It’s always a good time inside…
The novelty of Dubai’s heat wore off five minutes ago, and coming up with fun things to do with your littles is proving a challenge. The outdoors is just no fun when you’re lathered in sweat so why not take them indoors to let loose, burn off some energy and even learn a thing or three? You can thank us later, mamas…
An interactive indoor children’s museum in Dubai, OliOli (which means ‘Joy’ in Hawaiian) is unlike anything else in the city – an incredible space with eight separate galleries inspired by the most successful children’s museums, science centres and art studios across the world. Think gorgeous design, plenty of natural light and space and an environment that allows for natural exploration rather than over-stimulation. We are HUGE fans and we know you will be too (the ‘Toshi’s Nets’ climbing/swinging gallery has to be seen/climbed on to be believed…).
Want to know more? Read our review, block off a day and treat your kids to some indoor fun and learning they’ll rave about for weeks afterwards.
This new ‘futuristic’ entertainment destination at Dubai Festival City is a fab (pardon the pun) choice for kiddos aged 3+ when you’re looking for indoor entertainment. From rides to attractions including Family Swing, XC Dark Ride and Bumper Cars plus good old fashioned novelty machines, fairground style stuff and redemption games, there are plenty of reasons to visit on a hot summer’s day, particularly if you don’t mind plenty of artificial light and arcade games! Our fave activity is the light-up ‘Clip and Climb’ claiming wall which will have your little people testing their spiderman powers in a super cool neon lit area.
Fabyland, Dubai Festival City, United Arab Emirates, +971 (0) 42881490, www.fabyland.ae
What? A real rainforest? In the desert? Ok so it may be smaller than the real thing but the flora and fauna that covers this relatively new indoor bio-dome plus the amazing creatures it houses are 100% genuine. An incredible eco project that aims to educate kids (and big people!) about the delicate balance of nature and ecosystems within an enchanting environment, this is one of the best places to connect with nature and let your kids explore the ‘wild’. The tropical forest simulates an expedition to the tropics, complete with over 3,000 plants and animals including insects, birds and sloths (yes, SLOTHS!). With majestic green trees, lush vegetation, a waterfall and more – set over a few levels – there are stations at which to stop and marvel and learn plus loads of green to soak up. The perfect summer activity for the whole fam.
With five themed play zones, based on five different Mattel Characters, this is the ultimate children’s playground for littles aged 2 and up! Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, and Angelina Ballerina come to life and keep the kiddos entertained with all sorts themed activities! A train ride, an aerial adventure zone, and a 4D cinema show? Plus, each room is set to develop a new educational and social skill. Need we say more, mamas? Oh, and whilst bubs play in their element, we can relax in ours, tucking into a cheesy lasagne at their cute café.
Mattel Play! Town, City Walk, Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 800 637227, www.playtowndubai.com
Hidden away in Al Quoz (just near Limetree cafe – perfect for a coffee stop en route!), Blue Wave Dubai has two temperature controlled indoor swimming pools for swimming lessons AND a brand new Splash Island indoor aqua park that’s perfect for splashy fun at all times of the year. Open to kiddos aged between 18 months and 12 years (under 5’s need to be accompanied by an adult in the water), they’ll be able to burn off energy, have an absolute ball and keep cool too – perfect!
It’s universally known that little ones love colourful, high-energy experiences, so there is something to be said for good old-fashioned climbing frames and real, and wholesome physical activity. Adventure HQ by Adventure Zone offers just that, but in a temperature-controlled environment (hooray for the AC!). So what exactly is inside? Imagine a two-story playground where the lower, safer level offers just enough excitement to keep the little ones going. We’re talking a hanging swing-bridge, mini cable slider and the classic – but seriously challenging – climbing frame made out of ropes. Adventure HQ is suitable from 4 years and up (to make sure they’re secure while scaling the walls like itsy bitsy spiders). However, all kids, provided they are over 90cm, are welcome. Our 3-year-olds were very happy on all the equipment closer to the ground: walking along beams, tackling stepping stones and climbing rope walls always with a cheerful staff member at their side to help.
Adventure HQ, Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi, 02 565 0996, www.adventurehq.ae
Seek refuge from the normal play spots at Fairytales, a magical little play area that’s all about escaping reality. There are no gadgets, flashy lights or hectic sounds here – this is a kiddie fantasy come true where little imaginations can soar and make-believe rules. Created by two mamas with a yearning to give kids something different, Fairytales is all about nurturing a child’s spirit of adventure and creativity in a safe and healthy environment. With a beautifully crafted pirate ship, a ‘tree of knowledge’ and a two-storey castle at the Fairytales centre, kids are encouraged to play at being their fave characters and reconnect with traditional toys, props, puzzles and dress-up kit.
Fairytales, G/F, Jumeirah Town Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 04 344 5030, www.facebook.com/fairytalesdxb
Dubai Sports World is back this week, yippeeeee! The heat is no longer an excuse to avoid exercise (for you or the kids!) as this brilliant set up offers all you active people of Dubai a chance to enjoy heaps of sports indoors during the summer months. With one of the biggest indoor playing fields, which include football, rugby, basketball, volleyball, tennis courts and more. Book a court with your fam or simply join in with other players and enjoy playing your favorite sports in an indoor setting. They also run a fab sports camp for kiddos of all ages and including everything from trampolining to table tennis, yoga, dance and even an AWESOME Ninja Warrior assault course (we want a go on that…).
This play-based educational experience, offers parents a place to watch their children have fun, and feel good knowing that the play-time is also adding to their learning! Playing, creating, designing, building and role-playing, all in a safe, open space. Perfect. And if you’re looking to get some quality-me-time (aren’t we all?!), their caregiver or check-in options let littles, aged 4 and above, stay and learn, while you unwind. With a year-round green oasis, and a new Black Box interactive theatre, there is plenty to explore. They are all about prioritising children’s intellectual, emotional and physical development, and as mamas, we completely support this focus!
Nation Galleria Mall, Abu Dhabi Corniche, Sunday to Wednesday 10am to 10pm, Thursday to Saturday 10am to midnight, Dh95 per hour for non-members for children over the age of 2.
Little World Discovery Centre, www.littleworlduae.com, 026818824
Show your kids that they can become whatever they want at Kidzania. A massive edutainment centre, Kidzania was built for kids to enjoy role-play activities in a real life replica, kiddie-sized city! Doting doctors, brave firemen and passionate chefs – they’re all hiring! Mamas can check the kids into the “real” world and relax for a while or watch them go to work (literally) from a nearby lounge. Psst… they recently added a Kinder Chocolate Factory to the mix.
Kidzania, Dubai Mall, Level 2 (opposite Reel Cinemas), (+971)(0) 4 448 5222, www.kidzania.ae
We’re all for spaces which encourage creativity and freedom – particularly when we can get involved with the kids. Medaf Studio has the best solution to painting on walls without getting in trouble in an expression room which will allow you and the fam to paint/draw/scribble on everything from the walls to the floor. Yup, here’s a place for getting messy and having fun too (plus keeping the mess OUT of the house!). And if you want to take your artwork away with you, each of you get a canvas too so that you can adorn the walls of your own home (without drawing on them!). There are qualified artists and art assistants on hand to help out, a café on site for that much-needed latte and loads more (check out their birthday party packages and school holiday camps too – hooray!). Time to paint the town (wall) red!
Get a 10% discount on a session in the Expression Room. Simply tag @medafstudio on Instagram and use the hashtag #sassyreaderslovemedafstudio – valid until Saturday, 30 June, 2018.
Get up close and personal with lots of beautiful butterflies in their specially built home just next to Dubai Miracle Garden. This mini garden-of-paradise is spread over several connected ‘domes’ complete with plants, colourful flowers, bird-song and lots and lots of butterflies! There are paths to meander, fruit feeding stations where you get to watch the insects feeding and special netted areas that allow the kids (and you!) to hold the butterflies. The domes are big enough to feel as though you’re having an adventure (and a bit of a walk!) but not so big to worry if the kids run off (which ours did – in search of butterflies amongst the blooms). Whatever’s going on with the humidity outside, the domes are maintained at a constant very pleasant temperature, making this attraction the perfect escape from the summer heat and a great place to fulfil your nature cravings! www.dubaibutterflygarden.com
Bounce is a two-storey trampoline park that will have your kiddos literally jumping for joy. It’s so popular that the company have promised two new centres in the UAE in 2016. This warehouse-turned-trampoline park in Al Quoz has got a free jump area, a dodgeball court, an airbag-fitted section and a performance area with five Olympic-grade trampolines.
Mamas get also get in on the action at ladies night each Monday from 7.15pm-10.15pm.
Bounce, 32, 4B Street Al Quoz, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 04 3211 400, www.bounce.ae
Flip Out is a flippin’ huge trampoline park – no, city – in Dubai. With more than 200 interconnected trampolines, it’s also got 10 bouncy attractions, including a double decker kids’ trampoline arena, trampoline football, volleyball and basketball, a dodgeball court and 3D wall-runners. You’ve also got to try archery tag, where dodgeball and paintball merge. Players target each other using safe, foam-tipped arrows.
Flip Out, 4th Street, Al Quoz 4, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, www.facebook.com/FlipOutDubai
Groceries to buy? Movie to see? Leave your kids at Orbi and they’ll not only get a meal and get stuck into arts & crafts but also have heaps of fun! yup, this Drop & Play package (AED 100) is just one of the reasons that we love this indoor fun option but really anything that allows the kids to learn about nature gets a huge Sassy Mama seal of approval. There’s no real greenery here but there are plenty of ways to feel like you’re actually out in the wild as this indoor nature experience fuses BBC Earth’s world-leading nature content with SEGA’s cutting edge technology to create the most awe-inspiring experience for the whole fam. Featuring a custom-built theatre which tackles all the senses (pumping in smells of the Kalahari desert and wind effects too), Orbi transforms you to places around the world that you may never otherwise get the chance to see. From gorillas in Uganda to elephants in South Africa plus rainforests, deserts, mountains and oceans – Orbi is all about uncovering some of the mysteries of nature by seeing the planet in a whole new way. We love.
This is a must visit with kiddos. The Sharjah Discovery Centre is great for children of all ages, allowing them to discover and learn about science and technology through play. With seven themed colourful areas, budding actors can star on TV whilst mini mamas can pretend-shop in the children’s supermarket. There is good pushchair access, an in-house café and ample parking.
Sharjah Discovery Centre, Near Sharjah International Airport, Al Dhaid Road, Sharjah, (+971) (0)6 558 6577, www.discoverycentre.ae
Our fave community art space is THE place to get creative and allow the kids to unleash their inner artist (not on the walls at home) and has now moved to an even bigger, better and fabbier studio in Al Serkal Avenue. Take your gang for some painting fun – there’s no need to book (but it’s best to call in advance to check that there isn’t a party or group session going on) – for AED 120 they’ll get a canvas, easel and all the paint they need to create a mini masterpiece.
thejamjar, Unit H74, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 3, Dubai, (+971) (0)4 341 7303, www.thejamjardubai.com
Curious little people will love Little Explorers – a mix of education and children divided into five zones; Discover Myself, Locate Myself, I Can Do, All Together and I Experiment. The idea is for kids aged between two and 7 to learn physical as well as social and emotional skills through interacting with their petit peers and figuring out how things work. And the best bit? You and hubby can catch a movie at Vox Cinemas in Mirdif City Center while the littles are treated to 2.5 hours of supervised play and activities at Little Explorers – simply present your tickets to the lovely people at the entrance and they’ll take care of the rest (and your babes!). They also offer 60-minute workshops with hands-on activities and supervised exploration of the five Zones, every day on the hour.
Little Explorers, Mirdif City Center, 1/F, (inside Playnation), (+971) (0)800 386
We Rock the Spectrum – Dubai is a sensory-safe gym for children that provides kids of ALL abilities a place to play and have fun while actually working on plenty of developmental skills in the process! Our kiddos loved the zip line, the little climbing walls, the indoor trampoline and the sense of space to run and expel some energy in the comfort of the a/c.
This article was first published on our site on 25 April 2016 and updated for accuracy plus new soft plays added.