Australia has a special place in our hearts – it’s the home of adorable koalas and kangaroos after all! With stunning beaches, pristine oceans and the sprawling outback under its belt (you can even ski in some parts!), it’s one of our all-time fave destinations. And, if the thought of flying with kids turns your blood cold, rest assured it’s not overly horrific – Sydney is just over eight hours’ flight time away from Singapore, and Perth is only five hours away. Between us mums in the HoneyKids office, we’ve picked out Sydney as one of the world’s most family-friendly cities. With that in mind, here’s our list of fave things to do with kids in Sydney…
1. Hit the beach
When it comes to family-friendly beaches, you’re completely spoilt for choice here, making it one of the best things to do in Sydney with kids! Even though it’s crawling with tourists (and posers), Bondi Beach is pretty iconic – and truth be told, Bondi itself is fab for family-friendly brunch spots, weekend markets and an iconic coastal walk to Coogee. Head to the north side of the beach for more sheltered kid-happy splashing, while more confident swimmers should always, always swim between the flags. Those waves and rips are very strong – and deceptive. Other kid-friendly beaches we adore: Balmoral, Bronte and Clontarf are all gloriously shallow and safe. We’ll also let you in on a little secret: Parsley Bay Reserve in Vaucluse, plus the dog-friendly Rose Bay (pictured above) if you love watching pooches run free.
2. Saunter around Circular Quay
A family-friendly guide to Sydney wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Circular Quay and that opera house! You’ll no doubt be here when taking a ferry to one of Sydney’s many harbour hotspots, but tourist trap Circular Quay is worth a pitstop while you’re here. Grab an ice-cream, watch the street performers and stock up on souvenirs, but steer clear of the overpriced restaurants – you can get much better priced (and better tasting) grub elsewhere. At one end of the quay, you can get up close to the famed Sydney Opera House (check online for current performances and tours), while at the other side is The Rocks. This historic neighbourhood sits underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge and comes alive at weekends when the markets take place. Here, you’ll find street eats and handmade crafts, as well as your typical tourist tat if that floats your boat. If you tie in your visit around mid-May to mid-June, don’t forget to catch the Vivid Sydney light and art installations.
3. Visit Manly with the kids
Tourists flock here in their droves throughout the year and we’re recommending you follow the pack – this beachside spot makes for a perfect day trip. Hell, you may even want to base yourselves here for the whole holiday! Get here aboard the famous Manly Ferry, which takes 30 minutes from Circular Quay. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins en route! At your destination, Manly is brimming with shops along The Corso, plus cafes (serving seriously good coffee), beachfront restaurants and bags of charm. Play on the main beach or Little Manly Beach, which is just by the ferry terminal, then enjoy a surf or stand-up paddleboard lesson. Make like a local and walk to Shelly Beach for a gorgeous strip of sand and tot-friendly shallow water for the bubs. Older kids and teens might even enjoy a ghostly night tour of the historic, spooky Quarantine Station!
4. Get your museum fix
There are heaps of museums across the city, so you’re never too far away from dosing up on your culture. Our personal faves are the Powerhouse Museum (there’s a Wiggles exhibition on until next June!) and Museum of Contemporary Art thanks to their kid-friendly exhibits, but we also love the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Australian Museum and the free Rocks Discovery Museum.
5. Theme park fun at Luna Park
This award-winning, vintage theme park is an absolute kid magnet. The iconic, eye-catching entrance, with its Insta-worthy grinning face, is worth a visit alone for a photo opp! With rides, fairground food and sideshow games galore, it makes for a fun-filled family day out suitable for all ages. Height restrictions do apply on some rides, so check online before committing. Tie in a gorgeous walk along the boardwalk to Lavender Bay for a stunning picnic spot and cute playground – bonus points if you find local’s favourite Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden on the way. The Milsons Point and Kirribilli ‘hoods are well worth an explore, too – you’re a stone’s throw from the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, which you can walk over for gorgeous views once you’re done.
Luna Park, 1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point NSW, 2061; lunaparksydney.com
6. The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Singapore has its fair share of pretty parks and green spaces, but Sydney takes it to the next level. With shade aplenty for picnics, gorgeous walking paths, a cafe to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea in and free tours, this is one hotspot worth viewing. You’re never too far from a wow-worthy view of the harbour and the iconic Sydney Opera House. Check the website too before your visit – there’s always a calendar of kid-friendly events taking place. Littlies will love a ride on the Choo Choo Express, too! Got older kids? If you can wangle tickets, we can’t recommend the St George Open Air Cinema enough. The program typically runs throughout January and February, and with the harbour as the screen’s backdrop, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney; rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
7. Taronga Zoo Sydney
We seriously LOVE this place: it’s one of the best things to do in Sydney with kids. Make a beeline straight for the giraffe enclosure and prepare yourselves for the best harbour views in all the city, hands down. Getting there is a stunning adventure in itself: take a ferry from Circular Quay, then enjoy a ride on Sydney’s only cable car and watch the elephants from overhead. Another must: the entertaining yet educational shows and animal encounters. Our top tip? Keep a dollar coin handy in the bird show so you’re in with a chance of being picked out as a volunteer! Kids will also love the on-site Wild Ropes course and, for an extra-special treat, you can even go glamping at the zoo as part of the Roar and Snore packages. So much yes.
Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Road, Mosman, Sydney; taronga.org.au
8. Explore Darling Harbour
You’ll be spoilt for choice at Darling Harbour – there are loads of things to do with kids at this Sydney spot! Attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney Zoo are obvious drawcards. But we also dig the Darling Harbour Children’s Playground, the new state-of-the-art play centre called Caterpillar Lane for little ones, and the Chinese Garden of Friendship. There are plenty of eateries along the waterfront too, but if you love Italian food, we get serious hunger pangs for Fratelli Fresh… and kids eat free! And, on most Saturdays of the year, you’ll be treated to a free and fantastic evening firework display for a magical noms session. This is also the place to catch a whale-watching tour from.
9. Go on a day trip
From wine-tasting in the Hunter Valley and hiking in the Blue Mountains to hand-feeding kangaroos at Featherdale Wildlife Park and doing a high ropes course, Sydney is an ideal launchpad for heaps of coastal, countryside or mountainous attractions. Fans of the hit soap opera Home and Away should also put a trip to Palm Beach on their to-do list!
10. Hire bikes and get pedalling
Sydney’s climate makes it perfect for outdoor activities (but sunscreen is still an absolute MUST, whatever the season). Apart from the summer months, humidity isn’t as stifling as Singapore, and many parks and tourist hotspots have free water fountains to help you stay hydrated. Such good weather means a family bike ride is a great holiday activity to enjoy with the kids. Join one of the many organised tours that cater to tourists, or head to the lush oasis of Centennial Park and hire a quad bicycle, then do a circuit or two of the grounds. Fun fact: Peter Rabbit was filmed there!
So there you have it – heaps of things to do in Sydney with the kids that the whole family will enjoy. Say “g’day” from us!