25 Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

25 Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

The Burj Al Arab has become the modern symbol of Dubai. Whenever Dubai is mentioned this beautiful iconic building is almost always the first thing that comes to mind.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Dubai has a lot of fun things to do for kids; water parks, theme parks, skiing, and more; but admission and tickets to these places add up fast, making a Dubai vacation pretty costly.

Here is a list of things you can do with kids in Dubai that are free or cheap, combining them with some paid attractions will help stretch your vacation dollars and make your vacation all the more memorable.

A visit to Dubai is not complete without at least seeing this building which is home to what is billed the world’s only 7 star hotel.  The nightly cost to stay at this hotel starts at around $2000, but you don’t have to stay there to see it, at least from the outside.

You are welcome to enjoy a meal or snack at one of its restaurants or bars, but it will be expensive. We had lunch at the Al Iwan, the Arabic buffet restaurant on the first floor, a couple of years ago. We paid a over $400 for 3 adults; the price for a lunch buffet is 505AED ($138US) per person.  Children 3-12 is 50% off, under 3 is free.

There are other restaurants, bars, and lounges in the hotel, expect to pay high prices and you must have reservations to get on hotel property; you’re name is checked off at the gate; no reservation, no entry.

If you don’t want to actually go inside the building you can see it as you walk along the shore of Jumeirah Beach.  If  you’re not staying in one of the hotels along this stretch of sand you can spend the day at Jumeirah Beach Park, entrance to the Park is 5AED ($1.36US), a considerably cheaper option than staying or dining at the hotel!  Great views of the building can also been seen if you’re on Jumeirah Beach Road.

Superb views of the Burj can also been seen from Kite Beach, entrance is free.  Kite Beach is on the shore opposite the Al Manara Road junction



Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiSafa Park in Dubai is a large green space in the middle of the the city’s modern high rise buildings.

The park has 3 lakes, a waterfall, and a fountain.  Park facilities include boat and bike rentals, barbecue area, sports fields and courts, snack bars, and stores.

Entrance fee is 5AED for adults ($1.36US)



Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiZa’abeel Park in the more residential area of Dubai is another large municipal park in the city that holdsthe distinction of being the first technology driven park in the Middle East.

The park has children play areas, lake with boat rentals, an ice skating rink, mini golf and cricket, 3D cinema, picnic and barbecue areas, cafes, and more.




Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

It is also home to Stargate Dubai a futuristic indoor space themed educational and entertainment center.

Park entrance is 5AED ($1.36US) for adults. Entrance to Stargate is free.   All park attractions are priced separately.

If you time your visit on Friday mornings you can wander around the Ripe Food & Craft Market in the park.  It’s Dubai’s largest open market featuring food at very reasonable prices and local crafts as well.[spacer height=”-20px”]





Al-Mamzar Beach Park located close to Hamriya Port is one of the best beaches in Dubai.  It has 5 coves along the coast, green space, swimming pools, a park train, play areas, rollerskating rink, bike rentals, barbecue areas, chalet rentals, restaurants, and more.

Park entrance is 5AED ($1.36US) per person.
Air-conditioned chalets can be rented daily for 150AED ($41US) for a small that fits 4 people and 200AED ($54US) for a large that fits 6.  All activities and attractions including pools require separate fees.

Mondays and Wednesdays are ladies day, meaning the park is open only to women and their children (male children up to a certain age only)

Russian Beach, on the lower end of Beach Road on the opposite side of the Burj Al Arab is an open free beach.

There are some showers and restrooms, but the facilities are limited.  However the shops and restaurants along Beach Road are close by.[spacer height=”-20px”]






JBR Beach is another free beach.  It’s located next door to the Jumeirah Beach Resort.  It has clean facilities including restrooms and showers and a bit of green space.  There are also many ocean view restaurants around where you can enjoy a nice lunch or snack.[spacer height=”-20px”]








Take a ride on the Metro.  It’s not so much the destination, it’s the ride on this state of the art driverless automated train that kids love!  You can start at Dubai Mall to Dubai Marina and back again.

Fares are 2-6AED (.50 – 1.50US) depending on the length of the ride.

The kids will love the space age looking stations!  My grandsons thought they were cool, they look straight out of s sci-fic movie!


Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

The Dubai Miracle Garden is a refreshing break from all the buildings, although they do have a floral version of the Burj Khalife.

There are kid’s play areas, , and floral displays.

Admission is 30AED ($8.25US) per person
Kids 3 and under are free[spacer height=”-20px”]




Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Take a wooden boat across the creek, (an Abra found along the creek in Bur Dubai), to the Gold Souk in Deira.  You can just wander along the alleys for a bit of window shopping.
The amount of “Bling” in the shop windows is amazing.  You don’t have to buy anything, assuming you can resist the temptation of different shades of gold just calling your name. I can never resist and end up spending way too much, next time I’m leaving the credit cards locked in the hotel safe!







You’ll find these abras along the creek in Bur Dubai ferrying people across the creek.  It’s the best way to get to the Gold Souk in Diera to avoid the problem of finding parking.

The kids will love bobbing along this wooden boat that have been modernized with the addition of diesel engines.  You’ll get a different perspective of the Dubai skyline.

The cost of an abra ride is 1AED, .27 cents US![spacer height=”-20px”]




Take a day trip to the Emirate of S


harjah and search for bargains at the Blue Souk.

The tile on the outside is worth the trip!  The inside is filled with shops selling everything from electronics to antiques.  There are several snack bars inside as well.[spacer height=”-20px”]









Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiBuilt in 1787 the Al Fahidi Fort is the oldest building in the city.  It houses the Dubai Museum where you can learn about the region’s history.  They have various exhibits of historic books, traditional dress, and dhows (wooden boats).

The Museum is located in Bur Dubai.
Admission tickets cost 3AED (.80US) for adults and half price for children.




Built in the late 19th. Century along the Creek at Shindagha is the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House.  Once the seat of the local government and the official residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, the grandfather of the current ruler, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this imposing building has been converted into a museum that showcases the progression of Dubai from Bedouin tents lining the creek to the amazing buildings we see today.

The ancient wind towers served to cool the building and is a testament to Arab architectural ingenuity.  For those interested in architecture this museum is a must see!  Admission cost is 2AED, (.54US)


Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiLocated behind the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House
is the Camel Museum.  The museum will probably tell you everything and more that you want to know about camels.  This museum is a testament to the Emiratis’ passion for their beloved animals and explains why they they gained such prominence in Arab history.

The museum blends history with technology with their camel race simulator.  Visitors can virtually ride a camel in a race.

Admission is free.






Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Take a breakfast picnic to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary .  The sanctuary has 3 hides, head to the Hide 2 at the junction of the Al Wasl and Oud Metha roads, that’s by the flamingo roost.  If you’re there at high tide the kids will love watching the big pink birds.

Admission is free, just register in the visitor’s logbook.





Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Check out the Dubai Dino.  This is an almost complete skeleton of a dinosaur called
Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus. It was discovered in 2008 in Wyoming, USA and transported to its new home at the Dubai Mall.

Talk to the Dubai Dino Team, they’re armed with some interesting facts.

Best of all it’s free!

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

While you’re at The Dubai Mall have a look at the Dubai Aquarium.  The gigantic aquarium is the Centerpiece of The Dubai Mall.  You can view the aquarium inhabitants from the mall viewing panels for free, but if you want to walk thru the tunnel for a more up close and personal look you must purchase a ticket.  Tickets include a walk thru the tunnel and a visit to the Underwater Zoo.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Directly across the Dubai Aquarium  is Candylicious one of the world’s largest candy stores.  It’s also the home to Spun Candy  where candy confectioners make handmade candy on site.  You can even design your own candy and watch them make it for you.

A visit to the store is free, but what you fill your basket with is totally up to you and your budget.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

If you’re at The Dubai Mall, wander around, window shop, and enjoy the fountain and store fronts, some of them are pretty cool.  My grandkids loved the kiosk selling Camel Milk Candy, there’s a large golden camel at the front!

If you’re hungry wander over to the huge food court or one of the many restaurants throughout the mall.  Better yet grab an outdoor table at one of the eateries along The Dubai Fountain and watch the show.  The fountains shoot up to 500 ft. and dance to all types of music.  There are daily afternoon shows (except Fridays) at 1:00 and 1:30, and evening shows every day every half hour from 6:00 to 11:00.

This area also offers wonderful views of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.


Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in DubaiLet the kids splash around in the fountain at Marina Walk, it’s fun and it’s free!  Just bring a change of clothes for them.

You can grab a cup of java from the Starbucks next to the fountain and keep an eye on the kids from the outdoor tables.




Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Catch a ride on the Marina Water Bus.  This air conditioned boat shuttles between  Marina Walk, Marina Mall, and Marina Promenade.  The cost is 2AED (.54US) each way, kids ride free.




Feed the ducks in the lake located in the Dubai Media City Park, it’s a bit of green space with a couple of cafes near by.  Along with the ducks you may see some office working having lunch or just taking a break.  There are no facilities, and no admission fees.









Head a bit out of town to the Mirdif area to Mushrif Park.  It’s the largest park in Dubai. The park has pools, gardens, playgrounds, camel and horse rides, train rides, bike and walking paths, but the best attraction is the International Village.  The village has 13 child-size houses from around the world, perfect for tots filled with imagination.

Admission is 3AED (less than $1US)





The Burj Park is a man made island between the Burj Khalifa lakes.  It offers an excellent view of the Burj as well at The Dubai Fountain show nearby; best of all you can enjoy the Burj and the fountain away from the jostling crowds at the mall.

There are no shops or cafes here, but the mall is steps away, you can grab a drink or snack from there and have a picnic in this small green space in the middle of downtown Dubai.

Admission is free and it’s open 24 hours.






Creek Park  along the Dubai Creek in the heart of the old city is one of the oldest parks in the city.  It’s home to the Children’s City, Dubai Dolphinarium, and Wonderland Theme & Water Parks.

There are barbecue and picnic areas through out the park as well as play areas and walking paths.  You can also ride the cable car for views of the city.

Park admission is 5AED ($1.30US) per person and must be paid even if you have tickets to the attractions inside.  Cable car tickets can be purchased separately.

Free & Cheap Things to do With Kids in Dubai

Children’s City in Creek Park is an interactive museum geared towards kids from 2-15 years old.  They have fun displays to teach kids about the world we live in.

They have a toddler’s section for little ones to climb and play, a human body section, a planetarium, and more.

Last time we were there children went it free and adults were 5AED ($1.30US).  It’s a great place to spend a hot summer afternoon.  It’s air conditioned and there’s a small snack bar where you can purchase lunch or snacks, or you can bring your own and eat it there.

For more info on Children’s City click here!
Address: Creekside Park, Gate 1, Umm Hurair.
Open: Saturday to Thursday 09:00 to 21:30;   Friday 15:00 to 21:30
For more things to see and do in Dubai click here!

3 Tips for Renting a Cool Airbnb Apartment

3 Tips for Renting a Cool Airbnb Apartment

Have you heard about Airbnb? This is a platform that allows you to rent other people’s apartment or home, especially when you are away on a trip. It enables you to save a few bucks that you would have spent renting an expensive hotel somewhere in town. An Airbnb coupon code allows you to pay further less money than other individuals who rent houses using the platform. It is, therefore, one of the perfect means of ensuring that you experience an enjoyable stay at your place of visit at a pocket-friendly price. But you wouldn’t want to feel cheated after finding that you’ve actually overspent instead of saving some funds? There’s a perfect way of ensuring that your experience with Airbnb is a blessing rather than a frustrating moment. On that note, you need to check on the following tips of renting an apartment on Airbnb.

  1. Negotiate the price before settling

Your primary aim of renting an Airbnb apartment is to ensure that you spend as little as possible on accommodation to free up funds for use in other activities during the trip. Therefore, you need to negotiate for the lowest possible price before making a payment. On the Airbnb website, there’s a button that indicates “Request to Book” where you need to click when making a booking. If you intend to negotiate the price, don’t click on the button first. Instead, click “Contact this host” and it will prompt you to indicate the dates that you are willing to stay in the house. Put this data in the necessary slots, and this will guarantee you of a place in the house that you are booking even though you don’t pay at first. From here, you can then negotiate with the house owner for the best price, and once you’ve agreed, you can proceed to make the payment.

2. Booking for more days than you need can be cheaper

You can save a lot of money while booking on the Airbnb platform if you are keen on the special offers they have for their users. At times, there are particular offers that enable you to save more if you book a number of days, say, one week. For instance, if you intended to stay for five days at a standard  price of $ 800, you might find a similar home with a special offer of 7 days at $ 750. In such a case, it’s evident that you stand saving $50 should you pick the special offer.   So, consider checking out such special offers before you select an apartment on Airbnb.

3. You can visit the place before you book

If you happen to be already at the area that you intend to stay in during your vacation, you can pay a physical visit to the place that you intend to stay in after identifying it on Airbnb. This will enable you to evaluate whether it is exactly where you would like to stay and has the facilities you need in an ideal apartment. Remember, booking first can be tricky as you may find out that the place is not as attractive as you thought. After visiting the apartment and you are satisfied that it is perfect for your stay, you should pay via Airbnb platform. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that you are not scammed which is a possibility if you pay directly to the house owner.

When you follow the tips mentioned above, you might save some bucks and will be able to choose a perfect home away from home through Airbnb.

5 Unique Activities to Experience Jordan

5 Unique Activities to Experience Jordan

Jordan I have to admit is one of my favorite countries. I love the history (it’s ancient), the culture, the sites, the people, and the food; especially the food!

Jordan is a modern country that sits on ancient land.  Civilization in Jordan pre-dates biblical times.  It  has been home to ancient people since the  Neolithic Period over 12,000 years ago.

In fact some of the first artwork made by humans were discovered in Ayn Ghazal archaeological site in what is now Amman the modern city that is the  country’s capital.  In total 15 pottery statues were unearthed at the site and they are now displayed at the new Jordan Museum in Amman.

The museum is also home to some of the Dead Sea Scrolls including one of the famous copper scrolls.  The Jordan Museum should be on your list of places to visit in Jordan regardless if you’re a history buff or not.  The statues are amazing and the scrolls are definitely intriguing.

But to really experience Jordan step away from the museums and the hustle and bustle of the busy capital and visit some famous and not so famous sites around the country.  Here are 5 unique activities that will make your Jordan vacation truly memorable.


The ancient Rose City of Petra located in southwest Jordan is arguably one of the most important archaeological sites on earth.  In my opinion it ranks up there with the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Pyramids of Chichen Itza in Mexico, and the UK’s henges.

The city is located in Wadi Musa, the Valley of Moses where according to the holy books Moses struck one of the stones in the desert valley and found water. Nestled between desert canyons and mountains Petra was the thriving trading center and capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 BC and AD 106.  The ancient buildings with elaborate facades were carved out of the sandstone cliffs in the second century AD.

I believe that a trip to Jordan is incomplete if one doesn’t visit the city of Petra.  A trek through Petra is a humbling and awe inspiring experience.  There are many ways to see Petra, the site is huge even though just 15% of the city has been excavated.

I prefer to walk in from the main gates.  To reach the city one must meander thru the twisting canyon called the Siq.  Walking is the best way to see all the features of the Siq including the system of ledges that brought water into the city in ancient times.  You’ll also see some carved mini “temples” and staircases scattered through out the Siq; you never really know what lies beyond the curve until you get there!

It’s also the best way to get your first glimpse of the city, believe me it’s breathtaking!  The narrow Siq opens  up to allow you to set foot in the ancient city and the first sight you will see is the iconic building made famous by the movie Indian Jones and the Last Crusade.  Stepping into the sunshine from the shadows of the Siq is a magical moment!

You can wander the city on foot then catch a donkey  up to the monastery located up a steep path towards the end of the site.

Or if you prefer you can hire a camel to walk you around the city.  On your way out if you’re too tired to walk back to the main gate you and hire a carriage to take you back.

How ever you decide to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site it is definitely worth the time.  For more information on things to see in Petra click  here!

Wadi Rum Glamping

Wadi Rum is a desert valley in south Jordan known for its spectacular sunsets and topographical formations.

A ride through Wadi Rum is like a voyage through Earth’s topographic evolution.  Many of the formations are older than the Dead Sea Rift which forms the western part of Jordan.

Wadi Rum is a desolate inhospitable place that the local Bedouins have camped in and traveled through  for centuries.  Today Wadi Rum is a protected area where visitors can participate in a variety of activities.

One of the most popular things to do is to stay overnight in a luxurious tent.  A far cry from the tents used by ancient bedouins these modern tents are air conditioned, have running water, and are very comfortable.  Many of the tent resorts or hotels are located deep enough within the preserve that you get a feeling of the isolation.  If you’ve never experienced the saying “as black as night” this is one of the places to do so.  The darkness that surrounds you makes it the perfect place to stargaze for those are the only points of light you’ll mostly see.

You can go trekking on camels, by horseback, or by 4×4 vehicles.  You can even hike, but bring a guide and lots of water if you do.  Or for a very special activity go on a balloon ride at sunrise or sunset.  Spectacular!

Take a Dip in the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea has the lowest elevation and the lowest body of water on the surface of the Earth. Its surface level is over 1400 feet below sea level.

The Dead Sea is actually a landlocked lake located between Israel and Jordan.  Its main source of water other than rain is the Jordan River although there are small tributaries and underground springs which trickle into the lake. But the Dead Sea is the terminus for the flow, in short there is now way out.  So the water accumulated in the lake evaporates and creates salt.

It is famous for it’s healing waters which are said to cure everything from skin disorders to diabetes.  The benefits of the waters are attributed to the high concentration of salts that have accumulated in the lake over centuries.

Because of the extremely high salinity pretty much everything is buoyant in the Dead Sea. So even if you don’t know how to swim you will float, but be aware that even though you float it doesn’t mean you can’t drown.  In fact floating on your stomach is not a great idea, because the water is so buoyant turning and swimming is difficult; so you could get stuck on your stomach and drown!

But with some common sense and caution a dip in the Dead Sea is a must do when in Jordan!

Visit Umm Quais

Umm Quais is both a modern town and ancient city in Northern Jordan.  Known as Gadara in ancient times it was a member of the Decapolis, a group of 10 city/states, that marked the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire.

It was also occupied by the Byzantines and later the Umayyad Dynasty so you’ll find ruins of those ancient civilizations as well.

What makes this town and site unique is it’s location.  Snuggled amid the Golan Heights of Syria, the Jordan Valley of Jordan and the West Bank, and Lake Tiberia (The Sea of Galilee) in Israel Umm Quais quite literally has a view of 3 countries, or 4 on a clear day when one can spot the mountains of Lebanon.

The archaeological site is pretty much off the beaten path so you won’t find it busy at all.  You can sit in the black basalt theater, walk the still paved Decumanus Maximus (main road going east to west) of the city in Roman times, stroll down the Cardo Maximus (Colonnaded main road going north to south), wander the ancient ruins that include a basilica, underground mausoleum, and a 16th. century church; and enjoy a meal at the cafe that’s built into the ruins of an ancient building.  You can even visit the small on site museum that houses finds from the area’s excavation; you may have to round up the person in charge to unlock the building.

Umm Quais is one of my favorite sites, the views from the cafe are amazing.  A trip to Umm Quais can be combined with a trip to Jerash, Irbid, and Ajloun.  All are worth visiting!


A trip to Jordan would never be complete without trying all the wonderful food the area has to offer.

Don’t be afraid to try the shawarma and falafel sandwiches being sold on the road; they are amazing not to mention unbelievably cheap!

And then there are the outdoor cafes along the roads, I love the ones in the Shmesani district where the cafes, restaurants, and coffee houses are busy til the wee hours of the night!

For amazing falafel, hummus, and fresh baked bread try out Hashem’s downtown (even the Royals eat there!) or head to one of Abu Jbara’s locations.

For sweet treats nothing beats Habibah.  You can grab some fresh kunafa at the little downtown kiosk where you stand in the alley to eat your delicious cheese pastry or sit down at their new location a block away from Abu Jbara on Medina Street. The new 2 story location is a wonderland of middle eastern and western treats.  You’ll find baklava, kunafa, and maamoul along side ice cream, cakes, french pastries, and chocolates.

If you’re looking for something fancier head over to Reem Alo Bawadi.  The food is excellent and the service outstanding.

What ever you decide to eat you’ll find something for every taste and budget in Amman!  Want more great eats in Amman?  Click here!

Ready for your Jordan adventure?  Call Savvy Nana Travel, we’ll help you plan!












Experience Dubai with 5 Unique Activities

Experience Dubai with 5 Unique Activities

dubaiDubai is the 2nd. most populated emirate of the 7 emirates that make up the UAE.  It is probably the most “secular” and “westernized” emirate.  Although it’s still basically an “Islamic” city/state it doesn’t have very strict “sharia” practices like its neighboring emirates that require women to have their heads covered in public.

Dubai prides itself as having some of the most over the top buildings in the world, it is home to the Burj Khalifa currently the world’s tallest building.  It has built a world filled with luxury hotels, malls, theme parks, and entertainment venues.

dubaiA visit to Dubai is like a pilgrimage to luxury, fun, and entertainment.  Of course you must go see the Burj Khalifa and the Mall of Dubai, the world’s tallest building and one of the world’s largest malls filled with high end department stores and designer shops.  Indulge in cocktails at the iconic Burj al Arab hotel which bills itself as the world’s only 7 star luxury hotel.  And have some fun at Atlantis’s Aquapark.  But if you’re looking for something a bit more unique read on!

Here are 5 unique activities you can do for a memorable Dubai experience!

dubaiDune Bashing

Get out of town and into the desert for some daring dune bashing in the comfort of an air conditioned SUV.

You’ll be picked up at your hotel by a friendly driver who will drive you to the desert in the early morning or late afternoon where you’ll join a caravan of daredevils for a bit of fun on the desert dunes.

Desert Balloon Ride

Get a bird’s eye view of the desert during sunrise or sunset for an unforgettable experience.  You’ll see the shadows cast over the gently dunes and the changing colors of the skies.  Truly magnificent!


Ride a Camel

I know you can probably ride a camel at a Renaissance fair or zoo (maybe), but there’s something about riding one in the desert.  After all they are called ships of the desert!



Sand Surfing

Sand surfing in the desert is lots of fun, the only down side is you have to drag your board back up the sandy dune.

Best time to do this is late afternoon, just before sunset.  When the sand is not burning hot!



dubaiSki Dubai

Dubai is one of the few places in the world where you can ski indoors.  I’m pretty sure it’s the only indoor ski park in the middle of the desert.

You can’t leave Dubai without spending a day at Ski Dubai located in the Mall of the Emirates.  Even if you’re not a skier, which I’m not, you can enjoy some wintery rides in the park.  My favorite is the bobsled ride!

Ready to book your Dubai adventure?  Call Savvy Nana to help you plan!

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina – Great Dubai Resort!

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina – Great Dubai Resort!

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & MarinaTo say that Dubai has a ton of  hotels would be an understatement.  I believe there are almost 600 hotels in this city state that covers 1,588 square miles, that’s roughly the size of Rhode Island which covers an area of 1,544 square miles.  And the hotel count is growing with 140 more set to open in 2016 and still more during  the next 4 years to accommodate visitors expected to flock to Dubai during the World Expo in 2020.

So there definitely isn’t a shortage of hotel rooms! There are hotels to fit all types of travelers and budgets.  From low end hotels in the old city to super luxury resorts on Palm Island Dubai has it all. We’ve stayed in several different hotels there, including the JW Marriot Hotel Dubai in Deira,  the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel & Resort,  and the Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina.

All three are great hotels.  They’re comfortable, luxurious, have awesome service, and great locations.  But our all time favorite is the Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina, specially when the kids and grandkids are with us, they love the Westin.

Most of the resorts in Dubai, special those located in Jumeirah or on Palm Island are very kid friendly, but from my experience the Westin is the least expensive for the this class of hotel, depending on the season rates start at about $250 – 350 per night for a standard room.  Believe me other luxury hotels in the area charge more.

westinWe usually book Executive Club Rooms that have sea views and come with perks like breakfast, afternoon tea, cocktail hour, and all day drinks at the Executive Lounge located on the 8th. floor.

An Executive Club room starts at about $350 a night.  When you have kids it’s sometimes worth the extra dollars spent on the Executive room to have access to free drinks and snacks all day.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]




Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina

Blue Orange Restaurant

We also try to book the room to include breakfast, yes the Executive Club rooms include breakfast at the Lounge, but we love the buffet breakfast at the Blue Orange Restaurant located on the ground floor.

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina

Play area in the Blue Orange Restaurant

The space is much larger with a greater variety of food choices, and has a play area for the kids.  I did say the hotel was very kid friendly![spacer height=”-20px”]


Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina

Fresh crepes at the Blue Orange Restaurant

Not to mention their crepes are amazing!

The buffet breakfast is pretty pricey if it’s not included in the room rate.  It’s about $40 per person and children under 12 are half price.

If you can’t get the breakfast package when you make your reservation you can splurge on the breakfast buffet at least a couple of times during your stay.  It’s so worth it![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]



IMG_2735Ok other than the amazing breakfast buffet here are other reasons why we love this resort.

The rooms are spacious with ample storage, the beds very comfortable, and the bathroom luxurious with plush towels, robes, and slippers. Each room is equipped with a handy Nespresso coffee machine which housekeeping restocks at least once a day.  Did I mention they clean the rooms twice daily and have turn down service?  The kids love the little chocolates they leave on the pillows!  So yes the resort is luxurious and has awesome service.

On a tangent the kids loved the welcome gifts they receive when we check -in.  They each got a little backpack filled with vacation essentials; a disposable camera, water bottle, and beach toys.  I think the concierge gave them the gifts while we were checking in.  I can’t quite remember I was busy with the welcome drink and snack they let you munch on while checking in.  The cold towels they offer at check in was much appreciated too.  I told you they were awesome!

Oh and speaking of awesome the concierge will loan you a child’s car seat if you need one, free!  They add a small deposit to your room charge until you return the seat, then they remove the charge.  Fair enough because it was a very nice car seat.  Saved us a bundle too, Hertz was going to charge us $20 a day to rent Jett’s car seat and we were there for 2 weeks!

The concierge will also handle lost luggage, I mean luggage that the airlines very nicely lost for you on your way to Dubai.  A couple of years ago the airlines (not Emirates) somehow misplaced all our luggage.  The Westin’s concierge followed up for us and as they were delivered we found them already in our rooms.  It took the airlines  3 days to finally deliver them all.  The concierge kept us appraised of our luggage situation daily until they were all delivered, took the stress of arguing with the airlines away!

Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & MarinaAmong the best features of this hotel is the beautiful stretch of beach on the property, it’s quite a long stretch as the Westin is connected to its sister property Le Meridien, another great hotel.  Guests at either resort have access to both resorts amenities including the pools, kids’ club and play area, and restaurants.

It’s a private beach and from there you can see across to Palm Island.   The kids loved splashing in the very warm Gulf water and collecting the many shells scattered on the beach.


westinWhen they’re not at the beach the kids love the pools.  The children’s pool is shaded by a tarp.  It has a small water slide and a little cave the kids can play in.  The lifeguards are very friendly and attentive.   By the end of our last stay they were calling the kids by name!


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IMG_3019And whether you’re on the beach or at the pool the pool valets are always around.  They pass around cold water and small cups of cold juices and the always welcome cold towels and misters, all free of charge.  You can also order drinks, snacks, or lunch.  Just ask for a menu and they’ll be happy to bring it.  Food and beverages are charged to your room of course.   How much more pampered can you be?

While you’re at the pool you can enjoy some adult time with out the kids by dropping them off at the kids’ club, it’s located by the beach between the 2 resorts. A schedule of kids’ activities is posted by the towel kiosk as you enter the pool area.  There’re many different activities through out the day.

The Kids’ Club staff are very good.  When you first sign up the manager will let you know what the activities are and will list down any special needs your child may have including food allergies.  Snacks are provided and you can arrange for your child to have lunch there as well.  They will also ask for a list of people who you authorize to sign your child in and out of the club.

IMG_2291 IMG_2295The Kids’ Club area is very safe and secure.  There’s an out door play area with play ground equipment on the beach side, but you don’t have to worry, it’s fenced in and has no beach exits.  The indoor play areas is air conditioned and has books, toys, video games, and movies for your child to use.    For younger children they have art activities and story time, for older kids they have sports including soccer and basketball.  Did I mention most activities are free?[spacer height=”-20px”]




IMG_2559My grandson Dion participated in the Banana Boat ride.  The activity cost about $8 and was scheduled for one afternoon a week.  He had a blast!

IMG_2547We watched him from the comfort of the beach lounges!

But the water fun isn’t limited to kids! The water sports center rents jet skis, kayaks, speedboats, and more. Remember it is a Resort & Marina!

And of course there’s a gym and their Heavenly Spa.[spacer height=”-20px”]




The Westin Mina Seyahi Resort & Marina really does have something for everyone.  It’s a great family friendly hotel at a great location.   It’s fun and comfortable resort at a great location, with excellent service, and great restaurants.  That’s why it’s our favorite reasonably priced resort in Dubai!

For other kid friendly hotels in Dubai click here!  For budget friendly Dubai hotels click here!

Dubai Mall – Free & Not So Free Things To Do With Kids

Dubai Mall – Free & Not So Free Things To Do With Kids

Dubai Mall

Dubai is such an amazing place.  The city state boasts the world’s tallest building, one of largest suspended aquariums in the world located in one of the largest indoor malls, and so much more.  There’s lots to see and do in Dubai you won’t know where to begin.  We’ve been there several times and still haven’t seen it all.

For our family one of the best things about Dubai is that it is very kid and family friendly.  Many of the venues are geared for families with children.  But it’s not cheap!  Many of the attractions such as Ski Dubai and Atlantis’ Aquaventure  come with a very hefty price tag.  But don’t despair, there are many things you can enjoy with the kids without breaking the bank.  One of them is a day at the Dubai Mall.

Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest indoor malls.  It’s home to 1200 retail stores, The Dubai Aquarium, an ice skating rink, a real dinosaur, movie theaters, and more.  Sure most of the things in Dubai Mall are not free, but there are many that are free or very inexpensive.

First let me start some of the free and less expensive things you can do with the kids and end with the most expensive activities.

Dubai Mall

The Toy Store

Browse the candy and toy stores, they’re pretty amazing!  Of course this can get costly if you decide to go on a shopping spree, but if you can manage to keep your credit cards in you wallet, or stay on budget, the kids will be delighted.

The Toy Store located on the lower ground floor is a child’s dream store.  It’s a huge store filled with just about every toy imaginable.  It’s also lots of fun.  The store front is filled with sales associates demonstrating cool new toys, best of all they interact with the kids and even let them try out the toys.  Great marketing!  You’re welcome to browse thru the store, touch, and even play with the samples that are scattered throughout. Getting out of the store without making a purchase can be challenging, but we managed several times.  Well ok, we got the kids out fine, but on one visit my husband insisted on purchasing one of the flying gizmos!

Dubai Mall

Al Nassma Kiosk

The kids loved the Al Nassma kiosk also located on the lower ground floor.  The kiosk sells beautifully boxed chocolates made from camel’s milk.

The kids thought camel’s milk candy was cool, but I’m not sure they really liked it.  They did love the gold colored camel that was part of the decor.  The sales associate was nice enough to let the boys ride the camel and take photos.

My grandson Dion picked up a small box of chocolates for his mom and my husband bought several bars to munch on.  If you’re adventurous you may want to give it a try, but the chocolates are pretty pricey!

There are several other sweets shops nearby including Patchi that sells high quality chocolates made in Lebanon.  The kids loved choosing samples which the sales associates handed out freely.


Dubai Mall


Candylicious located on the ground floor directly across from The Dubai Aquarium is actually a bunch of candy stores under one roof.  The store is huge and houses different sections of various products.

In the front you’ll find Garret popcorn shop selling a variety of yummy popcorn.  The popcorn is sold by weight so you can buy as much or as little as you want.  We picked up a couple of bags to munch on.

Dubai Mall

Chocolate Moonshine Co.

Further in the shop you’ll find the Chocolate Moonshine Co.  This family owned US company prides itself in making artisan that are gluten free and have 0 trans fats.

You’re encouraged to sample the many flavors and create your own sampler box.

We picked up a couple of  boxes to enjoy when we returned home.  They really are yum with lots of interesting flavors.

Dubai Mall


In the back of Candylicious you’ll find candy confectioners busy making handmade candy at Spun.

If you want you can order custom candy in the flavors and colors of your choice or have them write a message on one of their large lollipops.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Spun Confectioners

You can watch them make colorful hard candies and lollipops….[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Sushi Tray made of hard rock candy

and browse their cool candy creations like this sushi tray.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai MallOn the other side of the store there’s a wind booth where you can buy a ticket for a chance to grab coupons for a chance to win prizes.  Each ticket costs about $5 and gives you a couple of minutes in the booth to grab as much coupons as you can.  My grandson Dion tried it and won a bag of goodies. [spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Devon with his freshly made cotton candy

My grandson Devon loved watching the candy maker make cotton candy, he loved eating it too!  The cotton candy cost about $5.  If you want to save it for later the candy maker will happily bag it for you.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Now that the kids are on a candy rush you can head to the Dubai Fountain located on the lower ground floor.  You can’t miss it, just follow the signs!  There’s a fountain show every half hour or so, check at the mall for the schedule.  Enjoy the show for free anywhere along the promenade or grab a cup of coffee from Tim Horton’s or a burger from 5 Guys and take a seat in their outdoor seating area.  For more upscale fountain side dining check out Wafi Gourmet for lunch or dinner.  They serve delicious Middle Eastern cuisine and have outdoor seating where you can watch the fountain show during your meal.

Dubai Mall


Check out the DubaiDino on the ground floor.  Hard to miss just follow the dino tracks!

This real dinosaur was discovered almost intact in 2008 in Wyoming.  It was air-freighted to its new home at the Dubai Mall and is now on display in the Souk Dome.  You can gaze at this 25 foot tall behemoth, read its story, and chat with the Dino Team.  They’re real friendly folks and will happily answer your questions.  Best of all this is free![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

The Dubai Aquarium

Another popular free attraction is the outer wall of The Dubai Aquarium located across from Candylicious.  You’re welcome to watch its many inhabitants swim by as long as you want, as long as you can fight the crowds!

If you want to walk thru the tunnel you’ll have to buy a ticket.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Food Court at the Dubai Mall

If you get hungry you certainly have lots of places to choose from.  Just about every floor has a restaurant.  But when you have kids the food court is a good choice.  There are so many choices I’m sure you’ll find something for everyone, the challenge is finding a table![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Ice Cream Lab

After lunch or dinner if you have room try the ice cream of the feature from the Ice Cream Lab located in the food court.  The kids got a kick out of watching the ice cream makers make their ice cream for them.  If ice cream’s not your thing there’re many other sweet shops in the food court.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Dubai Ice Rink

You can work off that ice cream at the Dubai Ice Rink.  Or you can just watch the skaters!  The Olympic size rink is located a couple of floors below the food court.

Check for times and prices before  you go.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Sega Republic

Or you can check out Sega Republic and indoor theme park located across from the food court.  You’ll find rides and arcade games all centered around Sega video games.  There are different passes available for purchase.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai MallOr you can just walk the upper level of the mall and browse the shops.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall


The boys loved the Lamborghini store and took photos by the gold Lamborghini on display.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium

Or you can head back to the Dubai Aquarium, it’s very cool.  Tickets start at about $25 per person to the Aquarium and the Underwater Zoo.

The Underwater Zoo is located on the upper floor, once you’ve walked thru the aquarium tunnel you’ll be directed to the elevator or escalator to the zoo.  There are many cool exhibits and habitats in the Zoo.[spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

You can purchase the ticket that includes a ride in the glass bottom boat and get a different view of the aquarium critters.  We did this one year, it was very cool![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]

Dubai Mall

Emirates A380 Experience

If you or the kids love flying and splurging is within your budget then book a session with the Emirates A380 Experience.  It’s a flight simulator that puts you in the cockpit of this beautiful plane.

As I said this is a bit of a splurge!  A thirty minute session costs a bit over $100!

The Emirates A380 Experience is located on the ground level right next to the Emirates Official Store.  The boys loved the store, they were able to buy model planes, pilot and flight attendant uniforms, and other logo stuff at fairly reasonable prices.

If you want to ride the high speed elevator to the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck you can purchase tickets at the Dubai Mall.  The ticket booth is located not far from the Dubai Fountain.  Tickets start at about $30 per person depending on which floor you want to go to and the time of your visit.

Whatever you decide to do at the Dubai Mall I’m sure you’ll have a great time.  There is so much to see and do you’re sure to find something that fits your tastes and budget.  Remember you don’t have to spend a cent, but it’s sure hard not to!

For more information on Dubai activities click here!  For kid friendly hotels in Dubai click here!