Every year we excitedly wait for the winter holidays to start just so we can enjoy outdoor activities in the UAE’s great winter weather. This year we decided to start a list of our favorite fun places to visit in and around Dubai. So here is The Sandbox Girls list of fun family activities in Dubai and its surrounding areas.
Take a stroll through the old winding streets of Al Fahidi historical district also known as Al Bastakiya and imagine what traditional life was like for Emiratis during the mid-19th century. This neighborhood is surprisingly quiet and relaxing even though its a short distance away from the bustling streets of Bur Dubai.
A number of the old houses featuring wooden carvings, hanging lamps and traditional architecture have been converted to museums, galleries and shops selling traditional souvenirs. This neighborhood offers a variety of unique restaurants that you can stop by whether you’d like to try a dish made using camel meat, have a meal in the courtyard of an old Emirati home or enjoy the stunning view of Dubai creek.
Getting there is pretty easy, if you chose to drive then don’t worry about where to park as there’s a large underground parking lot available or you can take the metro to al Fahidi metro station which is a short walk away.
DUBAI COIN MUSEUM
Entry We visited the coin museum first which houses coins collected from different historical eras in Northern Africa, the Levant, Turkey, Iraq and Andalusia. Each room displays the coins in cabinets as well as electronic touch screens containing detailed information on each coin’s origins, shape, weight, metal and much more.
We visited the coin museum first which houses coins collected from different historical eras in Northern Africa, the Levant, Turkey, Iraq and Andalusia. Each room displays the coins in cabinets as well as electronic touch screens containing detailed information on each coin’s origins, shape, weight, metal and much more.
So if any of you know me, you’ll know how much I love coffee and that this was an absolute heavenly experience for me. The museum is definitely cozy with its warm lighting reflecting on the copper and dark metals from the antique coffee machines and pots displayed in every corner. This coupled with the oriental decor and the aroma of coffee beans filling every room definitely gives a relaxing vibe. The ground floor showcases roasting, grinding and brewing machines from around the world in different sizes and shapes. The rest of the rooms contain coffee beans from different origins, some books and posters on the history of coffee making as well as a cafe where you can experience a selection of coffees.
AL QUDRA LAKES
If you’re looking for somewhere not too far where you can enjoy the nature and spend the day watching a variety of exotic birds, then pack a picnic and head to the southern outskirts of Dubai. The Al Qudra lakes are a cluster of man-made lakes located in the middle of the Seih Al Salam desert. There are a few watch towers you can climb for better photo opps and the first thought that popped into my head when I climbed to the top was “So this is what a desert oasis looks like…” Celine and I then went on to do a bit of Tintin and Captain Haddock role play.
While taking a walk through the desert shrubs, we did spot a small fox so I’d say in addition to the birds, you’ll probably be able to spot some of Dubai’s wildlife at its natural habitat. Also, if you are a cycling enthusiast, then you’ll want to check out the cycling track which is one of the world’s largest designated trails. You can bring your own bike or rent one for the day from The Bicycle Store.
Its a 30 minute drive to this location and once you get there you’ll need to drive for a couple minutes on a sand road, otherwise you can park your car at the Last Exit and make the 10 minute walk to the lakes.
EMIRATES PARK ZOO
Entry: AED35 for adults and AED30 for kids
This zoo isn’t exactly inside Dubai but it is approximately an hour’s drive away and it is really worth the drive. Plan a visit if you’re looking for an active family day packed with fun and surrounded by nature and animals.
Kids and parents can learn about a large variety of animals such as ostriches, snakes, brown bears, tigers, lions, hyenas, birds of prey, elephants and many more. What makes this zoo experience so enjoyable for the kids is the fact that they can actually feed a lot of animals some of which are the goats, zebras, deer, sheep, cows, donkeys, llamas and camels.
If you’re in the mood, you can watch one of the animal shows scheduled around the day or you can sit in the Flamingo cafe and enjoy a beverage while watching ducks, peacocks, pelicans and of course flamingos wander about.
ORGANIC FARM 182
Entry: Free – Pay for the vegetables you pick
Organic Farm 182 in Al Rahba is open to visitors on Saturdays from 8:00am to 5:00pm. When visiting the farm the children will have a chance to walk through the greenhouses and crops and pick a variety of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers right of the vines. They’ll also be able to dig out their own potatoes from the ground and pull out celery, lettuce and other fresh herbs.
This proved to be a very hands on outdoor activity for the family. We took our time and spent just under 2 hours teaching Celine about the different plants and how to pick the ripe vegetables.
Paper bags are available at the entrance but its better if you bring your own jute bags or trolleys as the loot can get pretty heavy quickly. Once you’re done, the staff will weigh your pickings so you can pay for them.
We’ve been watching the developments on this project for about 2 years noticing something new every time we spent some time on JBR beach. And we’ve finally visited the other side!
The man-made island built by Meraas is where Ain Dubai is currently being constructed. You can walk to the island using the pedestrian bridge “The Wharf Link” which connects the JBR coastline to the island or you can drive there and park your car in their pretty large parking lot. A few shops, cafes and restaurants in addition to Caesars hotel have already opened up and there’s still more to come.
We had a blast taking a stroll on the amazing waterfront walkways overlooking JBR and taking lots and lots of photos. We also totally loved the round balconies on the bridge which feature a kind of mesh metal floor so that you can see the boats pass right under your feet. Its freaky when you first step onto the balcony but you quickly get used to it. The bridge and balconies have glass railings so you can enjoy an unobstructed view.