Seana’s Top 5 Sydney Places + Top 5 Family Holidays

Hello Sydney Kids was a labour of love for this Sydney mother for all of the 10 years that I researched, photographed and wrote up articles for it. Myself and my four children always had an excuse to get in the car and explore our beautiful city.

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This is my absolute favourite family photo! A Sunday morning down at Little Manly Beach after all the kids had been leaping into the water from the sharknet platform. And so had I!

We are now so thrilled to hand over the baton to the next generation, Tom and Lauren of Boobobutt, who aim to help families all over Australia enjoy adventures and explorations of our Great Southern Land.

My own children are all grown up, the older boys are 26 and 23 and the twins are 17, and most of us have moved out of Sydney. Whilst I still pop up and down to the city from our main family base in Orange, I just cannot maintain the website properly. And exploring family-friendly places in Sydney without children seems daft. It is time to let younger mums and dads rejuvenate the website and add great new content to it.

The Hello Sydney Kids’ aim remains the same; to get the kids outside and moving, to explore and have fun as a family and to find the absolute best indoor places, cafes and restaurants too.

As part of saying a fond farewell, whilst celebrating the arrival of new owners and new energy, I’ve collected in this article our family’s favourite Sydney places and the best-ever holiday spots that my family visited.

Our Top 5 Sydney Places For Families

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View down to the Baths from the car park

Northbridge Baths

Be still my beating heart. My four children and I have had such wonderful times at Northbridge Baths on Sydney Harbour’s best sea pools. I am smiling as I remember the years when all my children were younger and we lived in Willoughby, so used Northbrige Baths as our backyard pool.

This is a wonderful spot to meet up with family and friends, enjoy picnics, swim seriously, play beach cricket, watch the yachts, watch fish swimming and crabs creeping, jump off the jetty and learn to dive.

Check out all the details to help you plan your trip on this Northbridge Baths article.

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The kids always run ahead to the beach… I’m a slower walker downhill and uphill

Flint and Steel Bay Walk

It’s hard to get teenagers to go on family walks… there’s a lot of whinging often, but it’s worth it! This is one of my very favourite Sydney walks, and the day that my twins and friends and I did this walk the first time is remembered so very fondly. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is gorgeous, and there are many parts of it which look exactly as they did before colonisation. I feel that this walk is a walk back in time as well as a walk down some steep steps to a very beautiful bay and beach.

Read all about this special Sydney walk for families here: FLINT AND STEEL BEACH IN KU-RING-GAI CHASE NATIONAL PARK WALK

image shows two girls walking down wooden steps on Flint and Steel Bay walk
Most of the path is good, these wooden steps are steep but manageable
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All aboard the Rivercat!

Parramatta (travel by Rivercat)

It feels adventurous to catch the Rivercat from Circular Quay and then travel all the way up the Parramtta River into the city of Parramatta. Check out our article on the Parramatta Rivercat here.

This gives your day out a whole other dimension. You can then explore all the fun things to do in Parramatta with kids, and then either travel back down the river, or hop on the train to get back to your point of departure.

(You’ll pass Cockatoo Island on this journey, also a wonderful place to visit with kids.)

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The swimming pool, sea inlet and the beach at Clovelly

Clovelly Pool

We always lived on the North Shore so a family expedition to the Eastern Suburbs was a bit of a treat. We always tried to visit new places each school holidays. Before the kids went to school we visited more frequently, before weekend sports became our Saturday thing.

Anyway, our top spot is Clovelly Pool, the long sea inlet as well as this actual swimming pool you can see here. Myself and the kids love snorkelling at Clovelly, there are always schools of fish and large green and blue gropers to marvel at. Then there’s the sheer fun of leaping into the waves, experiencing large seas whack up against the rocks, playing on the beach and enjoying the kiosks and cafes too.

Clovelly can get very busy, so pick your times, get over there and spend a day in the sea and in the sunshine. Masks, snorkels, hats and sunscreen are compulsory.

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Look at those waves crashing!
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Clifton gardens on a sunny day is a kids’ heaven

Clifton Gardens

Our family’s very favourite Sydney Harbour beach is Clifton Gardens, perhaps because we went on the annual school picnic there for all of the 17 years that we had children at primary school. We went at other times too, it was a school holiday favourite.

We looked for seahorses as we snorkelled, the kids must have jumped off that jetty hundreds and hundreds of times, they played cricket and football on the reserve and played with their friends on the excellent playground equipment.

Yes, the parking is expensive, but there’s nothing else to complain about at Clifton Gardens.

5 Favourite Family Holidays

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This is Chinamas Beach with the small village of Hyams Beach beyond

Jervis Bay

Many families have a holiday destination that they return to year after year, getting to know it very well, maybe they went as children first and then go back with their own kids. For us, this is Jervis Bay, just 3 – 4 hours south of Sydney. The bay is huge and famous for its water clarity. The sea tends to be calm most of the time, there’s never real surf there and most days the water is flat calm so pretty safe for kids of all ages.

We have done boat trips to snorkel right under the cliffs at Point Perpendicular, and we’ve kayaked and bush walked too. But mainly we just wander around on the beaches, then spend hours sitting in cafes, browse the shops, cook up a BBQ and read our books. Jervis Bay is a coastal family paradise.

We were there in the school holidays that have just passed, with five 16-year-olds… everyone had a great time. The teenagers broke the local by-laws by jumping off Moona Moona Creek (as we always do.) If you ever do the same and find a GoPro Black 5 down there, it’s mine, dropped by my son as he attempted a somersault.

My long article on the 25 Things To Do at Jervis Bay With Kids has always been popular, and has been updated many times.

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Views over Jervis Bay to Point Perpendicular
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Jervis Bay is famous for its calm, clear waters. This photo is from a kayak trip over to Orion Beach in Vincentia
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Classic Fiji, blue water and blue skies and a feeling of freedom and relaxation

Fiji – especially Castaway Island

Ah, Fiji is holiday heaven. If you and the family need to really relax and be looked after – all of you – head to Fiji.

Now, our family is rare in that the first time we went to Fiji, it did not really work. Our twins were too young and too lively and the week we spent there was not a proper holiday. But we returned and had truly amazing holidays at the Outrigger on the Coral Coast and then – the ultimate – on Castaway Island.

Ah, how can I begin to explain the joy of waking up and knowing that I could just wander for two minutes down to the beach and snorkel on a coral reef that is right there. Bliss. And seeing our kids enjoy going to the kids club was heaven too. They would scamper off joyfully to take part in the day’s fun activities, then tell us all about it later. As a family we did boat trips to snorkel on other reefs and we kayaked all around the island. We ate our meals slowly, watched sunsets slowly and slept deeply each night, soothed by the sound of the small waves don the shore.

I would return to Castaway Island any day of the week, it really is a heavenly holiday haven. I have also done a wonderful island cruise with Captain Cook and my dream is to take all the family on the longer 11-night cruise one day.

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Castaway Island’s outdoor classroom for kids
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Halong Bay, we walked up steep tracks to see this beauty laid out below us


Our family haven’t been overseas since Covid-19 called a halt to travel, but the last trip we did was a really terrific one , to Vietnam. We had booked everything through a local Vietnamese tour agency and everything worked very smoothly. We travelled from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Cty via Halong Bay and gorgeous Hoi An. This holiday was an adventure and a history lesson and full of life lessons. We met some fantastic Vietnamese guides and loved visiting markets, doing cooking classes and exploring caves, museums and backstreets.

Check out what we did in Vietnam here.

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The Chu Chi Tunnels, a history lesson for the twins
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Surfers Paradise from the air!

The Gold Coast

Who doesn’t love the Goldie? This is Australia’s most popular family holiday destination and that’s because the Gold Coast has lots to do for families of children of all ages: toddlers, preschoolers, primary school kids and teenagers. There’s lots to do for everyone.

My teenagers enjoyed shopping, but they loved the theme parks even more and they went on rides that made me feel pale and giddy just to look at. And the beaches, oh the beaches…..

After our family visits, I wrote up a Beginners Guide to the Gold Coast and a Fun Things To Do On the Gold Coast with Teenagers article. I hope you find them useful, we had so many laughs doing the research.

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Stunning Snapper Rocks at the very south end of the Gold Coast
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My mini mermaid daughter snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef

Cairns + Port Douglas

Look, you cannot beat Far North Queensland as a holiday playground. There’s the Great Barrier Reef, of course, but also many other nature and environment-based activities, plus foodie delights, indigenous adventures and great places to stay.

Our family loved trips up here, especially the teenagers. Check out my article on the Best Things To Do in Cairns and Port Douglas with Teenagers.

The older boys did a guided reef dive and we have also done several GBR tours, have a look at our recommendations for Great Barrier Reef tours here.

Find a wonderful family resort in Cairns here and If you love a great hotel pool, check out the best hotel pools in Cairns here.

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Jetski trip was a highlight for the teenage boys
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The Lagoon at Cairns waterfront is totally free – fantastic

Although I hope to stay in touch with Hello Sydney Kids, this is Seana signing off as owner and very happily passing on the website into the care of younger mums and dads.

Enjoy exploring Sydney with the kids!

May Hello Sydney Kids and all the families who read it flourish!

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  1. says: Diana

    Seana, thank you so much for all your research over the years.
    We (me & Miss now 17) particularly enjoyed the playground recommendations, I had a check list of the ones to visit, especially the water play parks. I have memories of each & Pirrama Park has a very special place in our hearts, we still visit occasionally in the evening and we wouldn’t have that special place without your website, so thank you!
    All the best for the future.
    PS Was lovely to hear you with the Too Peas girls!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Oh thanks, Diana, I am so glad that you enjoyed reading the articles. I love Pirrama Park too, I was there on my own for a walk a few weeks ago and wished so much that I had some littleies with me. My twins are 17 as well, just turned… I do miss the children that they once were.

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