Abu Dhabi is a paradise for grown ups, with designer shopping malls, Arabian Gulf-side golf courses and Formula 1 racetracks. But there’s plenty here to entertain and delight the younger members of the family too. From zoos to theme parks, they can have a roller coaster ride of a time while they’re here. Literally.
1) Ferrari World
So here’s that roller coaster we mentioned. This is a theme park like no other, with absolutely everything here dedicated to and inspired by the genius of Ferrari. There are plenty of high-adrenaline rides to choose from, but if your kids say they’ve seen it all before, take them to Formula Rossa. This ride hits 250 kmph (155 mph) in just 4.9 seconds. In fact, no other ride in the world goes faster.
2) Al Ain Zoo
Forget concrete feeding houses and brick enclosures. At Al Ain you get to see wildlife in surroundings that look more or less exactly the same as their natural habitats. There are over 4,000 animals here, and around a third of them are classified as endangered. The zoo is really doing its bit to help conservation. There’s a gentle petting zoo and a children’s garden onsite for the very little ones.
3) Wadi Adventure
If you’ve got restless teenagers in tow, why not arrange a little something to wake them up? Wadi Adventure is a man-made white-water rafting centre, where they can kayak down a 1.7 kilometre (1 mile) channel, or even ride a surf wave. It may feel a little surreal in the foothills of the Jebel Hafeet mountain, but it should keep them occupied and entertained, and they can even get surfing lessons here too.
4) 300 Observation Deck
Looking for things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids that grown ups will enjoy too? The 74th floor of Tower 2 at the Etihad Towers complex rises 300 metres (984 feet) in the air. While the kids look out from the Observation Deck at the city and the islands, you can grab a quick light snack or High (literally) Tea. Entry is free for children under 4.
5) Yas Waterworld
Let’s start with the figures. 43 attractions, 15 football pitches and a waterslide that’s 235 metres (771 feet) long. Whether they want to try bodyboarding or try hitting targets with jets of water, they’re going to get wet. There are plenty of special effects and lasers amongst all the rides and slides too. One day all waterparks will be like this.
6) Hili Fun City
Hili Fun City was the Gulf’s first theme park and has recently been updated and renovated. You pay a one-off entry fee which then covers all the 25 attractions. It’s a more gently paced alternative to the riotous speed and adrenaline rush at Ferrari World, and if you have very little ones then their admission is free.
7) Marina Eye
You don’t need to keep your eyes peeled to spot Marina Eye. This Ferris wheel towers above the Corniche, just along from Marina Mall. It’s a smooth and gentle ride to the top, with 42 standard cabs plus a few plush ones if your kids are demanding a bit of VIP treatment.
8) Arabian Wildlife Park
Come to an island where the animals roam free, and where you can get eye to eye with giraffes, thanks to a special viewing platform. From gazelles to hyenas, there are over 10,000 animals wandering the landscape of Sir Bani Yas Island, and you can book a tour to get out amongst them all.
9) Mushrif Central Park
Also known as Mother of the Nation Park, this is the place to come and unwind after all the frenetic activity keeping the little ones happy. You’ll find the park in the heart of the city, just next to Karamah Street. There’s plenty for kids to explore while you stroll under the shade of the palms, including an Animal Barn and a Children’s Garden.
10) Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club
If your little ones want to try horse riding while they’re here, the Equestrian Club runs private lessons in the mornings from Saturday to Thursday, and has group lessons in the evenings. It’s a great place to come and admire Arabian horses too.