Dubai is full of expensive kids' entertainment options but, let's face it, when they're little, all they need is some space to run around, a bit of fresh air, and a few swings and slides. While there are many parks dotted across the emirate, it's not always easy to tell what they're going to be like: Is there ample parking? Are there toilets? Is there anywhere to buy food? Does it charge an entry fee? Is it good for my toddler or better for an older kid? We've tried and tested the city's best parks to give you the lowdown on everything a real mum needs to know...

Al Barsha Park (Barsha Pond Park) 

Parking: free, just outside the gate 

Entrance cost: free 

Facilities: cafe, toilets 

Map

Opening times: 6am - 11pm 

 Peddle boats can be hired on the huge pond in the middle. There are large shaded play areas, with one area for 0-3 year olds and the other more suitable for older children. There are plenty of trees and grassy areas that are perfect for picnics. And with a running track, too - should you fancy a jog with the buggy - Barsha pond park has it all. It’s busy at the weekends, especially on a Saturday afternoon and evening when the Ripe Market takes over a small section in the cooler months. 

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Safa Park 2 (The little one)

Parking: free, roadside 

Entrance cost: free 

Facilities: small kiosk and toilets 

Map

Opening times: 8am - 10pm 

 

A hidden gem. This small park is a green oasis just off Al Manara Street. With three different play areas within the park there is plenty to keep the little ones amused - just running between the different zones will tire out little legs! Lots of trees provide shade for picnics. The small kiosk in the middle sells simple snacks and drinks, and there are toilets within the park. This park is lovely and quiet on a weekday morning. 

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Al Soufouh Park 

Parking: free, at the front or back of the park on sand

Entrance cost: free

Facilities: toilets, window coffee shop 

Map

Opening times: 8am - 10pm Sunday to Wednesday 

8am - 11pm Thursday - Saturday 

 

Parking on the sand at the back means you will have direct access to the two shaded play areas. More geared towards toddlers and younger children, with small slides, swings and roundabouts, it is cosy park. It's small but still has a running track, football, basketball and sand volleyball courts as well as a small window coffee shop, serving a selection of items from snacks to ice-cream. 

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Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT Park)

Parking: paid roadside parking but only via text - there are no ticket machines

Entrance cost: free 

Facilities: toilets and baby changing, eateries open in the afternoon and evening 

Map

Opening times: open all hours 

Hidden behind JLT’s skyscrapers and formerly a lake, the park is divided into three zones, one for babies and toddlers with a great set of swings. Another is for children from four onwards. And there is a zone for older children with a huge black spider’s web climbing frame and zip line. There are toilets and baby changing facilities within the play area, and a security officer. There are plenty of grassy areas to put down a rug to eat. It's a sun trap in the morning, so hats and sun-cream are advisable, but in the towers offer shade from the sun in the late afternoon.  

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Al Ittihad Park (Palm park) 

Parking: free underground parking 

Entrance cost: free 

Facilities: toilets, restaurants and coffee shops in Galleria Mall

Map

Opening times: open all hours 

With small play areas dotted throughout the desert-themed wadi park. It appeals to younger children who will enjoy the slide, wooden play houses and seesaws. Although it doesn't have swings, there are water fountains which come on periodically throughout the day and are great to splash in. Restaurants and coffee shops have outside seating facing into the park, so parents can grab a meal or a hot drink, or pick up a few essentials in Spinneys and let the kids scoot through the park. Don't forget to look up and see the monorail above your head. 

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Umm Sequim Park (Burj Beach Park)

Parking: paid parking 

Entrance cost: free

Facilities: toilets, small cafe 

Map

Opening times: 8am - 10pm ladies and children during the week. All family members welcome Thursday - Saturday 

A stunning location looking out across the sea with the Burj Al Arab close by. A small park with a play area at the back. The climbing structure is ideal for those confident on their feet and older children. There is a small cafe and toilets on site. In the late afternoon the sea breeze can be a welcome relief from the heat. A great park to keep everyone in the family happy - you can do Beach and park in one visit without needing to move the car.

This park is for women and children only during the week and families at the weekend. It can be busy due to its location so go early, especially at weekends. 

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Al Khazzan Park (Water tower park) 

Parking: street parking directly outside 

Entrance cost: free

Facilities: toilets, cafe with outside shaded seating 

Map

Opening times: 8am - 10pm Saturday to Wednesday 

8am - 11pm Thursday and Friday 

This is a fairly new addition to Dubai's park portfolio. It is a good-looking park, with a striking water tower at its heart, and the Burj Khalifa for a back-drop. It has two shaded play areas, one suited to toddlers and one older children. The Park House café is a real bonus, offering delicious food and good coffee, or bring a rug and have a picnic. This a lovely spot opposite city walk. 

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Some of our other favourites worth checking out are: 

 

Zabeel Park

Popular with people if all ages whether for a walk of a game of cricket. At sunset, Dubai Garden Glow comes alive – a treat for little ones but beware: the dinosaurs make a loud roar!

Creekside Park

Next to the Creek (as the name suggests) this place is great for watching the abras and boats splash past, or as part of a trip to Dubai Dolphinarium. As one of Dubai's oldest parks it's still very popular especially at weekends. On warmer days a visit to Children's City is a must.

Mushrif Park

Toddlers and children will live the Small World replica houses from around the world - ideal for games of hide and seek and imaginative play. There is enough shade on offer from trees for picnics and barbecues to be an option.

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Although not technically parks, these are some other play areas:

 

The Greens

Parking: paid 

Entrance cost: free 

Facilities: Caribou coffee (with toilets and baby changing)

At the heart of the Greens, this is a fully shaded park perfect for children of all ages. There is slides, four swings and a giant spider’s web climbing frame – plus plenty of sand to dig for hidden treasure! The green area between the play area and Caribou often sees people playing badminton on a Friday morning. Next to the ponds in the Greens, why not grab a scooter and make use of the shady pathway around the lakes (1 km). You can walk to The Greens Village where there is a Choithrams, Bert’s Café, and a Costa, amongst others. 

 

Business Bay/Bay Avenue play area

Parking: Two hours free then paid after 

Entrance cost: free

Facilities: cafes, Spinneys and toilets in the promenade of shops opposite. 

Fenced off and with a gated entrance, this play area is handy for little ones whether you are visiting friends in the area, need a break from shopping in Dubai Mall, or just fancy somewhere different. Suited towards younger children, there are plenty of swings, slides and climbing frames. Parking is usually easy, and there is the chance to grab a coffee and any essentials from the supermarket opposite. 

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