If the looming summer holiday has you wondering how to entertain your children as the mercury rises, rest assured there are plenty of fun ways to fill the hours in the UAE.
No matter which emirate you’re in, there’s a host of indoor activities from high-adrenalin climbing, karting and snow rides to more languid tours, art projects and museums.
Here are 14 indoor things to do and places to visit with your children this summer.
Chill out at Snow Abu Dhabi
Embrace the -2ºC temperature at the newly opened attraction that features 20 rides and attractions. Children will love the Polar Express Train and Snowflake Garden, as well as the magical enchanted forest theme. And when you’ve tried all the rides of offer… snowball fight!
Sunday to Thursday, 10am-10pm; Friday and Saturday, 10am-midnight; prices from Dh215 per person (children under 2 are not allowed); Reem Mall, Abu Dhabi; www.snowabudhabi.com
Express yourself at Louvre Abu Dhabi
The popular Children’s Museum returns on July 20 with Picturing the Cosmos, which will take young explorers on a journey through the infinity of space via its various representations in art across time and cultures. The exhibition will build on observational and analytical skills by addressing questions, such as: “Why are humans fascinated by the cosmos?"; and “How has the sky been a source of inspiration and imagination through ages?”
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-midnight; galleries and exhibitions close at 6.30pm weekdays and 8.30pm weekends; closed Mondays; Dh63 for adults, free for under 18s; Saadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi; www.louvreabudhabi.ae, 600 55 56 66
Scale the heights at Adventure HQ
Little ones can get a taste of adventure at adventure equipment store Adventure HQ, which is also home to the Adventure Zone. The 20,000-square-foot area features an indoor skate park, cable climb course, trampoline park, boulder wall and more, allowing little ones to burn off excess energy.
Sunday to Monday, 10am-10pm; Friday to Saturday, 10am-midnight; tickets from Dh70 for a 30-minute session; Dalma Mall, Abu Dhabi; www.adventurehqonline.com, 800 23847
Get revved at the Al Ain Classic Car Museum
Budding petrolheads will have a great time at this Al Ain favourite, which is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting beautiful old cars. Featuring vehicles of all shapes and sizes from around the world, the museum is a great place to while away a few hours and quiz the custodians on all things motor-related.
Saturday to Thursday, 9am-6pm; Friday, 4pm-7pm; tickets cost Dh15 for adults, Dh5 for children aged five-15, free for children under five; Ain Al Faida Complex, Al Ain City; www.alainclassiccarsmuseum.net, 054 542 4283
Sample a child-friendly brunch at Legoland Hotel
While the in-house hotel at Legoland is tailor-made for little ones, its first child-friendly brunch takes things up a notch – and is well suited to the scorching summer months. Children are kept entertained throughout the afternoon brunch's three-hour duration, from 1pm to 4pm, as well as enjoying film time from 4pm to 5.30pm, and access to the pool and splash pad once it gets cooler in the evening.
A floor-to-ceiling soft-play jungle gym dominates one end of Bricks restaurant, while a supervised activity room at the back puts on a Lego building bonanza activity, pizza-making and ice-cream-sundae building sessions, a craft corner and a dance party with various Lego characters.
Dishes include lamb ouzi, barbecue beef, tofu and seafood Thai curry, vegan Shepard's pie, biryani and butter chicken; as well as a dedicated children's section with meatballs, sausages, lasagne, mini pizza, chicken popcorn and a chocolate fountain.
Saturdays, 1pm-4pm (brunch), 4pm-7pm (film time and pool access); tickets from Dh195 for adults and Dh99 for children (free for kids under 3); Legoland Hotel, Dubai Parks and Resorts; www.legoland.com
Go backstage at Dubai Opera
Take little theatre fans backstage at Dubai Opera for a Grand Tour. You’ll get access to the backstage area, the dressing rooms (which have hosted plenty of celebrity performers), and learn about the history – and secrets – of the impressive Dubai landmark.
Daily tours are conducted in English or Arabic and last for 60 minutes; Dh150 for adults, Dh75 for children (aged two to 16); Downtown Dubai; www.dubaiopera.com, 04 440 8888
Be wowed at the Museum of Illusions
Offering a visual experience that will cause jaws to drop, children can while away the hours trying to figure out the mind-bending illusions across an array of rooms. The vortex tunnel, antigravity room and Ames room are just a few of the tricks on offer. Be sure to take lots of photos to amaze their friends (and yours).
Monday to Thursday, 10am-10pm; Friday to Sunday, 10am-11pm; Dh80 for adults, Dh60 for children aged five-15, free for under fives; Al Seef, Dubai Creek; www.museumofillusions.ae, 04 357 3999
Inspect the insects at Dubai Butterfly Garden
Get up close and personal with an array of beautiful butterflies as you move between the 10 custom-built, climate-controlled domes. Home to more than 15,000 butterflies (and over 50 species), the garden will instil a love of learning in children. They can learn about the life cycle of the insects, check out their colourful wings and maybe even experience a butterfly or two landing on them.
Monday to Sunday, 10am-6pm; tickets from Dh55, free for children under three; Dubailand Area, beside Dubai Miracle Garden; www.dubaibutterflygarden.com, 050 735 2833
Meet the animals at Arabia’s Wildlife Centre
Find four family-friendly activities in one place at Arabia's Wildlife Centre. See baboons, wolves and cheetahs at the indoor wildlife centre, before brushing up on your local flora, fauna and herb knowledge at the Islamic Botanical Garden. The Natural History & Botanical Museum will also be a huge hit with little ones as they journey through a history of the UAE and the world, before feeding the farm animals at the outdoor petting zoo.
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 9am-6.30pm; Friday, 2pm-6.30pm; Saturday-Sunday, 11am-6.30pm; closed Tuesdays; Dh15 for adults, free for children under 12; Sharjah Rural, Sharjah; www.epaashj.ae, 06 531 1999
Get stuck in at Sharjah Science Museum
This attraction is quite the opposite of a traditional museum because children are encouraged to touch and experiment with everything. Let the little ones loose to enjoy more than 50 interactive exhibits, including inflating a hot-air balloon, creating electricity and learning all about the universe.
Saturday to Thursday, 8am-8pm; Friday, 4pm-8pm; tickets Dh10 for ages 13 and over, Dh5 for children aged two-12, free for children under two; Al Abar area, Sharjah; www.sharjahmuseums.ae, 06 566 8777
Fun and games at Magic Planet
Fun for children of all ages awaits at Magic Planet with its array of games, rides and soft play. Test your skills in the gaming arcade or get the adrenalin pumping on the bumper cars and other fairground-style rides. There’s also bowling for all ages with Yalla! Bowling for older children and Highway 66 for little ones.
Saturday to Wednesday, 10am-10pm; Thursday to Friday, 10am-11pm; entry free with different packages available for games and rides; City Centre Ajman; www.magicplanetmena.com, 600 599 905
Umm Al Quwain
Horrible histories at Al Ali Fort and Museum
Children will enjoy the troubled tales of the past at this 18th-century fort, even if they are a little grizzly. Assassinations, coups and fires lurk in its 300-year-plus history, which will captivate little minds, while any budding Indiana Jones you might have in the family will love the pre-Stone Age artefacts on show.
Saturday to Thursday, 8am-2pm; Friday, 5pm-8pm; Dh4 for adults, free for children under 15; Old Umm Al Quwain; 067 65 0888
Ras Al Khaimah
Games, rides and dress-up at Fun City
Fun City has become a RAK summer staple when the temperatures rise. Children won’t grow tired of the variety of activities on offer from the ball pit and slides to the sand area and the dressing up. There are also games and rides for older children, and the chance to win prizes.
Playzone Dh49; game play packages from Dh125; Manar Mall, Ras Al Khaimah; www.funcity.ae
Race your friends at FJ Kart & Shoot
Older children will be in their element putting their racing skills to the test as they fly around the FJ racetrack. Parents can watch as they put the pedal to the metal and compete against each other or the clock, before heading for a game of laser tag at the same venue.
Sunday to Wednesday, 10am-10pm; Thursday to Saturday, 10am-midnight; prices vary; Fujairah Mall; www.fujairahmall.ae, 054 307 7096