For a George Seurat moment
Dubai may not seem like the place to crawl into the famous Post Impressionist’s relaxed landscapes, but if anything here feels like Seurat’s ‘Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of Grande Jatte’, it’s Safa Park. Perhaps it’s the inbuilt lake, or maybe the rolling hills that give the space its Parisian vibe. Either way, nothing completes the mood quite like fine cheeses, gourmet breads and a few choice cold cuts. You could find all three at the new Waitrose in the Dubai Mall. While you’re there, you’d do well to escape to the Souk Al Bahar (it’s connected) and nip into Dean & Deluca (04 420 0336) for some takeaway salads. You’ll save yourself an hour in the taxi queue (it’s much shorter at the Souk).
A romantic boat ride on the artificial lake
Safa Park (04 349 2111), Sheikh Zayed Road, Interchange 2. Open 8am-11pm Fri-Tue, 8am-11.30pm Wed-Thu. Admission Dhs3.
To dip your toes in the creek
If you’ve ever wanted a more intimate relationship with the Creek, this massive patch of green is the perfect vehicle. You can explore the Creek via bike, a cable-car ride, or with a fishing rod (though fishing is limited to a single pier). Plus, the park’s designated picnic spaces are just screaming for a large, outdoor feast. Fortunately, one of the city’s best high-end delis, Wafi Gourmet (04 324 4433), is close by. Pick up some sambusak (grilled bread) with your choice of stuffings (meat and zaatar are clear winners). Round things off with Belgian chocolates, or go for the some of the droolingly good, sweet cheese stuffed pastries.
Fishing on the Creek (that’s right, work for your dinner)
Creekside Park (04 336 7633), between Maktoum and Garhoud bridges, Umm Hurair. Open 8am-11pm daily. Admission Dhs5.
For sea and sand
Jumeirah Beach Park
Can’t decide whether you want to go to the beach or the park? Do both at Jumeirah Beach Park. This old-school space (opened in 1989) has a decent stock of flora and fauna and several barbecues for an evening smoke out. If you can’t be bothered grilling up a steak, drop into the adjacent Mercato Mall, where you can pick up freshly prepared salads and sandwiches at Paul (04 349 9115), imported Italian jams and biscuits at Dolce Antico (04 344 0028) and top it off with chocolates from Patchi (04 349 1188).
Following up a picnic with a dip in the sea
Jumeirah Beach Park (04 349 2555), Jumeirah 2, next to Jumeirah Beach Club. Open Sat-Wed 8am-10.30pm, Thu-Fri 8am-11pm. Admission Dhs5, Dhs20 per car including occupants. Ladies’ day Sat and Sun.
For lazy bones’
Don’t want to trek to the edge of town for a little green? Satwa Park may be your salvation. Though it’s tiny, it is centrally located, and has basketball courts and a football pitch should you feel like augmenting a lazy weekend with a bit of sport. Be warned though, single bachelors are not allowed, so best to go as a mixed group. If you do fancy a large co-ed picnic, there is no shortage of delis in the area. Though the interior is a bit cheesy, Tony’s Deli (04 349 9034) at The Village Mall on Jumeirah Beach Road has a class selection of cheeses, bagels, pizzas, rye sandwiches, and all sorts of other Manhattan staples. Dusit Delicatessen (04 343 3333) is a good spot for sandwiches (the counter is huge and you can get almost any combination imaginable) as well as takeaway loaves, muffins and biscuits.
A rollicking game of tennis, football or basketball
Satwa Park (04 329 0989), behind Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Open Sat-Wed 8am-11pm, Thu-Fri 8am-11.30pm. Thu-Fri family day, Sat-Wed ladies’ day. No bachelors. To use the free sports facilities, ring the above number to book ahead.
For a pristine view of the sunset
If it weren’t for the motorway that maddeningly divides the park (ensuring the sound of car horns blaring is never as far off as you’d like), this patch of green would be a slice of heaven in the middle of Dubai. You could idle away the day rowing a boat on the large lake, or play a game of cricket, if that’s what you’re into. As the park’s not too far from Karama, there’s also no shortage of wonderful ethnic eats. The Bombay vegetable sandwich at Bombay Chowpatty (04 396 4937) comes stuffed full of beet, cucumber and potato, and makes an awesome snack. The nearby Chhappan Bhog (04 396 8176) and Puranmal (04 351 1466) have a colourful array of Indian sweets as well. The park is also conveniently located near Al Reef Lebanese Bakery (04 396 1980), which has good meat sambusaks, gooey cheese manakish, and a large selection of crumbly baklava.
A day out with the kids (the playground is huge)
Za’abeel Park (04 398 6888), Sheikh Zayed Road. Open 9am-11pm, Fri 9am-11.30pm. Admission Dhs5.