Dubai I thought was always a place for luxurious shopping, super cars, lively nightlife, massive buildings etc. I never thought it would be ‘the place’ for a family holiday.
When you tell people that you are going to Dubai on a family holiday, the response from many is the same; What is there to do for children in Dubai and isn’t it too hot?
What exactly can you do with your kids in Dubai? That’s exactly what I thought before our holiday there.
But my opinion changed after our family holiday to Dubai. There was so much to keep the family entertained whatever their ages in Dubai.
Here are 15 reasons why your kids will love Dubai, and why you will want to go back year after year
KidZania is one of our children’s favourite places to visit. After visiting KidZania London we were so excited to try out the Dubai version.
KidZania is a city built to scale for children offering over 80 educational real life role play experience designed for 4-14 year olds. It is so realistic and must be thrilling for children as they enter this magical city, with its paved streets and buildings.
Many of these careers are different what is offered at KidZania London such as working at McDonalds and Pizza Express, even the supermarket is a Waitrose!
As the children complete their jobs they earn their wages called ‘KidZos’ which they can then use to buy prizes and toys.
Website – http://www.kidzania.ae/en/default.aspx
2. World Class Aquariums
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo which is one of the world’s biggest aquariums located in the biggest shopping mall in the world, the Dubai Mall. Your first glimpse of the 10 million litre Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world right in the middle of the shopping mall.
Walking through the 48 metre aquarium tunnel is an awe inspiring sight, and one that my daughters loved especially looking for the sharks and sting rays. Above the aquarium is the Underwater Zoo where you can find a huge crocodile called King Croc and the glass bottom boat ride is also highly recommended.
The Lost Chambers Aquarium
Along with Dubai Aquarium, Dubai boasts another fantastic aquarium, The Lost Chambers Aquarium located in the Atlantis the Palm hotel. The aquarium is themed as if you are exploring the ruins of the lost city of Atlantis whilst watching their 65,000 marine animals.
3. Sega Republic
SEGA Republic is a superb indoor amusement area for children and adults with a number of games and activities over its two floors. The 76,000 sq. ft indoor amusement park features 15 major attractions to try out including the tallest and largest indoor slides in the Middle East. There are also more than 170 games, from the latest virtual reality simulators to racing games and skill and redemption games.
4. Dubai Ice Rink
The Dubai Ice Rink is located on the ground level of the giant shopping centre ‘The Dubai Mall’ and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants
This Olympic-sized ice skating rink is the perfect way to escape from the Dubai heat, and is child friendly with plenty of little penguins to hold onto helping them with their balance on the ice.
Website – http://www.dubaiicerink.com/en/
5. Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai is the world famous indoor ski resort in Dubai with 22,500 square metres of indoor ski area and is one of the largest in the world. The mountain at Ski Dubai is 85 metres high and has 5 slopes of varying steepness for every level of skier. It also felt surreal to be able to experience snow when it was a sweltering 44 degrees outside!
At one of the world’s largest snow parks at 3000-square metres it offers so much fun for both adults and children including bobsledding, tubing, tobogganing, and chairlifts to making snow angels in the snow. There is even a snow cavern and ice maze.
However it’s the chance for your children to meet, touch and even kiss a penguin that makes Ski Dubai really special.
Website – https://www.theplaymania.com/skidubai
6. Burj Khalifa
A trip to Dubai would not be complete without a visit to The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Standing at over 828 metres tall (2716.5 feet) and more than 160 floors it’s twice the height of the Empire State Building and nearly three times the height of The Shard in London.
As you travel to the 124th floor in one of the world’s fastest elevators, you will find 360 degree panoramic views of Dubai through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls and outdoor deck.
I would strongly recommend that you prebook your tickets in advance, as it is very expensive if you buy tickets on the day and the queues can be very long. Take a look at the likes of Groupon and Attraction Tix who regularly run promotions on Burj Khalifa tickets.
Website – http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/index.aspx
7. Amazing Beaches
During our stay at the Jumeirah Beach hotel we made the most of the beautiful private beach which was just gorgeous, coupled with the fact that is has the best view of the Burj al Arab hotel.
We visited the beach each day and had so much fun making sandcastles and jumping over the waves. It just had such a relaxing and very family friendly feeling. The great thing about Dubai is there are so many beautiful beaches to enjoy, from the man-made beaches of the Palm to the iconic stretch of beach at Jumeirah.
Dubai has two great waterparks, Wild Wadi and Aqua Adventure.
Wild Wadi Waterpark
Wild Wadi Waterpark is situated in Jumeirah, right opposite the iconic Burj Al Arab. This water park has 30 rides and has the fastest freefall waterslide outside America.
There is also a 360-metre long lazy river which is the perfect way to relax and cool off from the Dubai heat. For younger children Juha’s Dhow and Lagoon is an interactive play structure with more than 100 water activities for younger kids including slides, water guns and a large dumping bucket.
The second water park in Dubai is located in the iconic Atlantis the Palm Hotel. Aqua Adventure has been voted the best water park in the Middle East and Europe, and there are plenty of attractions for visitors of all ages to enjoy from super fast slides, children’s splash zones and a lazy river. The world’s largest water slide – Aquaconda and another Shark Attack is a water slide through shark infested waters!
9. Dubai Fountains
At Burj Khalifa Lake, a giant crystal clear man-made lake is the Dubai Fountain show. This free 10 minute show features music-synchronised water jets which soar 150 metres (492 feet) into the sky. Shows run every half an hour in the evening along with two shows in the day.
In the summer the best place to watch this is by pre-booking one of the restaurants in the Dubai mall with views over the Burj Lake, so you are away from the crowds and the heat and humidity of summer.
10 Shopping Malls
Not all children like shopping, but the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates are not your average shopping malls.
The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world and is one of the best and most beautiful malls I have visited. If you think the malls in America are fabulous then the Dubai Mall takes this to another level with just about every store and brand you can think of from across the globe.
You will find luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co, huge department stores such as Bloomingdales, Debenhams and Galleries Lafayette to the likes of Bath and Body works which is a favourite store of mine.
The huge Candylicious store is such a fun place to visit and features the world’s first 3d sweet maker which can print up to 20 different designs.
Stores such as Build a Bear are great fun for children to visit to pick up a unique Build a Bear Dubai camel as a souvenir.
The Dubai Mall is also home to a number of amazing attractions for children including KidZania, Dubai Aquarium, an ice rink and Sega Republic whilst the Mall of the Emirates is home to Ski Dubai.
The malls have many recognisable family-friendly restaurants from around the world including the Cheesecake Factory, Rainforest Café and California Pizza Kitchen.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
As well as the malls, I would recommend visiting Souk Madinat Jumeirah. It’s one of my favourite parts of Dubai, a really child friendly place to visit and a brilliant experience. It is built to resemble a traditional souk, but is indoors within the 5-star resort, Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. Along with lots of great restaurants, cafes and shops it was so much fun trying to haggle when buying shoes from one of the shopkeepers.
You even have the chance to ride the Abra, a traditional form of transport on the waterways of Madinat Jumeirah. It was so much fun for the kids as you are transported around the Madinat.
11. Become an Airline Pilot
You can experience what it is like flying the superjumbo Airbus A380 at the Emirates A380 Experience. This simulator puts you in control at the cockpit for a 30 minute flight to one of 12 worldwide destinations.
Website – http://www.emiratesa380experience.com/
12. Helicopter Tour
What better way to see the skyline of Dubai than with a 15 minute helicopter flight over the city. To be able to see the Burj Khalifa, the iconic Burj Al Arab, the spectacular The World and The Palm Jumeirah would be a spectacular experience for the family.
Website – http://www.helidubai.com/Scenic-Tours/
13. Desert Safari
The deserts of Dubai are a big contrast to the gleaming city and the desert safari is very popular with families. A short drive from the city centre is the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, where you can have fun riding the sand dunes in a 4×4, camel rides, sand tobogganing to a traditional desert meal in a Bedouin camp under starlit skies.
14. Orlando-like Theme Parks
Since our visit to Dubai a number of world class theme parks which are starting to rival Orlando have recently opened.
Everything in Dubai seems to be bigger and better than everywhere else and the brand new IMG Worlds theme park which is also the largest indoor theme park in the world is no different.
At 1.5 million square feet – roughly the size of 28 football pitches, you will find Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure and IMG Boulevard themed areas including characters such as the Avengers, Hulk, Adventure Time, Power Puff girls and more.
Website – http://www.imgworlds.com/en/
Our children love LEGOLAND Windsor in the UK, so for our next visit to Dubai the girls are so excited to visit the recently opened LEGOLAND Dubai. The park offers over 40 themed LEGO themed rides and attractions across six zones including LEGO City, Adventure, LEGO Kingdom, LEGO Create and LEGO Factory. There is also a Miniland featuring some of the Middle East’s most iconic buildings and landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa made from LEGO.
At the LEGOLAND Waterpark there are some innovative interactive rides such as the Build-a-Raft River which sounds amazing. You have to design and build your own customised raft from Lego blocks before riding it down the lazy river. Other attractions include a giant wave pool, Duplo splash safari and over 20 water slides including family raft, body and tube slides
Website – https://www.legoland.com/dubai/
We are big fans of Universal Studios in Florida and the new Motiongate Dubai is a similar style of theme park full of Dreamworks characters (Shrek, Madagascar, Hotel Transylvania etc) which is why we can’t wait to visit. The park is divided into four zones: DreamWorks, Lionsgate, Columbia Pictures and a Smurfs Village. Smurfs village in particular looks amazing with mushroom topped houses. With 27 rides and attractions including five rollercoasters it looks an amazing place to visit when all attractions are fully open early this year.
Website – https://www.motiongatedubai.com/EN
15. Dolphin Bay
At Dolphin Bay in the Atlantis Hotel you have the chance to get up close to Dolphins in deep or shallow water. There are a variety of interactive experiences that can be booked in advance.
Anyone coming to Dubai with kids should look at getting a copy of the Entertainer voucher book. The Entertainer is a book of discount vouchers on thousands of restaurant, hotels, and sightseeing places.