Families with young children and teens alike flock to the Emirate of Dubai, drawn in by its endless stream of indoor and outdoor child-friendly activities. Dubai offers families a taste of the old and the new. For cultural immersion head to Bur Dubai and absorb the history of the old city with your children before taking an authentic abra ride across Dubai Creek or take a camel ride across the desert.
Dubai is a young city and knows how to cater to kids of all ages with an ever-expanding portfolio of attractions from theme parks to educational encounters. There’s no chance of boredom in the Emirates with options that span encounters with tropical wildlife and penguins, indoor ski slopes, as well as record-setting theme parks and water parks. Top Spots Dubai has rounded up the top 10 things for families to do in Dubai with options that cater to every preference and budget.
1. Dubai Parks and Resorts: Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, Legoland Dubai, Legoland Water park
Dubai Parks and Resorts is an all-encompassing universe of thrills and entertainment. Within the park’s parameters are four of the most exciting theme park concepts: Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai, and Legoland Water Park. Dubai Parks and Resorts is the largest theme park destination in the Middle East, and beyond the thrill of the rides, there’s live entertainment and even a water park to enjoy. Here’s what to expect:
Bollywood Parks Dubai:
Live the dazzling Bollywood dream. Divided into six zones Bollywood Parks is a first-of-its-kind experience that marries the drama of Bollywood cinema with the buzz of rollercoasters and a strong dose of family fun. Inspiration comes from Indian icons and Bollywood blockbusters, Taxi No. 1 is a family-friendly rollercoaster that pays homage to the many taxi cabs that populate the streets of Mumbai while the Bollywood Sky flyer is the world’s tallest swing ride. Head to Stars on the Steps for a high-octane Bollywood dance show and don’t forget to pay a visit to the Bollywood film studios for a taste of behind-the-scenes cinematic action.
Cinema comes to life at Motiongate Dubai. Four of the world’s most celebrated picture studios Columbia Pictures, Dreamworks Animation, Lionsgate, and Smurfs spring out of the screen here. Journey across four eye-grabbing studio zones which host a range of rollercoasters, rides and attractions and catch up with your animation favourites – Shrek, the Smurfs, the cast of Kung Fu Panda and even the Ghost Busters – along the way!
Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park: Based on the iconic coloured building blocks loved by kids and adults, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park offer guests the chance to enjoy more than 40 rides from dragon-themed rollercoasters rides to toddler trains and water slides. In addition to the action of the theme park, factory tours give little ones a behind the scenes glimpse at how Lego bricks are made while the Lego Mindstorm experience transports you into the high-tech world of computerised lego. Designed for children aged 2-12, Legoland Water Park is a family friendly attraction that includes 20 boldly coloured slides as well as a lazy river.
Tip: Dubai Parks and Resorts is a bit of a drive away from Dubai’s city centre. You might want to consider booking a few nights at one of the hotels close to Dubai Parks and Resorts
2. Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark and The Lost Chambers Aquarium, Atlantis Hotel, Plam Jumeirah
A world of underwater action awaits at Atlantis hotel. The location themed around the ancient lost underwater kingdom is one of the best places to visit in Dubai with family. Aquaventure takes the title of the world’s largest water park, with more than 100 slides to splash down. Aquaventure is not your typical water park – think sliding through shark-filled tanks and cliff jumping from ancient ruins. Thrill-seekers make their way to the aptly named Odessy of Terror while parents with younger children can rest easy on shaded sun loungers while their entourage makes the most of the Splasher’s Kids’ Play area.
Inside the Atlantis hotel, The Lost Chambers Aquarium encloses a striking 11-million litre tank that encloses a vast array of marine life from sharks to rays and boldly coloured fish from around the globe. Teach your children about the underwater kingdom and conservation practices by booking a behind the scenes tour or aquarium dive.
Tip: Mums can relax at White Beach, the private beach club at Atlantis Hotel while dad’s enjoy the Aquaventure action with the kids.
3. Dubai Mall Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Downtown Dubai
Shoppers stop in their tracks when confronted with the expansive Dubai Mall Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. The 10-million-litre tank forms one of the largest aquariums in the world. Needless to say, there’s a whole world of remarkable underwater wildlife inside. Grab your ticket and make your way along the 48-metre long aquarium tunnel, gaze upwards and around, this walkway has spectacular 270-degree views and reveals more than 140 species of marine life including 300 rays and sharks.
For families keen to get closer to this magical underwater world, glass-bottom boat rides showcase the wonders of the aquarium from above.
Tip: Pass by at feeding time to marvel at divers feeding sharks and rays
4. IMG World of Adventure, City of Arabia, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road
Iconic heroes and much-loved characters from Marvel Comics and the Cartoon Network come to life at the IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor theme park. The park is split into four zones – The Cartoon Network and Marvel zones, IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure zones – each with its own agenda. State-of-the-art rides include a multi-sensory Ben 10 adventure and the 3-dimensional and 360-degree Hulk Epsilon Base 3D. Large-than-life dinosaurs and a haunted house keep adrenaline racing throughout the visit. Keep your eyes peeled for meet-and-greet opportunities with your favourite Marvel heroes such as Iron Man and Cartoon Network Heroines like the Powerpuff Girls.
Tip: Comfortable footwear is advisable, IMG Worlds of Adventure covers a huge area in excess of 1.5 million sq ft!
5. Green Planet, City Walk
A world away from the desert heat, Green Planet takes guests deep into the heart of the Amazon. The bio-dome, situated in City Walk Dubai, just outside of downtown Dubai encloses a living, breathing tropical rainforest which provides the ultimate opportunity to teach your little ones about the rainforest ecosystem. Green Planet is home to more than 3000 species of plant and animal life. Tread between the trees and make your way up across three floors, through the sweeping canopies and meet toucans, turtles, sleepy sloths, and majestic macaws on the way.
Tip: Consult Green Planet’s list of ‘Experiences’ before your visit. For an adventure your children will never forget, book a ‘Zoo Keeper For a Day’ experience, settle down with the sugar gliders, or snorkel with piranhas.
6. Laguna Water Park, La Mer
Head to family-favourite La Mer and enjoy breakfast at one of the many alfresco beach-side eateries before making your way to Laguna water park for a day of water-fuelled fun. Thrill-seekers head straight to the WaveOz 180 FlowRider. The wave machine draws in surfers and bodyboarders keen to hone their skills. Parents can relax in shady cabanas while little ones meander along the lazy river in rubber rings. With a host of interactive elements, the Splash Pad is the perfect option for toddlers keen to learn and play while older kids and adventurous mums and dads can select from five thrilling slides.
Tip: Make the most of your Laguna Water Park’s seaside setting and catch a beautiful Dubai sunset after your waterpark visit
7. Aventura Parks, Mushrif Park
Situated in Mushrif park amid a forest of the UAE’s national Ghaf trees, Aventura Parks is an activity centre with a difference, designed to let Kids soar high and soak up nature’s benefits. The outdoor setting comprises rope swings and zip lines that glide above the trees as well as trail walks and a programme of talks.
Let your children reconnect with nature and improve their problem solving and agility skills as they tackle 80 challenges, across five levels, designed to suit varying age groups and capability levels. The Discovery and Ranger circuits are the best choices for little ones while the Explorador circuit is an excellent family-friendly pick. Those who seek the intensity of a challenge can opt for the Aventura, Xtreme or Thriller circuits. Expert instructors guide adventurers to ensure they have a safe and fulfilling experience.
Tip: Height and age restrictions apply to certain activities. Children must be 1.05m or above to participate in MiniKids independently while visitors must be at least 1.6m tall and 16 years old to enjoy the Extreme circuit.
8. Ski Dubai and Ski Dubai Penguin Encounter, Mall of The Emirates
A touch of the alps in the desert, Ski Dubai has captivated international audiences for some time. Previously named the world’s best indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai is a winter wonderland with snowy adventures to enchant everyone. The Snow Park is an ideal setting to acquaint younger children with the magic of winter. Make memories by building your first family snowman or by cuddling up on a toboggan together; there’s also a captivating indoor ice cave to take in. For older kids, the Giant Ball run, Snow Bullet ride and Mountain Thriller ride satisfy a taste for adventure.
Ski bunnies and learners can enjoy hours spent on the slopes with routes and lessons available for various abilities and age ranges.
The Ski Dubai penguin encounter is a rare opportunity to witness, first hand, the beauty of these majestic snowbirds; an unforgettable moment that stays with both kids and adults for a lifetime.
Tip: Be sure to try the signature hot chocolate or Ice Café at Avalanche Café
9. Dubai Fountain Lake Ride, Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai
Set sail across the striking turquoise lake that looks over some of Dubai’s most iconic sights. A Dubai Fountain Lake Ride take 30-minutes and offers families the opportunity to gaze up at the Burj Khalifa and twinkling skyscrapers that surround it before taking in the magnitude of the Dubai Mall. Hop on board a charming abra and enjoy the theatre of the world’s largest and most spectacular choreographed fountain show. Daily fountain shows move to the beat of musical favourites and shoot upwards to almost 500 ft.
Tip: The fountains usually come to life straight after sunset so golden hour is the best time to take those show-stopping photographs
10. Dubai Miracle Garden, Al Barsha South 3
As the balmy winter weather hits the Middle East, Dubai Miracle Garden welcomes families excited for open-air adventures and an immersion in nature. Kids and adults alike marvel at the kaleidoscopic array of flora on view at the world’s largest flower garden. There are over 150 million flowers blooming at Dubai Miracle Garden which have been transformed into the most imaginative creations from an Emirates A380 aircraft to an enchanting floral castle. There’s also a field of brilliant yellow sunflowers, a rose-coloured heart tunnel and an umbrella tunnel that make for inspired family photo backdrops. Dubai Miracle Garden is open seasonally, between November and May.
Tip: Visit the next-door Butterfly Garden, home to around 15,000 butterflies