If you've got a brood of little scamps, you should make the most of this glorious city together. These are our favourite places to go with babies, children and tweens as they’re the most consistent when it comes to offering top quality programs for children and families. Check ahead to find out what special events and activities are taking place at each spot, and keep an eye out for extra fun during the school holidays.
Looking for a hassle-free place to eat out with the whole fam? These kid-friendly Sydney restaurants know how to make tiny diners feel welcome, and these are the best Sydney pubs for punters with kids.
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The coolest things to do with kids in Sydney
Luna Park is very much a vintage attraction. Martin Sharp's iconic clown face at the entrance, the rickety wooden rides, and the vaudeville decor gives the park a strong sense of nostalgia. If a great night out means going on every ride four times and screaming yourself hoarse then you are in for a win. If you just want to soak up the history of a classic amusement park, you can do that too with a few turns on the Ferris wheel that add bonus points for some of the city’s best harbour views.
This city is serious about surf culture, and learning the ways of the waves is fun, and open to all ages. Time Out recommends taking to the sea with the helpful guidance of Manly Surf School. You can make the lessons private or join a small group and hit the big blue with some new mates. You and the nippers can learn surf etiquette, how to stand up on the board, and, of course, how to actually stay up on the board. Tubular, bro.
Why should pre-schoolers have all the fun? This giant play area in Fairfield is specially designed for tweens and older children. It has all the soft landings and sandy surfaces of a play space for younger kids but it has gigantic slides and climbing nets that look like a futuristic spaceship – and they’re tall enough to frighten off the adults. Dare to climb the 11-metre high net, walk the sky bridge and take your pick from three exit slides.
The beautiful and vast Centennial Parklands has great walking and cycling tracks, but it’s also one of the world’s only urban parks with horse riding facilities, with four riding schools that can take you out for a trot on their 62 horses and ponies any day of the week. Care to canter? Each school will offer lessons catered to your age and level of experience, and all the necessary equipment is provided.
Would you believe kids as young as three can do indoor skydiving? Your little'uns will be high-as-a-kite with excitement after hearing about this place. After a safety briefing and training from pro instructors, children can experience being lifted into the air by a powerful wind generator. For the seriously keen, there are special holiday courses for kids aged 6-16 and birthday party packages available for festive flyers.
The MCA isn't limited to adult eyes. Take a tour of the Museum of Contemporary Art with your toddler on one of their special bub-friendly tours, or sign up the kids for school holiday workshops that take inspiration from the latest exhibitions. There are also weekly creative play sessions for kids under five, and a dedicated committee which engages families who get involved in these programs to help shape the gallery's kid-related content.
Spend hours cooing over a barnyard of baby animals – chicks, lambs, calfs, kids, ducklings and rabbits, you name it. The almost too adorable experiences at Golden Ridge Animal Farm are largely aimed at human children wanting to learn about the 500 furry and feathered farm residents, but grown-ups can tag along, too. You’ll be visiting in the morning (there’s sweatier farm work to be done after lunch) to cuddle the smaller members of the farm family, milk cows, meet the bigger herds and bottle feed lambs and baby goats.
The main space in the leafy Green Square Library is conceived as a living room, complete with a kids' corner and pint-size nooks built into the walls for children to crawl into with a book. In the middle of the collection space is a sunken garden; the perfect place to sit and read under the sun. Rising from the other end of the library is a six-level glass tower, which houses a music room, replete with a baby grand piano for little Mozarts.
The work of the late May Gibbs has given Australian children wondrous fantasies for years, with The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie enduring as an essential component in our collective childhood memory. Nutcote is where Gibbs wrote her books and long-running cartoon strip Bib and Bub. Reminisce about Gumnut babies and Banksia men in that childhood fantasy world when you visit the museum, learn about Gibbs and her characters, and then relax in the gardens
Kids (and adults) will be bouncing off the walls at this land of trampolines. There are two jumping indoor arenas to allow for maximum jumping fun in all kinds of weather (and they are open till late for adults if you're looking for a fun and heart-healthy date-night). They also offer two-hour party packages for kids that includes plenty of time on the arenas, a birthday cake, hot food and decorations.
For those who want to make the most of the fresh air and get outdoors, Sydney Olympic Park is teeming with activities to keep the whole family busy. Have a barbecue at Wentworth Common, grab a bike and head to the wetlands, meander around the parkland circuits, cruise around the Brick Pit, meet a ranger and learn some wildlife tips, or book in for an art class or science lab lesson. Or try the flying trapeze workshop. Or try your hand at archery. Or – you get the point – get down there and see for yourself.
This arcade-style funhouse is designed to be a nostalgic, alcohol-fuelled adevnture for adults, but it's also a perfect place for a neon-lit family day out – minus the booze, maybe. Everyone will enjoy the bowling lanes, interactive 3D theatre ride, and scary laser tag zone that’s really built for kids. Younger kids (aged 8-10) might enjoy the overhead rope course, the dodgems (they’ll have more legroom) and the whac-a-mole arcade games.
It's beautifully laid out, and – most importantly – the place is full of animals. Really interesting ones too: along with the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) you’ll find young elephants, chimps, giraffes, and now, brand new baby Langur monkeys, plus capybaras who are happy to hang with kids inside their enclosure. Make a day of it: pack a picnic, enter by ferry from Circular Quay, and take in the shows (especially the bird and seal performances) as well as the feeding times.
The Utzon-designed marvel isn’t just for adult culture vultures. The Sydney Opera House has an awesome kids program, too. There are shows for children throughout the year, from circus-style performances to dance and drama, plus the popular backstage excursion, the Junior Adventure Tour, which runs daily during the school holidays. For artistic bubs, check out the interactive installations in the Western Foyers where kids can get crafty before and after a show.
This beloved rink was saved from demonlishion in early 2019, so you should make the most of the frozen oval that's been teaching Sydneysiders to ice skate for more than 30 years. Macquarie Ice Rink has recently completed a multi-million-dollar transformation. There are ice hockey games to watch throughout the season, a new rink-side café and special activities during the school holidays. Kids under five get to skate for $10 with a paying adult.