Things to Do in Dubai

From a 7-star hotel stay to indoor skiing in the desert, whatever fantasy you can dream up -- Dubai delivers.
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Check Into the 7-Star Burj Al Arab

To be honest, most of us will never really check into one of this 7-star hotel's 2-story opulent suites, complete with spiral staircases, but that doesn't mean you can't get a glimpse of the gold-leaf and glamour in person. The only other way to get past the gate is to make a reservation in advance at one of the hotel's 8 restaurants and bars -- all with exorbitant prices. We recommend dining al fresco at poolside restaurant Bab Al Yam followed by after-dinner drinks with panoramic views at the Skyview Bar (included in the dining experience). Even more affordable? Pick a beach bar at a nearby hotel and gaze upon the sail-shaped hotel and Arabian Gulf, as the most impressive view of all is of the exterior.

Dinner With a View at Rivington Bar and Grill

One could argue there's no better vantage point of the Dubai Mall's dancing fountains and Burj Khalifa than over a meal at the Rivington Bar and Grill in the Souk al Bahar. If you can call at least a week out, you should be able to secure a seat with an optimal view on the open-air terrace. Those less enthused by the British concept should check out the Mango Tree, a Thai restaurant with a neighboring view.

Stroll Along the Dubai Marina

See the Dubai Marina's stunning skyscrapers like a local by strolling along the Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk, or JBR. Pop into one of the cafes lining the wide, beachfront promenade to people and car watch … only in Dubai can you count the Maseratis whizzing by. Another option is to hop on the Dubai ferry behind the Address Hotel, which takes you past the famous Atlantis hotel on the tip of the famous man-made Palm Jumeirah to the Creek in historic Bur Dubai.

Day at the Meydan Racecourse

You don't have to follow horse racing to enjoy a day at the spectacular Meydan Racecourse. Inside this futuristic stadium, there's room for 60,000 spectators as well as a 5-star hotel and IMAX theater. The racing season starts to heat up in January and culminates in this year's 20th annual Dubai World Cup -- the world's richest horse race -- with prize money of nearly $30 million!

Get Lost in Dubai's Shopping Mecca

The world's largest mall -- based on total square feet -- boasts a staggering 1,200 stores, as well as a massive aquarium and Olympic-sized ice rink. Its gallery-like 4 floors are divided into "precincts" ranging from high-end European labels to athletic wear. With a cinema, indoor theme parks like SEGA Republic and DubaiDino, the 155-million-year-old skeleton of a Diplodocus Longus dinosaur in the Grand Atrium, it's also an ideal destination for the entire family.

Indulge in Dubai's Dining Scene

If you have only one unforgettable meal in Dubai, then you're doing it wrong. Indulge at at least one mind-blowing restaurant like the unique underwater restaurant Al Mahara. After stepping off an elevator disguised as a submarine, diners pass through a dazzling gold-leaf-lined tunnel to sit around a beautiful, circular aquarium filled with baby sharks and other sea life and dine on line-caught sea bass and lobster dishes that happily live up to the hype. 2 more must-dos in terms of food: curry at Ravi's, a Pakistani dive with a cult following, and Friday brunch, which marks the first day of the weekend in the UAE and typically consists of an all-inclusive, multi-hour extravagant banquet.

Ski Dubai

When you step into the Mall of the Emirates, you expect to find just about everything -- but the first-ever indoor ski resort in the middle of the desert still comes as a bit of a shock to the senses. As you take the chair lift to the top of the manmade snow-covered mountain, you'll see skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing below. Whether you're used to the bunny slope or black diamonds, Ski Dubai has 5 runs of varying difficulty. Families will be delighted by the colorful igloo and penguin encounters that await in the Snow Park. Afterward, relax with a cup of hot chocolate at the Avalanche Cafe which overlooks the slopes.

View At The Top, Burj Khalifa

Standing on top of the world's tallest skyscraper is a pretty surreal experience to say the least and there is no more magnificent time to step out onto the 124th floor than at dusk. Yes, there will be crowds, but if you buy your ticket in advance online you will save yourself some hassle (and cash) and be treated to one of the most stunning sunset views of Downtown Dubai and the performing fountains below. If you're not one to queue up -- even for a once in a lifetime experience -- instead opt for afternoon tea or an aperitif at the At.mosphere lounge just 2 floors below.

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