21 things to do in Dubai when your parents visit
From parent-friendly brunches to cultural tours, keep your folks occupied with our brilliant guide…
So your parents are visiting for the third time, they’ve already ticket off the Burj Khalifa and a desert safari and you’re struggling for ideas to fill all five days when you’re with them, and when you’re not.
Well fear not, as we’re here to help. Whether it’s picturesque happy hours (because your dad still can’t believe it costs £8 for a pint), wow-worthy brunches without the side of table dancing, or seeing a different side to Dubai, here are 21 parent-friendly activities to add to their itinerary.
Anatolian cuisine, stunning interiors and an alfresco terrace for soaking up the last of the days sun, what’s not to love about Ruya? The homegrown restaurant is the brainchild of chef Colin Clague and the ever-evolving menu dips in and out of an array of cuisines, meaning there’ll be something on the menu for visitors who like to play it safe – as well as those who love trying something new.
Ruya, Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina, Dubai, weekdays 6pm to 1am, weekends 1pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 399 9123. facebook.com/ruyadubai
With its beachfront location, whitewashed fit-out and twinkly lights, Fish is brilliant for wowing guests. As well as tables in the garden, there is seating right on the beach, so you can enjoy the restaurant’s Turkish, Greek and Mediterranean fusion dishes with your toes in the sand. Open for both lunch and dinner, it’s a sharing concept that invites guests to sample a variety of hot and cold plates. The focus for main course is grills and casseroles, and guests can have fresh fish grilled to order in front of them by Fish’s chefs.
Fish Beach Taverna, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, daily 12pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 511 7139. fish-dubai.com
This has to be one of Dubai’s most prettiest restaurants – you’ll spend more time looking at the sumptuous decor than your parents, such is the attention to detail. Marble floors, floral light installations, and a pretty blush pink colour palette combined with pops of punchy zebra print. Pick a table on the terrace – you won’t be disappointed.
Flamingo Room by Tashas, Jumeirah Al Naseem, daily 12pm to 4pm; 7pm to 11.30pm (until 12.30pm on Thurs & Fri). Tel: (42) 447 278. flamingoroombytashas.com
ALSO READ: 6 of Dubai’s most wow-worthy restaurants
If your parents are foodies, you need to add Gaia to your ‘book immediately’ list. Each year, a few chefs imprint their names in the culinary language of their cities. Sometimes it’s because their new restaurant reshapes the city’s dining culture. Often, it’s just because their food is so incredible, we want to eat it over and over – and that is at the heart of what Izu Ani is capable of. He can put his hand to anything, whether that’s simple but delicious café food, fine dining French cuisine, or classy Greek dishes – which is exactly what diners get at his DIFC restaurant, Gaia. He also serves one of the best shakshoukas we’ve ever had, and just so happens to be one of the nicest guys in town.
Gaia, DIFC Gate Village 4, Dubai, daily 12pm to 3am and 7pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 241 4242. gaia-dubai.com
Although this ventures dangerously into ‘super tourist-y’ territory, Thiptara ticks all the boxes for an impressive dining experience for frequent Dubai visitors. Prime fountain views? Check? Burj and Dubai Opera backdrop? Check, check. Couple that with some top Thai cuisine and you’ve got one of Dubai’s best restaurants for wowing your folks. Perch up against the balcony to tuck into a menu of home-made Thai dishes, which range from traditional Bangkok street food dishes such as satay and steamed dim sum, to Thiptara specials including Phad Char Soy Shell – a spicy scallop dish loaded with flavours in an oyster sauce.
Thiptara, Palace Downtown, Downtown Dubai, daily 6pm to 11.30pm, Friday brunch 12.30pm to 4pm. Tel: (04) 888 3444. addresshotels.com
The London Project
The Bluewaters hotspot The London Project has proved an instant hit with Dubai residents, and thanks to its stunning interiors, amazing views and prime location under Ain Dubai, we can’t see it being anything other than a big hit with parents, too. Head down for sunset through the week and enjoy buy one get one free on selected beverages until 7.30pm. You’ll come for the deal and stay for the view.
The London Project, Bluewaters Island, off JBR, 4.30pm to 7.30pm Sun to Thur, buy one get one on selected drinks. Tel: (04) 5808570. thelondonproject.com
Perched at the top of the Address Downtown hotel you’ll find Neos, a contemporary bar and lounge that offers an impressive 50 per cent off the menu during its daily happy hours – which run every day from 5pm to 8pm. The menu covers everything from light bites to premium bottles, and it comes with some of the best views of the city from its enviable 63rd floor location.
Neos, Address Downtown, Downtown Dubai, daily happy hour from 5pm to 8pm, bar open 5pm to 2.30am. Tel: (04) 888 3444. addresshotels.com
The Rooftop at folly
From 3pm to 7pm, you can enjoy folly by Nick & Scott’s special ‘Sundowners’ menu, which includes the signature Prosecco Pop (an ice lolly served up in a glass of prosecco) for Dhs35. The rooftop, overlooking the beautiful Madinat waterways, is one of our favourite spots in the city to take visitors.
folly by Nick and Scott, Madinat Jumeirah, daily 3pm to 7pm. Tel: (04) 430 8535. folly.ae
The charming and characterful eatery, Il Faro – housed in a lighthouse on the beach on the Palm Jumeirah – serves that famous orange Italian drink for just Dhs10 every Friday from 10pm, with a happy hour that includes other beverages taking place from 5pm to 7pm every day in the lighthouse lounge. The sea views are awesome, too.
Azure Residences, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Fri from 10pm, and all other days from 4pm to 7pm. Tel: (04) 568 3137. Taxi: Azure Residences, Palm Jumeirah. ilfaro.ae
Nothing quite says ‘I’m on holiday’ thank enjoying a cocktail with the sand between your toes, and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Bliss. Located on the beachfront of the Sheraton JBR, guests can enjoy a special happy hour menu with drinks from Dhs28 from 6pm to 8pm daily.
Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort, JBR, Dubai Marina, daily 12.30pm to late. Tel: (04) 315 3886. blissloungedubai.com
For a lavish brunch with a brilliant view, check out the new Caviar Brunch at The Loft at Dubai Opera. Taking place on the terrace of the new Dubai Opera restaurant, guests can expect a feast of interactive cooking stations like the oyster counter, barbecue counter, pasta & risotto counter – and of course a caviar bar. It’s all washed down with free flowing beverages, mixed drinks and bubbly spun to the sounds of a resident DJ and live sax.
The Loft at Dubai Opera, Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, 12pm to 4pm, Fridays, Dhs395 soft, Dhs495 house, Dhs595 sparkling. Tel: (04) 362 7312. Facebook.com/Theloftatopera
For a brunch that will spoil you for choice, Brasserie 2.0 in Le Royal Meridien has you covered. There’s cooking stations of every cuisine imaginable, as well as live acoustic sets and roaming pop up bars. Bag a spot in the garden to make the most of the weather.
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai. Friday 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Dhs400 with soft drinks, Dhs525 with selected beverages and sparkling. Tel: (04) 316 5550. leroyalmeridien-dubai.com.
Bleu Blanc might not be the most obvious choice, but for a beautiful spot with top French cuisine, they don’t come much cosier than this spot by celebrity chef, David Myers. The food is fantastic – you’ll be served plates to share of David Myers most popular dishes such as oxtail tartine, polenta croquettes, grilled king prawns, skirt steak and mac & cheese. Before you leave, snap your insta-shot at the already bright blue door.
Bleu Blanc, Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai, Business Bay, 12.30pm to 4pm, Fridays, Dhs299 soft, Dhs399 house. Tel: (04) 512 5533. bleublanc-dubai.com
The famed Traiteur brunch is a must-try Dubai brunch, and extends through restaurants Noepe and Brasserie Du Park. Although it’s got a heavy Mediterranean focus, you’ll find dishes from around the world from an extensive seafood buffet, to a collection of roast meats, cold cuts and a dessert room that will make you wish you’d saved more room. Drinks are free flowing and glasses always topped up, and chilled beats are mixed with lively acoustic sets to entertain guests. Stay for sundowners, you won’t regret it – the sunsets over the creek are some of the city’s finest.
The Promenade, Park Hyatt, Deira, 1pm to 4.30pm, Fridays, Dhs495 soft, Dhs695 sparkling, Dhs795 premium. Tel: (04) 602 1814. More info on website
Brunch takes place onboard the legendary liner turned floating hotel The QE2 Dubai every Friday at Lido restaurant. It’s a perfect place for a family get together, with large tables lining the restaurant and an extensive buffet that extends to cuisines from around the world constantly being topped up by the restaurants friendly team of chefs. Although it’s all indoor, it comes with live entertainment and a huge childrens play room adjacent where the little ones can play while the adults feast. History buffs should head down early and take advantage of a one-hour Heritage Tour around the ship, which will take you back through its sailing days.
Lido restaurant, QE2 Dubai, Port Rashid, Dubai, Fridays 12.30pm to 4pm, Dhs225 soft, Dhs395 house. qe2.com
Things to do
Visit Dubai Museum at Al Fahidi
Al Fahidi fort was once the home of the ruler of Dubai and also functioned as a sea defence. Today, the impressive building presents life from a bygone era. You’ll find souks from the 1950s, step into a traditional house and even get up close to local wildlife
Dubai Museum, Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai, Sat to Thurs 8.30am to 8.30pm, Fri 2.30pm to 8.30pm, Dhs3. Tel: (04) 353 1862 dubaiculture.gov.ae
See a show at Dubai Opera
Squash, pop, musicals… Dubai Opera is no one trick pony. Glam up and head to one of the venue’s ever-changing shows. This year alone, they’ve already confirmed shows including Thriller Live, Sleeping Beauty, comedian Al Murray and Phantom of the Opera. Can’t make a show? Book on a tour that gets you behind the scenes access.
Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai. Tel: (04) 440 8888. dubaiopera.com
Take a tour of Dubai Miracle Garden
With more than 45 million flowers and more than four kilometres of walkways, it’ll be a miracle if you can walk through Dubai Miracle Gardens without breaking a sweat. Attracting around 55,000 visitors on a weekly basis, Dubai Miracle Garden is a popular spot for both residents and tourists to check out the 70-plus flower varieties.
Dubai Miracle Garden, Al Barsha South 3, Dubailand. Dhs50 for adults, Dhs45 for children under 12. Tel: (04) 422 8902. dubaimiraclegarden.com
See La Perle
La Perle is Dubai’s permanent water-based theatre performance, and the Habtoor City show is a must-see. The 90-minute show by Franco Dragone is the first of its kind for being a permanent water-based theatre show. During the show, expect an all-immersive experience with audience interaction, gravity-defying acts and some spectacular stunts.
La Perle by Dragone, Al Habtoor City, Tuesday to Friday 7pm and 9.30pm and Saturday 4pm and 7pm. Tel: (04) 437 0123. laperle.com
Head on a day trip to Abu Dhabi
From museums and art galleries to theme parks and island paradises, Abu Dhabi is a great day out for parents who’ve already ticked off most of what Dubai has to offer. The Shiekh Zayed Grand Mosque, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Yas Island theme parks are all brilliant attractions to check out.
Pamper yourself with a hammam
The age-old Turkish bath treatment is a luxe way to spend an afternoon, and addresses don’t come much more luxe than the One&Only Royal Mirage. They offer an array of hammams, but the traditional offering is the most popular. During the 50-minute treatment guests will be given a deep cleansing with traditional black soap and a vigorous ‘Loofah’ body scrubbing. The treatment finishes with a light relaxing massage with various stretching movements in the heart of the Hammam.
One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh, Dubai, daily 10am to 11pm, ladies 10am to 2pm, gents 8pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 3999999. royalmirage.oneandonlyresorts.com