Dubai with Kids: Where to stay and the Top Things to Do
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Hilary Stockton
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Boy on Jumeirah Beach, Dubai

 

Why go to Dubai with Kids?

How would you like to experience family travel in Dubai, a place where the sun is always shining, the beaches beckon with their soft white sands, and the sky is as blue as the waters of the majestic oceans around it? It’s possible that you may not think Dubai is a good place for a family-friendly vacation due to its location in the Middle East or because of the elite personality of some of the visitors. However, it can be an exciting and fun change of pace to a domestic vacation.

Visitors to Dubai can expect amazement at what this unique and wonderful oasis tucked away in the desert will offer you and your family. From spectacular water parks and even indoor skiing to camel trekking and exploring the old town, Dubai has plenty to entertain and fascinate kids and parents alike.

When it comes to variety of food, Dubai offers local ethnic cuisine and restaurants that offer foods from Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, India and Egypt. Dubai is the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates. With the abundance of tourists, there are also places that offer choices for European and American tastes.

 

Dubai Insider Tips 

  • Females can wear swimwear if you are at the beach or at the hotel pool, but if you go to a public location, you must dress conservatively. Skirts should go to the knees, don’t wear tops that reveal cleavage, wear sleeves to your elbows, and wear a head scarf. You may see people that don’t do this, but that is being insensitive to local customs and rules. And never kiss in public, it’s not allowed.
  • In Dubai, the residential electricity is 220 V AC, 50 Hz, so you will have to either get a voltage converter or use appliances that are the correct voltage for the area.
  • When it comes to tipping, people such as bellhops in hotels expect to be tipped generously. In restaurants, a service charge is added to your bill, so you don’t need to tip separately. As for taxis, you can round up to the nearest full bill.
  • If you plan to drive a rental car while you are on family travel in Dubai, then you must get an international driver’s license. You will also need your passport and two other forms of photo ID to rent a car.
  • Bring appropriate clothes for the region. It’s common for temperatures to reach 122 degrees F and have up to 90 percent humidity. Plus, January and February are the months it usually rains the most. You should pack lightweight and loose fitting clothes.
  • The weekend in Dubai is Friday and Saturday, and doesn’t include Sunday. Plus, the businesses are usually only open half a day on Thursdays, but shopping malls may be open seven days a week until 11 p.m.
  • If you have a problem, instead of 911 as you would call in the U.S., you must dial 999.

 

What to See and Do in Dubai with Kids

1. Children's City

Children’s City is located at the Dubai Creek Park at Bur Dubai. It consists of over 80,000 square feet of educational area with attractions for kids, ages from 2 to 15 years old. It blends activities on nature, space, science, culture and the human body and kids will love the flight simulator and the other interactive exhibits.

Flight Simulator, Children's City, Dubai

 

2. Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates

The Mall of Emirates is like most any you'll find at home, with food courts, major department stores and shops of all sorts. An especially unique feature however, is the indoor ski slope where for a reasonable fee you can so skiing and snowboarding, or just throw snowballs. You can even sign your child up for ski or snowboard lessons! Do book in advance for lessons, to be assured of a spot.

Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates

 

3. Wild Wadi

Wild Wadi is a large water park located at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and features a variety of water slides, rides and surfing opportunities. Take your own swim suit as well, it's fun for the entire family!

Wild Wadi Water Park Dubai

 

4. Wonderland and Splashland

If Wild Wadi wasn't enough to sate your kids' love of water, another theme park to take the kids is Wonderland, which can be found at the Al Gharhoud on Bur Dubai. This is a combination of an amusement park (Wonderland) with water slides and rides of all kinds (Splashland). It also has fast food restaurants where you can try many varieties of foods.

 

5. Dune Bashing

This is more of a local term for just going out on the dunes and having a great time. Many arrange for a "desert safari" that includes a guided ride over the dunes in an SUV. Also available is sand boarding on sand, 4x4 driving and quad bikes. Most tours include sand boarding and a visit to a camel farm. Tour operators include Sun City Dubai Tours and Desert Safari Dubai.

Kids with camel, Dubai

 

6. Hot Air Balloon Ride

Be sure to try out the balloon rides so you can see Dubai from hundreds of feet in the air. Dubai has some of the most unique architecture in the world with the Palm Islands communities built on reclaimed earth from other excavations. There are several places that offer this thrilling trip. Check out some of the providers at Amigos Balloons, Dream Days and Viator Tours. They can provide you with guidelines and requirements.

Hot air balloon ride, Dubai

 

7. Visit a souk

one shopping trip not to miss is an outing to a souk. It will provide the whole family with something they've never experienced. A souk is often an open market. There are many traditional ones where you can bargain with the owners and find many exciting products. A famous one is the Gold Souk. This marketplace has gold of all types and prices. The gold is sold by weight instead of its design. It is interesting visit just to watch how this is done.

Then, there is the spice souk where you can get a variety of exotic and traditional spices, dried fruits, nuts, and other products. Strolling through this sensory delight will be a new experience for everyone. Once again, you get the fun of bargaining.

 

Beaches

Naturally, beaches come to mind as one of the top attractions. Even if your kid doesn't want to swim, he'll probably have fun burying himself (or a sibling or you!) in the sand, or building a sand castle.

Al Mamzar Beach

The sea here is crystal clear, and there are fish close to shore and it is great for snorkeling. There are five beaches in the park, but beach Four has changing/toilet facilities and volley ball nets. The sea here is sheltered, and fairly safe from currents.

Jumeirah Beach

Jumeirah Beach is very well known and has a very long length of beach with many hotels and private clubs along with public access areas.

Al Mamzar Beach, Dubai

 

Where to Stay

The 5-Star Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a top-of-the-line luxury hotel and is one of the architectural marvels that Dubai can brag about. It has 618 rooms and rates start at a more reasonable $550 a night. The hotel rooms offer you Gulf ocean views. Additionally, the hotel package includes an unlimited access to Wild Wadi water park  and Sinbad's Kids Club for kids below the age of 12 years.

 

Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa is likewise a top-rated 5-star hotel set right near a beautiful stretch of beach. There’s plenty of pampering for parents in the luxurious Club Rooms and at the spa, which features five Hammam pools, saunas, Jacuzzis, and gym. For kids age 4-12, there’s a complimentary Penguin Club from 9am-1pm and from 2-6pm. Kids will have fun shell painting, riding in banana boats, playing badminton and building sand castles at the beach.

Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort, Dubai

 

The Grand Hyatt Dubai is another good choice, whether visiting Dubai as a couple or with kids. It’s about 10 minutes from the airport, near the Dubai Museum, the old Bastakiya district, a huge cineplex and several malls, and set on 37 acres of beautiful lush gardens. Parents and kids alike will enjoy the indoor and outdoor pools (including a kids pool), huge variety of dining options from local favorites to Italian, Indian, sushi and more and excellent service. For an additional splurge, stay on the Club level, which comes with complimentary airport transfers and access to the private Club lounge with complimentary Continental breakfast and evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. There’s also a dedicated Kids Club for kids 1-12 from 9am to 10pm with supervised indoor and outdoor activities.

Kids' Pool at Grand Hyatt Dubai

 

What to Eat

From the inexpensive local delicacy, Shwarma, to high-end and fine dining experiences at places like Legends Steakhouse or Khazana, you will be sure to love the great food choices and dishes to choose from. There’s everything from a McDonalds for that picky teen to some fancy dining for you and your spouse.

Shwarma is something like a taco and a lot like a gyro, but also very different. It is made with thinly sliced, seasoned meat such as chicken, beef, goat or lamb which is rolled in a pita or Arabic roti. Other ingredients like hummus, pickles, tomatoes, garlic and sometimes even French fries. There is varying opinions on which restaurants have the best. Shawarma tastes different depending on the restaurant and local tastes. It’s one of the most popular foods in the area. A couple places to try are the Al Mallah, located at the Al Diyafah Street, 971 4 398 4723, and Automatic Restaurant at Al Rigga Street, 971 4 359 4300. You can also find street vendors all over town.

 

Falafel is the Arabic equivalent of a French fry. It is a patty or ball made from ground chickpeas or fava beans plus different spices and deep-fried and served up as a side dish. Try some at a restaurant that specializes in it, the Sultan Dubai Fakafel restaurant on Murraqabat Street, phone: 04 227 5559

 

Arabic bread is what is called roti. It’s freshly made in a clay oven and served with a variety of meals. It’s very good served with Indian curries, for example. It can be found in nearly all Dubai traditional restaurants.

Roti

 

There are hundreds of great restaurant in Dubai. No matter what you have a craving for, or if you're feeling adventurous, there are plenty of places to eat. Some of the more kid friendly include:

Waves is located in Le Meridien Mina Sahahi Beach Resort and Marina on Al Sufouh Road in Jumeirah Beach, +971 4 399 3333. It sports a casual atmosphere with Continental cuisine served buffet style so everyone can see and choose what they want. They also have an outdoor barbeque where you can make a selection to have cooked while you watch.  Prices are reasonable.

Located on Al Diyafah Street, at the top of Rydges Plaza, the Cactus Cantina, Dubai, offers Tex-Mex cuisine. With a relaxed atmosphere, attentive staff, generous portions and reasonable prices, your gang is bound to find something familiar that tastes like home, 04 398 2274.

For family brunch on Saturday try Mazina at the Dubai Marina, Mazina at The Address, Dubai Marina, 04 436 7777. They have kid and adult friendly food, such as hot dogs, chicken nuggets and burgers for the kids and a variety of European, Asian, and Arabic fare for the adults served buffet style. There is a designated play area for the kids with face painting and bounce castle. Each child gets a nametag upon entering the restaurant, too.

For family friendly Italian fare, go to Cucina located at the JW Marriott Dubai in Deira. They offer pizza and pasta sure to please everyone and leave you with full bellies and a good time. The restaurant offers a rustic, relaxed, homey atmosphere. They serve up a delectable assortment of traditional Italian anti-pastas and salads, homemade pastas, pizzas and risottos. Cucina, +971 4 6077977

If you have fussy eaters who prefer American style eateries, you can take them to Johnny Rockets, 00 971 4 341 2380; Johnny Rockets and Planet Hollywood, Dubai 00 971 4 324 4777, for familiar eateries. You can also find TGI Fridays and Applebees.

One of the best ways to find gems to eat at is to ask your hotel staff. They are sure to have some favorites and you'll get some first-hand reviews.

Article By: Aunindita Bhatia 

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Comments
Picture?type=large Jo B. commented 09 Jul 2012
Very nice! It almost is enough to make me want to go there! (I do more armchair traveling than the real thing.)
Picture?type=large Noor R. commented 12 Jan 2013
can you please tell me:about the experience that you have gained? i need it for my homework i have to write a letter telling why you should come to dubai for childrens timeout. thanks anyway it was great especially the white sand bit!!! and magestic blue seas!!!
Picture?type=large Silver S. commented 09 Oct 2013

Hey really nice article, but one more thing you forgot to share Dubai Dolphinarium New Show "Legend of the Mermaid" : 1st Oct 2013 Dubai Dolphinarium is pleased to announce a new show "Legend of the Mermaid". The new show, starting from 1st October, is a musical and illusion adaptation of classic fairy-story, & lots of Fun activities to do with Dolphins, So lets Book your Tickets, have fun with your family & friends.  Timings : 6:00 PM Venue : Creek Park,Gate 1, Dubai Tickets : Book Online at dubaidolphinarium.ae ShowTimings.aspx Tel : +971(4)336-9773 Special Eid Offer 14th Oct 2013 to 19th Oct 2013 Show Timings - 11.00 AM, 3.00 PM, 6.00 PM 

Picture?type=large Chanda S. commented 14 Dec 2013
Good ideas to do at Spring Break with my family. I live in Saudi Arabia and I have been to Dubai before on my own. If you are not Muslim they do not expect you to cover and are not offended if you do not wear the head scarf. Dressing modestly is the sign of respect that they appreciate the most. Even in Saudi I do not wear the Ha-jab in public, but here I do wear the black Abaya to show my respect.
Picture?type=large Elena R. commented 23 Jun 2014
Wow. It's a beautiful idea. I have a child and he likes fun. I want to plan for his next birthday to celebrate in Dubai. Every picture is so nice. Thanks for sharing this.
Picture?type=large Konita D. commented 01 Aug 2014
Family With Kids in Dubai: Reference- ( askexplorer.com ) Life's a Beach: Brilliant beaches, such as Jumeirah Beach Park, JBR or Jumeirah Open Beach. More Fun In The Sun: Aquaventure or Wild Wadi, where you can scare yourself on the rides, spash about in the sea or relax on a sun lounger & swim with the dolphins at Dolphin Bay or check out the fabulous Lost Chambers aquarium. The Dubai Mall: A day at The Dubai Mall doesn't have to involve shopping. Start at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo and marvel at the exotic inhabitants, then head over to SEGA Republic indoor theme park, KidZania, Hamley's and Candylicious, and then step outside to watch the Dubai Fountain from one of the many restaurants lining Burj Lake.
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