New to the family-centric collection of activities in and around the popular Kite Beach strip is XPark Jr. (+971 4 328 4175), which blends desert and forest influences to create a fun, natural playscape. Kids get to splash in streams, climb trees and hang out in treehouses, as well as explore meandering paths, cascading fountains and the on-site petting zoo. With a mud kitchen also part of the outdoor fun, don’t forget to pack a change of clothes. Dhs45 per child (for two hours, with one with accompanying entering for free). Open from 8am-6pm Sat to Wed and 8am-8pm Thur and Fri.
You can step into a tropical jungle at The Green Planet (971 4 317 3999). Located at City Walk, the five-level glass bio-dome recreates the ecosystem of a tropical forest, with over 3,000 plants and animals and the world’s largest indoor man-made tree. As you descend from the top of the dome via a winding path, you’ll encounter exotic animals along the way, such as toucans, macaws, porcupines and even a sloth. From Dhs89. Open daily 10am-7pm Sun to Wed and 10am-8pm Thur to Sat.
The kids will be bouncing off the walls at the region’s biggest trampoline and entertainment park, Bounce (+971 4 321 1400), which has more than 80 interconnected trampolines to jump around on, as well as a free running arena, and the awesome X-Park Adventure Challenge Course with a zip line, bouldering wall and sea of pipes for nimble feet to navigate. From Dhs75. Open from 10am-10pm Sun to Wed, 10am to midnight Thur, 9am to midnight Fri and 9am-9pm on Sat.
Get them thinking about their career choices early at edutainment centre KidZania (800 38224 6255) at The Dubai Mall. There, little ones can try their hand at 80 different jobs, from Emirates A380 pilot (there’s even a simulator) to chef. Open from 10am-10pm on weekdays and 10am-11pm at weekends.
For a smart play experience, OliOli in Al Quoz (+971 4 432 3232) curates content from the best children’s museums, science centres and art studios in North America, Asia and Europe. Kids take part in hands-on activities designed to nurture curiosity, imagination and exploration, with eight galleries spread over two floors. A standout feature is the region's first textile playground by artist Toshiko MacAdam – a large-scale structure made from brightly-coloured crocheted and knotted nylon. Entry for children costs from Dhs60 to Dhs120 for two hours (free for those aged up to 11 months). Dhs40 for accompanying adults. Open from 9am-7pm Sun to Wed and on Sat, and 9am-9pm Thur and Fri.
Augmented reality and virtual reality theme park VR Park (+971 4 448 8483) at The Dubai Mall will see you whizzing down the side of Burj Khalifa like a stunt double, skydiving like a pro and having close encounters with creepy crawlies in the desert. The two-storey venue is packed with games, rides and experiences to suit all ages. Entry is free, just purchase a pass to play. Open 10am-midnight Sat-Thurs, 10am-1am Fri.
You can experience what it's like to be at the centre of an elephant herd or in the deepest ocean depths at Orbi Dubai (+971 4 231 6252) at City Centre Mirdif. The first Orbi outside of Japan, it fuses nature content by BBC Earth with cutting-edge technology by SEGA to immerse you in the natural world via a multisensory experience. Dhs65 (ages 3-10), Dhs85 (10 years+), and free for under-threes. Open from 10am-10pm Sun to Wed and 10am to midnight Thur to Sat.
Up for waves and arcades? How about sunshine and slushies? Rally up your holiday companions and check out Wavehouse (+971 4 426 2000). Located in the shopping avenues at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, this novel entertainment centre is the new place to go for a day-to-night adventure for people of all ages. Grab a board and catch a wave as Surf's Up invites you to experience the rush of surfing without stepping foot in the ocean, while little ones can run wild at Levels, a soft play area meets modern take on the classic arcade. There's also a four-lane bowling alley. Open daily from noon to midnight.