Face painting
Photo for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Unsplash

Are fun, free and fancy your watch words when you are looking at what do with the kids all day? We’ve got you covered. Whether you want to spend an afternoon out in the sun or engage in a parent-child workshop, we’ve scouted out your options. Get ready for a fun ride:

Jameel Arts Centre: Head to this institution at the Jaddaf Waterfront in Dubai to see curated art shows, engage in workshops and – well – just learn about art stuff. One January 30, for instance, there’s a sensory-stimulating workshop and tour for those aged between three and five. The workshop, conducted by Learning Coordinator Hadeel Al Heeti, teaches kids about the art of listening through a guided tour, exploring the sounds from Samson Young’s Reasonable Music to Hassan Khan’s A Composition for a Public Park. Registration is needed.

Dubai Flea Market: Like your games vintage and easy on the coin? Hit the Dubai Flea market on January 23 at Ibn Battuta Mall’s Parking 3 - rooftop (first floor), where you’ll find gems – some old school and some new – all at a discount. The flea market will from February run every second Sunday of the month. Timings: 11am-5pm.

The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai: Few things are better than watching the night sky light up in a rainbow of colours – see the joy on your child’s face when you see the fountain’s jets dance in the breeze and in the precisely placed spotlights and witness the fireworks festival between January 24 to 30 at 9pm. The fountain shows are held daily every half an hour from sunset to midnight.

Dubai Creek Harbour Playground: Get ready for some quiet time as your child finds himself engrossed in one of these thematic play districts. The first is a marine-themed play area with a giant wooden whale, seaweed forests, climbing area and slides. The second is a dune-inspired space and the third an Emirati-themed Creek Play installation. You can sip on some hot joe as you watch the boats go by.

Trump International Golf Club’s Caddy Shack: At this Friday Market at the Caddy Shack, kids can enjoy face painting, learn a new trick at the arts and crafts stations and play as you shop and check out pop-up shops. Timings: 3pm to 10pm.

Expo 2020 Dubai: Head over to the world’s greatest fair where those under 18 get in for free - there's much to do and see including engaging with interactive exhibits, watching magic shows and science experiments, trying out rides and stoping over at cool pavilions. 

Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project at Jumeirah Al Naseem: Teach the kiddos about marine ecosystems and how to conserve them when you visit this centre dedicated to helping turtles. While the kids – and you – can go over to the outdoor turtle enclosure every day, Wednesdays are special – you can join a feeding session.

Visit The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road: A carnival atmosphere awaits families here – with sun, sand and cool little waves of water lapping at your feet. There are vendors with everything from cotton candy to hot dogs, free play areas – and for those so inclined, public exercise spots. There’s also shopping, movies and all that stuff, but even if you don’t want to spend moolah, this spot has much to offer – think reel-perfect shots for Instagram, activities for the kids and surfing, if you are up for it.

Ripe Market: This cool market is fun for both adults and kids – there are plenty of one-of-a-kind things for the parents to try and buy, and for the kids there are a number of activities including arts and craft sessions, a bouncing area and even a mini-petting zoo. The indoor markets at the Dubai Police Academy Park on Saturday and Sunday from 9am - 9pm is free for those under 12; adults pay Dh5.

Al Fahidi Historical District: This picturesque spot is home to Dubai’s oldest building (1780s) the Al Fahidi Fort, the Dubai Museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Wend through the lanes of the district, which was once known as Al Bastakiya, and you’ll discover hidden nooks with beautiful artworks, cafes offering delicious treats and Insta-perfect spots where you can capture a memory with your young one.

Dubai Fountains: Spend an evening watching the famous fountain dance this way and that as the sky changes colour. The world’s tallest tower sometimes joins in the evening shows with light displays or cool messages. Visiting Dubai – this is one shot you won’t want to miss. Evening shows every 30 mins 6-11pm (times may vary).

Dubai Water Canal: Stroll into the Dubai Canal bridge where you can walk the length of the Twisted Bridge. Or walk along it and see the purple-lit waterfall cascading beneath Sheikh Zayed Road come sundown.

La Mer: Hang out at this cool spot where graffiti is splashed across walls; wooden rides stand waiting for children; and a sandy shore calls for a relaxed time out. You can take a dip in the pool, watch roaming entertainers or just watch the day gently give right of way to the night. Free to visit, Jumeirah 1, retailers open from 10am to 9pm.

Al Qudra Lakes: I think we can all agree that this is the perfect time for a picnic. Carry lots of tuck, game boards and cycles with you and bundle up the kids. Relax by the waterside as you feed ducks, see heron feed and play a game or two. Be warned though - there are no bathrooms nearby; this is truly the wild.

Mleiha Archaeological Centre: Have a history buff by your side? Indulge him or her when you visit this centre that will regale with tales of a time gone by, of Bedouin culture, of rare artefacts from the region. Access to the centre is Dh25 for adults and Dh15 for kids (3-12, under 3s are free. Open Sat-Wed, 9am to 7pm, Thu-Fri until 9pm.

Sharjah Science Museum: Curiosity is key to enjoying this attraction. Kids can learn about the science behind illusions, astrophysics, aerodynamics and more through experimentation. Timings: Wednesday to Friday from 3pm to 8.30pm. Tickets: Free entry for kids under two.