Dubai: At A Glance

Full disclosure: I’ve only been to Dubai pre-kids and when my first child was still in the womb. But we lived in Abu Dhabi for two years and did lots of family friendly things!

Where to Stay

Overlooking Jumeirah Beach
Overlooking Jumeirah Beach

Any reputable hotel will treat you like gold. We’ve enjoyed the Sofitel on Jumeriah Beach Road, as it’s as close to a walkable neighborhood as you’re going to get. Further into the center of Dubai, we love the Palace Old Town. It is very close to the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, souk, and Dubai Fountains.

And somewhere in the middle, the 3 hotels at Madinat Jumeirah are great. They also provide a bit of a village to walk around with views of Burj al Arab. We stayed at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, and while a bit isolated out on Palm Jumeirah, the service was great and lots of families around with a calm beach area and restaurants onsite (book ahead as they don’t seem to hold spots for hotel guests per se!). Finally, for a bit of a desert experience, spend time at the Bab al Shams resort — lots of activities related to the sandy surroundings and other onsite activities since it’s a bit remote.

Favorite Restaurants

Dubai Desert
Dubai Desert

The best “places” seem to be Dubai Mall and Mall of Emirates food courts, just given the many choices! But there are also lots of chains you find in the US and UK there. The brunch experience on Fridays is pretty spectacular — there are so many to choose from! Our favorite was probably at the Al Qasr Hotel in Madinat Jumeirah. It had a lot of high quality menu items.

Favorite Kid-Friendly Things To Do

Bab Al Shams Resort Night Show
Bab Al Shams Resort Night Show

Atlantis Waterpark and Wild Wadi Waterpark are great ways to stay cool — lots of families about. Dubai Mall offers the gateway up the Burj Khalifa, and Mall of the Emirates provides indoor skiing at Ski Dubai. It wasn’t quite open when we were there, but would be interested to take our kids to the Warner Brothers theme park. A desert safari is a must do as well, though better for older kids. Old Dubai offers lots of sights, sounds, and smells (spice souk, gold souk, and more). The Dubai Museum is small but gives a hint at what life was like before the city grew into what it is today.

Tips and Advice

Old Dubai
Old Dubai

In the past five years, the UAE has made huge strides. Car seats were long viewed as optional. But laws are evolving — whereby now any child under 4 must be in a child safety seat or the drivers face a fine. Since we lived in the UAE, most friends with children had nannies as that’s the cheapest and most convenient child care option. It isn’t legal to hire them on the side, so recommend going through the hotel to find care.

Helpful Local Apps

Careem is a localized/regional version of Uber, though Uber still works here. However, both are more expensive than the government-backed, metered taxis which your hotel can get for you or which you can find lined up at major malls and attractions.

Anything else?

Read more about our experiences in Dubai here.

Popular Reads
Review: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Families Who Love To Travel contributor Tareah Gray describes her fantastic experience vacationing at Beaches Turks and Caicos with family.

A Family Guide for your Next Visit to Glacier Park

Glacier National Park in Montana is one of our favorite places to visit, especially with the children. The views are Read more

Costa Rica family tree zip lining
Costa Rica Family Trip Journal

We traveled on a Costa Rica family trip in February of 2019. The group included my 65 year old mother, Read more

Walking in a Winter Wonderland: 5 Kid-Friendly Activities in Vail

While Vail is known for its world-class skiing, there are plenty of other family-friendly activities for kids, non-skiers, and those Read more

Latest Articles

Child hiking trail through Yellowstone National park.

How to Plan a Yellowstone National Park Family Vacation

Everyone knows that Yellowstone National Park makes for a classic family vacation. Strolling the boardwalks...

A family of five stands on a sandy beach on a sunny day in Turks and Caicos.

Best Beaches® Turks and Caicos Review By A UK Family

Beaches Turks and Caicos may not seem like a typical vacation destination for a UK...

Three children swimming in blue water in Cayman Islands.

All About the Cayman Islands With Kids: Important Information You Need to Know

If you’re traveling to the Cayman Islands with kids, there’s some important information you need...


Travel Gift Ideas

National Park With Kids

Family Travel Tips

Use These 10 Tips For Your Baby’s First Flight

Families Who Love To Travel contributor Meghan Oaks provides her 10 best tips for your...

Boy wearing bowtie playing with magna tiles at New York toy store

10 of the Best Toys for Travel with Little Kids

In our group, we often get questions about keeping little ones occupied in transit, especially...

crusing with baby

Tips for Cruising with a Baby

Cruising is a great option for families with babies who want to relax and not...


Megan Tucker

Megan Tucker is a public relations professional, wife, mom and lover of all things travel and travel planning, based in Arlington, Virginia. While she grew up in New England, she's lived in the Washington, DC area, London and Abu Dhabi, and has traveled across the United States, the Caribbean, Western Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania with and without her husband and two sons.