This post was updated in April 2018, with everything correct and up-to-date.
I have been sent private messages no less than four times in one week to ask for recommendations of things to do in Dubai with small children, so I thought it was time to update the post I wrote a year ago (which has changed quite a lot as we’ve discovered new things that are better!) So here are the places we tend to go in Dubai. It’s worth bearing in mind, like with anything in life, that different mums will recommend different things based on their location and the tastes of their children, but I think this list is a great place to start – whether you are a resident or a tourist. Please feel free to comment on Facebook or underneath this post with your own suggestions! So here goes…
Location for taxi driver: The Dubai Mall
Public Transport: The Dubai Mall
Take the kids to the mall? You must be mad! Well no actually, because this is the biggest mall in the world and that means it has an aquarium, a 150-155 million year old Diplodocus dinosaur, an ice rink, the opportunity to head up the tallest building in the world, and countless family friendly eateries. We tend to head over early on a Friday or Saturday to avoid the crowds.
Location for taxi driver: JBR at Dubai Marina
Public Transport: JBR 1 or 2 on Dubai Tram (connects from JLT Metro Station)
I’m probably a bit biased about this one, as I can see it from my bedroom window – but this area of Dubai, running in front of JBR complex, just keeps getting better. Not only is there a stretch of soft white sand for kids to play on and splash in the shore, but there are a plethora of kid-friendly restaurants, a splash pad attraction for toddlers, toilet and shower facilities, and (during the cooler months) a market every weekend.
3. The Lost Chambers at Atlantis
Location for taxi driver: Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah
Public Transport: Monorail from terminal next to One & Only Royal Mirage
I was trying to think of words to describe The Lost Chambers at Atlantis aquarium to write this post – and ‘stunning’ and ‘breathtaking’ keep coming to mind. To be honest, this aquarium has spoilt us, as nowhere else we visit can compete. The boys love the space, giving them the freedom to toddle/run between the displays. I love the beauty of the place – you just have to sit down on the floor cushions and gaze up at the stingrays, sharks, and colourful shoals of tropical fish to feel instant calm (even when your children are wrestling on the floor). It’s my dream to stay one of the rooms at the hotel that looks out at the aquarium – until then, I will make do with day trips.
4. Le Petit Palais
Location for taxi driver: The Dubai Mall
Public Transport: The Dubai Mall Metro Station
There are so many indoor soft play areas to take your children in Dubai, but we love Le Petit Palais because it’s more than just a jungle gym. It does have that, if your kids are that way inclined, but it also has a charming French-style mini village to spark their imagination. Think cars to drive around the roads, a grocery store to fill a mini trolley, a beauty salon to sit and imagine you are having a fabulous beauty treatment, a patisserie to pick up your croissants, and a playhouse to explore. It’s located on the second floor of The Dubai in Galeries Lafayatte.
Location for taxi driver: Town Centre Jumeirah (next to Mercato Mall)
Public Transport: Nothing nearby
We used to live next door, so we have visited plenty of times before for a coffee – but last week, we let the boys paint on ceramic for the first time and they loved every second. You start by selecting from the ceramic items on the shelves around the café (priced individually) and then you choose up to five different coloured paints. Then they can get creative – and with kids meals at just Dhs17 each, it’s worth feeding them too. I was jealous – so next time, I’m painting something too.
6. Umm Suqeim Park
Location for taxi driver: Umm Suqeim Public Beach
Public Transport: Mall of the Emirates Metro Station (and then taxi towards the beach – you could walk in the cooler months).
This park is a bit of a hidden Dubai gem, across the road from Umm Suqeim Public Beach. With amazing views down to Burj Khalifa, there are two play areas, a track that runs all around the park for scooters / bikes / pushing a buggy, lots of shade, and a cafe that serves ice creams for 3 AED. I adore this place – so much so, I’m loathed to tell you about it, as it’s lovely and quiet!
7. LEGOLAND Waterpark
Location for taxi driver: Dubai Parks and Resorts
Public Transport: Jebel Ali Metro Station (and then taxi to the park).
Aimed at children between 2 and 12 years old, this is definitely Dubai’s best waterpark for small children. Think a lazy river to cruise round on large rubber rings, a splash safari, endless water slides for every age, and summery caribbean-style music piped in to put everybody into a good mood! You’ll find plenty of food stops, but taking your own picnic works well too.
8. Dri Dri Gelato
Location for taxi driver: The Beach at JBR and Box Park
Public Transport: JBR 1 or 2 on Dubai Tram / None nearby Box Park
While you’re in the sunshine, you need to eat ice cream, right? Of course – so it might as well be the best. Dri Dri makes authentic Italian gelato – and it’s so good that it really does melt in the mouth. We visit the branch at The Beach – and the boys love selecting their flavour (usually Orange for Stanley and Vanilla for Wilfred) and then taking a stroll along the beach as the sun sets. This charming gelato spot also runs regular workshops for kids and can even host parties.
9. Marina Promenade
Location for taxi driver: Marina Promenade, opposite JBR Amwaj
Public Transport: JBR 2 Tram Station (you can connect onto tram at JLT Metro Station)
I should probably keep quiet about this one, as we love how peaceful it is on Marina Promenade. Unlike Marina Walk (the other side of the Marina), it is rarely busy – so there’s lots of room for kids to zoom past the boats and water on their scooters. There’s also numerous family-friendly cafes along the promenade and a kids play area under the bridge.
10. Kite Beach
Location for taxi driver:
Public Transport: Noor Bank Metro Station and taxi to Kite Beach
How could I write a round-up of things to do with kids in Dubai without including my favourite beach? With miles of white powdery sand, plenty of eateries and gelato houses (always visit Park House for breakfast or lunch) and the sea stretched out in front of you, you just can’t lose. There is a running track along the beach that kids can scoot down – and also trampolines you can pay for kids to bounce on in the cooler months. Enjoy!