Why should adults have all the fun? Dubai is abundant with family-friendly activities, many of which are perfect for preschoolers. Here are ten of our favourites:
Hang by the Pool
Every time we go anywhere, checking out the swimming pool is always the first thing on Noah’s mind. The swimming pool at the Amwaj Rotana is ideal for young children. It’s shallow, quiet and covered by a canopy to protect children from the sun. A lifeguard supervised as Noah practiced his swimming. Bar service is available at your sun-lounger so we treat ourselves to milkshakes.
Imaginations really come to life at this attraction where kids rule the roost. Children run their own town by ‘working’ in all sorts of real-world roles (think fire-fighters, checkout operators, airline pilots, doctors… ) to earn ‘money’ to spend on fun activities like electric go karts or taking an art class. Noah loved Kidzania, but as he was still three years old he was unable to participate in some of the activities. This was frustrating for him so my advice would be, if you have a three year old who thinks he’s actually twelve, upgrade to the wristband for four years+ to gain access to a larger range of activities.
The Rainforest Cafe
Kidzania is located in The Dubai Mall which is also home to an aquarium, the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest candy store, the dancing fountains and one of our favourite places for lunch: The Rainforest café.
Feast (and drink if you want) on some of the finest foods in the world for up to three hours– it’s unlimited! There are many brunches that have kids food and entertainment. We thought the brunch at the Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate hotel was incredible, featuring a kids’ buffet, cinema room, face painting and bouncy castle at no extra cost when you attend brunch.
Swim in the Ocean
Crystal clear water meant we were able to spot little fish swimming around us in the ocean at The Walk at JBR. We also spotted star fish in the sand. Visit early in the morning or early evening as the midday heat can be unbearable.
If the heat is too hot to handle, just off the beach is a splash park. Great for keeping cool.
The Cheesecake Factory is an American chain restaurant that not only has an extensive dinner menu but boasts over thirty varieties of scrummy cheesecake. There are no branches in the UK currently, but in Dubai the restaurant can be found in the Mall of Emirates, Mall of Dubai, Festival City and The Walk at JBR.
Play in the fountains at Dubai Marina
The marina is an ideal area for chilling out and grabbing some food. It is really pretty in the evenings. We loved getting Oreo milkshakes at the marina branch of Johnny Rocket’s diner and then playing in the water fountains just outside. It is also a great place to go for a wonder. There are plenty of boats and interesting buildings to spot, including a twisted skyscraper. If you head towards Dubai Marina Mall there is also a little shaded play park.
The Aquaventure waterpark at the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Dubai was my personal favourite activity before Noah came along, so I was keen to take him there. He was only two on his visit there but he loved hanging out on his sun lounger, paddling in the pool and spotting sharks and dolphins. Swimming rings with bottoms are available so little ones can enjoy the lazy river. A trip to Atlantis could also never be complete without stopping at our favourite ice-cream place, Cold Stone Creamery.
Make friends with the staff
When we travel, but especially in Dubai, Noah receives a lot of attention from staff in hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions. Service staff are really keen to make sure kids get the VIP treatment on their holiday. At the Al Murooj, a luxury downtown hotel, Noah got to experience making his own “room key”. The waitresses and front of house staff adored him at the Amwaj Rotana and loved to entertain him every time we went for breakfast (this also allowed me a golden opportunity to chill for a few minutes).
We flew with Emirates both times we visited Dubai and I can highly recommend them for travel with kids. The staff are attentive and Noah loved visiting the stewards and chatting away to them. He also received little gifts from the airline such as a blanket, toys, age appropriate meal, activity booklet and a small Emirates bag. One of our favourite souvenirs from our trips has to be a polaroid picture taken by one of the Emirates stewards, presented in a card frame that we still display in our kitchen at home.