From high-speed coasters to white-sand beaches, Dubai offers more child-friendly appeal than almost any other vacation spot. While a decent budget is essential, I’ve learned from experience—having my nephew and friends’ children to stay during work spells in the city—that keeping youngsters entertained here is an easy ride. Just one look at those futuristic skyscrapers sends most kids into a permanent state of high excitement.
The sheer number of kid-dazzling attractions means you’ll need to cherry-pick, however. Here are my tips for a 3-day itinerary.
Pack a light scarf to cover your face if sandstorms hit: they’re quite common in Dubai during spring and summer.
If you only have time for one thing, don’t miss the phenomenal views from the rocket-shaped Burj Khalifa.
A trip to Level 124 of the Burj Khalifa gives kids a hypnotizing introduction to Dubai’s architecture: my nephew felt like he was in a sci-fi film while riding the high-speed elevator and seeing the city’s glinting ensemble of skyscrapers from 1,483 feet (452 meters) up.
Having experienced Dubai from above, it’s time to explore the Gulf’s undersea world. Descend by elevator to Dubai Mall below the Burj to explore the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. This wondrous aquarium has 3,300 marine creatures in ginormous tanks as well as a transparent tunnel with sharks swimming overhead.
Give the youngsters a peek into old Dubai on a morning tour of its traditional souks and windtower houses, followed by an abra boat ride on Dubai Creek. Alternatively, whisk them to Kite Beach to marvel at kitesurfers, paddle in the Gulf waters, and grab a burger at SALT—a cool beach shack on the sands.
This afternoon, experience Dubai’s desert on a family-friendly safari. Teens will lap up the dune bashing, camel riding, and sandboarding sessions. Most safaris include a BBQ, cultural shows, and hotel transfers.
If you have energy to spare, roam The Green Planet’s wildlife-filled rainforest before catching the 28 bus to watch a spectacular Dubai Fountain show. Alternatively, admire the elevated views from the Dubai Frame before walking around the corner to Garden Glow, which features illuminated sculptures and animatronic dinosaurs.