With temperatures so high during the summer months in Dubai, it's easy to get stuck for ideas on what to do on a weekend. Here's some help!
26 July 2016| Last updated on 14 January 2020
Everyone knows that Dubai is hot in summer. And not just hot like ‘hard to hold the steering wheel hot’... We are talking ‘baking cookies or eggs on the dashboard’ hot! In this kind of excruciating heat, which is often combined with soul sapping humidity, it is easy to occasionally get into a rut with what to do with the kids on the weekends.
There has been many a weekend where we have simply opted to pull out the Pictionary and the Scrabble, and buckle down to see out the weekend in airconditioned comfort rather than risk melting outside.
I want to reassure parents, especially of toddler-age kids, that there is hope out there of airconditioned activities that won’t require you to sell one of the kids to pay for it. With that in mind, I thought I’d do a couple of simple activity plans on a couple of days for all the parents out there. This should help keep your little ones amused to a point that you can almost forget that the tyres on the car may actually be melting outside.
Start off with a relaxing breakfast
The Dubai Creek area is the perfect place to start your weekend with a leisurely morning, as there's plenty of places offering kid-friendly breakfast/brunch you can visit, including places like the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club with its many dining options, like Boardwalk.
Friday is known in Dubai as a day of brunching, but for those of us with kids, Friday is a great day to go out for actual brunch, as in the original meaning of the word – a meal between breakfast and lunch.
And the numerous restaurants and facilities around Dubai Creek do it so well. You can find many options that offer prices are reasonable, really good food and in hearty quantities with options to suit any breakfast fan. Add in a cup of good coffee and friendly service and you're set for a pleasant start of the day.
One of the really great things about this place is it’s some-kind of best kept secret. We’ve visited the restaurants at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club a number of different times of the day and they're never totally full. It’s definitely busier in winter as some places have a fabulous outdoor terrace, but even then, the tables inside the restaurants don’t seem to be booked up. Last weekend, we had one of the places to ourselves which meant Little Chubs could roam the restaurant at will and play. He also had the devoted attention of the staff who were keen for some distraction which made our breakfast even more relaxing.
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The second best thing about the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club is that one of its restaurants has a kids club. A really cute one that takes young kids as well. So the kids can sit with you for breakfast and then, if you want to relax over coffee and read the paper or just have an adult conversation minus the interruptions, pop them in there for an hour or so and relax.
Burn off that energy and stay cool at the same time
Another of the city’s best kept secrets are the ice-skating rinks; there's one in Deira, and the other at The Dubai Mall. Plan ahead though, as The Dubai Mall one is usually packed with tourists and local residents trying to escape the heat. The other little rink at the back of one of Deira's hotels is a great place to come for a cheap, fun afternoon out.
The prices are very reasonable and the ice is well maintained. There are also a couple of snack places within viewing distance of the rink and a supermarket next door if you want to BYO. They offer lessons and they have the Penguins that little kids can learn to skate with which is not only very cute, but a great idea to give some additional confidence.
When visiting both ice rinks, it's best to check and book ahead. But we were at the one in Deira late afternoon and there were not many people and we had no problem. I guess if you live far away, definitely check the bookings before coming as the rink is not huge and no doubt has some kind of restriction on the amount of skaters at one time.
After nap time
No doubt, you will need to squeeze a nap in somewhere for the day to be a complete success, but once that is over, head to City Walk to check out the play area there.
They're amost a little place of heaven on earth for little ones. With acts like Barney, Angelina Ballerina, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder, those of you with kids in the 2-5+ age group will no doubt be like celebrities yourselves when you give your little ones the opportunity to meet these guys in person.
Most of the town is a brilliant world of fun and excitement for the kids who only normally see these guys on TV. You could spend a good few hours here, or as long as it takes for your child to be physically overcome with exhaustion from all the excitement. But definitely somewhere that’s well worth a weekend visit.
Late lunch, early dinner
City Walk is brilliant for eating as well as entertaining the kids. There are plenty of light options for food there to choose from. But for an early dinner with the kids, opt for somewhere that does special kids meal options, with super friendly staff, that are engaging with the kids as well.
From Asian cuisine to coffee joints, there are a stack of other choices around City Walk so it’s worth wandering for a few minutes and locate exactly what suits your taste buds. Or you could search on ExpatWomanFood.com for restaurants in the area!
They're all incredibly kid friendly, and each have enough space that you can let your little ones roam freely, or you can sit with them and play while enjoying your meal. Head to one early to beat the heat, as you will want to get out early to the next stage of the day.
Flutterby with the butterflies
The Dubai Butterfly Garden is another one of Dubai’s best kept secrets. On days when you are really feeling the pain of the heat, the butterfly garden is an oasis of calm and tranquillity.
There are three domes to the garden, all with an amazing array of plants, waterfalls and of course – butterflies! The butterflies are literally everywhere and some of them are HUGE!
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Little Chubs nearly got us evicted more than once when he tried to swat them and squish them, but we soon were able to give him the message that they are to look at, not to pummel into submission. They have even gone to the effort to muffle some fake bird sounds around the domes which I have to say, was very soothing for us.
Coming from a place where there were always birds chattering wherever you went, it was comforting to hear this for a couple of hours while soaking in all the beauty. We thought it was a really beautiful way to spend an afternoon re-centering with the kids and enjoying some nature.
So there you have it. Two different itineraries, two days over the weekend and not a wail of ‘I’m bored’ in sight. I hope you enjoy a couple of fun-packed summer days with your lovely family!
About the Author
Emma Bennett loves a good story. Fortunately, she has plenty of inspiration living life as a Dubai expat and travelling the world with two young kids. She loves to tell the real stories about what can happen when you are completely out of your comfort zone and those funny, quirky moments that form long lasting memories. Check out her blog at listenlearnlaughlove.com.