The Best Things To Do In Canberra With Kids

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Have you visited Canberra with kids? No??!! It’s time to start planning a trip then!

Our family has hugely enjoyed our visits to Canberra and we highly recommend your family going there too. Here you’ll find our list of the Best Things To Do in Canberra.

PS  The best family accommodation Canberra section was getting too big, so I have moved it into a separate post, click here or on the image below to find our Best Canberra Family Accommodation picks.

Canberra family accommodation best places to stay
Our latest stay was at the new A By Adina Canberra, very nice!

Check out this table of content for all the best of Canberra for kids.


Children play in the colourful Excite exhibit at Questacon
All kids love Questacon
 

The Best Things To Do In Canberra With Kids

Questacon

Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre is the king of kids activities Canberra.  For budding scientists Questacon’s Q Lab offers an ever-changing array of intriguing experiments, explosive demonstrations and interesting displays. 

Of all the things to do in canberra for kids, Questacon comes out as Number One in every child’s list… other things are more fizzy… but do not miss Questacon!  Just go, ask no more… just get there! The hands on exhibits and the shows in the theatre and the slide where kids experience weightlessness is all fantastic.

The volunteers in purple shirts are so helpful and explain things to the kids. It’s always worth grabbing a volunteer for help and to learn new things. My twins loved becoming human electricity conductors and lighting up bulbs!

The only downside for us was that it got so busy. We had gone very early and really enjoyed the first quieter hour. It did get too crowded, so I’d recommend a couple of trips all done very early, if at all possible.

Location: King Edward Terrace, Canberra

Opening Hours: Open 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

Questacon website here

Cost: Yes adults $23, children $17.50, family tickets and annual passes available.

Cafe: Yes, large cafe inside building

Parking: Large pay car park on site

 
Australian National Museum Canberra family trips
Running around at the National Museum of Australia

National Museum of Australia

The National Museum of Australia is huge  and there is something for every age grouphere.   And there’s so much space to run around outside!  We visited here first and then came back next day for another visit. The twins let off steam after the long road trip by charging around outside  and playing handball – fabulous!  And inside… well, I could visit daily for a week and still have much to see and learn.

The children’s areas are superb, as was the film show in the rotating theatre.  We also LOVED the museum shop, a great place for buying presents. I started stocking up for Christmas.

 There are plenty of hands on activities and play, plus well displayed artifacts and exhibitions. Kspace is an interactive and adventurous game designed especially for school age students.  Kspace takes about 30 minutes and opening times vary. The cafe and museum shop are excellent too. This is one of the very best things in Canberra for kids and a place every member of the family will enjoy.

Location: National Museum Australia, Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula, Canberra

Opening Hours:  Daily 9am – 5pm, closed Christmas Day.  

NMA website is here. 

See the current family activities at the NMA listed here.

Cost: Free

Cafe: Yes large cafe inside building

Parking: Large pay car park on site

 

The Australian War Memorial

My twins absolute highlight from our recent trip to Canberra was the Australian War Memorial.

And it was mine too, a standout amongst the superb things to do in Canberra.  The War Memorial has an atmosphere that is at once solemn and respectful and yet filled with gratitude and warmth and love.

To see the name of of all those servicemen is truly sobering; the two world wars demanded so much sacrifice.

Painful too was to see the names of so many brave men and women who have died very recently.

War Memorial Canberra_ family trips

For the children, the Discovery Zone where they could dress up and become fully immersed in the lives of soldiers, submariners, helicopter pilots and more was the highlight. Talk about bringing history to life.

For myself, I really enjoyed the section of the Discovery Zone which shows the trenches in World War 1.  There so much to see and look at and learn in one fairly small space.

This exhibit really does bring the horror of trench warfare alive. Look out for the trench foot – it will make your stomach lurch!

Top tip for the Australian War Memorial

During ACT school terms, the Discovery Zone is used mainly by school groups and is only open to the public at lunchtime.

Check ahead to make sure the kids will be able to use it. Find ACT school holiday dates here.

Australian War Memorial – The Details

Treloar Crescent
Campbell ACT 2612
AUSTRALIA

Open: 10am – 5pm daily except Christmas Day
NB: The Memorial’s galleries are progressively closed from 4:40pm for the Last Post Ceremony.

Cost: Admission to the Memorial is free

Website here.

Cafe: Yes, a large cafe is on the site. 8.30am – 4.30pm daily. There are plenty of options for children. The name of the cafe is Poppy’s and it has nothing to do with poppies but rather was the nickname of a soldier killed in Afghanistan – you’ll feel weepy reading his story.. and so we all should.

Parking: Large free car park on site.

War Memorial Canberra_ family visit
 

Australian Institute of Sport

Many children enjoy a guided tour to the legendary Australian Institute of Sport. This is often rated one of the best things to do with kids in Canberra, especially for primary aged children and teenagers.  Sport-loving adults will love a visit too.

You will view the training facilities and then get some hands-on experience at Sportex where you can try wheelchair basketball, rock climbing and more. Educational exhibits include the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Sports Science and Heroes and Legends.

Using the 3infun Canberra Attraction Pass here, you can save money on entry. You do need to visit on one of the 1.5 hour public tours, but booking are not needed, just turn up.

There’s a shop and a cafe there too so expect to stay a little longer.  You might even want to have a swim at the pool in public opening times, see timetable here.

Location: Leverrier Street, Bruce, Canberra

Tour times: 8:30am to 5:00pm. Public tours depart at 10.00am, 11.30am, 1.00pm and 2.30pm and last 90 minutes

We'll definitely visit Australian Institute of Sport
The Australian Institute of Sport

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

For families who like to get active, head to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to explore more than 20 marked walking trails, ranging from an easy 15-minute stroll to an all-day bushwalk. Some of the most popular trails allow for glimpses of platypus, possums, wombats, echidnas, emus and many other birds and reptiles.

Location: Tidbinbilla Ring Rd, Paddys River,ACT (access is off Paddy’s River Road, via Cotter Road (Weston Creek)

Opening Hours: Visitor Centre: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Reserve Gates: Winter: 7.30 am – 6 pm, Summer: 7.30 am – 8 pm in summer (AEDT)

You can easily get there on a half day Tidbinbilla tour, with access to the park and animals and also a visit to the NASA deep space communication station. Read more and book the tour here.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve website here

 
Tower over tiny versions of famous buildings from around the world and ride the mini steam train at the delightful miniature village of Cockington Green Gardens at Gold Creek Village. Kids can bring the exhibits to life with interacting mechanical animation. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the grounds or a bite to eat from the Parsons Nose Garden Cafe.
Cockington Green Gardens at Gold Creek Village

Cockington Green Gardens

We didn’t expect to love Cockington Green Gardens as much as we did. It was a joyful surprise!  Cockington Green  features a model village and miniatures of iconic buildings from around the globe. This is one for the whole family with miniature cricket grounds for the budding sports players, fairy-tale castles for the Princesses in training and fascinating replicas of international architecture for the ‘culture vultures’.

If you are visiting with preschoolers or young primary schoolers then this may prove to be the best of all the things to do in Canberra with kids. 

Location: 11 Gold Creek Road, Nicholls ACT 2913

Opening Hours: Daily9.30am – Last entry time 4.15pm

Cockington Green Gardens website is here.

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Here’s a miniature Stonehenge
Cockington Green Canberra_9
Miniature English canals with boats and a lock

There are so many sweet things to explore, and actually we all agree that we have learned a lot about history and the countries we read about.

Cockington Green Canberra_8
The temple of Petra
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The Trakai Castle, Lithuania
 

Museum of Democracy

Tackling a serious issue facing children across Australia and giving children the chance to get hands on, Play Up – The Right to Shelter, is a not-to-be missed exhibition and experience at the Museum of Democracy.

Young visitors will get to play out how different life would be without their bedroom, favourite food or a warm jacket, in an engaging environment.

Location: 18 King George Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

Opening Hours: Open daily 9am–5pm

Museum of Democracy website here 

Royal Australian Mint

For future financiers or kids who always shotgun the banker in Monopoly, the interactive model ‘making a mint’ at the Royal Australian Mint offers fun insights into the world of money.

If it’s wet or cold and you are wondering what to do in Canberra with kids, this is a top indoor activity and educational too.

Location: Royal Australian Mint Denison Street, Deakin, Canberra

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 8.30 am to 5 pm, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 10 am to 4 pm

Royal Australian Mint website here

Yarralumla Play Station at Weston Park

Join the club and take a swing at Canberra’s newest family attraction, Yarralumla Play Station at Weston Park. As well as the 36-hole mini golf course which features Canberra’s ionic attractions in miniature, there is also the Petite Park Petting Zoo and Miniature Railway.

Location: 9 Pescott Lane, Yarralumla ACT

Opening Hours: Wed-Fri: 09:30–15:00 -Sat-Sun: 09:30–17:30

Yarralumla Play Station Website here

 

Cycle Around Lake Burley Griffin

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Cycling around Lake Burley Griffin is a time honoured tradition and no wonder, it’s a pretty flat route with so much to see as you go!

We popped down to Damn Fine Bike Hire at and hired bikes for two hours; $25 for an adult, and $20 for kids.

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My daughter isn’t the keenest cyclist but we assure her the route is flat. We cycled over the bridge towards Parliament House then duck down to the left to cycle along the lakeside path near Questacon and then along towards to National Gallery.

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Lots to see and do as you cycle around, including the Bus Dept Markets coming up next.
Canberra weekend with kids

Old Bus Depot Markets

For a bout of colour and creativity visit the Old Bus Depot markets on a Sunday and soak up the vibrant atmosphere, stock up on unique handcrafted wares for the whole family, and pick up a snack from one of the artisan food stalls.  Canberra kids love a visit and so do visitors to the city.

Location: 21 Wentworth Ave, Kingston ACT 2604

Opening Hours: Every Sunday from 10am – 4pm.

Old Bus Depot website here 

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The Old Bus Depot Markets
Canberra weekend with kids_1
 

Canberra Glassworks

Get hands on with the whole family at Canberra Glassworks where you can create your own masterpiece in one of the ‘Make your own sessions’. Make your own poppy, medal or cross at the Distant Warriors Workshop, create your own tiles to celebrate the warm months at the Spring Tile Workshop or create a unique butterfly. Don’t forget to stop by the Hotshop or Engine room to watch the experts in action and get some creative inspiration.

Location: 11 Wentworth Ave Kingston ACT 2604

Opening Hours: 10am to 4pm from Tuesday to Sunday

Canberra Glassworks website is here 

Red Hill Views

Lace up the walking shoes and take a hike up Red Hill for spectacular views over the city. At the top, reward yourself with a chai or hot choccie at Little Brother Restaurant where you can enjoy the panoramic views whilst giving your feet a bit of R&R.

Location: Red Hill – 50 Red Hill Drive, Red Hill Lookout ACT 2603

Opening Hours: Red Hill – open daily, Little Brother – Wed & Thu: 9.30am till 5.00pm

Fri: 9:30am till late, Sat: 8.00am till late, Sun: 8.00am to 5pm

Visit Canberra Red Hill Lookout webpage here

The National Arboretum

Pack a picnic and head out to at the Arboretum to enjoy a whole range of fun filled school holiday activities for the family. Kids can make their own bonsai, explore the spring birds, blossoms and buds in the forest on a guided story telling walk, and channel their inner kite runner with a kite making and flying workshop. There is an amazing playground here.

Location: Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek.

Opening Hours: The grounds and Pod Playground are open 6 am to 8:30 pm. Visit the website for more information on school holiday activities and opening hours

The National Arboretum website is here 

Read our post about Canberra’s best parks and playgrounds here, this is a must read if you are looking for things to do in Canberra with toddlers!!

Best Canberra Playgrounds_4
The POD playground, amazing!

 
Parliament House handball
Playing handball at Parliament House

Visit Parliament House

Although we only had a run around at Parliament House, I’ve put it in as a highlight as I’m so thrilled to live in a country with such a handball-friendly Parliament.

Do you think our politicians know that their forecourt is a top spot for handball? Do you reckon they pop out for a game of a lunchtime?

We didn’t actually visit the interior of the Parliament House – we will aim to on our next visit. But we loved the fact we could run up the grassy roof – how many parliaments can boast that!

And what a fabulous view over Canberra at sunset – highly recommended.

Next visit, I would love to do the behind-the- scenes tours of Parliament house, with exclusive access to the parliamentary Art and Furniture Collections Store, followed by a high tea.  Click here to read more and book the tour, run by Parliamentary Services.

Parliament House_running up roof

Parliament House – The Details

Parliament House website here

Hours: Vary, depending on whether Parliament is sitting – see website.

Cost: Free

Cafe: Yes cafes inside building

Parking: Large pay car park underneath parliament House, can be busy depending on whether Parliament is sitting – see website

Parliament House flag_1
 

Canberra Hot Air Balloon Flights

A serious treat and a great to celebrate a special occasion, a sunrise hot air balloon flight will never be forgotten. Balloon flights ake a terrific way to see how carefully laid out the city of Canberra was by designer Walter Burley Griffin, its sweeping parks and lakes look marvellous at dawn.

Balloonists meet 30 minutes before sunrise, and taken to the launch site to watch the balloon inflate. Once afloat balloon rides last 45 minutes to one hour. A must for keen photographers.

Children aged 5+ can take part in balloon rides, needing careful supervision. A great one for the early risers!

Find out more about Canberra Hot Air Balloon Flights and book tickets here.

PS In wintertime, play in the snow close to Canberra at the delightful Corin Forest, see website here.

So there you go, if you are on the hunt for what to do with kids in Canberra, this list shows you all the best Canberra kids fun.  You can pick and choose what is best for your own family from the list.

And do keep popping back as I will be adding new things for kids to do in Canberra as we try them ourselves.

Kid-Friendly Cafes + Restaurants in Canberra

Here are some ideas of places to eat out with the family:

Guild: Wood-fired Pizza + Board Games

A very kid-friendly restaurant deep in the heart of Canberra. Staff will help you choose and borrow games and then how to play them. The salads, pizzas and pastas on offer are very family-centric.

Address: LG Baileys Corner, 150 London Circuit, Canberra City Centre

Phone: 02 6257 2727

Guild website is here

Snapper on the Lake

This is a family-friendly fish and chip place where you eat right beside the waterline of Lake Burley Griffin

Address: Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club, Marina Place, Yarralumla

Phone: 02 6273 1784

Snapper On The Lake website

Frugii Dessert Laboratory

Frugii Dessert Laboratory has Canberra’s best ice cream, mouth watering flavours plus other dessert. This small cafe has a big reputation and has received lots of awards as well as media attention.

No wonder! It really is marvellous ice cream. And even better, it’s within walking distance of the Canberra city central hotels where we like to stay. The flavours are lovely – and there’s nothing artificial in the ice cream at all, plus as many ingrediants as possibel are organic.

Frugii is inside a little shopping centre but easy to find and parking is easy too.

Address: 28-32 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, ACT

Frugii website here

Patissez

Where better to give the kids a special treat than Patissez, the birth place of the ‘freakshake’ movement. The Nutella and Salty Pretzel is a household favourite and best eaten before something active. The menu has a huge variety of breakfast, lunch and snack options including tacos and burgers – the kids’ faves.

Location: Shop 2/21 Bougainville St, Griffith ACT 2603, Australia

Patissez website is here

The Hamlet Food Trucks

Get on the foodie trail at The Hamlet which is an urban village for food vans and pop-up stores. Take your taste buds on an international journey with Peruvian street food, German hotdogs, and an Italian wood fire pizza which you can design yourself.

My twins went straight for the hot dog van, of course. I had a fab pie and we also tested out the pizza store and the milkshakes too.

Location: 16 Lonsdale St, Braddon, ACT

Keep up with what’s happening at The Hamlet on their Facebook page here.

 
canberra top tips and faq image

Canberra Top Tips Before You Go

  1. Pack warm clothes... it really is chillier in Canberra. Check the Canberra weather forecast before you go.
  2. Start early. If you’re visiting in school holidays then you can expect the main attractions, like Questacon and the Australian Museum, to be very busy. Make it easy on yourself by getting there early. You’ll find parking easy and the crowds won’t make your head ring… at least for an hour or two.  Or go late. We loved our dusk visit to Parliament House. The car park underneath was empty and we loved the views over Canberra at sunset.
  3. Check the ACT term dates.  These may be different from other states, and some kids sections of Canberra’s attractions are used by school groups in school terms. Check ACT term dates here.
  4. Always take food out with you. Even though my twins are older now, I still need to carry food everywhere we go as they get hungry and very badly behaved… you can’t rely on any tourist attractions to have food or even free tables. On one trip I had hoped to eat a meal at Floriade Nightfest but the queues were miles long and the offerings not great anyway. We ended up eating our snacks there and then having room service when we got back.
  5. Eat early. I know that my children are easily overwhelmed by lots of sightseeing. To avoid meltdowns and dining disasters, I usually let them have a bit of downtime in the late afternoon (i.e. watch TV) and then make sure we get out to eat before 6pm. This also means that cafes or restaurants are not too busy, so food comes quickly. Plus if there’s childish behaviour (from them not me!) there are less witnesses to my mortification.
  6. Enjoy the ease of getting around. If you’re from Sydney or Melbourne, you’ll be used to long journeys and difficult parking whenever you visit tourist attractions. So you’ll love the ease of getting around in Canberra and the cheap and easy parking.

What’s On In Canberra Currently

To learn about current Canberra family activities, shows and exhibitions, check out the Visit Canberra Events webpage here.

Events ACT also has a list of current events on, find them here.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about all the Canberra highlights!

Very happy to hear your advice too.

Enjoy your travel planning and we will 

Catch you in Canberra!

PS   Don’t forget to click here to read about the best Canberra family accommodation, including deals and specials.

PPS This post contains some affiliate links meaning that, if you book accommodation using the link, a small commission is paid to support Hello Sydney Kids, at no cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy here.

 

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6 Comments

  1. says: Rebecca (Little Munch)

    Tidbinbilla is brilliant – well worth the drive out of Canberra. Yarralumla Play Station looks awesome, will definitely check it out next time we are down there. Make sure you stop in at Grandma’s Little Bakery on the way down at Collector for a coffee break. Have fun x

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Oh good, cos I am neither as well but absolutely loved the last science place we went to. It was in Glasgow and just excellent, so very much looking forward to Questacon.

  2. says: Barbara

    Thanks for stopping by Let’s Go Mum travel reviews – enjoy Canberra – there’s a heap to do, and as mentioned, the War Memorial is a hidden but great one!

  3. says: Seana Smith

    We’ll write a post about what we do and what the twins think. We’ve been looking at Bound Round today which has lot of info on Canberra. That’s got the kids revved up. Me too… can’t wait to explore…. and eat!

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