This is a guest post by Felicity, a Sydney resident and mum to daughters Cassandra (3) and Vivienne (1). Her passion is the parenting industry and creating a community where everyone feels welcome no matter how they choose to parent. It is this passion that led to the creation of The Baby Vine.
Top things to do in Sydney with kids
While we have a lovely home with lots of different toys for the kids to play with, nothing beats getting out and about on our days off. I am that mum that is constantly on the internet searching for any great, upcoming events that the kids (and I) will just love. There is honestly nothing better.
We also love escaping the city on weekends and finding hidden gems that aren’t too far from home – after all, car trips with a 3 and 1 year old are never fun! Thank goodness for the DVD players. Here are some of our great tips for travelling with kids in Sydney.
How to get around in Sydney with kids
When visiting Sydney, the most important thing to note is that our train system is pretty great. Sure, you can organize a cab to pick you up from the airport, and it will save you time, but honestly, the train is just as easy.
The station is right there at the airport and will take you into the heart of the city in no time. You can grab yourselves an Opal Card that you just top up as you go. Kids under 4 are free, and ages 4-15 you can get a concession card with cheaper rates. Find out more here.
Where to stay in Sydney with kids
Of course, when traveling to a city, it’s important to be able to stay as close as possible to the city so you can get around and see the sites. Here are some of our top picks for Sydney hostels and hotel rooms.
When we travel, I love having all the comforts from home. There is no way my kids will wake in the morning and wait until we are all dressed, showered and ready for breakfast. That’s why we love having kitchenettes!
The Adina has a fully equipped kitchen with fridge, stove, oven, dishwasher, washer/dryer and microwave. So handy! They are located in Darling Harbour, which is nice and central, with an indoor swimming pool and barbecue area to keep the kids entertained.
This one has everything you would expect from a good hotel, with interconnecting rooms available for families. There are mini fridges in the rooms and plenty of on site restaurants that cater to the kids with special menus.
Located in Circular Quay (near the Harbour Bridge and Opera House), there’s also an indoor swimming pool to make a splash.
If you’re after something a bit different, you can enjoy a rooftop swimming pool and Jacuzzi, in the middle of The Rocks. If your kids are ok with sharing, these rooms are perfect with two double beds, along with a mini fridge and plenty of restaurants.
Because we love our serviced apartments, I had to add this one in as well. You can get one, two or three bedroom apartments fully equipped with fridge, microwave, dishwasher, washer and dryer. There’s also an indoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi!
Places to visit in Sydney with kids
You’ve worked out where you are sleeping each night, but what is there to see each day? Honestly, there is so much to check out in Sydney!
1. Darling Habour
One of my favourite places to take the girls is down to Darling Harbour. Just a short walk from Town Hall or Wynard Stations there is so much to see and do.
There’s the big IMAX theatre where you can see some great films in 3D (quite an experience). There’s also a great children’s playground that could entertain them for hours complete with a flying fox, water play area (bring swimmers!), climbing ropes, swings, slides and more.
You can also grab the family an Iventure Card, which will gain you access to SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Taronga Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Oz Jet Boating, Sydney Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Tower, Sydney Opera House, a hop-on, hop-off boat cruise, Madame Tussauds and so much more.
Here are some of the great places to check out in Darling Harbour:
- SEA LIFE Aquarium: where you can take a ride through a penguin experience.
- Madam Tussauds: our famous wax museum full of celebrities.
- Strike Bowling: with karaoke, DJs and a dance floor, it’s a great day out.
- Sydney Jet: if you have a wild side this is a fun ride with great views.
- Wild Life Sydney Zoo: where you can meet some of those great Aussie animals.
There are also plenty of restaurants and places to eat in the area, so you can have a great, stress-free day out with the kids.
2. Taronga Zoo
I just love the zoo, and so do the girls, so I had to include this one on there. The best way to get to the zoo for tourists, is taking a ferry from the city!
You get to see all the sites along with way and when you arrive, you take the cable car back up to the top of the zoo. Being locals, we always drive, but the first thing we do when we get there is a round trip on the cable car.
Grab a map and plan your day, as there is so much to see and do. We always love going to the shows, especially the seal show and the bird show. Make sure you work out what time these are on and turn up a little early to get a seat. It’s worth it.
We also have a new tiger exhibit at the zoo, which my girls just can’t get enough of. You get to go on a simulated plane experience before ‘landing’ to see the tigers.
When you make your way to the bottom (where the penguins are!), there is also a GREAT play area for the kids and a farm where they can pat the animals at certain times. The play area does have a water zone, so once again, swimmers are a must.
3. Manly Beach
Let’s face it, you can’t come to Sydney without visiting a beach (or five!). Manly is one of my favorites, because there is always plenty happening to keep the kids entertained.
Once again, you can catch the ferry over – which we actually do as it is much cheaper and easier than trying to find a place to park.
You can go for a walk right along the beach to check it all out, and stop by one of the restaurants right on the water for a bite to eat. If you head down the promenade, you will find plenty of tourist shops, where you can get your ‘I Love Australia’ shirts and other merchandise to take back home.
I am also a big fan of buying buckets and spades for the kids when we travel to beachy locations. There’s no way they would ever fit into the luggage, so I usually purchase them on day one, we keep them for the entire trip before donating to the hotel or another family we meet along the way. The girls get so much use out of them it makes it so worthwhile.
4. Luna Park
I am the first to admit, I am not a huge fan of rides, but the kids do love it and it does make for a fun day out. You can snap a photo of you outside the iconic laughing face before you head in.
Right at Milson’s Point station, the train is the easiest option for getting there. There are so many different games and rides to keep them entertained. With the Magic Castle that is aimed at the smaller kids, and giant rollercoasters the dare devil spider ride for those with an appetite for thrill.
Note: if you buy your tickets online before you go, you will save on prices, so definitely worth checking out.
5. Circular Quay
You can’t leave Sydney without some great views of the Harbour Bridge and heading to the Opera House. You can take kids in to see the Opera House, but it’s often better to have a look what shows are on while you are there and booking one in. It’s a great way to see inside and have a bit of fun too.
Right next door you can hop on over to the Royal Botanical Gardens where you can explore the plant life and the wildlife. There are often activities on throughout the year as well for kids, so make sure you visit their site before you go to see what’s on.
Just a short walk away you can head to Observatory Hill, which is a great place for a picnic, and in my opinion, has the best views of the city. Grab some food and settle in for the afternoon. There’s plenty of space for the kids to run around and burn some of their energy.
Where to eat in Sydney with kids
My kids just love to eat, so we are always on the hunt for kid-friendly restaurants we can take them to. Here are some of our favorites.
This one has to be my all-time favorite! Kids can honestly run wild while you settle in for some tasty food. You can visit their resident pig: Kevin Bacon, enjoy the markets that are there most weekends, and just take in the beautiful scenery. It really is a nice and relaxing place with great coffee.
Located at the end of Centennial Park, the kids can go crazy at the playground (which is within site!), while you enjoy a break from your busy day. It has a huge kids menu, which is sure to entice even the fussiest of eaters, and an even bigger bonus, every Friday during NSW school holidays, kids eat free!
This one is a little further out of the city, located in Naremburn, but it’s worth a visit. Their entire menu is focused on healthy, clean eating, which can often be a welcomed treat while travelling. They essentially have a backyard for kids to run in, complete with a cubby house. So the kids are enclosed while you enjoy your meal.
This place is worth checking out – the kids will love it! All the fresh seafood comes in and you can pick and choose from a variety of delicious food, taking it outside to enjoy next to the water. Just beware, the seagulls will want a taste as well!
The best day trips from Sydney with kids
Finally, if you are looking to get out of Sydney itself to see what’s around, day or night trips are great fun. We love to do them from time to time.
Only about 1.5 hours from Sydney City, you can simply hop on a bus tour from the city. The bus will drive you there, show you the sites and bring you back in one day. Or you can hire a car a car and make the day trip yourself. With kids, the latter option is often better, just so you can go at your own pace.
When we went, we stayed at Fairmont Resort and I can’t recommend it enough. There is so much to do, you almost don’t need to leave the hotel!
There’s horse rides, three separate games rooms’ for the kids, a kids’ club for those ages four and above, an indoor pool, and outdoor pool, horse riding and electric ride-on cars. Talk about a kids’ heaven!
We did venture out and visited Scenic World, which was great fun. You buy a day pass, which gets you on all the ‘rides’, this includes the scenic railway, cable car and scenic skyway. You get great views of the mountains and the iconic ‘Three Sisters’ and kids will love it.
It’s best to leave the stroller behind and consider swapping it for a carrier, as it’s much easier to get around and there are stairs! The railway won’t let you bring strollers on either.
Whether you are into wine tasting, horse riding, or go karting, you will find plenty to do in the Hunter Valley. Our favorite place to stay is at Starline Alpacas Resort, with big cabins for the family (and separate rooms!), a kitchen, and alpacas onsite that you can feed! There’s also a playground and swimming pool for the kids.
We always make a trip to Hunter Valley Gardens and depending when you go, there are often plenty of exhibitions on, such as Mega Creatures and the Christmas Lights.
You can buy a day pass and go and check out all the beautiful gardens in the day time. The kids will love a visit to Storybook Gardens and will be able to pick out a number of familiar faces, and then during the Christmas season you can come back at night and see the lights.
If you’re like us then you might also bring the kids along for a spot of wine tasting, because… ‘When in the Hunter…”. I highly recommend checking out Tempus Two as there is plenty of space outside for the kids to run around while you enjoy a sip or two..
I hope you have enjoyed this comprehensive local guide to Sydney and it’s surroundings. Looking for more posts about traveling in Australia? Check out my Australia budget guide and East Coast road trip itinerary!