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Cereal Bowl challenge at HiJinx Hotel
Photograph: Supplied/Funlab

50 fun things to do indoors in Sydney

It's raining, it's pouring, but Sydney's not boring. Here are a heap of ideas of where to go when it's cold and wet outside.

Maxim Boon
Written by
Maxim Boon
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Sydney: the city of blue skies, alfresco living and fabulous times in the great outdoors, right? Well, hold on a second. The Harbour City is not always a great place for fun in the sun, as this year's persistent rains have proven.

But when the weather takes a turn for the worse, you don't need to hunker down at home. Why not take shelter in style with our guide to the most fun things to do indoors in Sydney? Whether you're in search of a crafternoon, a cultural adventure, or a cocktail with a view, there's something for everyone on our list of fun venues and activities where you can stay warm and dry, all year round.

Or why not wait out the rain in one of Sydney's most luxurious staycation locations.

50 things to do indoors in Sydney

  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Marrickville

Keen to bury the hatchet? Head to this warehouse in St Peters to perfect your throw. Whether your style is two hands over the head or a one-armed power hurl, you’ll release a lot of stress with every axe that sticks to the board.

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops
  • Surry Hills

If you've always wanted to have a crack at painting, but you’ve never had the courage to sign up for a class, now is the time to take the plunge with Cork & Chroma. This Surry Hills studio runs daily beginners’ painting sessions, fuelled by a healthy serve of wine. 

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Alexandria

You’ve no doubt heard of smash rooms, splash rooms and escape rooms. Well, now Sydneysiders are the first people in the world to get up close and personal with ‘challenge rooms’. Plucked from the madcap minds of the team at Funlab, Hijinx Hotel is a brand new concept that pairs silly good times with a competitive edge. And it also has a fantastically 'grammable cocktail menu to boot.

 

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  • Museums
  • Science
  • Kensington
  • price 1 of 4

Hypochondriacs and WebMD enthusiasts, this one’s for you. For a stunning confrontation with your own mortality, pay a visit to this specialist museum housed within the University of New South Wales. In its possession are 2,000 specimens of human disease, obtained from the organs and tissue of autopsied patients who’ve generously given their bodies to science.

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Alexandria

This little pocket of Alexandria is the perfect place to hide out on a rainy day. You’ve got indoor warehouses for climbing, boozing and bouldering, like Sky Zone, Rocks Brewery and 9 Degrees – plus an arcade of retro games, bowling and laser tag inside Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq.

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  • Things to do
  • Sydney

The grand old dame of libraries is the oldest in the country – stepping inside you can almost feel the weight of all the words that have been read between its walls. The studious, and those seeking respite from the bustle of the outside world, can ensconce themselves in the high-domed, light-filled Mitchell Reading Room.

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  • Things to do
  • Potts Point

There was once a time when every boozer and RSL in the land had a trusty darts board. But that humble pub past-time has just gone digital, in the fanciest way. Sydney's very first augmented reality darts bar, by the good folks at FunLabs, has just landed in Kings Cross, taking the chucking around of sharp things to brave new frontiers. 

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  • Film
  • Surry Hills

This 56-seat Art Deco cinema is a world away from the sticky popcorn covered seats of the multiplex cinemas. Get away from the crowds for an afternoon screening of the latest releases, classic picks or an indie film that isn’t showing anywhere else.

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  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Alexandria

Is bigger really better? The good folks at Funlab certainly think so. At their entertainment hub in Alexandria, you'll find the nation’s largest indoor mini-golf arena, featuring 27 pun-tastic novelty putt-putt holes spread across three crazy courses. Set in a warehouse with a soaring 14-meter ceiling height, game designers have really been able to think big, delivering some showstopping holes that really need to be seen to be believed – including a 10-metre tall poop emoji (no really), a gigantic recreation of the board game Mousetrap, and a huge TV game show set, just to name a few.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sydney
  • price 1 of 4

There are three pages of tea on offer at this QVB classic. That’s a whopping 35 teas including their ‘splendid Earl Grey’ blend and a stand-your-spoon-up-in-it assam bari. Sitt up nice and straight on your little velour chair and pick at dainties off the three-tier tray.

Explore the wonders of the Powerhouse Museum
  • Museums
  • Ultimo

The Powerhouse is the largest museum in Australia, with a collection of 385,000 objects, 22 permanent and five temporary display spaces, and more than 250 interactive exhibits. It covers science, technology, creativity, decorative arts and Australian popular culture – there's truly something for everyone. 

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Erskineville

You and your co-players have just one hour to locate the secrets that Agent 'M' has hidden somewhere in the room. To find them, you're going to have to look for clues, follow a bunch of hints and crack a bunch of codes. OooOOOoOoooh.

Explore the workplace and home of Brett Whiteley
  • Art
  • Surry Hills

Miraculously, the studio of Australia’s great expressionist has been kept the way it was when he died of a heroin overdose in 1992. Browse Whiteley’s books and records and see the unfinished painting he was working on.

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Darling Harbour

The narrow entrance to Strike King Street Wharf is somewhat akin to the bowling lanes that are the star of the venue, but there’s a lot more on offer here than pins and spares. There are also five schmick karaoke rooms, three escape rooms and a bright new Japanese pop-art aesthetic.

  • Museums
  • Darling Harbour

For a city whose history has always been entwined with its harbour, the sea and water travel, it comes as no surprise that this museum is one of the finest when it comes to maritime treasures. Enter the world of underwater warfare at the National Maritime Museum. Explore the last of the big gun destroyers, board a submarine and learn the difference between port and starboard.

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Ollie off an indoor street course at Monster Skatepark
  • Sport and fitness
  • Sydney Olympic Park

Monster Skatepark is one of the best-equipped parks in Australia, with an indoor street course as well as outdoor ramps. There are sessions for BMXing, skateboarding, girls only and scooters. If you’re a little rusty, you can hire helmets and pads at the park. 

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  • Music
  • Chippendale

At this quirky venue, architecture and interior design crash together with visual and performing arts in a dramatic yet harmonious meeting, each enhancing and embracing the other for a totally immersive experience – a ‘total work of art’. But perhaps the best thing about Phoenix is that all of its gigs are free, you just need to enter its ticket ballot to be in with a chance of snagging one. So what are you waiting for?

 

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  • Health and beauty
  • Spas
  • Barangaroo

With wall-to-wall marble, silver-leaf wallpaper and a 'Vitality Pool’ as its gushing, blue heart, the Blainey North-designed Crown Spa is a study in interior décor decadence and OTT luxury. Exiting the lift on the sixth floor of Crown Towers Resort, shades of lilac and shiny, sleek marble abound. And once you've put yourself into the hands of this spa's talented technicians, you'll feel just as spenno as your surroundings.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs

Find affordable drinks, unpretentious service and a distinctly lived-in atmosphere that makes these Sydney watering-holes comfortable and like you're right at home. sit side-by-side with suits, punks, hipsters, queer folks, uni students and '90s revivalists. The humble dive bar is the great equalizer  where nobody knows your name and that's just fine.

 

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  • Bars
  • Erskineville
  • price 1 of 4

The epicentre of drag in Sydney, famously featured in the opening scenes of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is also a great place to sit down for a spot of dinner. Best of all, your meal will come with one of the most fabulous nights of entertainment from some of Sydney's best kings, queens and in-betweens.

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  • Music
  • Music venues

Contrary to contemporary yarns, there are still pubs that present live music in Sydney. Many of them have even lashed back at the encroaching frontline of pokie machines and casinos – the money gobblers that seem to be eating our culture like bloated hungry hippos. Many venues have already had their last rites read to them, yet gigs and live music still thrive in the smaller drinking hole worlds of the Inner West and beyond.

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  • Sport and fitness
  • Surry Hills

This trend-setting Surry Hills spin studio is all about the atmosphere and techo beats. Under the guidance of your 'cycologist' (fitness instructor, natch), you'll be led through a high-powered choreographed spin workout set to techno, pop and RnB tunes – basically anything made to groove to. It's kind of like a rave, except you'll feel fantastic after.

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  • Restaurants

There is a lot to get excited about on the streets of Sydney at the moment. The calibre of restaurants making their grand debuts is nothing short of awe-inspiring. While there are myriad restaurants to choose from in our fair city, we've picked our brains and put together a short-list of the ones we think should be top of your hit list.

 

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  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Mascot

Do battle against the undead, travel to far-flung corners of the galaxy, and live your best robot life in the distant future – all without ever leaving Mascot. This next-gen VR arena features cutting-edge tech which allows you to roam freely through virtual worlds, without any pesky wires or annoying tethers getting in the way. 

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