Travelling to Dubai with kids can be child's play, especially if you keep a light schedule and involve them in day-to-day planning. There's plenty to do from water parks and playgrounds to theme parks and activity centres. Most beach resorts operate kids' clubs.
- Public beaches
- Beach clubs
Most beachfront hotels have kids' clubs. Among the best are Sinbad's at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Club Mina at the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, and the Fairmont Falcons Kids' Club at the Fairmont Dubai on Palm Jumeirah.
- Water parks
These are a hit with everyone from tots to teens. For spine-chilling slides, Aquaventure on Palm Jumeirah is a suitable launch pad, while the original family favourite, Wild Wadi Waterpark, has options for nervous nellies as well as adrenaline junkies. Popular Legoland Water Park in Jebel Ali is geared more towards younger kids, while the newer Laguna Waterpark has a wave pool where you can surf. A cheaper, low-key alternative is Splash 'n' Party in Jumeirah.
- Dubai Mall Ice rink
If liquid water isn't keeping your little ones cool enough, have them do pirouettes and disco dancing at the Olympic-sized ice rink at Dubai Mall.
- Ski Dubai
Tackling the snow slopes and meeting penguins at Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates. Now how cool is that?
Theme Parks & Museums
Dubai is working towards positioning itself as the theme park capital of the Middle East, so there's always something new here.
- IMG Worlds of Adventure
Pose for selfies with 'real-life' dinos and go on adventures with Marvel and Cartoon Network characters in the world's largest indoor amusement park.
- Dubai Parks & Resorts
- Hub Zero
Gamers make a beeline to this indoor theme park for a VR immersion, race simulators and laser tag battles.
- Museum of Illusions
A fascinating new museum for kids of all ages with its playful optical illusions and trickery.
Kids fascinated by the underwater world will be enchanted by the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo at Dubai Mall or the labyrinth of underwater tanks and fish-filled tunnels at the Lost Chambers at Atlantis the Palm.
- Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
This protected area offers junior birders the chance to observe flamingos and other feathered friends through binoculars.
- Green Planet
This indoor rainforest brings the tropics to the desert complete with birds, frogs, lizards, butterflies, turtles and other critters.
- Meydan Horse Stable Tour
See championship thoroughbreds train and even swim in their own pool on behind-the-scenes tours of the famous stables.
- Dubai Butterfly Garden
Pose with gorgeous winged creatures in this enchanting indoor garden with attached museum.
- Desert Safari Park
A vast reserve with some 2500 animals, ranging from lions to crocodiles, plus a petting farm and reptile house.
Playgrounds & Parks
This vast trampoline park offers a fun bouncy day out for kids and adults alike.
This interactive miniature city for kids in Dubai Mall offers the ultimate in role-play options.
- Mattel Play! Town
At this relatively new contender tots get to interact with Barney & Co in 'edu-taining' play.
- Zabeel Park
This sprawling central park counts a lake with boating, adventure playground and lots of shade among its assets.
- Desert Explorations
For the ultimate holiday pic to impress their pals back home, consider sandboarding, camel riding, going on an overnight desert safari or even a trekking trip to the Hajar Mountains. A recommended company is Platinum Heritage Tours.
- Al Boom Diving
Young divers over 12 years of age are eligible for open-water dives with this well-respected outfit.
- Skimming the waves
- Where to eat
It's perfectly fine to bring your kids to all but the most formal restaurants, although they (and you) might feel more relaxed at casual cafes, bistros and family restaurants. All the malls boast extensive food courts where kids can browse and pick what they like. Hotels have at least one restaurant suitable for families, usually the 24-hour cafe or the buffet restaurant. There's also a growing crop of kid-geared cafes, including BookMunch Cafe and Unicorn Vibes Cafe.
- What to eat
Discerning young diners may like to ease themselves into Middle Eastern cuisine with a shawarma, essentially a hot chicken wrap that's suitably tasty (and delightfully messy). Ice cream and frozen yoghurt parlours abound as well.
Need to Know
- Formula & disposable nappies (diapers) Sold at pharmacies and supermarkets.
- Kids’ clubs Many hotels have kids’ clubs and activities.
- Strollers & car seats Bring your own.
- Transport Children under five years of age travel free on public transport.
- Blogs See www.sassymamadubai.com, www.mommyindubai.com and http://dubaimoms.com.