With some of the best beaches, a world famous harbor and a zoo with the world’s best views, it’s no wonder Sydney continues to be a growing tourist destination – especially with families. Below are my top ten must-dos in Sydney with kids.
1. Powerhouse Museum. Don’t let the word museum throw you. This interactive museum is both stimulating and entertaining for kids of all ages. Celebrating human achievement, decorative arts, science and technology, both your day dreamer and your geek will be inspired. Because Powerhouse Museum is built on top of Sydney’s former power station, kids can participate in amazing high-voltage demonstrations while learning about lightning strikes. Learning has never been so fun and questions are always welcome.
2. The Imax Theatre in Darling Harbour gives new meaning to the idea of big screen cinema. Home to the world’s largest movie screen, the best blockbuster movies have never looked more amazing. The characters and scenes are so big and clear, kids feel like they’re in the middle of the action rather than simply watching.
3. Balmoral Pier. The two different beaches and beautiful views toward North Head plus a wide promenade make Balmoral Pier a terrific place for families to hang out. In fact, it’s almost a step back into a simpler time. The parkland area includes a playground, rockpools, an old rotunda and the lovely Bathers’ Pavilion. Be sure to take the little ones to the safe enclosed swimming areas. Stroll or bike ride along the promenade from one swimming area to the other, enjoy a picnic and more importantly a good time of family bonding.
4. The Taronga Zoo is the perfect location for seeing wildlife from around the world and especially, Australia. While the entire zoo is wonderful, be sure to download a map so you won’t miss the extra kid friendly areas such as KidZoo at Backyard to Bush and the Streets Beach at Great Southern Oceans. While online, go ahead and purchase tickets to avoid what is sometimes a pretty long queue. Bring along some sunblock and water and possibly a sketchbook or camera to capture your favorite animals in action.
5. Just an hour and a half drive out of Sydney, are the stunning Blue Mountains. The views alone are worth the distance but there is unique wildlife to be seen as well. On the World Heritage list of internationally recognized locations, Blue Mountains should first be experienced as a child, if possible. Kid friendly highlights include Scenic World and the world’s steepest Scenic Railway. Take the train down into the rainforest and the cable car out. While in route, look for the Lyre Bird, known for strutting lyre shaped tail feathers. These birds like to hide so it’s extra exciting when one is spotted. Two special tours for kids beyond preschool age, involve seeing Jenolan Caves, the oldest open caves discovered in the world. Top off your tour with a meal in the revolving restaurant while catching the last glimpses of the beautiful Blue Mountains.
6. On the north shore side of Sydney Harbour is a long time local icon, Luna Park. Enjoy thrills on various rides while taking in awesome views of the harbour. Picnic at the park’s BBQ facilities or grab a snack at one of the fun restaurants or kiosks. Recently opened is Sydney’s newest theme park, Wet N Wild. Wet N Wild adds water fun to a variety of rides and thrills. Hotels such as Ibis World Square offer packages combining accommodation and park entry.
7. If your kids enjoy being challenged and exercising their dare-devil skills, take them to Treetop Adventure Park’s obstacle course. No ordinary obstacle course, this one is 10 to 20 meters off the ground in the trees and includes logs, ropes and ziplines. (Only for kids 10 and up
8. If your child loves horses and let’s face it, most do, a horseback ride is just the thing. Located opposite Centennial Park is Moore Park Stables Horse Riding School. Individuals from beginner to professional can enjoy a ride through the park. Dressage classes and an educational but exciting Pony Camp is available as well. Group outings and birthdays are great fun when celebrated in the park on a horse. Prices vary depending on length of time and lessons desired but typically, an hour long ride is $110 per person and only $90 if a weekday. $300 will get you into Pony camp for two days, including meals and snacks.
9. During inclement weather, take shelter at Big Blast Indoor Play Centre for fun. Even if the weather is fine, the kids may need to run off excessive energy and Big Blast is perfect for doing just that. A gigantic blow up slide, mechanical bull, gladiator fighting podium, dodgem cars and more will keep the kids busy. Parents can relax in the cafeteria upstairs away from the noise and rowdiness. If you prefer to drop off the kids and get some shopping done, the age requirement is 10 -15. A fee of $25 gives your child fun and exercise time for an hour and a half.
10. The Sydney Sea Life Aquarium in Darling Harbour is home to a fascinating number of different species from seahorses to Grey Nurse sharks. Educational talks are given throughout the day in different parts of the aquarium. Be sure to catch the shark feeding time (11am) for a unique experience. There are optional extras such as the behind the scenes tours at 11:30am and 2pm ($25) or try the glass bottom boat ride for $10 per person.
Got any other tips in Sydney? Leave them in the comments!