| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Bargain bucket days out

Activities you can enjoy as a family, without breaking the bank

Activities for free (yes, FREE!)

Paddle on Jumeirah Open Beach
Although it can get a tad busy of a weekend, it’s not difficult to see why Dubai’s main open beach is so popular with families. Apart from the obvious attractions (the white sand and blue surf) the open beach has been revamped in recent years and sports a rather flash running track and a cycle track. There’s also an adventure playground on the beach, as well as loos and shower facilities. Although be warned, as these can get a little mucky as the day goes on…

Splash in the fountains at Dubai Marina walk
Pack an extra set of dry clothes and let the kids burn off some energy by playing in the walk-through fountains at JBR’s Walk (it’s near Starbucks and Spinneys). Then follow it up with an afternoon on the beach with a home-packed picnic. The kids will love the fact that you’re not stressing about them getting their clothes wet, and later on, they can have a run about and swim on one of the nicest open beaches in town.

Check out the gee-gees at Jebel Ali Race course
Get a taste for the national sporting obsession and visit the races at Jebel Ali’s race track. There are usually six races on a racing afternoon, held at 30 minute intervals with the first kicking off at 2.30pm. Entry is free and children are welcomed, but parents are expected to make sure they are well supervised once they reach the racing enclosures. This might be a better pursuit for older kids or babies safely strapped into their buggies. Snacks are also available, and complimentary race cards are administered upon entry.
Friday January 13 and 27, www.emiratesracing.com (04 347 4914).

Witness some local culture at the Camel Racetrack
Take them out for an excursion with a difference to the Camel Racetrack up the Al Ain road past Dubai Outlet Mall (take the right hand exit to Al Lisali and the track is on your right). Here they can witness up to 70 sleek racing camels at a time (some carrying robot jockeys) pound around the 10 kilometre track. We like the fact that you can get up with the larks to catch the early morning races which kick off at 7.30am every weekend – perfect light for budding photographers to catch some seriously good snaps for that project at school too. Or you can wander down there after lunch for the 2.30pm sessions.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7.30am and 2.30pm, from October to April (04 338 8170).

Enjoy a stroll around Safa Park
If they’re driving you utterly bonkers with their excess energy, why not get them into their trainers for trot around Safa Park’s outer edge. The specially designed running circuit is three kilometres’ long, so one lap is probably enough to take the ‘little monster’ out of any energetic nipper.
Open 24 hours.

Go for a camp in the desert
As long as you’ve already got the equipment (or second hand tents and the like can usually be picked up for a song on Dubizzle), this can be one of the best ways to spend an economical weekend with the kids. We recommend going with several other families including one experienced camper they’ll know how to light the bonfire and know a decent location).
For inspiration visit www.offroaduae.com.

Take a trip to the Heritage Village
We love this historical centre situated in Shindagha, and located right next to the picturesque Dubai Creek. Built to resemble an old fashioned Arabian town, there’s traditional buildings, a souk area, and enclosures for animals too. Displays include falconry, camel rides, horse riding demonstrations, art exhibitions and real bedoiun ladies who cook up traditional Emirati snacks on stone ovens and hotplates.
Open 8am-10pm Sat-Thurs; Friday 8am-11am and 4pm-10pm (04 393 7151).

Time Out Dubai,

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