Where to stay
You'll need to check carefully that the room you're booking can accomodate a family of more than three. Generally they can sleep one child, but you may need to order an extra bed, take two rooms or plump for a suite. The Hilton Abu Dhabi by the Corniche has large swimming pools, children's activities and even a baby sitting service, as well as its own beach club. The Raha Beach Hotel is also kid-friendly and placed ideally near to Yas Island.
Sunday: Beach time
Day: Get a feel for the city with a trip to the Corniche. You can enjoy beach time, or make use of the numerous kids' play areas in the parks that line the city side of the road. For watery adventure, try out the new Aqua Fun inflatable park at the Emirates Palace end of the Corniche. Set in the shallow sea water, the park has inflatable obstacle courses, slides and numerous other games and activities to enjoy. A VIP pass with unlimited rides is Dhs.125.
Evening: Head to any of the city's large malls. They have some excellent restaurants that are well geared-up for kids, and most also have food courts if you have picky eaters. Amusements centres are also commonplace, where children can win prizes in electronic games or enjoy rides like rollercoasters and swinging ships. Marina Mall even has an ice rink.
Monday: Watery fun
Day: You'll need all day to enjoy Yas Waterworld on Yas Island. It might be wise to hire one of the traditionally styled tents so you have a base that offers shade and somewhere for younger children to take an afternoon nap. There are plenty of rides, a pearl diving demonstration, special kids' water fort and even an interactive game for children that helps them to explore the park. The park has a few cafe areas for food breaks too.
Evening: If you're not all exhausted by the evening, Api Cae Gourmet restaurant in Khalidiyah has a Lil Chef programme. Within that, they offer one hour cooking classes for kids that have a fun focus on healthy ingredients.
Tuesday: Animal experiences
Day: Kids love animals and Abu Dhabi has a few great options. Emirates Park Zoo, just outside of Abu Dhabi (around Dhs.60 in a taxi from the city centre), is a family favourite. The well-kept zoo offers lots of opportunities for visitors to feed animals, including griaffe, zebra and goats. Al Ain Zoo is quite a distance from Abu Dhabi city, but it's possibly the biggest and best zoo in the UAE. During the hot summer months they even do evening safaris, where you can see (or hear) the animals coming out at night.
Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre in the Mussafah area is the place to go for big cats. The rescue sanctuary has many animal residents and conducts one hour tours that shows the good work they're up to.
Evening: Abu Dhabi has a number of excellent buffet restaurants that offer a range of different food types, often with fun dessert selections too. They're kind of like a scaled down brunch. Try La Terrazza at the Hilton Corniche, Dine at Aloft, Cuiscene at Fairmont or a themed night buffet at Choices in Rotana Yas Island.
Wednesday: Culture vulture
Morning: Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital might not seem an obvious choice for kids, but the fascinating tour includes some close up encounters with these fabulous birds of prey. There are even photo opportunities, where children can hold a falcon (or a smaller hobby for toddlers).
Afternoon/ Evening: Follow up the falcon experience with a desert safari. Be aware that some dune bashing can be quite violent and upsetting for young children, so make sure to ask whether this can be more of a gentle jaunt across the sand. Some tour operators may insist that families travelling with children under a certain age charter a vehicle of their own, so that passengers sharing the tour don't have their experience diminished. This will obviously cost more.
Kids will enjoy playing around on dunes by the desert camp and if there's a falcon display they can see the birds they learned about earlier in action. Food is included and you should be back in your hotel by around 10pm.
Thursday: Adrenaline fuelled
Day: The huge red building that is Ferrari World Abu Dhabi on Yas Island is great for families. While older visitors may find high adrenaline thrills limited to rides like Formula Rossa, the kids will be in their element. Ride on cars, mini tours of Italy, simulators and more...you'll be glad of a pit stop of your own after trawling through the huge complex.
Evening: Spaccanapoli at Crowne Plaza is famous for its metre long pizzas, offering quite the challenge even for the hungriest of kids as well as the adults.
Day: A brunch can be a family-friendly affair too, depending on where you go to. Noche's brunch at Hilton Capital Grand, Silk Route Cafe at Holiday Inn, Bubbalicious Brunch at the Westin Abu Dhabi, Essence at Beach Rotana and Sevilla at Raha Beach Hotel all put on entertainment for kids. The Ritz-Carlton's impressive brunch has a fantastic desert selection that will have kids wowed and also has some clowns for entertainment. Or the One to One Hotel is the one to go for if your kids may enjoy a ride on one of their ponies.
Saturday: Take to the water
Morning: There are number of companies that offer boat trips around Abu Dhabi, which is a great way to see the city. Some will take you around Yas Island, some for cruises along the Corniche and others can tailor a trip to visit the surrounding islands. They generally supply drinks and snacks and some let you take your own food on board.
Afternoon/ Evening: From 10am until 4pm on Saturdays there's a market at Yas Marina. They put on outside movies for kids later on, have a water fountain that young ones love to splash in and a newly installed playground with shelter from the sun. The lively Stars 'N' Bars restaurant is a family favourite, with special kids' menu and often some entertainment on Saturdays for the youngsters. They might enjoy the Harley's that turn up most evenings too.
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