50 to try: Outdoor family fun
Woo hoo! The mercury has dropped and there’s no excuse not to be outside. Here are our top tips for family fun in the fresh air
In The Desert...
1 Bang your drum: Head out to the middle of the desert under a full moon for an incredible, if slightly surreal experience. (You’ll find it hilarious while the kids will probably take it all rather seriously.) Flaming torches and sizzling barbecues will warm your cockles – as will the vigorous drumming – but take a jacket: it can get pretty nippy in the winter months.
050 659 2874; www.dubaidrums.com. Adults Dhs175, kids five-14 Dhs65, under-fives free. Price includes drum rental, barbecue and soft drinks.
2 Go camping: Keep a tight hold of October’s Time Out Kids, which has all you need to know about camping with kids in the UAE. From sandy dunes to deserted beaches to stunning mountain scenery, little adventurers will love sleeping under the stars.
3 Visit the camel market: A real treat for kids, you’re welcome to wander the Al Ain camel market for free, although opportunists may try to tempt you with a tour. Some of them are very insistent – almost aggressively so – but they do know a thing or two about camels. Agree a price and they’ll get you and your brood into enclosures for photos as well as making sure you see everything from wobbly legged new borns to craggy-old has-beens. As a morning out, it’s a fascinating traditional experience, but if you come expecting a camel ride, you’ll be disappointed (see number 24 instead).
Five minutes drive from the Al Ain Hilton, heading out on 137th street.
4 Zip it at Safa Park: Little daredevils will love the zip line at this large and popular park. With a fantastic view of the city skyline, its wide green spaces are dotted with sandy play areas, tennis courts, football pitches and barbecue pits. Also check out the Ferris wheel and other fairground rides and, if you’re feeling fit, jog around the bouncy perimeter running track. There’s a boating lake here too, and watch out for the flea market on the first Saturday of every month where you can rummage for bargains.
04 349 2111; between Al Wasl and Sheikh Zayed Road, interchange 2. Open daily 8am-11pm, entry Dhs3 per person.
5 Row your boat at Za’abeel Park: In effect two parks connected by footbridges, Za’abeel has a boat lake and some great, technology-themed play areas. During the cooler months there’s a whole area dedicated to inflatables, trampolines, a mini-train and horse rides. As if that wasn’t enough, Stargate is now open, too. See page 26 for our review.
04 398 8888, off World Trade Centre roundabout, Open 8am-11pm, entry Dhs5 per person.
6 Get sizzling at Creek Park: You’ll need to turn up early to grab a barbecue pit, particularly on weekends, but this park is perfect for a balmy day. Cool down in the Creek-side breeze as you roller-blade, try your hand at mini-golf or terrorise other visitors on a four-wheel bicycle.
04 336 7633; near Wafi City, Dubai Creek. Open 8am-11pm, entry Dhs5 per person.
7 Go biking: Just north of Dubai, the beachside Al Mamzar Park is a huge area complete with pools, roller-skating area, basketball courts and football pitches. Heavenly in itself, a key attraction for us is the nearby cycle track, running between an inlet and vacant land. The one-kilometre route borders a running track and is great for family biking.
Al Mamzar Park, 050 858 8987. North of Al Hamriya Port, Al Mamzar residential area. Open 8am-11pm, Dhs10 per adult, Dhs5 per child, Dhs30 per car. Another new pedalling venue is the Dubai Autodrome, which is opening a track to biking families on selected evenings over the winter months for just Dhs20 per person if you bring your own bikes. Call 04 339 4453 for details.
8 Tumbles for tots at Safa 2 Park: This small area is ideal for younger kids with three separate play areas including slides, swings and see-saws. Mums and kids only during the week, it’s a popular spot for family picnics at the weekend.
Off Al Wasl Road, street 8A, Al Safa 2. Open 8am-11pm.
9 Explore Mushrif Park’s International Village: Out beyond Mirdif, set in a natural ghaf forest, Dubai’s biggest park is a great family-friendly escape from the city and includes a mini-zoo and pony rides. But a big draw for our little explorers in the ‘international village’ – a series of houses from across the world, scaled down to kiddie size and including a Dutch windmill, a mock-Tudor house and a wind tower. Pack your push bikes as the park has a super-duper new scenic cycle track, too.
04 288 3624; Airport Road, just behind Mirdif. Open daily 8am-11pm, entry Dhs10 per car.
10 Burn off energy at Garhoud Park: Tucked away discreetly in a corner of Al Garhoud, this lovely, leafy, self-contained park is the perfect answer to afternoon high spirits. Two well-maintained play areas – one catering for wee tots and another providing plenty rough and tumble for older kids – are interspersed with lots of benches, landscaped gardens and pretty pathways. It’s the perfect place to have a picnic or a quiet wander.
04 420 2893, near Emirates Post Office and Al Mawakeb School. Open 8am-10pm, Sun-Thu ladies and children only, Fri-Sat for families.
Time Out Dubai,