Interestingly, Aaron, the author of the extremely well-known blog An Englishman In Dubai had a post on this just the other day: http://englishmanindubai.com/2009/10/26/new-top-10-things-to-do-in-dubai/I feel I need at least 2 lists, and here they are. I also have a list lurking of things we haven't done here yet that we want to do, but I feel it would be cheating to put any of those up until we actually go do them!
Top 10 Things to do in Dubai with Kids
1. Go to Ibn Battuta, keep them away from Paris Hilton's handbag store (gag), walk around with them until their little legs are worn out, then let them jump on the trampoline by Magrudy's Book Store, then eat an ice cream cone from McDonalds for 1 AED
Yes, when Ms Hilton came through Dubai she left something behind. Pooper scooper, anyone? No, my disdain is not based on anything solid...she and her ilk evoke that same taste I get in my mouth when I see Brat Dolls. Not in MY house, Missy!
2. Find shells on the north end of the Umm Sequim beach with the amazing view of the Burj Al Arab and Atlantis.
Watch for the big blue jellyfish.3. Ride a camel. Any camel. Closest ones are out on the south end of JBR. Then come back to JBR and let them play in the percussion fountains. Bring a towel.
4. Gawk at one of the local aquariums: Sharjah, Atlantis, or Dubai Mall
5. Hit up the monthly Dubai Flea Market. Treasures for little ones galore!
6. No one will agree with me on this next one: the Dubai Zoo. It's small, it's stinky, but it costs 2 dirhams and it's the right size for their attention spans. Plus, where else will you see a raccoon or a baby giraffe?
7. The Spice and Gold Souks and ride an Abra across Dubai Creek, preferably in the morning when it's not so crowded.
8. Dune Bashing. Why not? Have a picnic in the dunes. Expect to eat sand during both activities. Why is this fun? Go find out.
9. Watch the snowboarders at Ski Dubai. Promise the kids they actually can go in there someday.
10. Get their names written in a bottle of sand. This is a big hit for some reason. They seal it with a dollop of camel's milk. How THAT works I have no idea...but it does.
Top 10 things to do in Dubai with, without or pseudo-without Kids:
1. An evening out at the Meat Company and Souk Madinat Jumeirah. If it's cool enough, eat outside with a view of the Burj Al Arab at night, enjoy a beautiful South African steak and wine. Another great option is to nosh on thick golden french fries in a paper cone with mussels and dark beer at Belgium Cafe at Festival City, inside in the wonderful old European decor or outside overlooking Dubai Creek at night.
2. Have tea at the Burj Al Arab with a special girlfriend. Lacking that, go for drinks after sundown with a guy.
3. And while we're on the topic, go for drinks at the Barasti Bar. Wiggle your toes in the sand. Don't fall into the pool.
4. For crazies only: Run with the Dubai Creek Striders and get a close up of the city in the morning. All the sights, sounds, and smells, guaranteed.
5. Follow someone who knows the way to the Antique Museum in Al Quoz...the staff there will kind of sort of watch your kids while you dig your way through the dusty mountains of fascinating stuff.
Thomas in what all kids call "The SCARY Room" at Antique Museum, a dark, narrow passage full of metal figurines of all kinds. Also framed scorpions, a skull with glowing eyes, and so forth. Yes, this is the same place you can go to to get beautiful pashminas and from where I have made all my best finds.
6. Drop them off at MyGym and go get a coffee at Central Perk or Cake Bar. Total Mommy sanity time.
7. Again, dune bashing, this time without the kids. Go even a little crazier. Preferably with someone else's car. Take lots of photos. Possibly for insurance purposes.
8.Spend hours and hours perusing the shelves at Kinokuniya, the biggest book (and very welcome!) store in Dubai, without someone pulling on your shirt and going "Moooooohm!" or "Daaaaaahd!". Chase this up at the wine bar if you're feeling truly decadent. Admire the Burj Dubai (It IS the world's tallest building, after all!) and the Dubai Fountain as you wander over for your pressed and fermented grapes.
9. Get a massage. There are so many beautiful spas and services here, and some of us parents don't get our share. (The other ones are guiltlessly hogging them, too, darn them!)
10. And now I have to add the Birds of Prey Show to must-do's. Thomas played in the sand for most of the presentation, once he'd been buzzed several times by the gorgeous raptors, and I got to relax and enjoy myself for pretty much the whole time. Bonus!