School time in Abu Dhabi, like anywhere else, is a serious business, but kids can’t be expected to hit the books all day long.
As minds develop, down time is equally important, and those moments away away from school should be fun as well as educational.
Plus, tiring kids out with some physical activity is always welcomed by parents.
Looking for places to entertain, educate and keep children active when the school day is done?
Here are ten places to go in Abu Dhabi after the last school bell of the day sounds.
Okay, video games aren’t always a parent’s best friend but it can’t always be all work and no play. Action Zone is a good compromise for some fun games that keeps the kids away from relentless screen time. Head along and there’s Jump Up, a trampoline playground, and Zone PC Gaming Lounge, also known as “the gaming spaceship" with professional gaming PCs, PS4s, and more. There's more fun at Party Time, a first-of-its-kind hall in Abu Dhabi featuring an LED dancefloor. There’s loads to keep kids busy.
From Dhs70 (per hour). Open Sun-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10am-11pm (weekends). The Mall at WTCarkaziyah (02 634 0133).
Adventure Zone at Adventure HQ
Keeping little ones moving can be a challenge at times, but when the activities are fun kids will love being active. Head to Adventure Zone and there are loads of fun activities that will get little bodies moving. If they have a head for heights, let them tackle The Climbing Pinaccle (it’s more than 9m tall). There are also rope courses, zip-lining, biking and even caving adventures to be had. Who knew moving around could be so fun?
From Dhs75. Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Yas Mall, Yas Island (02 565 0996).
Arts and crafts
Kids can be kept busy at home without shoving them in front of the TV. From potato printing and play dough to drawing and making sock puppets, there’s loads you can do at home, easily with kids to keep little hands busy. Here are ten great ideas to try yourself.
There’s heaps of activities on offer at BOUNCE including the “super tramp” (no, not the 1970s band). This beast is four times the size of a standard trampoline and can generate a force of over 14Gs, which is what fighter pilots feel. The parkour X Park is a brilliant way to find your inner Spider-Man and jump around its many obstacles and pipes to work up a sweat, from its spider wall to its climbing wall, too. Plus with basketball, dodgeball, slides, zip-lines and more, there’s plenty to do and plenty of energy that can be burned off here.
From Dhs75 (per session). Times vary. Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, www.bounce.ae.
Cultural Foundation and Children’s Library
The Cultural Foundation is the beating heart of Abu Dhabi’s arts scene and has been a staple for many of the country’s burgeoning and most influential artists in the past few decades. Now reopened and refurbished the creative space is a hub for up and coming talent as well as displaying works from some of the UAE’s greatest creators. Also located at the site, the Children’s Library is a welcoming space that harnesses the love of literature in kids with workshops, activities and more to get children to fall in love with reading. Plus, while you’re there you can also check out the capital’s oldest building Qasr Al Hosn.
Free. Open Sat-Thu 10am-8pm; Fri noon-10pm. Cultural Foundation, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, Al Hosn (02 657 6348).
Emirates Park Zoo
The word “zoo” can quite often get a true animal lovers hackles up, but this Abu Dhabi zoo is all about conservation. As well as helping to prevent endangered animals from going extinct, the biologists and experts at Emirates Park Zoo have been able to provide critical information, such as fertility and survival rates for various mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians to the National Academy of Sciences. The zoo also offers a number of educational programmes for little ones where they can learn all about the furry, scaly and slimy residents and the importance of ensuring they have a future.
Free (under two), Dhs30 (kids three-16), Dhs35 (over 16). Sun-Wed 9am-8pm; Thu-Sat 9am-9pm. Al Bahia, www.emiratesparkzooandresort.com (02 563 3100).
When we were little we wanted to be a doctor, fireman and a spaceman (or should that be astronaut?) at some point, but we ended up as journalists, which is pretty cool, actually. For kids, playing dress up and pretending is as fun as it gets and at Kidzania they can do just that. At the play centre little ones can pretend to be a doctor, a fireman, a chef or a builder. KidZania is a magical world of make believe where children can role play more than 40 professions and earn their own KidZania money, which they can then spend on their way out in the on-site shop.
From Dhs94.5 (kids two-three), from Dhs166.5 (kids four-16). Thu-Fri 10am-10pm; Sat-Wed 10am-8pm. Times vary. Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi, www.kidzania.ae (054 998 6897).
Louvre Abu Dhabi
From super-cool exhibitions to awesome holiday camps, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a great place of learning and fun for inquisitive little minds. With its own museum dedicated to the youngest members of the family, there is always plenty going on to keep even the smallest of visitors entertained. The Children’s Museum hosts family-friendly experiences and workshops in both Arabic and English throughout the year.
From Dhs30. Open Sat-Sun, Tue-Wed 10am-8pm; Thu-Fri 10am-10pm. Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, www.louvreabudhabi.ae (600 565 566).
Kids have amazing imaginations and most of the time they can make their own fun and have the best time without too much encouragement. Plus, if you want your little one to spend more time outdoors being active then visiting one the city’s green spaces can be a great idea. From play parks to lakes, trains, aquariums and more, the city’s parks are a brilliant place to pass some time and they’re located all across Abu Dhabi. Here’s your guide to the best one’s in the city.
Zayed Sports City
Sports and fitness are great for little ones and Zayed Sports City really has all the bases covered when it comes to being active. There are football ad rugby clubs that little ones can join as well as a host of activities including bowling, tennis, ice skating and much more at this massive sports complex every night of the week. All you need to do is decide what sports they’d like to play and they’ll be working up a sweat before you know it.
Prices and times vary www.zsc.ae.