The best parks in Abu Dhabi, including Bani Yas Park and Capital Gardens
Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Abu Dhabi’s parks cater for so many favourite family activities, from walks to picnics and games. We’ve grabbed our blanket and popped to the best ones. Bani Yas Park On the drive out to Al Ain you’ll see a few patches of greenery amid the desert. One of the first, and easiest to access, is Bani Yas Park in the outskirts of the neighbourhood Al Mafraq. It has become a favourite for joggers, scooter riders and cyclists, thanks to a track around the circumference. The children’s playground, with sandpit and slides, make it a great retreat for families needing some air and a pleasant change from soft play areas. Dhs1. Al Ain Road, Bani Yas Sharq 12, www.adm.gov.ae.
Capital Gardens This is a welcome patch of green that is perfect for busy tots as well as older children. Each little garden cove has climbing frames and swings and slides with lovely shaded grassy areas which are great for picnics. We especially love the mini climbing wall. The large lake in the centre provides a great focal point as you are treated to a fountain show from the sporadically erupting water cannons. Dhs1. Muroor Road, near Khalifa Street.
Corniche Parks Technically there are a few parks along the impressive eight-kilometre stretch of land that makes up the Abu Dhabi Corniche. While the free beach and well-worn cycle paths attract tens of thousands of visitors each month, there are also loads of adventures to be had in the many little parks dotted along the route. Each has a distinct character and differing attractions, and we love the idea of popping along to each. Get lost in the maze at Formal Park, in front of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, or seek out the quaint wooden bridge at Lake Park, the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Family Park is probably our favourite thanks to the BMX track, farm space, theatre and bike hire. Free. Off Corniche Road West.
Heritage Park This picturesque park is located at the eastern end of the Corniche Park and is touted by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission as a popular filming location for both moviemakers and television producers. It is also a great local hangout as it is right next to Mina Zayed Port, and boasts a few barbecue pits and climbing frames, as well as winding paths cutting across fountains and lawns. One of the best parks for simply strolling around, it's an ideal spot to escape the stresses of city life. Free. Off Al Firdous Street, Corniche East.
Khalifa Park With more than 500,000 square metres of land, this big enough that you can easily get lost inside, so it’s always handy to have helpers on speed-dial or a spot of GPS. Just off the Eastern Ring Road, Khalifa Park is one of the city’s larger parks. Inspiration has been drawn from Arabic and Islamic architecture and from the world’s great gardens. Such a huge park should offer more than just grass and a few picnic tables and Khalifa Park delivers in droves. How does a train ride, library, history museum, aquarium and bicycle area sound for starters? Kids under the age of 12 will clamour for the Murjan Splash Park. It has fountains, paddling pools, a shallow lazy river and more aquatic fun. Dhs2. Khalifa Park, Opposite Al Qurum Corniche and Al Salam Street, www.adm.gov.ae.
Sports City Park Sports City is obviously known as one of the most action-packed locations in Abu Dhabi thanks to its plethora of tennis courts and football pitches. The neighbouring park, formerly known as Old Airport Garden, is a large green space with children’s playgrounds, lawns and shaded areas. The pineapple shaped slides, in particular, are a huge attraction for the kids. Free. 35th Street, near Hilton Capital Grand, www.zsc.ae (02 403 4200).
Um Al Emaraat Park Formerly known as Mushrif Park, Um Al Emaraat Park is jam-packed with attractions including a Wisdom Garden, where you can reflect and find some inner calm, a Botanic Garden and an Evening Garden for when the sun goes down. The Children’s Garden is a winner with families. It even has its own cooling wadi for some splashy fun, as well as two playgrounds and plenty of green space to set up the picnic blanket and tuck into some sarnies. Dhs5. Umm Al Emaraat Park, Mushrif, www.ummalemaratpark.ae (02 666 9559).
Yas Gateway Park Split into a North and South section, this beautifully-maintained park is one of the great undiscovered gems of Abu Dhabi. Wide lawns are easily large enough for kite-flying, football or just really stretching out. There are good picnic and barbecue areas as well as tennis courts and a children’s play areas. Free. Sheikh Khalifa Highway, Yas Island, www.yasisland.ae.