Most people’s definition of a great vacation changes when they become parents, doesn’t it? You go from thinking only of what would satisfy your adventurous spirit or need for relaxation to prioritizing how to keep your little ones entertained and happy while you still have a good time, too.

Luckily, Abu Dhabi is one destination where you don’t have to “either-or” your way through your holiday plans when traveling with children.

Apart from fabulous shopping outlets, incredible food experiences, crystalline beaches and plenty of world-class hotels and resorts to unwind in, the UAE capital is also home to some of the most exciting and family-friendly theme parks and cultural hotspots for all ages to enjoy, from the rambunctious toddlers and hard-to-impress tweens to the thrill-seeking or culture-vulture parents.

Here are six of those unmissable destinations:

1. Warner Bros. World™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

As far as kids’ activities in Abu Dhabi go, the world’s largest indoor theme park, Warner Bros. World™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, definitely tops the list. At the size of 1.65 million square feet, this mega theme park features six immersive lands (soon to be seven with Harry Potter’s witchcraft and wizardry world), 29 exhilarating rides and attractions and a host of live entertainment shows starring beloved characters from the Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera cartoons, DC Comics and many other franchises.

Yabba-dabba-dash across Bedrock’s prehistoric sights and sounds with everyone’s favorite Stone Age family, the Flintstones. Test drive the newest prototype of the Caped Crusader’s Batmobile; hop aboard a drivable space pod and smash into other vehicles to power Marvin the Martian’s rocket ship back into orbit. Or, spin faster than a Tasmanian Devil on a rollercoaster ride in a gut-busting fight between the madcap duo, Tom and Jerry.

And when it’s time to stop for a refuel, Warner Bros. World has a diverse bevy of grab-n-go, quick service and table dining options to delight even the most picky eaters. There’s pizza at the Hollywood Trattoria, juicy patties at Bronto Burgers and Ribs, icy slushies at the Yogi Bear and Boo Boo truck, and so much more to savor.

2. Seaworld Yas IslandⓇ, Abu Dhabi

SeaWorld Yas IslandⓇ, Abu Dhabi is the next generation of marine life theme parks and the first of its kind in the region. Under its 183,000 square meter futuristic dome, you and your little ones can explore eight aquatic realms from the variant tropics of the Pacific to the frozen abyss of the Arctic, where you’ll:

  • Discover over 100,000 species of marine life, including 40 species of fish, dugongs, sea snakes, hammerhead sharks, turtles, manta rays, California sea lions, harbor seals, walruses, dolphins and even Arctic foxes.
  • Spot colorful tropical birds like macaws, flamingos and toucans.
  • Attend engaging and educational presentations like the dolphin and sea lion shows, learning just how intelligent and playful these animals are.
  • Feed and interact with sea lions.
  • Go on nearly 35 rides and slides suited for the whole family, ranging from gentle attractions like the Eel Racer to dizzying thrills like the Manta coaster.
  • Shop for clothes, gifts or souvenirs at 13 retail outlets.

But that’s not all there is to your adventure at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. Did you know that this theme park is also home to Yas SeaWorld Research & Rescue, the first and only research, rescue, rehabilitation and release facility of its kind in the MENA region?

Yas SeaWorld Research & Rescue is a key contributor to global marine life conservation efforts and a place where you can witness up close the tireless work done by its expert staff to safeguard these beautiful creatures.

3. Yas Waterworld™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

Promising a wave of good times and endless, dripping-wet fun, Yas Waterworld™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi is an unmissable stop for families vacationing in Abu Dhabi. Whether you want to plunge into gravity-defying depths, float along in a lazy river or splash around in shallow pools with your little ones, there’s a ride fit for every age and thrill level. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Dawwama: A six-person water coaster with a 20-meter funnel drop filled with incredible twists and turns.
  • Bubbles Barrel: The world’s largest surfable sheet wave.
  • Bandit Bomber: A high-speed roller coaster with special effects and water blasters for you to shoot at other riders.
  • Al Raha River: A 300-meter-long, slow-flowing waterway for the laid-back folks to laze about without a care.
  • Cinesplash: A 5D cinematic experience with Dana and her friends on a quest to uncover the Legend of the Lost Pearl, complete with a sensory effect galore of moving seats, splashing waters, floods and explosions.

Before jetting off to Yas Waterworld, be sure to check what theme park deals are available at the time of your visit. The park frequently runs special promos that not only provide access to its 40 rip-roaring slides and rides, tasty dining options and souvenir shops but also other Yas Island destinations’ attractions like Warner Bros. World, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Seaworld Abu Dhabi.

4. CLYMB™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

Where else would you find the world’s largest indoor skydiving flight chamber and the region’s tallest indoor climbing wall under one roof but at CLYMB™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi?

Fly high in a 32-foot-wide, 104-foot-tall wind tunnel in head-to-toe flight gear and experience the exhilarating sensation of skydiving without ever having to jump out of a plane. Or test your rock-scaling skills on either a mountainous height of 138 feet or five walls of varying difficulty.

Never tried either? No worries. CLYMB’s expert trainers are adept at assisting anyone from beginners to seasoned pros. And if you’re concerned about the little ones missing out on the fun, you’ll be happy to know that kids as little as three years old can take part in the skydiving experience and, at four years, can climb. So, full family fun straight ahead!

5. Ferrari World™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

Next up on the emirate’s line-up of ride-filled adventure destinations is Ferrari World™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, the world’s only Ferrari-themed amusement park.

Here, life is more of a high-speed F1 race, and you’re the leader of the pack. So buckle up for:

  • Formula Rossa: The world’s fastest rollercoaster, which blasts you and your friends from a standstill to 240 km/h in under five seconds.
  • Flying Aces: Another rollercoaster, but this one has the highest non-inverted loop and an incline of 51 degrees.
  • Karting Academy: a state-of-the-art, 290-meter-long go-karting track where you can earn your racing stripes and drift your way around hairpin turns and straights.
  • Ferrari car driving experience, where you can take the reins of your very own Italian stallion and leave your mark on Yas Island’s roads.

For most grown-up attractions at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, there’s an equally exciting one tailored to the tiniest thrill-seeker, so if they don’t meet the height requirements to ride alongside you, there’ll still be plenty to get them revved up about.

6. Qasr Al Watan

Stepping away from all things high-octane and into the grand halls of Qasr Al Watan or the Palace of the Nation, you’ll discover another side to Abu Dhabi’s allure: its rich cultural heritage and royal legacy.

Located in Al Ras Al Akhdar, Qasr Al Watan is a working presidential palace that offers visitors an exclusive glimpse into the UAE’s governance, history and traditions. A visit here is a journey through the past, present and future of the country, all in one awe-inspiring setting.

Tour the palace’s Great Hall, a breathtaking space adorned with intricate designs and mosaic patterns that reflect the best of Arabian craftsmanship, artistry and architecture. Visit the Qasr Al Watan Library, a public library in Abu Dhabi that houses over 50,000 books, rare manuscripts and timeless literature, to learn more about the country’s culture and achievements.

And don’t miss your chance to attend the famous Palace in Motion show, a spectacular light and sound display that tells the UAE’s story from its founding to modern-day life.

Plan Your Abu Dhabi Visit Today

As you can see, there’s no shortage of family-friendly, adrenaline-pumping and culturally-enriching experiences to be had in Abu Dhabi. So, use this guide to put together your itinerary and make the most of every minute in this remarkable city.

Featured image by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

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