If you happen to be in Doha during the annual Doha Cultural Festival, be sure to check it out. It lasts for a week or two, during which there are performances, lectures, and other events happening throughout the city. Finding out details about these can be a challenge, but you can start with the festival's website. Some performances require tickets, which can be bought at the door or ahead of time at two of the local shopping malls - City Centre or the one that's creatively named The Mall.
One thing that doesn't require tickets is the heritage village in Al Bidda park. This is a reconstruction of what a Qatari village was like a hundred years ago. Actually, this is probably just about what Doha was like a hundred years ago! Local crafts and foods are sold here, and demonstrations are given on aspects of local culture, such as pearl diving. Singing and dancing performances are held here in the evening.
This was written during the 2006 festival, which was held in late March/early April. Remember things can easily change in subsequent years, so do your own research.
Al Corniche is a long seaside promenade that goes along the bay and offers bpretty views of Palm Tree Island and the city's skyscrapers. Cycling is prohibited along the Corniche but you will meet many people jogging.
There are many parks near the Corniche which are ideal for families.
The best place to walk is along the Corniche. It follows the wide sweep of the bay. If there are children with you they can go down and play on the beach, or roll on the grass in the 'parks'.
There are hotels and restaurants at either end of the bay where you can eat or relax.
Disneyland this is not. But there is an undeniable appeal knowing that, as your coaster starts down the climactic curving precipice, the warm wind blowing into your gaping mouth comes straight from the Gulf. A Ferris wheel and bumper cars round off the excitement at what is known by many as “Entertainment City”. Mondays and Wednesdays are reserved for women and children only.
This park is very small but is well-maintained and full of flowers, which is a real rarity in Doha. Well, ok, some of the roundabouts have recently been planted with flowers too, but as for a place to walk amongst them and smell them, this is the only one I can think of. It also has architectural elements like gates and watchtowers, which are new but are built in the old traditional style.
Palm Tree Island is an Island off the Persian Gulf. you can take a Dohw Boat ( qatar's tradition boat) to the Island and enjoy your meal and relax on the beach. It's very nice there. There is also a park there with some ATV rides and playgrounds.
This park is located near the waterfront and the Corniche. It's a family park that has playgrounds and manicured pathways. It is also where the Pearl Man's shop is. The Qatar heritage park is also located on the south end of the park, home of the Doha Cultural Festival.
The Corniche is the walkway that goes along the entire waterfront of Doha Harbor.
You can stroll the entire length, and encounter various parks, fountains, statues and hotels. Along the way, you'll see many of the residents of Doha walking also, including locals, tourists and expats.
Doha is a great place for plane-spotters. Since the airport is in the city, you don't need to travel 20-30 kms to find a place from which you can take photos of the aircrafts departing or on approach. E.g. parking lot at Doha club (close to Marriott hotel) is a perfect venue for this activity. Be aware that since Qatar is a small country, the traffic at the airport is also some kind of hectic. The peak hours (according to my experiences) are around 8am, 10am, and 5pm.
You can combine plane-spotting with swimming, since there is also a small beach next to Marriott.
The other good place for this hobby is Al Wakrah, just 10kms south from Doha, where the planes are coming in very low.
One of the great areas of Doha to take a family or see local familys walking and relaxing is in one of Doha's many parks. In some the architectural layout of some of the commercial areas become a part of the park themselves.