Things to do on Valentine's Day and beyond

Celebrating a super-romantic Valentine’s with your spouse may seem too far-fetched, but all hope isn’t lost. Can your family make the occasion
cool again? You bet!

Activities

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the love in our lives. Many people associate this occasion with romantic love and choose to spend it with their partner.

But if you’d rather include the kids, a family “date” can be a great way to connect.

“A family outing based on the concept of love teaches children the importance of nurturing their relationships and appreciating the people they love,” positive parenting expert and licensed family psychologist Dr Sarah Rasmi tells us. “Many families choose to go out for a nice meal, but it can be just as fun to enjoy dinner at home. Another option is to forego a meal and do something more unconventional, such as a family activity. This can be bowling, escape rooms, a trampoline park, a theme park or even an outdoor adventure attraction.”

Here are some of the best family date ideas for the entire month of love.

DUBAI

Devour brunch at The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City

The kids will love The City Brunch. It’s a foodie one, with a family-friendly twist, and live cooking stations galore. There are many fun activities for the little ones. They can even learn to cook with the chefs. There’s a vegan section, too, and lots (and we mean lots) of food.
Dhs249 (soft drinks), Dhs350 (house beverages), Dhs495 (premium beverages), half price (kids aged six to 12), free (kids aged five and under). Fri 1pm-4.30pm. The Westin Dubai Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 435 5577).

Eat a stack of pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company

The New York City-style restaurant and family favourite is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special stack of limited-edition chocolate chunk and raspberry pancakes throughout the day. Valid at both the Burj Views and City Walk branches, the stack of three pancakes is on sale for Dhs59 and comes paired with Clinton’s organic, in-house-churned vanilla ice cream.
Dhs59. Feb 14. Open daily 8am-midnight. Burj Views, Downtown Dubai (04 428 1331); City Walk, Al Safa Street (04 344 0705).

Enjoy an artsy late lunch at Larte
 

The new d3 restaurant is all about authentic Italian, and boy do we love it. You get freshly baked focaccia and an array of fine cuts, grilled chicken and seafood options. There’s also a selection of handmade pasta, at which LARTE excels. Indulge in a heart-warming meal by combining a delicious handcrafted penne or a riveting risotto with Minestrone soup or a house salad. Bask in the cooler weather by dining al fresco on the stunning outdoor terrace, too.
Prices vary. Open Sun-Thu 8am-6pm; Fri noon-6pm; closed Sat. Building 10, Dubai Design District (04 240 0441).

Free heart pancakes at Eggspectation

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with some extra-cute pancakes. The restaurant is offering a complimentary plate of its signature fluffy pancakes in the shape of hearts on Tuesday February 14 and Wednesday 15. They come topped with strawberries and home-made salted caramel drizzle.
Free. Feb 13-14. Open Sun-Wed 7am-midnight; Thu-Sat 7am-1am. The Beach, opposite JBR (04 430 7252); open daily 7am-11pm. City Walk, Al Safa Street (04 275 3164).

Have a Polynesian-style family day at Lapita Dubai

Lapita Dubai at Dubai Parks And Resorts is all about family-friendly fun, and we have two amazing options for you from the tropical-style resort. The Daycation Brunch at Kalea features an extensive buffet selection, fun activities and live entertainment, but it also offers you full-day access to the two outdoor pools and lazy river, as well as entry to the Luna & Nova Kids’ and Teens’ Club. The second option is the Weekend BBQ at Ari, where you can enjoy an evening poolside barbecue at the Mediterranean restaurant. You get a selection of grilled items including blue swimmer crab, marinated fish steaks, Korean spiced chicken drumsticks, hot dogs and sliders – so it’s a proper feast.
Daycation Brunch at Kalea: Dhs245 (soft drinks), Dhs345 (house beverages), Dhs110 (kids aged four to 12). Fri 1pm-5pm; Weekend BBQ at Ari: Dhs130 (soft drinks), Dhs230 (house beverages), Dhs75 (kids aged four to 12). Thu and Fri 6.30pm-11pm. Lapita Dubai, Dubai Parks And Resorts, Jebel Ali (04 810 9421).

Lounge and nibble at Couqley
 

For a cosy Valentine’s Day look no further than Couqley. It has an ever-popular kids’ play area and is offering a three-course meal of authentic French fare for you to celebrate the love of your family. You’ll be transported to the street lamps and cobblestones of Paris while you enjoy the dishes and good conversation. The signature steak frites is a house special, along with home-made ravioli and a kids’ menu that has tiny portions of French favourites. Traditional desserts include crème brûlée and the classic pain perdu – the original French toast.
Dhs199 per person (three-course meal), Dhs99 (bottle of grape). Open Sat-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Fri noon-2am. Cluster A, JLT (04 514 9339).

Munch at the FUNtastic brunch at JW Marriott Hotel Dubai

There’s a reason they call it the Family FUNtastic Brunch. It’s because the whole tribe will be spoilt for choice with activities and culinary favourites. It’s basically your typical fun family brunch, but at even better value, since you can go for international cuisine at The Market Place, a traditional Bavarian feast at Hofbräuhaus and an Asian extravaganza at Bamboo Lagoon.
Dhs175 (soft drinks), Dhs325 (house beverages), Dhs60 (kids aged six to 12), free (kids under six). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Deira (04 607 7977).

Spend a lazy day at Riverland Dubai

One of the most romantic things you can do is to go for a stroll by the water, and in Dubai, you’re spoilt for options. But one spot that is particularly family-friendly and romantic at the same time is Riverland Dubai. It’s divided into four themed zones – The French Village, Boardwalk, India Gate, and The Peninsula – and the waterfront is the perfect destination for families and friends to come together, relax, and recharge. There are more than 50 restaurants and retail outlets to explore, too. Need some ideas? You can walk along a medieval French town at The French Village, experience the early Americas at The Boardwalk, watch the musicians and acrobats at India Gate and spot some of the most popular dining venues at The Peninsula.
Free entry. Open Sat-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Dubai Parks And Resorts, Jebel Ali, www.riverlanddubai.com.

Tuck in at the new sandwich bar at Tub of Butter

Kids just love sandwiches (and so do we). Tub of Butter’s new sandwich and salad bar is all you need for a Valentine’s Day snack, after which you can go home and whip up an impressive meal. Tub of Butter offers gourmet sarnies, deliciously healthy salads and other freshly created dishes. We’ll have ours toasted, please.
From Dhs35 (sandwiches), from Dhs75 (salads). Open daily 7am-11pm. Offer available daily 11.30am-2pm. Al Safa (04 343 8884).


ABU DHABI 

Celebrate Chinese New Year, Abu Dhabi-style

A new set of February celebrations begin right after Valentine’s Day, and there’s a lot about them that kids will just love. Abu Dhabi will be celebrating Chinese New Year from Thursday February 15 to Saturday 17 with an authentic experience on Al Maryah Island Waterfront Promenade and at The Galleria. You’ll get to enjoy traditional Chinese dances and entertainment and a delicious food market. Little ones will find themselves at the arts and crafts corner, taking part in hands-on activities such as origami and making Chinese paper lanterns, as well as kite designing and face-painting. And celebrations will end with a fireworks display!
Free. Feb 15-17, 3pm-10pm. Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi.

Experience a Goan carnival at The Village
The Goan Carnival has returned and it’s quite the party! Join the festivities this year for Goan rhythms and food. Expect traditional dishes such as Goan pulao, chicken cafreal, fish recheado, chicken xacuti and potato chops. Catch your luck by the tail as there will be exciting prizes to win at the raffle draw. “La Vida” band, Darryl, Ivor D’cunha and DJ Rudy are among the performers and they’ll be taking to the stage one after the other for as long as you can keep up.
Free entry for ladies and kids, Dhs50 for gents (including one house beverage). Fri Feb 9, from noon. Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Tourist Club Area (02 644 6666).

Get a gift from the tooth fairy at Orange Wheels
Enough about us, this one is all about the kids. Orange Wheels edutainment centre has so much for the kids to do (we have a feeling you’ll be totally jealous). They can make their very own Valentine’s cards on Wednesday February 14. The team at Orange Wheels will have all the stationary ready and the kids will just need to look out for a giant OW heart walking around with a box for them to drop off their cards. Then, they can come up on stage, read out their cards, and give them to their special someone, and parents get to enjoy pastries. Something else that we’re super-excited about is that the tooth fairy will be paying a visit to Orange Wheels on Wednesday February 28 with a list of songs and some magical dance moves. Kids will get to sing and dance and learn about dental hygiene. They’ll get a free dental kit, too.
Free. Open Sun-Wed 10am-9pm; Thu 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10am-10pm. Al Wahda Mall, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 667 4411).

Pizza time at Olive Tree
There are some tantrums only pizza will solve. Olive Tree’s Pizza Night is the newest addition to the family-style dining restaurant. Every Friday, you’ll get to enjoy different types of pizza or even make your own using some tasty toppings. On the menu are some classic favourites such as the margherita and delicious combos like porcini, parmigiana, and tuna.
Dhs35 per pizza. Fri 7pm-11pm. Ongoing. Aloft Al Ain, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium Development, Al Towwaya, Al Ain (03 713 8888).

Picnic at the Palace

Picnics are just perfect for family dates and we have one that you’re bound to love. Picnic on the sweeping lawns of the West Wing Garden and enjoy stunning Presidential Palace views at Emirates Palace this Valentine’s Day, where the chefs will delight you with a basket of the most delectable gourmet fare. Enjoy a spread fit for royalty – the basket is merely a prelude to the barbecue and dessert stations. There’s entertainment for the kids, too, so you can relax knowing that the little ones are being well looked after.
Dhs465 per person for a picnic basket including barbecue and desserts, half a bottle of bubbly and house beverages, Dhs230 (kids aged ten to 12), free (kids under ten). Feb 3, 2pm-5pm. Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road (02 690 9000).

Savour the Epicurean Brunch at Olea
There’s a brunch in the capital at one of the most luxurious venues, and it works for the kids, too, so it’s a win-win. Spend Valentine’s Day at Olea. Cuisine from around the world is served to a backdrop of live entertainment. Take a world tour with the Mongolian barbecue, tandoori ovens, Italian “pentolo” and foie gras, and then enjoy Cold Stone Creamery ice cream and more. Did someone say ice cream?
Dhs395 (soft drinks), Dhs515 (house beverages), Dhs740 (bubbly), Dhs190 (kids aged six to 12, free (kids under five). Fri 1pm-4pm. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi (02 498 8888).

Snap up kids’ fitness offers with Yas Kids at Vogue Fitness
Vogue Fitness’ Yas Kids programme helps improve co-ordination, endurance, flexibility, speed, and strength through fun CrossFit Kids classes for ages six to nine and ten to 12, and there are new offers to make it all easier for us this February.
Dhs475 (eight classes), Dhs895 (16 classes). Sun-Wed 4.15pm-5pm; Sat 10am-10.45am. Building 2, Yas Marina (02 583 2380).

Tots eat for free at Bentley Kitchen
There’s a tiny offer we just had to tell you about. Throughout February, kids eat for free at Bentley Kitchen. For every adult main course purchased, a kids’ meal is on the house. What a yummy February.
Prices vary. Open daily noon-1am. Until Feb 28. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 626 2131).

NO KIDS ALLOWED

Treats for mun and dad

Enjoy an extra-special meal at La Petite Maison
If classic cuisine is your thing, head to La Petite Maison. The restaurant has a way of transforming fresh produce into something very, very romantic and its menu is made for sharing. Dishes include caviar, lobster and snails with garlic butter, and let’s not forget the oysters. Not into them? There are plenty of salads and hot plates, including French beans with foie gras, green lentil salad, pan-fried Dover sole with mustard dressing, dry-aged grilled black Angus rib-eye steak, and salt-baked sea bass. And there’s a special dessert planned for the day, too.
Prices vary. Wed Feb 14, noon-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Gate Village 8 DIFC, Dubai (04 439 0505); Wed Feb 14, noon-3.30pm,6pm-11.30pm. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi (02 692 9600).

Get pampered with a mum-to-be massage at luban spa
Pregnancy is a wonderful time of beauty and growth, but the body undergoes dramatic changes at the same time. Pregnant mums-to-be need pampering, and what better way for them to getit than at the spa with a mum-to-be massage? Luban Spa’s offer is therapeutic and enhances muscles and joint function, improves circulation and general body tone, and relieves mental and physical fatigue using Omani frankincense.
Dhs440 (60 minutes). Ongoing. Umm Al Sheif Road, Umm Suqeim 1, Dubai (04 346 0000).

Dine around Dinner triple and diamond hunt
The Valentine’s Day Dine Around Dinner Triple will have you indulging in an enchanting evening at Bamboo Lagoon and Hofbräuhaus. You can then head to The Market Place for an exquisite buffet with live cooking stations. The Polynesian band “Te Mama” will play romantic tunes while you get involved with the diamond hunt to stand a chance at winning your very own gemstone.
Dhs199 (soft drinks), additional Dhs150 per person (unlimited house beverages). Wed Feb 14, 7pm-11.30pm. JW Marriott Hotel Dubai, Deira (04 607 7977).

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