to climbing walls keeping kids active indoors. Two Dubai branches can be found in Times Square (great to pair with the Ice Cafe) & Galleria Mall.
Experience indoor climbing in the largest facility of its kind in Dubai with 60 bouldering and 70 climbing routes. They run kids classes on weekends suitable from 4+ in Capital Golden Tower, Business Bay.
Keeping with our sporting theme indoors, another one for bouldering fans in Dubai Business Park. The largest venue of its type in the Middle East, youth sessions are offered for kids 8 years old plus.
Enjoy karting to laser tag at this fun multi-purpose venue in Sports City. On a Wednesday evening, you can also enjoy free entry to run, walk or cycle the outdoor track. There is indoor karting available as well as a virtual experience Race Room.
Dubai’s largest trampoline park is about far more than just trampolines. There’s a double-decker kids arena & foam pits, trampoline football, basketball and volleyball, parkour, 3D wall-running, Bubble Soccer and a crowd favourite Archery Tag.
A museum with kids, c’mon. OK, some will be bored. It’s not a purpose-built museum for kids, but there are plenty of interactive displays and special programs on for kids. Taking you through the story of Dubai and the UAE from early history to the founding of the UAE with an emphasis on the period 1968 to 1974. A beautiful building and great educational experience.
I bet you’re surprised to see us finish on this one, but trust us! There are so many shows on at Dubai Opera aimed specifically at families. It’s a wonderful occasion for kids to get dressed up and enjoy a very grown-up night out in one of the world’s most beautiful modern opera houses, sitting at the foot of the Burj Khalifa.
You can enjoy a pre-show dinner and fountain show at Dubai Mall before heading onwards to the beautiful Dubai opera house sitting on Burj Lake.
If you’re living in Dubai or planning to spend a longer period of time in Dubai over the hottest months, we suggest you check out this detailed guide to kids indoor activities, including an extensive list of soft play centers, gyms and indoor toddler edutainment we’ve not listed here.
Dine and Stroll – Dubai’s best dining & entertainment districts
There are so many brilliant places for this in Dubai. Some are better suited to the cooler weather, though you’ll find local families have a very “stay up late” type of culture so these places are bustling in the evenings, even into the hotter months. We suggest visitors to Dubai try:
The Walk, JBR
Situated immediate adjacent to the beach as mentioned above, there is a plethora of activity happening in this fun and colourful part of town. Ideal if you are staying in JBR, the Marina or around the Palm.
The bustling centre of nightlife in Dubai. Whilst Pier 7 and it’s incredible roof top bars may be a little much for the kids in the evenings., there’s plenty more to enjoy around the Marina.
This fun and funky beachfront area truly is one of the new hot spots of Dubai. Brilliant boardwalk views back to the city skyline, fun funky and colourful food vans and utterly instagrammable backdrops. There are loads of play spaces here for kids, including Hawa Hawa outdoor trampoline park, Roxy Cinemas as well as the Laguna Waterpark we mentioned earlier.
There is a huge range of eateries suitable for families, we recommend you try Five Guys for its family atmosphere or Creptastic. there are dozens to choose from though so let your nose lead the way!
This is another new waterfront area, set along the Dubai Creek it’s “old meets new” as you gracefully leave the Al Faihidi Historic Neighbourhood and merge into the newer waterfront areas.
There are many restaurants here to try along the Dubai Creek, some are more up market or may not appeal to the junior crowd but you can try family-frioendly Five Guys or Dukkan Burger. Desert options are a plenty from Baskin Robbins to Jelly Belly Ice Cream
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
If the idea of fighting your way through the traditional souks of Deira on a steamy evening with kids doesn’t entirely float your boat, then our favourite alternative for visitors with kids is to visit Souk Madinat Jumeirah. A much newer construction in the scheme of Dubai, you will find this mostly indoor market in the grounds of the upmarket Jumeirah hotel complex.
You need not be hotel guests to enjoy the Souk. Experience some of the most superbly beautiful views back along the canal to the Burj al Arab. It’s also a great spot for stocking up on your sourveniers
This is a great inner urban area of the city, close to Dubai Mall but separated by the main freeway. Indoor and outdoor entertainment for all ages, you will find plenty of events on here, as well as Roxy Cinemas, Mattel Play! Town as we mentioned earlier for the little ones and Hub Zero for the older ones (we believe currently under renovations).
Dubai Festival City
Located quite close to the airport, this is a great option for evening entertainment if you have a late-night flight. Here you can catch the Imagine light show nightly (a slightly smaller scale show than Dubai Mall), but nonetheless very impressive including a water projection screen & dancing fountains.
There are plentiful dining options within the mall and connected hotels, as well as kids entertainment centres, and even a creche facility.
This is the areas that connect the four theme parks at Dubai Parks & Resorts in Jebel Ali. Set to look like a quaint French Village, enjoy numerous dining options and seasonal events.
You can enter Riverland free of charge, completely separate to a theme park visit, though given its proximity to the city (i.e. it’s not particularly close and not on the Metro) you are most likely to only be visiting whilst on a theme park trip. It does provide a great post or in between theme parks venue though with plentiful dining choices.
Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk
Stretching the entire length of the Palm Jumeirah’s outer frond is the Palm Boardwalk. 11km of wide walk way, dotted with food vans and souvenir vendors it runs from the Rixos Hotel in the east to the One & Only The Palm in the west. A great place for casual dining and stretching legs in the cooler winter months.
RISE Dubai Creek Harbour
Another of Dubai’s up and coming night pots during the winter months, this weekend venue set on the Dubai Creek is packed with family entertainment.
There’s no strolling here but we couldn’t talk about our favourite Dubai family past times – Friday Brunch! Not to be confused with a meal between breakfast and lunch. “Brunch” in Dubai is an all afternoon family affair, most commonly held on a Friday which is the Dubai weekend, but also increasingly popular in a more family-friendly setting on a Saturday too at Dubai’s top restaurants.
We talk more about our favourite family brunches with the kids to try here
More family things to do in the UAE
Remember there’s far more to the UAE than just Dubai. Neighbouring Abu Dhabi is home to come utterly world-class family entertainment venues, and the “Northern Emirates” are packed full of family surprises from the museums of Sharjah to the huge nature playground of the Empty Quarter to the south-west and the Hajar Mountains to the east.
- Make sure you check out our guide to all the best family things to do in Abu Dhabi – coming soon.
- Our guide to Sharjah and the Northern Emirates with kids – coming soon
Where to stay in Dubai with kids
This will depend largely on what you are coming to Dubai to see and do, and of course, budget.
Whilst we have a definitive guide on where to stay in Dubai here, we know that families have special needs. We look at each of the areas that will put families in the heart of the action and a few of our favourite options that we know cater to the family crowd.
This is a great place to locate yourself if you are only in town for a day or two and want to be close to the action of Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and everything Downtown Dubai has to offer in a very central location.
For budget-conscious and a very short walk across the main road to the Mall, look at the fun and funky Rove Downtown, or neighbouring Roda al Murooj offers apartment options, ideal for families of 5+.
Jumeirah Beach & Dubai Marina
Perfect for a beachy vacation in Dubai mixed with tourist attractions and theme parks. It is a bit from the airport so wouldn’t be our top choice on a short stopover, but ideal for say a 3 day to one week vacation.
There are more resort-style hotels such as the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina with superb facilities or look for apartment-style options that are close to both The Beach and Dubai Marina such as Hilton Dubai the Walk.
The Palm Jumeirah
The Palm Jumeirah is perfect for indulgent luxury vacations in the sun. You can’t go wrong frankly with any of the resorts on the Palm. Atlantis The Palm has the obvious advantage of access to Aquaventure and the Lost Chamber attractions, but for beautiful slides and an idyllic setting, we love Anantara the Palm Dubai Resort.
There are few options on the Palm you can really describe as “cheap” but good value for families, look out for deals by Fairmont The Palm and Dukes The Palm, a Royal Hideaway Hotel with its mini lazy river and infinity pool. (You are on the trunk of the Palm here, great views back to JBR).
A great choice on a budget is to consider staying in “Old Dubai”. As long as you stay close to a Metro station, you can still have great connections to the most important attractions in town.
Top tips for Dubai family accommodation:
- Look out for the ++. Most online hotel booking tools do NOT include tourism and municipality taxes which are upward of 20% on the listed price – learn more about Dubai tourism taxes here.
- Check if the pool is temperature-controlled. If this is a big part of your trip to the sun, be conscious that pool water is NOT beautiful on its own year-round! It can be too cold without a heater November to March and too hot without a chiller June to September – those few months in between are OK!! Most hotels will keep their pools at an ambient 28c – but do check!!!
- Not staying at the beach? Many city hotels will offer FREE SHUTTLES to get their guests to popular beach spots so you can still have the best of both worlds.
Important facts you should know before visiting Dubai with kids
Before coming to Dubai, there are many more facts that you may want to know. We suggest you start with our “Essential Planning Information” page.
Directly related to travelling with kids in Dubai we have these important things to point out:
- Everything you need to know about the Dubai dress code
- Dealing with the sun and heat in Dubai with kids
- Transport in Dubai with kids
- Car seats and strollers in Dubai
- Emergency childcare information you may need
Dress code and the weather in Dubai
As we mentioned in the outset, heat is a consideration no mater the time of year. Whilst there are some guidelines that adults and teenagers should bare in mind, children are free to dress appropraitely for the heat.
Dealing with the sun & heat in Dubai
To help children deal with the heat in Dubai we recommend:
- Drink lots of water – take your own refillable water bottle to save on plastic waste (Dubai is making encouraging steps towards going plastic free)
- Wear appropriate sun protection – we talk more about appropriate kids clothing for Dubai here
- Be aware of hot surfaces – play equipment can be hot to touch, as can the ground so consider pool shoes and always test surface before letting young children touch them
- The peak of the summer may be too hot for beach swimming – it’s more like walking out of a hot sauna into a steaming spa than a refreshing dip.
- Everything inside is air-conditioned! Bring cardigans too for when you’re inside.
Transport in Dubai With Kids
As we mentioned, there is a reasonably good Metro system for tourists. It doesn’t cover the whole city but does cover many of the most popular family attractions so you may want to integrate using the Metro into your travel plans.
Children under 5 years old do not need the metro “Nol” card. Our biggest word of advice would be to not attempt taking the Metro with toddlers and small children during peak commuter times or large events, it can be very busy and overwhelming. If you are taking a stroller, make sure it’s collapsible.
Car seats and strollers in Dubai
We would NEVER travel in Dubai without some sort of restraint for your child – traffic moves, fast, often erratic and poor road manners can be observed. It is the law for all children under 4 years old to use a car seat (that said, enforcement is sadly lacking and all too often this rule is flouted).
To keep your little ones safe in the car in Dubai:
- Car seats can be hired with rental cars, but if you will be jumping in and out of Ubers and taxi’s you will want you won car seats
- If you are renting a car, add a car seat to your hire car order
- There are some Dubai based equipment hire companies you can try such as Skytots or the Stroller Spa (they do rental strollers & car seats)
- Use family-centric hire car service such as Careem Kids instead of hailing a taxi
- Standard taxies from the airport are also able to borrow (at no extra charge) a pooled car seat from DXB to return later.
Dubai is largely stroller-friendly. If you are mostly planning to visit the malls and walk along the beach fronts then absolutely a stroller will come in handy. It should go without saying actually on a sandy beach or in the desert there’s no point! If you find yourself walking around some of the older areas of Dubai, footpaths are less kind to stroller users.
We prefer a stroller for tots rather than a carrier in Dubai due to the heat for much of the year, but it’s up to your personal preferences.
Emergency Information in Dubai
If the worst is to happen and your child falls ill on vacation in Dubai, there are plenty of hospitals and medical clinics you can turn to for help.
Specialty 24-hour children’s hospitals in Dubai
The following hospitals have specialist paediatric A&E facilities.
- Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital
- Medcare Women & Children’s Hospital
- Zulekha Hospital (Sharjah – closer to Deira/Old Dubai)
There are plenty of hospitals and clinics open during normal business hours; if in doubt contact your hotel concierge or reception for their advice on the closest clinic. You will also find pharmacies everywhere, malls, even within some hotels so first aid supplies are easy to come by.
The Emergency services numbers for Dubai are:
- Police 999
- Ambulance 998
- Fire 997
- Civil Defence 996
- Coast guard 911
We hope you and your family have an amazing time in Dubai, no matter what type of adventure you plan to make, there really is something for everyone and every budget in Dubai.
Post contributed by Keri Hedrick, Editor of Family Travel in the Middle East, Arabia & Beyond with your kids and local travel blog “Our Globetrotters”. Travel enthusiast and long-term UAE expat with three children.