Outdoor fun in Dubai
The wild, the wonderful and even the weird nature in Dubai
Free! From feeding ferrets to hugging hamsters, the Animal Sanctuary & Petting Farm – a haven of green in the middle of the desert – is the closest you’ll come to a hands-on farm experience here. Home to a range of rescued animals, from domestics like rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, tortoises and ponies to the obscure like chinchillas, ferrets, porcupines and even baboons, the sanctuary lets little ones handle, feed and learn about animals. Free buckets of food provide pint-sized pet lovers with carrots for the ponies and pumpkin for the porcupine, and mess-loving minis may enjoy mucking out the goats or the duck pond. Kids can even saddle up on Shadow, the horse. Friendly, fun and free (donations are appreciated) it’s an exciting and educational afternoon out.
We Recommend... volunteering your services. Pack a picnic and your tent and camp in the desert behind the sanctuary.
Animal Sanctuary & Petting Zoo, end of Dubai Bypass Road on the Ajman/Sharjah border, 25 minutes from Dragon Mart heading out of Dubai.
www.poshpawsdubai.com (050 273 0973).
Whether you want peace or plenty to do, you’ll find one near you. Here’s our pick:
Jumeirah Beach Park
Ideal for… tots and toddlers: This beach park boasts lovely gardens leading on to a wide beach with lots of shade and sun loungers, plus a cordoned-off swimming area. The Dhs5 entry is worth it for convenient extras like the kids’ playground (swings and slides for tots), changing rooms, barbecue pits and picnic tables.
We recommend... visiting on Monday for mums-and-minis day. Dhs20 per car or Dhs5 per person. Open 7am-10pm. Ladies and children only on Mondays.
Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 2555).
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Ideal for... a whole day out: This spacious seaside park has loads on offer. Set up a lunchtime barbecue in one of the park pits and spend the afternoon on one of the pristine palm tree-laden beaches. Then hop on the little park train for a scenic tour, stopping at one of the park’s many playgrounds before taking a refreshing dip in one of the three kids’ pools. There’s plenty of facilities, plus a roller-skating area, football pitches and bike rental. Phew!
We recommend... hiring a day chalet. Dhs30 per car or Dhs5 per person.
Open daily 8am-11pm. North of Al Hamriya Port.
Free! Jumeirah Open Beach
Ideal for... beach and biking: A popular spot, there’s a super-spongy track along the beach, perfect for sunset strolls, rollerblading or taking the tykes biking. After all that activity, tuck into a treat from a convenient kiosk.
Jumeriah 1, next to Dubai Marine Beach Resort.
Free! Jebel Ali Beach
Ideal for... camping: Rough and ready, you’ll find lots of people camping and fishing here. Have a game of hide ‘n’ seek among the dunes or search for shells on the flat sand. The wave-free waters (due to construction) make this ideal splashing ground for toddlers. There are no facilities here, so pack a cool box. Next to Jebel Ali Beach & Golf Resort.
We recommend... a trip to the nearby go-karting track for a post-beach buzz.
Emirates Kart Centre (04 282 7111).
Free! JBR Beach
Ideal for... convenience: A super-convenient spot, there’s a huge car park next to the beach, and dozens of dining outlets and attractions just steps away on The Walk. This wide expanse of beach offers plenty of space and is good paddling and shell-searching territory. Next to Hilton Jumeirah.
We recommend… visiting the Covent Garden open-air market opposite the beach, featuring some 75 artists and artisans.
Open Wed-Thu 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 10am-9pm. (050 244 5795).
Other Sandy Spots
Free! In the heart of Jumeirah, Mercato Beach is a tranquil haven, though pretty basic, with just sea, sand and a volleyball net. Next to Dubai Ladies Club, near Mercato and Dubai Zoo. Kite Beach is a spacious stretch famous for its strong winds and surf, bringing kitesurfers in their droves to race the waves, which will keep the manic monsters mesmerised. Jumeirah Beach Road, next to the fishing village. Umm Suqeim (Sunset) Beach is right next to the iconic Burj Al Arab, offering a fabulous view of Dubai (can you spot Atlantis in the distance?) and a good spot for sunset picnics.
Jumeirah Beach Road.
For a brief, touristy trip, hop on a city-dwelling camel. Find them during weekends at Safa Park and Dubai’s Bastakiya enclave, the latter setting you back Dhs20 for around 15 minutes. For a more authentic experience, go the whole hump hog with a traditional one-hour sunset camel safari at the Hilton Al Ain.
Dhs150 for adults, Dhs75 for kids 5-12, under fives free (03 768 8006).
Free! December 18 Sharjah Archaelogical Museum is opening its model site to families next month, letting little ones live the life of an archaeologist. Kids get to dig for a hidden object, then they learn how to clean it and record essential details, before departing with a photo, worksheet and maybe even dreams of being an archaeologist.
11am-1pm, Sharjah Archaeology, Museum (06 566 5466).
Time Out Dubai,