Top 10 Must-Do Things To Do in Sydney With Kids
1. Visit Taronga Zoo
Hop on the ferry at Circular Quay to visit Taronga Zoo which is usually rated No.1 of all Sydney attractions for kids. The magnificent Harbourside setting is breathtaking, these zoo animals have the best views in Sydney. There are many special features of Taronga Zoo, the Asiatic elephants, the terrific animals talks and shows (my kids love the birds and the seals best.)
Families with kids of all ages will enjoy this classic Sydney family day out. Taronga is one of the best things to see in Sydney, a visit never disappoints. Just beware of boiling hot days as the Zoo is set on a slope and walking up hill with kids can be tough. There is a sky safari which can whip you from the bottom, where the ferry comes in, up to the top from where you can meander downhill, taking in all the interesting exhibitions and animals.
2. Climb or Walk Over Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge, which we locals affectionately refer to as The Coathanger is the city’s second icon, after Sydney Opera House.
Families with children aged and over might like to take part in an organised (and very safe, but thrilling) climb right to the top of the Bridge. This is very expensive, a very special treat and one of the most iconic of Sydney adventures. It’s number one on the list of adventurous things to do in Sydney, that’s for sure.
You can walk across the Harbour Bridge very easily breathtaking walk, either from the city to the north or from Milsons Point on the north side back to The Rocks.
You can pay a small fee to climb up the Pylon and see an exhibit about the Bridge, very interesting and the views from here are spectactular.
If you are staying in the city, start from there and cross to the north side where there are some great kid-friendly options. You could visit Luna Park, have a swim at North Sydney Olympic Pool, eat at one of Kirribili’s many cafes and restaurants or enjoy the fenced playgound at Bradfield Park, on the corner of Fitzroy and Alfred Streets.
If the family can be well-behaved then lunch at Ripples Cafe by North Sydney Olympic Pool will be a delight.
If you’d like a longer walk continue past Luna Park and into Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay.
3. Luna Park With Kids
Luna Park is just north of the Harbour Bridge and the huge beaming face that visitors walk through is a well-known Sydney landmark.
Put Luna Park on your Sydney to do list if you and the kids love ferris wheels, merry go rounds, dodgem cars and more modern fairground attractions too. Luna Park does have a lot of vintage charm, with plenty to do for young children as well as school aged kids and teens.
4. Walk In the Royal Botanic Garden
For gentle charm, botanical delights and world class Harbour views, a walk in the Royal National Park is a must. There is plenty of space, a great deal of interesting flora plus the delightful Calyx building which houses exhibitions and shows.
This is one of the best places to visit in Sydney for families who love to walk and explore. Those with an interest in history and fascination with Australian flora will love it too.
There are several places to enjoy a meal, snack or just a drink in the gardens too. We like the kiosk for kids meals, or the lovely Calyx cafe when we have time to sit down for longer.
It’s easy to enjoy the Royal Botanic Gardens as you walk through on your way from the Opera House to the Art Gallery of NSW, you can walk past the famous Mrs Macquaries Chair, enjoying the most famous views in Sydney from there.
If you love to swim you will find the Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Pool set on the side of Woolloomooloo Bay before the Art Gallery, a wonderful place to cool off, splash and do laps, with a great cafe too.
5. Visit The Australian Museum
Sydney’s pre-eminent museum is a great mix of the old and the new. There are plenty of traditional museum exhibits, all sorts of flora and fauna of interest. There are also modern exhibits with all sorts of new technology to enhance a family visit.
If you are a museum buff then this is a one of your must do things in Sydney. You will learn so much about Sydney and about Australia as a whole. Kids will adore the hands-on activities and the breadth of things to do.
There’s a special area for the under fives too, plus a fantastic cafe with sweeping city views.
See more details and address and website info on the Museums listing below.
6. Enjoy the Views from Sydney Tower Eye
Older kids and teens will find the golden globe that is Sydney Tower Eye one of the most fun places in Sydney to visit. You take a lift up to the Observation Deck 250 metres above the city centre, then gaze over miles and miles of the city spreading out in all directions.
Sydney Tower is the tallest structure in Sydney. You can enjoy meals on the Observation Deck or just enjoy the views.
Sydney Tower Eye soars over a huge shopping centre, so combine with a shopping trip and your teens will be overjoyed.
Sydney Tower Eye
Level 5 Westfield Sydney
Corner of Pitt St and Market St
Sydney, NSW 2000
7. Visit Darling Harbour’s Myriad Delights
Look, there are so many things to do at Darling Harbour, people call it the centre of all Sydney fun. You can visit Sydney Aquarium, Sydney WILDlife, Madame Tussauds, The National Maritime Museum, the Powerhouse Museum, the Chinese Gardens.
There are dozens of cafes and restaurants and then, the best thing of all if you have little kids, the playground at Darling Quarter is just fantastic, with excellent water play and a kiosk plus many cafes very close.
8. Take the Ferry to Manly
Walk along the Corso to the ocean beach, play around the rocks at the south end, then follow the walkway south to Shelly Beach.
Let the kids have a play, enjoy a picnic in the shade or buy some snacks from the kiosk. Then enjoy a snorkel and don’t forget to wave to the fishies.
9. Walk from Bondi to Coogee
Bondi is an iconic beach in itself. But there’s also the fab walk to Bronte and on to Coogee, if the children are the walking type and not likely to go wild and leap off the cliffs. This coastal path makes the most gorgeous walk, and it’s not too long.
Bronte Beach is the most lovely spot for children, with a terrific playground, great rock pool and the ‘Bogey Hole’ plus a little train for extra mini-thrills.
Read all you need to know about this walk on the Sydney Coast Walks website here, where you can also buy a handy PDF map.
10 Outdoors Things To Do in Sydney With Kids
Bush Walk with The Kids
Visitors to the city will find some lovely walks to enjoy even very close to the city centre. There are delightful coastal walks too, easily accessed from Bondi or from Manly. You can walk around the Harbour foreshore too at Berry Island and from Watson’s Bay.
You can find links detailed descriptions of many family-friendly Sydney walks on this post:
Check out out Sydney’s Best Beaches
The most popular of the outdoor activities Sydney has to offer. There are more than 70 harbour and ocean beaches within Greater Sydney, many with delightful rock pools too. A visit to a new beach makes a terrific day trip for Sydney families, they are fab to explore with kids.For visitors to the city, the most accessible beaches to visit are the iconic Bondi in the Eastern Suburbs, and Manly on the north side of the Harbour. Both are large and sweeping, with lovely walks, Bondi has a good playground too and excellent rock pools for surf-free swimming, read about Bondi Icebergs Pool here.
Swim At An Outdoor Pool
Splashing and swimming at a spacious outdoor pool is a joy for Sydney families and a great way for visitors to both cool off, get some exercise and mingle with the locals.
For visitors, the best outdoor pools are these, just click the link to read the details info you need to plan a trip:
Even young children can enjoy swimming with fish and seeing Sydney’s beautiful underwater scenery. Here are the best places to snorkel with kids:
Gordons Bay Coogee
Explore Sydney’s Best Harbour Pools
The sheltered waters of Sydney Harbour make for excellent kids beaches and there are also some netted baths, with little beaches and cafes close by. Some have playgrounds to. These are very typical Sydney excursions for families, with no surf at all. All you need is a bucket and spade, a hat and some sunscreen lotion and you are off.
Easiest to get to for visitors to Sydney are:
If you can only visit one, I’d advise Parsley Bay or Neilsen Park, click through to read about them in detail.
On the North Shore you will also find these excellent netted baths:
My favourite is Northbridge Baths, but Greenwich is probably best for younger children, there is a small fee though.
Learn to Surf
Even little kids can learn to surf. Check out our detailed post on surf schools in Sydney here.
Find the Best Sydney Playgrounds
There are so, so many fantastic playgrounds to visit in Sydney and many are a day trip in themselves.
To find the best Sydney playground for your family, check out:
Explore A Beautiful Garden
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney’s city centre are of course the best in the city.
Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening hours: The RBG opens at 7am each morning and closes between 5pm and 8pm depending on the season.
You can enter the Royal Botanic Gardens from the Sydney Opera House Forecourt area and also from Macquarie Street. There are 30 hectares of garden to explore, and a terrific exhibition space with cafe called the Calyx.
Garden lovers will find many free activities on offer and there are always activities for children in school holidays.
Getting there: By car, best places to try are along Mrs Macquaries Road where there is meter parking. But public transport and by foot are best.
Other marvellous Garden to explore include:
The Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens at Mt Tomah makes a great day trip too.
Get Out On A Boat On The Harbour
The Harbour itself provides a host of Sydney family attractions, its beaches, walks, playgrounds and of course the magnificent Sydney views. It’s a great thing to get out onto the Harbour and see it all from the water.
You don’t need your own boat to enjoy a trip around the Harbour. Just hopping on a ferry to Manly is your cheap and cheerful option, but there are also some other excellent boat trips that kids enjoy.
Check out our post on kid friendly Sydney Harbour boat trips.
Go Fruit Picking With Kids Near Sydney
Hop in the car and just drive beyond the suburbs where you’ll find dozens of orchards with fruits for you to pick. This is one of the most fun things to do around Sydney, involving the outdoors, learning how our food is farmed and some yumminess too.
Check out a list of them on our Month by month guide to fruit picking in Sydney.
Best Museums, Art Galleries + Historic Places
If you are wondering what to do in Sydney on rainy days and very hot days, then look no further than the many excellent museums and art galleries they city has. The one negative thing is that most charge entrance fees, with only children under four or five entering free. Places with no entry charges are notes below.
Susannah Place Museum
Address: 58–64 Gloucester Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone: +61 2 9241 1893
Learn all about the daily lives of the ordinary citizens of Australia’s oldest suburb in this charming museums. A very popular museum with kids.
Address: 1 William St, Sydney NSW 2010
Open: 9.30am – 5pm every day except Christmas Day
One of Sydney’s oldest and best museums with both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Some parts of the museum seem rather old-fashioned with traditional exhibits of birds in glass cases, skeletons and so forth. Most of the exhibits are much more modern and interactive, however, with plenty of hands-on activities.
The mineral collections are especially well presented for children; and the Biodiversity and Indigenous Australians exhibitions have plenty of colour and movement.
Most thrilling for the little ones is Kidspace, a special area just for the under fives on level two. This mini museum has five ‘pods’—in cubby houses—which have hands on activities to do and lots of items to touch and explore.
There’s a bug pod, marine pod, volcano pod, observation pod and imagination pod. Another area has been corralled for curious crawlers. Kidspace has plenty of space to park prams and a change and feeding area.
There are excellent cafes in this museum too.
Also visit nearby: Cook and Phillip Park Poll is just across the road.
Museum Of Sydney
On the Site of First Government House
Cnr Phillip and Bridge Streets Sydney 2000
Phone: 9251 5988
Open: Daily 10am–5pm, except Christmas Day and Good Friday
Opened in 1995, the museum tells the city’s story from precolonial times to the present day. Storytelling is a major focus and there are several video installations where actors play the parts of characters from the past, spinning tall tales and true.
Aboriginal people explain their people’s history and discuss their contemporary lives in Sydney.
Especially interesting to children are the subterranean excavations under a clear perspex floor and the stainless steel Collectors’ Chests where they can pull out drawers to reveal small exhibits.
Australian National Maritime Museum
2 Murray Street
Open: Daily 9.30am–5pm, except Christmas Day.
Boats, yachts, submarines, tankers, destroyers and helicopters— what more could kids desire?
All these and many more nautical delights are displayed inside the maritime museum or berthed on the wharf just outside it. The maritime history of Australia is explained and explored from its Aboriginal beginnings right up to the present day.
There are weekly activities for under fives, plus the popular Sunday Family Fun Days. Great fun also are the special activities during the school holidays. See the website for all the current details.
In addition, some exhibits have elements designed for children and occasionally there will be activities and performances suitable for children.
Also visit nearby: All the joys of Darling Harbour!
500 Harris Street
Phone: 9217 0111
Open: Daily 10am–5pm, except Christmas Day. Under fours free.
The Powerhouse Museum is the very best of the central Sydney museums for children. It is a vast space, spread over four levels. Many of the regular exhibits will send children into transports of rapturous joy, particularly the old trains, suspended planes and the Little Wheels room with its 1600 Matchbox cars.
The several areas designed specially for children under eight years old are called KIDS—Kids’ Interactive Discovery Spaces. These are clearly marked on the museum’s maps. They include KIDS At Home, with domestic activities relating to children’s play; KIDS Music, with a giant piano keyboard thatis played when walked over; and KIDS On Screen, a mini TV studio. All the KIDS spaces have plenty of buttons to press, things to pull and simple activities to try.
Weekly activities are held for under fives with songs, storytelling and craft activities.
Major exhibitions usually also have something to offer the junior visitor. Have a look at the Activities for Kids section of the website. The Powerhouse has permanent and temporary exhibitions, some of which incur an extra charge.
Police and Justice Museum
Hyde Park Barracks
Elizabeth Bay House
Rouse Hill House + Farm
Museum of Fire
Castlereagh Road Penrith 2750
Phone: 4731 3000
Open: Daily 9.30am–4.30pm except Christmas day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday
As far as most children are concerned, this is not the Museum of Fire but the Museum of Fire Engines. There are dozens of them to look at, including plenty of antique ones.
Notices declare that visitors must not touch the exhibits and certainly cannot clamber all over them, a tragedy for some young boys, but there is the consolation of the kids’ own area.
The Museum of Fire is also a Fire Safety Education Centre, and has exhibits on home safety, the State Emergency Service, burns and, thrillingly for children, a simulation of a home that has had a serious fire. There are exhibits about bushfires, a wonderful display of fireman’s hats, a collection of model fire engines and a theatre where short videos are shown all day.
A hands-on children’s area has two computers with five different fire-related games to play. There is a tunnel to simulate crawling beneath the smoke to escape fire. Two sections of fire engines can be climbed over and played in, and there are a couple of small areas with chalkboard walls and toys for younger children.
Families and groups are very well catered for with the large and well-equipped playground in the grounds, surrounded by picnic tables. The playground is not enclosed. Large grassy areas surround the museum and there is a toilet block in the grounds, so families can make a day of it.
Art Gallery of NSW
Museum of Contemporary Art
Circular Quay West
Phone: 9245 2416
Open: Daily 10am–5pm except Christmas Day
General admission is free.
Housed in a splendid old building on Circular Quay, the museum has exhibitions of contemporary art in all its forms.
Check the website or call to find out what the current exhibitions are. The museum has no exhibitions especially geared towards children, but does have a program of events and activities for children aged six to 14 years.
For art-loving adults it is an important and popular venue and one that presents no real problems for strollers.
So there you go, no need to wonder where to go in Sydney on hot and cold days, chose one of these lovely places and enjoy a visit, as good for the kids as it is for the adults.
Free Things To Do in Sydney
Although the major museums and art galleries do charge an entry fee, there are many many free Sydney attractions to enjoy as well. Some of our favourites include the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art, details are above.
Other excellent free places to visit include:
The Parliament of NSW
The State Library of NSW
The Royal Botanic Gardens
Government House and gardens
The Opera House Forecourt and bars
And of course all Sydney’s wonderful walks, beaches and playgrounds are completely free to use.
Do check out this long post: