Got a wriggly little one? Let them run off some of that energy at these parks and playgrounds that know how to entertain the real bosses of the household. Make a day of it and throw in a trip to the best swimming pools for families or plan a wet weather option with these rainy day activities for kids.
With summer taking a turn for the extreme, always make sure you check weather predictions and Sydney's air quality rating before taking yourself and the little ones outdoors.
Looking for more space to run around? Find the best parks in Sydney.
16 awesome Sydney playgrounds
Parramatta Park has three playgrounds: Pavilion Flat Playground for younger children near the George Street Gatehouse, Domain Creek playground on the Westmead side of the park, and the newer Paperbark Playground in the historic Gardens Precinct near the George Street Gatehouse. The Domain Creek playground is a nature-based playground with mazes made from branches and wire and plenty of green space for running around. It also has water pumps and sand diggers for busy little engineers. Our favourite zone is the pod of sunken trampolines that look like they could be portals to another world.
Venture to Green Square, turn left into Amelia Street and, hidden behind several tall apartment developments, you’ll find a rainbow wonderland: slides, towers, tunnels, nets and swings, with one mega slide for adventurous youngsters. Sydney artist Nuha Saad designed the playground; she crafted a soft-surface floor that looks like a swirl of multi-coloured ice cream and a web of nets and ladders that leads to the three-storey-high metal slide – a winner for fearless five year olds and up. The park is named for the Gadigal word for rock wallaby, as the little critters used to be a common sight around the swamp that used to exist before European invasion. Today it’s unlikely that you’ll spot wallaby but you will find plenty of bike racks, handball and table tennis courts and barbecue areas.
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. If that’s not enough to give you the giggles, try the 33-metre long double flying fox (with your eyes open). Planning a day trip? The playground is ten minutes from Fairfield Station, surrounded by sporting fields and natural parklands.
There’s a new adventure playground in Casula that’s jaw-droppingly exciting for kids of all ages. The $4-million playground is on the banks of the Georges River, on the way to Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, and it has out-of-this-world, flume-like slides that look like they’re shooting out of a spaceship; there’s a bright blue and orange Ninja Warrior-inspired exercise zone where you can dip, swing, hop and run between obstacles; and an eight-metre-high Sky Walk. But it’s not solely designed for I’m-the-king-of-the-castle moments. There’s a smaller, but just as fun, playground for toddlers that has ropes, bridges and slides – but at a closer tumbling range to the spongy ground.
Western Sydney Parklands has a 200-hectare park with a fantastic playground for kids and one of the largest off-leash dog areas in Sydney. The $15-million development was completed in March 2017, and Bungarribee Park’s playground has a giant sand pit with a colourful, geometric climbing tower that has slides and nets at various exits. Plus, there’s a flying fox, swings and balancing beams in partially shaded spots that kids can clamber over and explore. There are also walking and cycling tracks, 20 barbecues and 13 picnic shelters, in addition to car parking and vehicle access from Doonside Road. Plus, if it’s a really hot day, you can cool off at Wet ‘n’ Wild.
This designer playground is a seriously cool outdoor adventure for active kids. Plan your attack from above after ascending the 12-metre-high tree house then race back down to scale rubber-mounded rock-climbing walls and tiptoe across a giant webbed net. There are loads of swings, flying foxes and slides and parents can set up camp under large shade cloths and watch as their kids race around the colourful playground. The space sprawls out over 300 metres and sits just a few hundred further from the Parramatta River. The park also includes a water park for splashing around, however with water restrictions in operation you should check the website for operating hours.
On a hot day the children’s playground at Darling Harbour is a perfect place to cool off as it has water pumps, streams and jets that kids love to play with. Toddlers are kept fascinated by the water buckets and contraptions, and bigger, fearless kids get to challenge themselves on the thrilling giant slides, ropes and flying foxes. The latter is 21 metres long, and parents have been known to race along with their little champ as they cling to the wire (it’s hard to stay focused on not falling off). It’s an incredibly popular place to play at all times of day and night, and the playground is surrounded by fast food chains, toilets, water bubblers and convenience stores. The big winner is the three-metre-high, eight-metre-wide metal slide that swarms of tweens love to fling themselves down. It’s thrilling – especially for helicopter parents.
Once little eyeballs spot this park’s giant sandpit, they won't want to leave. Pirrama means ‘rocking stone’ in Gadigal, and the 1.8 hectare park in Pyrmont has cafés, free barbecues, public toilets, and covered picnic areas that all overlook the harbour waters. It also has an excellent playground with a sandpit so large it’s like a mini fossil-excavation site. Toddlers scrape away at the sand, digging for buried treasure – and parents are busy keeping it out of their mouths/ears. But the true gem of this waterside playground is the wide-open pathway of water fountains – soaking all the rudey nudey kidlets running around and screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s heaps of fun in the summer (just remember to bring a change of clothes). If your little one doesn’t love to get wet, there are two baby swings, a small slide, and spinning-gravitational-rotators that are fun to cling onto. Bigger kids (and adults) can clamber over the giant net, or simply run off steam around the expansive grassed park. Careful: it’s not fenced, and there’s lots of access points to the water.
Sydney Park has a top-notch playground for kids with slides built into a hill that you can climb up, or roll down, and large, triangular climbing nets that look like rockets. Parents love the kiosk around the corner for their affordable coffees and brekky snacks, and the playground is walking distance from the Sydney Park Kids Bike Track that has purpose-built cycleways and working traffic lights for little learners. There’s a raised, and more wheelchair friendly, sandpit (at adult hip height) that kids love to dig around in. There are swings and bridges, a water play zone and spongy flooring so you don’t need to worry about grazed knees. Sydney Park also has public toilets, water bubblers, easy parking, barbecues and shared areas – as well as dog-friendly walking and cycling paths.
Forest Lodge’s newest playground opened in 2018. Its custom-built play area is found right by Tramsheds, so you can pop in for your weekly shop or a coffee before/after the kids get to explore the huge timber structure that looks a little like a ship with large metal tunnel slides shooting out like arms or tentacles. One of the best things about this playground is that it encourages exploration – take the colourful, painted balancing beams that you can wobble across towards the sand pit, or the triangular cubbyhouse (big enough for grown-ups) that you can hide away inside. Once you’re exhausted from the swings, slides and climbing nets, grab an ice cream from Messina or fire up one of the free barbecues in the park.
Sometimes the best park is the one closest to your house, and we bet kids in Alexandria have been scrambling over each other to get to the natural timber play equipment in their community playground, which launched in 2016. Children can send secret messages along the speaking tubes, balance on the beams that double up as seats for tired grown-ups or climb up the slide and down the fireman’s pole. It’s a pocket-sized park but there’s fencing and gates, plus shade from nearby trees, and a handy bubbler for thirsty little tykes too busy on the swinging rope course to look for their water bottles.
Prince Alfred Park has a lot going for it: city skyline views, an outdoor swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, wildflower regeneration meadows, and one of the best playgrounds in Sydney. There’s a giant yellow balloon structure that’s inspired by a historical moment when Thomas Gale took a balloon ride from Prince Alfred Park to Redfern in 1870. Kids can climb up and hang off the play equipment, before flinging themselves towards the big see-saw and the swings, which face towards the city’s most interesting buildings. There’s a small elephant slide for little ones, plus one extra wide one with a shade, and as you’re right by the entrance to Prince Alfred Park Pool, make sure you pack your swimmers.
In the middle of two major roads in Sydney you’ll find a nine hectare park that feels like a calm oasis… that is until you spot the children’s playground. Head to the west end of the park, away from the pond and the open play areas, and you’ll find squealing children, joyfully making the most of the exciting play equipment at Victoria Park. There’s a long flying fox, a really fast bowl spinner, climbing nets, swings, and springing riders for little ones. It’s partially shaded, and there are picnic benches around the outside for weary adults. And best of all, there’s lots of natural plants, landing chips, rocks and trees to explore.
Stop off on your family cycle, walk or jog around the Bay Run for a play break at this adventure playground. There are hillside slides to climb up and slide down, swings big enough for the whole brood and a super-wizzy flying fox. Tots can make a mess in the sandpit, climb up or topple down the slides and scream to go “higher and higher” on the swings. Older children like to challenge each other to a race up the slopes, or roll down. But the one they all fight over is the all-abilities tripod swing. They playground is at the water’s edge in Rozelle, and there are sports fields, toilets, water bubblers and dog-friendly paths nearby.
It may not have the waterslides of nearby Wet’n’Wild, but the undercover water play area at Blacktown Showground Precinct’s Francis Park is still a hit with the kids. Boasting some of the best facilities in the area, the park also includes a mini wetlands, mixed use basketball and netball courts, a schmick modern playground (complete with balance beams, climbing frames, jumbo swings and flying foxes for bigger kids), sheltered picnic areas, six barbecues and large stretches of lawn to horse around on. There’s a café in the centre of the park, with a large deck overlooking the wetlands.
There's not one, but two space rockets at Enmore Park playground, which makes it one of our favourite spots for playing astronauts. Race to the top of the rope rocket, run around the large grassy park or sit down for a quiet picnic in the shade. It's close to the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, so bring your swimmers on a hot day. Not into playing astronauts? The playground also has swings and slides, a climbing net and a see-saw. It’s partially shades and you don’t have to worry about a crash landing, as the floor is springy.