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When you think of Dubai, you don’t normally think of kids, right? But thanks to the abundance of cool attractions—skiing in the desert, hot air balloon rides, the world’s tallest building—it turns out that Dubai holds the ticket to your best family vacation yet. We’ve teamed up with Emirates Airline to bring you nine reasons why you should make Dubai your next group getaway, starting with the plane ride. (Think a special kids’ menu and toys, more than 100 on-screen games and plenty of parent-approved TV channels to help you, and the babies, rest easy.)

desert safari dubai

You Can Spend a Day in the Desert

For the self-proclaimed adventurer in your clan, a seven-hour desert safari is the way to go. Go sand boarding, take a camel ride or drive dune buggies through the desert. You can even go at sunset to enjoy a family meal at a traditional Bedouin-style camp. Tip: Wear light-colored clothing (linen, linen, linen) and bring a lot of sunscreen.

old dubai

They Have Culture in Droves...

Cross the Dubai Creek in an abra, a traditional wooden boat, to visit the Al Fahidi Historical District—the oldest heritage site in Dubai. The original buildings have been converted into cafés, art galleries and little shops that make for a perfect afternoon escape. We recommend visiting the Dubai Museum, the Textile Souk and the XVA Art Hotel.

ski dubai

...And Indoor Skiing

OK, it’s official: Dubai has everything. Spend a day on the slopes at Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. Located in the Mall of the Emirates, the site features a state-of-the-art chairlift, tube slides, zip-lining and five ski runs. Ski Dubai even has real snow and maintains a -4° temperature. Don’t worry, though, there’s world-famous Avalanche hot chocolate to warm you up.

hot air balloon ride dubai

You’ll Sightsee From Totally New Heights...

Since your family has already spent the day in the desert, now it’s time to spend a day above the desert. Take a hot air balloon ride over the expansive sand dunes. Float along as you watch the sunrise over the Hajar Mountains, witness falcons flying beside you and gaze down on the roaming camels, gazelles and the Arabian oryxes. When you land, enjoy a gourmet breakfast of caviar and smoked salmon on the private conservation reserve.

burj khalifa dubai
dblight/Getty Images

...And Visit the World’s Tallest Building

Yep, it’s true. The Burj Khalifa stands tall at 2,716.5 feet and has more than 160 stories. At level 148, check out At the Top, the world’s highest outdoor observation deck, and take in the 360-degree views while relaxing in the Sky lounge. Practice your photography skills beforehand, because you’re going to want to capture this (no filters necessary).

kite beach dubai

They’ve Got All the Water Sports Your Heart Desires...

Dubai is home to some of the prettiest beaches, thanks to the crystal-clear waters of the Arabian Gulf. We suggest hitting up Kite Beach to take part in all sorts of water activities, from kite surfing to paddle boarding. In addition to water sports, there’s an outdoor trampoline, children’s play area and restaurants, making it perfect for families of all ages.

aquariam dubai

...And An Underwater Zoo

Located inside the Dubai Mall, this suspended (i.e., tunnel-like) aquarium is one of the largest in the world, featuring more than 140 species of fish and over 300 sharks and rays. Get up close and personal with gorillas, whale sharks and elephants with the fully immersive virtual-reality zoo. Or, if you want to see the animals firsthand, try aquatic experiences like cage snorkeling and shark dives.

miracle garden dubai

You Can Walk Through a Fairy-Tale Garden...

Holding a Guinness World Record for the largest flower arrangement, the Dubai Miracle Garden has no shortage of impressive detail. There are approximately 100 million blooms that will surely bring a smile to your face. Sit back, relax and smell the roses—quite literally.

water park dubai

...And, Finally, Take Your Pick of Six Different Theme Parks

When shopping and relaxing on the beach aren’t enough for your thrill-seeking family, head to Dubai’s various theme parks. Just a few of them include Motiongate, a movie lover’s paradise;Legoland Water Park, for the younger crowd; and Riverland, where you can experience a journey through time in four different eras.

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