If Time Out Kids had to name one thing we love about Dubai, it’s that glorious weather we enjoy for three quarters of the year. So why waste it being stuck indoors? While it might be common sense that a bit of fresh air can do us all some good, there’s plenty of research to show that getting back to nature can have profound mental and physical effects on our kids, too. Environmental psycholgists at Cornell University discovered that even a view of nature can protect children against the impact of stress; researchers at the University of Illinois showed that direct exposure to the great outdoors has a positive effect on kids suffering from attention deficit disorders; Swedish scientists found that kids that were exposed to nature for at least six hours each week were less likely to be absent from school due to illnesses; and a US study found that greener neighbourhoods may also help to reduce childhood obesity levels.
So, now that autumn’s arriving, with cooler days and clear blue skies, what better time to make the most of Dubai’s wealth of parks, green spaces and outdoor areas? From the Marina to the city centre to Mirdif and beyond, it’s just waiting to be explored.
Marina, Al Barsha & Umm Suqeim
Al Barsha Pond Park: It’s one of Dubai’s newest parks, but Al Barsha Pond Park is already proving a hit with the area’s many families. Expect a huge pond, surrounded by green landscaped areas, kids’ play area, cycle paths, a cushioned jogging track, plus basketball and volleyball courts and a football field.
Free. Located near Al Mawakeb School and Al Barsha Mall.
Marina Promenade: Now that much of the construction has nearly finished, the Marina Promenade is one of New Dubai’s most picturesque places to amble away a few hours in the winter sunshine. Ogle at the superyachts at the Marina, book a trip on a water taxi (call 800 9090 to book), or simply have a splash around in the open fountains to beat the heat. Make the most of the café culture at one of Marina Promenade’s many al fresco eateries, including Infernos, Bateel and Starbucks.
Umm Suqeim Park: Ten minutes’ drive along Al Sufouh, and you’ll reach the family friendly haven of Umm Suqeim Park. A hop across from the public beach, and in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab, it’s only open to women and children during the week (dads welcome at the weekends, when it can get overcrowded), but there’s a great kids’ play area and climbing frame, plus a café for drinks and ice cream treats.
Free. Open Sun-Wed 8am-11pm; Thu-Sat 8am-11.30pm. Beach Road (near Jumeirah Beach Hotel), Jumeirah (no number).
The Barsha Pond Park has a beautiful landscape and a lovely walking path surrounded by trees and flowers :)
Shillpi via Facebook
Jumeirah & Safa
Jumeirah Beach Park: It can get busy at the weekend, but the public beach park in Jumeirah is still one of our favourite budget family days out. When they’ve exhausted splashing around in the shallows or building sandcastles, explore the leafy and shaded park area, which has plenty of grassy areas for running about on, as well as climbing frames, swings and slides. It’s a great spot for a picnic as the weather cools down (if the fried fare on offer at the parks’ own fast food joints isn’t your cup of tea, there’s the food mall opposite for the likes of Circle Café or Manga sushi), and there’s barbecue pits if you want to cook up a storm (although you’re unlikely to bag one of these at the weekend unless you’re there super early).
Dhs5 per person (Dhs20 per car). Open Sat-Wed 7.30am-10pm; Thu-Fri 7.30am-11pm; Mon for women and children. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 2555).
Safa Park: You can’t do a round-up of the city’s green spaces without mentioning the all-singing, all-dancing Safa Park. While some of the kids’ areas are looking in need of a bit of TLC, it still boasts beautiful lawns, meandering paths, sports pitches, cushioned jogging track, a boating lake, rock garden and maze, plus plenty of trees for shade (and the all important loos should the kids need a bathroom break). Around the corner (near Kangaroo Nursery), you’ll also find the smaller Safa Park 2, a family friendly little park with play and party areas, and mums-only days during the week.
Dhs3 per person. Open Sat-Tue 8am-11pm; Wed-Fri 8am-11.30pm. Between Sheikh Zayed and Al Wasl Roads, Jumeirah 2 (04 349 2111).
It’s got to be Lime Tree in Jumeirah, you still can’t beat it
Becky via email
Satwa & Zabeel
Satwa Park: A great little neighbourhood park that’s free to nearby residents, nestled between the high rises of the Sheikh Zayed Road and Satwa’s low rise sprawl. Clean and well looked after, there’s plenty of shaded spots and places to sit to avoid the afternoon sun, as well as kids’ playgrounds, an area for kids with special needs, plus plenty of sports facilities, including a cushioned jogging track, full-sized football pitch, and basketball, volleyball and tennis courts.
Free to nearby residents. Open Sat-Wed 8am-11pm; Thu-Fri 8am-11.30pm. 308th Street, Satwa (050 420 2892).
Zabeel Park: Spanning both sides of the Sheikh Zayed Road after the Trade Centre Roundabout, the vast Zabeel Park has something for everyone. Give the domes of Stargate a miss and make the most of this green lung in the heard of the city. Grab a pedal buggy and explore the paths, hop on the little train which takes you across the bridge from one side of the park to the other, hire a pedalo on the boating lake, explore the many kids’ playgrounds, or let them show off their drama skills in the amphitheatre (when it’s not being hired out for events). There’s also a skate park and BMX track for older kids.
Dhs5 per person. Open Sun-Wed 8am-11pm; Thu-Sat 8am-11.30pm; public holidays 8am-midnight. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 398 6888).
When the weather is cooler we love Zabeel Park in the late afternoon/ early evening.
Baby Loves To Travel via Facebook
Deira & The Creek
Al Hamriya Park: With its relentless traffic and constant flow of people about their day, Al Hamriyah Park is a welcome haven of respite against the buzz of downtown Deira. About a 10-minute stroll from the Al Hamriya shopping mall, you’ll find a kids play area and leafy gardens that are perfect for unwinding. Dads take note that it’s women and children only, except Thursdays and Fridays.
Free. Open daily 8am-10pm. Near Abu Hail Road, Deira (04 269 2954).
Creek Park: There’s plenty of shade thanks to the mature trees planted throughout, and fantastic views over the Creek with enough to keep mums, dads and kids of all ages amused: play a round of mini-golf, have the little ones let off some steam in one of the numerous kiddy play areas, rent a bike to explore, or simply promenade along the water front, with access to a tiny Creek-side beach. A trip on the cable car (Dhs25) offers an alternative view of the city, and there’s always the Dolphinarium and Children’s City should the weather prove too warm.
Dhs5 per person. Open Sun-Wed 2pm-11.30pm; Thu-Sat 8am-11pm. Al Riyadh Street (04 336 7633).
We love the Golf and Yacht Club! Or maybe afternoon tea at the Park Hyatt as a treat as the sun’s going down
Vineetha via email
Garhoud, Mirdif & Beyond
Al Rashidiya Park: Close to Dubai Airport and the Metro, this little park is a big hit with families living in the area. Leafy trees provide ample shade, and a kids’ play area includes a jungle gym, slides and see-saws. It’s a popular field trip venue with local schools, and the lawns provide a good spot for picnicking.
Free. Open daily 8am-11pm. Fri-Sat families, Sun-Thu ladies and children only. Near Al Rashidiya metro station (04 285 1208).
Mushrif Park: Fantastic for families, if you haven’t paid a visit to Mushrif Park yet, put it on your winter to-do list. This huge green space, Dubai’s oldest park has nature trails (the area used to be a natural Ghaf forest) and the chance to spot some of the local wildlife, including peacocks and owls. There’s a petting zoo, complete with camel rides, plus horse riding at Mushrif Equestrian Club. There’s also two pools (for men and ladies), and a miniature village that’s great to explore.
Dhs3 per person; Dhs10 per car. Pool access is Dhs10 for adults, Dhs5 for kids. Open daily 8am-11.30pm. Al Khawaneej Road, just outside Mirdif (04 288 3624).
Al Mamzar Beach Park: On the outskirts of the city Al Mamzar is a great family day out, boasting golden sands, leafy parkland and plenty of play areas to keep the kids amused for hours. It can get a bit busy on the weekend, but if you’re going to make a day of it, consider booking one of the air conditioned chalets (priced from Dhs160) – with barbecue facilities, plus bathroom, sofas and a basic kitchen – a great option if you’ve got small kids who need a nap during the day.
Dhs5. Open daily 8am-11pm; Wed for women and children only. Alexandria Street, Dubai-Sharjah Border (04 296 6201).
We love beach four at Al Mamzar – the sand is lovely and clean, lots of palm trees and no construction in sight. Plus there’s plenty of facilities for a young family, too
Jo via email