The Central Coast is an excellent destination for a day trip, weekend away or holidays.
The Central Coast is SO CLOSE to Sydney and offers lots of things to do with kids.
No matter how old your kids are, the activities for families on the Central Coast are endless.
From Brooklyn to the south end of Lake Macquarie, this coastal region has unspoilt national parks, beautiful beaches, lush forests, tranquil villages, vibrant local markets, trendy cafes, terrific playgrounds, family friendly restaurants and a range of accommodation that suit all type of budgets.
By Mireia Garriga Seguranyes
It wasn’t easy to put together the best 10 things to do with kids on the Central Coast because it has so much to offer!
There are plenty of budget friendly suggestions here, lots of things to do including some free ones.
“Fun starts here!” says the official visitor guide of the Central Coast and it’s 100% correct.
Contents of this post
- 1. Central Coast Beaches
- 2. Pelican Feeding at The Entrance + Woy Woy
- 3. Aussie Wildlife at The Reptile Park and Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park
- 4. The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre
- 5. Wyong Milk Factory + The Chocolate Factory Gosford
- 6. Bateau Bay Skate Park AKA Bato Yard
- 7. Cycling, Horse Riding + Zip Lining
- 8. Explore The Four Local National Parks
- 9. Enjoy The Scenic Drive A49
- 10. Norah Head Lighthouse
1. Central Coast Beaches
The Central Coast has lots of beautiful beaches, but not all of them are good for families, specially if you have young children. We did the homework for you and we short-listed the best family friendly ones.
Terrigal Beach, Ettalong Beach, Umina Beach, Toowoon Bay, Norah Head Beach, Avoca Beach and Pearl Beach.
All of them have excellent facilities (public toilets, showers and kiosk / café).
Terrigal Beach is one of the best-known beaches on the Central Coast. It offers safe swimming and there is an ocean rock pool for children at the south end of the Esplanade.
Ettalong Beach is also a very popular beach because of its calm and shallow waters, and the Ettalong Beach Waterfront Reserve and Playground.
The Box On the Water restaurant / kiosk is conveniently located on the promenade overlooking the beach.
Toowoon Bay is the beach that you need on a windy day. If one side of the beach is too rough, the other one is normally fine. The beach is good for body boarding and snorkelling.
There is a café kiosk at the Surf Club. On the top of the hill, you can find Swadling Reserve with loads of shade trees, a playground, picnic shelters and ample car parking.
Umina Beach is perfect for families with kids of several ages because of the fabulous playground in The Peninsular Recreation Precinct, which is directly across from the beach.
It has a fenced area for the little kids and an open one with some cool equipment for older kids. The beach is moderately sheltered, so it is always advisable to swim between the flags.
Avoca Beach is famous because of its surfing. However, it has a safe rock pool area for little kids to swim in. The beach has several cafes close by.
The playground –not far away from the beach- was upgraded not a long time ago. For aquatic sport lovers, Aquafun Avoca Lake has human-powered pedal boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for hire.
Norah Head Beach, like Avoca Beach, it has a rock pool area that it is perfect for little kids. On the top, there is a café / take away with a nice vibe, The Ark Cafe, and two reserves.
Bush Street Reserve with beautiful views, plenty of shade and picnic tables, and, across, Young Street Reserve, which has a little playground with some picnic tables, too.
Our last pick is the always-beautiful Pearl Beach. Read all the info about Pearl Beach on this post.
2. Pelican Feeding at The Entrance + Woy Woy
The Entrance Daily Pelican Feeding at Pelican Plaza, 3:30 pm is one of the Central Coast’s most popular tourist attractions. Tip: go a bit earlier to get a spot.
The Entrance is a great destination for enjoying a day out with the family because of the rides, playground and pedestrian area with cafes and restaurants.
Besides the Entrance, Woy Woy Fisherman’s Wharf also feeds pelicans every day at 3:00 pm. The Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant and take away is one of the most iconic Fish and Chips of the Central Coast. Enjoy the views from the veranda or eat take away.
Nearly adjacent, there is a fenced playground with some sheltered picnic tables. This is the perfect combination for families with little kids.
3. Aussie Wildlife at The Reptile Park and Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park
The Australian Reptile Park is probably the best attraction for families on the Central Coast. The park exhibits a wide range of Australian reptiles and offers daily wildlife shows, too.
It was established in 1948 by Australia’s first naturalist, Eric Worrell and it is the only zoo in Australia committed to saving lives by milking spiders and snakes.
The Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park is a wildlife sanctuary with lots of Australian animals committed to protect animals that come into care.
The Park breeds endangered animals for release back into the wild and also provides a learning space for students.
The park offers animal talks, guided tours of Aboriginal sites and walking paths in the Australian bush.
They also offer night safari sleepovers and the activity of becoming a ranger for a day. Read all you need to know before going here.
4. The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre
The Marine Discovery Centre offers a variety of interactive activities, tours, educational programs and science exhibits in a very kid-focused setting, which is ideal for families. The volunteers who run the centre are truly devoted, kind and patient with children. Furthermore, next to it, there is the terrific fenced playground in Terrigal Rotary Park and Parklife Coffe, which serves delicious meals. The playground consists on a majestic wooden pirate ship and a good variety of equipment for toddlers and older children. You have it all in the same precinct. So, you cannot get wrong!
Note: The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre only opens on Mondays, weekends and school holidays (last admission at 3pm). For more information, click on here.
5. Wyong Milk Factory + The Chocolate Factory Gosford
Do you enjoy good food? Then, The Wyong Milk Factory and The Chocolate Factory Gosford should be on your bucket list.
With its fenced playground, the kid friendly café, and delicious chocolates and cheeses, The Wyong Milk Factory is a great day trip. To know more about it, click on here to read this review.
The Chocolate Factory Gosford is the home of Bon Bon Fine Chocolate, Nougat Limar & The Sydney Marshmallow Co. They produce all sorts of chocolates and one of the best nougat of the world.
The factory offers tours and workshops for the kids. Although the tour is better for older kids, my daughters still enjoyed the experience.
The Factory is not only a good place to stock up on sweet treats or buy some to impress someone, but also to have a detour when travelling north on the M1 from Sydney, as there is also a café where you can eat delicious food, including –of course- some hot chocolate.
The Central Coast has plenty of child friendly cafes and restaurants. Some examples are Mingara Recreation Club, Bateau Bay Hotel, Wyong Milk Factory, Jasmine Greens Kiosk in Umina to name a few.
There are so many places to go! An easy option is the pedestrian area of the Marine Parade of The Entrance, where you can find several cafes and restaurants. Although they are not adjacent to the playground, they are very conveniently located. You don’t need to drag the kids out when they are tired. Walk a little bit and you will find a café.
6. Bateau Bay Skate Park AKA Bato Yard
Bato Yard offers the nation’s deepest bowl measuring 3.6m (12ft) and 450mm (1.5ft) of vert, which can hold international competitions. it has an additional mini flow bowl area that allows for less advanced users to develop their skills. In the street plaza, riders can find rails and stairs.
The Yard was designed to cater for everyone, from beginners to advanced riders. It doesn’t only cater for those who ride a skateboard, but also a scooter, BMX, roller skates or blades.
Address: 460 The Entrance Rd, Bateau Bay NSW 2261
7. Cycling, Horse Riding + Zip Lining
For the families with older children that like riding a bicycle try the popular Tuggerah Lakes Cycleway, an off-road 12 kilometre shared pathway that follows the lake from The Entrance to Chittaway. Along the route you will find parks, playgrounds, picnic areas and the iconic Long Jetty.
Self-serve bike hire is available near the Pelican Plaza or outside of The Entrance Visitor Information Centre on Marine Parade.
Besides the nautical and aquatic sports such as surfing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, water-skiing, scuba diving and sailing, the Central Coast also offers inland adventures.
Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures is renowned for its horse riding and variety of outdoor activities including quad biking, kayaking, abseiling, laser skirmish and camping.
For a thrilling experience, Ourimbah State Forest is home to TreeTops, an adventure park with multiple courses comprising of over 100 elevated obstacles including rope ladders, wobbly bridges, tunnel, cargo-nets and zip lines, including the world’s longest rollercoaster zip line. Definitively, this is one of the most fun things to do. Our daughters loved it.
The forest is also a destination for mountain bike enthusiasts offering challenging biking tracks.
8. Explore The Four Local National Parks
Central Coast is home of several National Parks: Brisbane Water National Park, Popran National Park, Bouddi National Park and Wyrrabalong National Park.
Important notes before you go:
- Unless you have the annual pass, you will need to pay. For fees information, check the NSW National Parks website or download the new free app.
- Generally, beaches within NSW National Parks are unpatrolled and we never suggest swimming at unpatrolled beaches with your kids.
The highlights for families in Brisbane Water National Park are Somersby Falls and picnic area; Staples Lookout –easily accessible from the road- with views across Brisbane Water and Woy Woy; and, Warrah Lookout with breathtaking views of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River, after a short walk from the car park.
If you are fit and you have teens, you might like going for a swim in Emerald Pool in Popran National Park.
Bouddi National Park is famous for its coastal walks. If you have little kids, but you don’t want to go for a hike, you can still enjoy it. We recommend the natural rock pools of Little Beach when the tide is low. You will find this beach after an easy 10-minute walk through tall gum forest.
Putty Beach is another great place. The beach is patrolled in summer and it has good picnic and campground facilities.
In Wyrrabalong National Park, the best places to explore for families are the Bateau Bay picnic area, and the views of Crackneck Lookout that stretch up to Norah Head.
9. Enjoy The Scenic Drive A49
The Scenic Drive A49 is a 1 hour and 15 min drive that can be done in one day. Also, you can take it at your own pace, during several days. For more detailed information, visit the website www.pacificcoast.com.au.
From all the highlights, The Entrance is a compulsory stop for families. Besides the famous Pelican Feeding, Memorial Park is an entertainment haven with the Historical Carousel, rides and the Pelican express little train.
Also, there is a new playground with lots of cool equipment and Vera’s Watergarden, which is always fun for little kids. For a swim, go to the Ocean Baths, which are the best ones of the region. They consist on 3 swimming pools: a 50-metre lap pool, a 22-metre pool and a shaded wading pool for children.
10. Norah Head Lighthouse
Finally, the last highlight that you cannot miss is Norah Head and its historical lighthouse. Book ahead to avoid disappointment. We were really impressed with the tour that it is run by volunteers.
After the breathtaking views from the Norah Head lighthouse, you can keep exploring the surroundings through the nature trail.
Read more, check out the accommodation and book tours on the Norah Head Lighthouse website here.
And here’s another one, recommended by a reader:
Amazement Farm and Fun Park
Close to Tree Tops, you will find all sorts of farm animals, fun hedge mazes to explore, pony rides, a playground, cafe and mini bike tracks and much more.
Address: 170 Yarramalong Road, Wyong Creek, NSW 2259
Check the Amazement website for opening hours/days and all other info.
Central Coast Public Transport
Nearest station: Woy Woy, Gosford, Tuggerah and Wyong are the main station hubs, with taxi services or bus connections to other areas of the Coast.
Nearest ferry: Palm Beach Ferries operate daily services between Palm Beach (Sydney) and Ettalong Beach and Wagstaffe (Central Coast).
Bus stop nearby: The Central Coast bus network features major interchange hubs at Gosford, Wyong, Tuggerah and Woy Woy.
For more Information, go to:
The Entrance Visitor Information Centre:
Marine Parade, The Entrance
Opening Hours: Daily- 9:00am to 5:00pm (Closed Christmas Day & Good Friday)
Telephone: +61 2 4334 4213
Other Central Coast Visitor Information Centres can be found at the following locations:
- Avoca Beach Picture Theatre: Avoca Dr, Avoca Beach
- Breakers Country Club: Dover Rd, Wamberal
- Erina Fair: Terrigal Drive, Erina (limited information available)
- Ettalong Diggers: 51-52 The Esplanade, Ettalong Beach
- Olivers M1 North & South: M1 Freeway, Warnervale
- The Entrance, Memorial Park, The Entrance
- Toukley Arts Centre: Federation Gallery Wallarah Rd, Gorokan
For us the Central Coast is the complete package: it is not too far away from Sydney, the coast is beautiful with lots of beaches suitable for families and it offers plenty of budget friendly things to do with the kids.
What is favourite place on the Central Coast? There are so many places to go!
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