When you have kids, it’s easy to plop them in front of an iPad for ‘screen time’ (that inevitably goes on for far longer than you’d like to admit) or drop them off at a mini indoor city, where they’ll lose track of time and you. But it doesn’t have to be like that! While you may be keen on sending your sprogs off to play with nothing but a stick and a ball to amuse themselves (after all, it’s how you grew up), there are plenty of activities to do with kids in Dubai that are equally fun for you too. Plan a day out with your tiny tots and watch your kids have fun, get inspired and maybe even learn a little. So here’s our pick of 5 fun activities to do with kids in Dubai:
To call OliOli a ‘play centre’ would be doing it a massive disservice. In fact, it’s hard to find a word to accurately describe what this fun and fantastic place is, although the brains behind OliOli (“joy” in Hawaiin) refer to it as a “museum of delights”.
Created by parents who were tired of insincere and impersonal places for children to have fun and engage with, OliOli is a massive space that is divided into eight galleries that have over 40 ‘exhibits’, each designed and inspired by artists, child psychologists and educators.When it comes to picking activities to do with kids, this is one place that will always surprise you. The galleries include the much talked about Toshi’s Nets, a completely safe, hand knitted trampoline park cum colourful wonderland; a water gallery complete with cannons and “rain”; a sensory section for toddlers, not to mention a whole lot of space for kids to tinker with and explore the different aspects of science and nature – all under the guise of fun!
What’s especially wonderful about OliOli is the fact that parents are encouraged to join in the fun, should they want to. And thanks to dedicated staff, and designated socks-zones, OliOli is a clean, hygienic and above all, safe environment for your child.
Location: Next to Oasis Centre, Dubai
the happy studio
If you were checking out Instagram about a year ago, you must have come across pictures of people playing in what seemed like a room full of balloons. Well, they were in The Happy Studio, the artsy, glitter-unicorney manifestation of one of the city’s best-loved subscription boxes for kids, The Happy Box. The studio is essentially what everyone wants in a crafts room, filled with absolutely everything that a kid (or kid at heart) could want to. Think confetti, think unbridled fun and that’s The Happy Studio! What’s more, the jolly staffers at the studio know that this much fun shouldn’t be kept just for children, which is why adults are welcome too and why this made it to our list of the top 5 activities to do with kids in Dubai!
Location: Al Serkal Avenue
What do you get when you take BBC Earth and merge it with tech from SEGA? A virtual yet interactive wildlife park in the midst of the urban jungle! Spread over 12 distinct nature zones, Orbi will guide you on a journey that involves ‘petting’ virtual creepy crawlies (they react to touch!); let you wander with African Elephants; experience what it’s like to be in the presence of a mountain gorilla in 4D; freeze in ice-cold temperatures; explore the earth from the sky; test your skills against a variety of fauna and so much more! It’s an absolute must for kids who love wildlife, we guarantee that parents will be enthralled too!
Location: Mirdif City Centre
This one’s for the kids and adults aged 8 and upwards, who are ready to test their wits in what the folks at The Jumble call, “an urban maze”. If you’re old enough to remember The Crystal Maze (or young enough where you only know the reboot), The Jumble is a physical and mental obstacle course that will push you to your limits – while still making sure that you have a good time! The key, however, is teamwork, so it’s also a great activity for kids to test their limits, know their strengths and build the confidence to conquer any obstacle!
Location: Barsha 1, Sheikh Zayed Road
One of Dubai’s most beloved institutions, thejamjar is a DIY painting studio, creatively combining a learning environment and community art space. The non-judgmental atmosphere of the studio is perfect to let you and your child’s inner artist run wild. All you need to do is turn up and they’ll provide you with the canvas, brushes, paints and apron (although we do recommend wearing something you don’t mind getting a bit dirty!). So if you fancy spending an afternoon making lasting memories, not to mention adding a new piece of art to hang up at home, it really doesn’t get better than this!
Location: Al Serkal Avenue
And of course, if you are still not able to zero in any activities to do with kids, there’s no shortage of fantastic family-friendly parks that you can visit. Or for something a little different, why not take your little ones on a tour of Dubai’s best heritage sites, the parts that aren’t as shiny and chrome plated, but still full of character!
What are some of your favourite activities to do with kids in Dubai? We would love to hear your thoughts on how to have a fun time with your kids in Dubai!