On a recent family holiday to the United Arab Emirates (yes, we travelled during a global pandemic) we spent 10 amazing days in Dubai! 2020 was a crazy year. We booked most of our holidays back in February 2020 before anyone realised what was to come in 2020. As the Covid pandemic grew, all our trips got cancelled or postponed. The only holiday that wasn’t cancelled by the airlines or the government restrictions was our family holiday to Dubai. The reason we chose Dubai was so that my husband could spend Christmas with his sister who is a primary school teacher there. We had no idea what was to come at the time. When we eventually got there, and it’s safe to say we had a brilliant time. Here are 9 of the best things to do in Dubai with kids.
Why Travel To Dubai in A Global Pandemic?
As for why Dubai was never cancelled … it wasn’t until a few weeks before our trip that I realised that it might actually be going ahead. Why it wasn’t cancelled by the authorities is simple, once you’re there! The UAE were on the UK’s Green corridor list – deeming it a safe place to go from a coronavirus perspective. I have had a fair amount of criticism for our choice to go, but far more understanding, love and kindness than I expected. Despite what the mainstream media tells us if people do decide to travel the restrictions in place make it as safe as possible.
I personally felt safer going on an international flight, flying with kids, on holiday than I do sending my kids to school at the moment! When we were there, I realised why that is. I don’t think I have ever visited a cleaner, more hygienic place than Dubai. The measures they have in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus are quite simply brilliant.
I think I’ll write a separate post or maybe do a video of the safety precautions in place that you can expect if you choose to travel, within legal guidelines, during a global pandemic.
Here are 9 Family-Friendly Things to do in Dubai with kids, … that we actually did ourselves.
There are so many more that we didn’t get to, but this list is based on our personal reviews and experience.
For the purposes of reference, we are a family of 5: Parents, a 17-year-old teen daughter, a 9-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old daughter. Our family are quite adventurous and like to experience life in an intentional way when we visit a specific country, as well as to enjoy the more mainstream tourist attractions. These are all activities we personally enjoyed during our visit to Dubai in December 2020. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to message me.
FUN FACT: Out of the 9.2 million people, ex-pats contribute to around 7.8 million people, with the Emirati Nationals holding a population share of 1.4 million.Credit: Guide 2 Dubai
1. Wild Wadi Water Park
One of our first days out was to Wild Wadi! It’s a water park near the Jumeriah Beach Hotel and the Burj Al Arab. The kids and we absolutely loved everything about it. From the 360m lazy river, to the Jumeirah Sceirah slide which is a where you reach speeds of 80km/hr we went on just about everything! We really got to enjoy all the rides as a family. There are some height restrictions for younger kids, but everything is clearly signposted and the friendly staff were so helpful. This should definitely be on your list of things to do in Dubai with kids!
Would I do it again? YES! Just not the “death slide”!
2. The Dubai Frame
This one I was not expecting! I thought it was one of those large Instagram frames like the one at The Waterfront in Cape Town, where you pose or sit on it and take a pic of the view behind it. This is maybe like that, but 10 thousand times bigger! Set in the beautiful Zabeel Park, The Dubai Frame is actually a museum-type experience set in a building shaped like a massive picture frame. The views are perfect showcasing the new Dubai skyline on one side, and the old Dubai skyline on the other. The contrast is surreal too.
Besides the views to the left and the right, they have one of those disappearing floors. When you step on it, the opaque glass turns transparent and you see all the way to the ground which, did I mention, is 150 meters below! That’s right, the floor with the views is 150 meters high. They have a few cool gadgets up there too to enhance the experience. On the way down they show you a futuristic show of what the future of Dubai dream is. It’s amazing, inspiring, and almost sci-fi to imagine a world that will be like that. Please do go visit the Dubai Frame! You won’t regret it.
Oh, and in the day, the Dubai Frame is gold, but at night it’s lit up different colours. My favourites were green and purple!
Would I do it again? YES – it’s a great experience for the whole family! Mums, dads, kids and nans!
3. The Burj Khalifa
I don’t think I need to tell you much about this one. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world! THE WORLD! We got tickets to go up to the 125th floor. There are actually 160 storeys in the building. You can buy tickets for their At The Top experience, which gets you up as high as level 148 plus a few other extras etc, but they are a bit pricey. We were a party of 7 people, 4 adults and 3 kids and decided that it was enough to ‘just’ go up to the 125th and 124th floors.
We went up just before sunset and so got to see the stunning views over Dubai in both the daylight and we stuck around long enough to see the Dubai night lights too. Honestly, if I had to pick one or the other, I’d choose the night experience. Dubai and night is simply breathtaking.
Would I do it again? NO – not because I didn’t enjoy it, but it’s one those when you spend the money to enjoy it once, and then you can’t justify it again. But I would definitely say you should do it once! And you can always enjoy looking at it from everywhere else in Dubai, but most especially from outside the Dubai Mall at night.
4. The Dubai Mall & Fountains
The Dubai Mall … what can I say. Every shop you can imagine is there, from Bloomingdales to Marks & Spencers, from H&M to Gucci, and everything in between! A shoppers paradise. And don’t forget the restaurants, cinemas, ice-rink and Kidzania aaaaandd … the Dubai Aquarium. We didn’t get to even 1/10th of the activities available in the Dubai Mall itself, but there’s always next time. There are hundreds of things to do in Dubai with kids, and a large number of them are at the Dubai Mall.
Just outside the Dubai mall where the restaurants line the front, they outline the world-famous Dubai Fountains. As it was winter, and a ‘freezing’ 25C most days, we enjoyed a couple of evenings dining in the outdoor areas with the added bonus of watching the fountain and light displays. They go off every 20/30 minutes and it really is a sight to behold! Watching the fountains is FREE, you can just walk along the front to watch them, however with the strict social distancing rules in place, it’s best to find a restaurant and watch from their ‘private’ social distancing zones.
Would I go again: Yes! Again and Again!
5. The Dubai Butterfly Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden and the Dubai Butterfly Garden were two attractions I’d not heard or read about before we got to Dubai. It was simply by chance scrolling Instagram that I saw it on the Visit Dubai Instagram page (do check it out by the way, they are brilliant)!
The Dubai Butterfly Garden is just that, an indoor garden of butterfly houses/domes. They have a fantastic range of beautiful colourful butterflies of different sizes. The kids really enjoyed this. Not only is being indoors a relief from the heat but also the butterflies do come and land on you. Almost all the kids there were trying to see how many butterflies they could have landed on them at one time.
Once again, hand sanitiser, masks and thermal heat checking is mandatory.
Would I go again? Maybe. The kids definitely loved it. I found it very relaxing.
6. The Dubai Miracle Garden
Right next door to the Dubai Butterfly Garden is the Dubai Miracle Garden. What is The Dubai Miracle Garden? Well, it’s simply a garden of flowers! It’s also one of THE BEST things to do in Dubai with kids! Not just flowers though, the flowers cover sculptures of all shapes and sizes, from your favourite Disney characters to a princess castle, from a full-size Emirates aeroplane to arches of love hearts (an Instagram dream!).
We went really early, just when they opened at 10.00 am. It’ was lovely and quiet but a few hours later it was quite busy. Whilst there are loads of private gazebos to sit and socially distance, I’d advise going early and giving yourself about 3 hours max before the crowds start building up.
Unfortunately you can’t buy a double ticket for both the Dubai Miracle Garden and the Dubai Butterfly Garden – I’m not sure why. It would be a good way to do a double ticket or a slight discount. Tickets were sold separately.
Would I go again? Yes. I would love to take my mom there. She would love it!
7. Kite Beach
I think we went to Kite Beach Dubai three times in our 10-day visit. It’s just a lovely chilled, family-friendly vibe. I enjoyed La Mer, and would like to have gone back there but more for the shopping than for the beach. Kite beach is fab for the whole casual beach vibe. They have lovely street food vans offering a huge variety of different foods. They have the lovely flag beach display too, and they offer a few other adventurous games for kids too. My girls enjoyed the zip line obstacle course especially. The beach itself is a lovely sandy beach with shells and the water was warm enough to swim even in their mid-winter!
One of our favourite places was Salt! It’s easy to see why Kim K had hired it out for her exclusive use the week before we were there. Totally instaworthy! Oh, and the food is great too!
Would we go again? Absolutely! I can’t wait for our next visit!
8. Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park
The Dubai Garden Glow and Dinosaur Park is a large park area that comes alive at night (as does much of Dubai). You walk around a large park that is light up fantastically! One section has a really good dinosaur display. The rest of the park is every type of illumination display you can think of. We wandered around for hours and at the end when we were exhausted my youngest threw a strop because she wanted to go on the little train tour that goes through the park. We were too tired to argue by this stage, so we all got on the train. And I’m so glad we did because we got to see displays that we had missed.
Would I go again: Maybe – the girls loved it. Just don’t go after a busy day as it’s tiring for little legs to do all that walking and oohing and ahhing.
9. An Arabian Desert Safari
We booked with Arabian Nights Tours. Honestly, this was one of the highlights of our trip, one of the best things to do in Dubai with kids. Here’s what the trip included as standard:
- Collect from the hotel in 4×4.
- Driven to the desert (about an hour’s drive)
- Dune bashing in the 4×4.
- 2 stops to take pictures, have fun in the sandy dunes and have a drink enjoying the sunset.
- Buffet dinner at a Bedouin-style camp, dinner and soft drinks included with a limited cash bar available.
- Henna painting
- Dress up in Arabain style clothing for a photoshoot.
- Camel rides
- Sandboarding (I mean there was a dune with a sandboard available – we didn’t do this).
- Shisha smoking if you want
- Falcon experience
- Live shows: a Belly dancer, a fire dancer and another amazing dancer … can’t remember his name. Sorry, but he was brilliant!
- Deliver back to your hotel.
Would I do it again? Every. TIME! It was amazing. If you want to pick one thing from this list to do, this would be the one!
What was our overall experience of a family holiday in Dubai?
We absolutely loved our holiday to Dubai. The people of the UAE are so warm, friendly and kind. Everyone we came into contact with was polite and respectful. I think what stood out for me was that as a conservative Muslim country, they were so accommodating of other faiths.
Maybe it was my preconceived notions but I was pleasantly surprised about so many aspects of life there. Yes, they appreciate you covering your arms and shoulders and not showing too much leg when moving around the city and the malls. However, the beach is the beach.
As I said before I have never been in a cleaner, or more hygienic country ever. If you respect the country, culture and their rules and traditions, you will feel welcome in Dubai.
Would I visit Dubai again? Absolutely! Dubai is a brilliant holiday destination for families. I hope you enjoyed my 9 Brilliant things to do in Dubai for families. I hope to add to this list in years to come because I will visit Dubai again.