There’s no shortage of things to do in Dubai with the kids. Plan an exciting family vacation in Dubai and start at the fountain light show in front of Burj Khalifa. (Photo: Maurizio Rellini / SIME / eStock)
You knew you were in trouble when the first thing your kid asked about Dubai was, “Do they have WiFi?” But if any city can impress an iPad-toting tot, it’s this city of superlatives — the place where everything is bigger, faster, higher, brighter. Take them to these over-the-top Dubai attractions, which will leave your kids’ electronics in the dust.
Ride to the Top of the World
Willy Wonka’s elevator has nothing on the one at the Burj Khalifa. During the ear-popping, 22-mph ascent of the tallest building in the world, you’ll be mesmerized by the multimedia installations and pulsating lights. At floor 148, more than 1,820 feet above ground, step onto the world’s highest outdoor observation deck and take in the stunning. 360-degree views of city, desert and sea.
Don’t leave without…seeing the Dubai Fountain light show. Set on a 30-acre lake at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s largest performing fountain is a spectacle of light, music and water shooting as high as a 45-story building. Where’s the best view? The Dubai Fountain Lake Ride gives you front-row seats.
Ski a Mountain—Inside
Why ski indoors? Because in Dubai, you can. At Ski Dubai inside the Mall of the Emirates, a wintery wonderland of real snow awaits. Five runs of varying difficulty on a 280-foot-high mountain will give kids and adults a refreshing break from the heat. Or take some lessons. Clothing, ski and snowboard equipment are included in the admission price. Hats and gloves are available for purchase.
Don’t leave without…meeting the resident penguins. When not lounging in their chic habitat with private pool and top deck, they make public appearances, strutting through an area called the Snow Park or communing with (paying) visitors who play, help train or even swim with them.
Ride a Camel in the Desert
Dubai grew out of the Arabian Desert, so be sure to sample desert life. Head to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, where kids can try their hand at traditional Arab pursuits such as camel trekking and falconry, or conquer the modern-day thrill of sand skiing.
Don’t leave without…driving over the sand dunes in a deluxe four-wheel-drive truck. Predetermined routes wind past an austerely beautiful desert landscape, and all roads lead to a Bedouin camp, where families with a high tolerance for “touristy” can experience Arab culture at a traditional dune dinner.
Shop at the World’s Biggest Shopping Mall
Shopping with kids is no vacation, but don’t let that keep you from the Dubai Mall. You can bypass the more than 1,200 stores and head straight for some youth-approved fun. At KidZania, a pint-sized replica of a real city, children can try any of 80 careers—including pilots, artists, chefs and more—and earn kidZos they can spend. At SEGA Republic, older kids get their pick of two floors’ worth of theme park rides and games, from cutting-edge motion simulators to virtual experiences.
Don’t leave without…visiting the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo on the mall’s ground level. Stroll through the acrylic tunnel to see eye-to-gill with sharks, stingrays and other deep-sea creatures. For an extra thrill, try cage snorkeling and watch the creatures at really close quarters.
Ride the Skies
You’ll be a hero to your thrill-seeking tween if you score one of the 30 coveted spots to zip-line past the city’s skyscrapers. Your young adventurer will soar 295 feet above downtown at nearly 50 miles per hour, cruising over the Dubai Fountains to the Dubai Mall rooftop, where the three-minute joyride ends. The catch? You have to follow the extreme sports outfit that operates the zipline, XDubai, on its social media channels — preferably all of them to better your chances of winning one of the weekly spots. Riders must be at least 11 years old, 5 feet 3 inches tall and 110 pounds.
Don’t leave without…following XDubai on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Rules may vary for each channel, but you’ll have to tag at least three friends. Maybe you’ll have a ticket waiting for you by the time you arrive in Dubai.