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Hidden (& Free!) Play Spots in Dubai

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If there’s one thing Dubai isn’t short of, it’s kids play areas. From climbing walls to foam filled spaces, we’ve got them all. But what if you want to avoid the crowds, grab a coffee and let the littles play within eyesight without having to spend a fortune? Well we’ve found 5 little zones just for minis, tucked away in coffee shops, cafes and even in a furniture store. Just don’t tell everyone mamas!

Playground

Elevation Burger Jumeirah Beach Road

Sometimes nothing but a good old fast food burger will do – and Elevation Burger gets our vote with its organic beef patties and olive oil fries. But trying to eat your burger while getting the kids to sit down and finish theirs is nothing short of stressful – plus ketchup bottles make for excellent weapons according to my boys. Well next time that burger craving hits, head to Elevation Burger on Jumeirah Beach Road where the upper floor has a large soft play area complete with ball pit, slides, mini trampoline and little swings. It’s a bit fluoro, there’s the odd chip lying around on the floor and it’s a little tatty around the edges but in general this little play zone is clean, fairly big and very much welcomed when hubby and I are trying to eat our burgers in more than one bite.

Opening hours 12pm – 12am
Elevation Burger, www.elevationburger.com

Wooden Playground

Maison Mathis Arabian Ranches

Whether you’re a ranches mama or not, this fab spot is ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner with the kids (it’s open from 7am so is ideal for those early starts) and feels special enough for a family meal out without being so smart that you’re on mega mama alert every time your little people make a sound.  The décor is bistro chic, the menu has something for everyone – whether you’re looking for a full English breakfast or a light supper with a cheeky drink (yes it’s licensed mamas) and the setting is gorgeous – just on the edge of the Arabian Ranches golf course.

And the best part? There’s a great little outdoor play area that’s completely secure and within sight of their deck and indoor seating meaning that when the kids decide that their brekkie is over – while you’re still midway through your first latte – they can be let loose to climb, slide and have fun while you finish your food in peace (at least that’s the plan!).

Opening hours 7am – 2am
Maison Mathis, www.maison-mathis.com

Child

Pan Emirates Umm Suqeim Street

If you can bring yourself to ignore the overly ornate window display or the porcelain cheetahs at the entrance then Pan Emirates is seriously worth a visit. Amongst the slightly dodgy over-the-top 80’s throwback furniture (sorry mamas if this is your thing!) there are treasures aplenty, from feather down duvets to shabby chic style pieces. And on the very top floor, there’s a little café area with actually really decent coffee and snacks AND a fenced off play area with its own security guard right next door. It’s nothing fancy but there’s space for the kids to leap around while you browse everything in the store.

Opening hours 10am – 10.30pm
Pan Emirates, www.panemirates.com

dubai garden centre

Roseleaf Café At Dubai Garden Centre

Firstly, Dubai Garden Centre is a must for any city dwelling mama who wants to expose her kids to a little nature. We go here lots to play hide and seek amongst the plants, find ‘animals’ hidden in the greenery (there are ornamental gorillas, crocodiles and even a dinosaur that roars to spot). Indoors, the Roseleaf Café is a really sweet vintage style spot that serves yummy homemade cakes, delicious RAW coffee and tables dotted about in a greenhouse and in the garden centre itself. There’s no play area but there’s a box of toys AND there are fish to go and see in the little aquarium just around the corner. Definitely one for the older kids who aren’t likely to go wandering off for too long and for whom a little autonomy and fishy fun while mama chillaxes over a cuppa is just the ticket.

Opening hours 8am – 10pm
Roseleaf Cafe, Dubai Garden Centre, www.facebook.com/TheRoseleafCafe

Starbucks

Starbucks Jumeirah 2

Ah coffee – a mama’s best friend! We’ve discovered a little gem of a starbucks tucked away in the backstreets of Jumeirah – the perfect place to bike or scoot to if you’re local to the area and the ideal spot for dads to take the kids for early morning babycinos while mama gets an hour off. We don’t need to go into detail about what you’ll find here – it’s the usual Starbucks stuff watched over by the green Siren. But the thing about this particular branch is that there’s a little outdoor play area with a slide and climbing structure that’s fenced off from the road and that’ll keep the kids busy enough to allow you to finish your coffee and muffin before scooting off home.

Opening hours 7am – 11pm
Starbucks Jumeirah 2, Al Mehemal Street, Jumeirah 2 (opposite Al Sufouh Secondary School For Girls), www.starbucks.com

Cafe

Shakespeare & Co Jumeirah Village Mall 

Not exactly a play area but a room just for kids nonetheless, Shakespeares Café in Jumeirah Village Mall has a darling space decorated in their signature style, complete with beanbags and a tv showing cartoons (yeah a little tv time is fine by us!). My kids loved feeling grown up and independent in their area while hubby and I finished our fresh watermelon juice and salads for lunch. The menu here is fab – from breakfast to lunch and light snacks plus a few naughty treats and there’s a lovely outdoor terrace that’s totally shaded and chilled by cool-mist fans so you can sit outside even in the really hot months. The mall itself is usually quiet and has a lovely calm feel and some fab stores (a spot of S*UCE shopping anyone?).

Opening hours 7am – 12am
Shakespeare and Co., Jumeirah Village Mall, Dubai
www.shakespeare-and-co.com

Featured image sourced via Pinterest

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