Sydney’s Best Family Days Out


This is a post where I suggest big days out for the family, things to do at the weekend or during holiday periods.

These are trips that can easily take all day, usually with two different places to visit.

best family days out sydney

The post which lists Family Day Trips Beyond Sydney has always been very popular, and this post is the within Sydney equivalent.

It’s uplifting to have an adventure with the kids, to explore new places and get out of our daily rut routine. 

If you visit a new part of Sydney you might find that it involves a road trip to get there too. Sydney is massive but it’s there to explore.

Planning Ahead For The Day Out

Below each day out description, I refer to the main posts that have all the details you need to plan your trip.

If the kids give you the gift of an early start then take full advantage, pack the bags the night before, leave very early and miss the traffic.

If you’re on a budget then taking a picnic with you is always the economical thing to do, of course.

Oatley Park 8

Oatley Park Day Out

Swim at the netted baths, splash around at the beach, run around on the huge grassy spaces, bush walk, explore the Castle and the playgrounds too. There is so much to do at Oatley Park that you probably will not manage it all in a day.

Take a picnic and spread out under the trees as there’s no cafe in Oatley Park itself. There is Bitton Oatley nearby though if picnics are not your things.

Click through to read and print or save all the information on how to get there, where to park and what you can do. 

Posts to print out:

Oatley Park: Playground, Netted Baths, Walks and Bike Track

Bitton Oatley Cafe

NL aerial 1
Narrabeen Lagoon from above

Narrabeen Lagoon Day Out

Families can very easily spend a whole day exploring Narrabeen lagoon. This natural wonderland is one of the best places to explore with kids on the Northern beaches for sure.

There’s the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail all around shores of the lagoon, of course, an 8km multi-use trail which can be walked or cycled in sections or as a look. 

Then there are some magnificent playgrounds to explore at Berry Reserve and Bilarong, these make excellent spots for picnics and BBQs too. But if you’d rather eat at a cafe, try the Tramshed beside Berry Reseve Playground, it’s super kid-friendly.

You can also hire kayaks at Berry Reserve, and you can swim and splash in the lagoon there too. 

Print out these articles to take with you!

Narrabeen Lagoon Trail: Walking With Kids

Cycling Around Narrabeen Lagoon

Bilarong Playground and Reserve at Narrabeen Lagoon

The Tramshed Cafe

Berry Reserve Playground

Narrabeen Lagoon Trail Stroller Walk 1
Map of Narrabeen Lagoon Trail

Jubilee park mortdale adventure playground

Jubilee Park Mortdale Day Out

The terrific adventure playground at Jubilee Park in Mortdale is great for children of all ages and will wear out even the most active playground adventurers. 

There are multiple play spaces and also a bike track.

When the kids are exhausted, pop along to the child friendly Bitton Oatley Cafe which is just a hop, skip and a jump away. You’ll find lots of options there and a very welcoming attitude.

Posts to print out:

Bitton Oatley Cafe

Jubilee Park Playground

Palm Beach Northern Beaches Sydney

Palm Beach Day Out

Palm Beach is a Sydney icon for all the right reasons. It’s a spectacularly beautiful beach with a twoering headland above, topped by a lighthouse. What more do you need? Oh yes, cafes, kiosks and fish and chips… all there, so we are sorted.

We love going to the beach and then having fish and chips at Palm Beach, choose from the more sheltered beach to the south at Cabbage Tree Bay, where the rock pool is. Or choose the more sirfy section, still patrolled in the middle of the beach.

You might also like to explore the more sheltered beach over on the Pittwater side.

If you’d like to do the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk get all the info you need on the excellent Sydney Coast Walks Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk post here.

When you need to eat there are cafes at the southern end, but we like Dunes Kiosk at Governor Phillip Park. Also delightful is the Boathouse on the Pittwater side where you can watch sea planes take off and land and enjoy great food.  There are also fish and chip shops at the village area on the Pittwater side.

Palm Beach does get terribly crowded on hot weekends and public holidays, parking can be shocking, so do pick a quieter time.

Posts to print out:

Palm Beach and Rock Pool With Kids

Governor Phillip Playground + Dunes Kiosk

The Boathouse at Palm Beach

avalon beach rock pool

Exploring Avalon

Avalon is high up on the Northern Beaches, it’s a very laid back suburb, a bit hippy and often called ‘Sydney’s Byron Bay.’

Our family enjoys driving up early and parking by the Surf Life Saving Club then playing in the waves and having a swim at the gorgeous rock pool.

Then it’s time for a bite to eat and handily there’s a beach cafe in the SLSC right on the sand, excellent for a snack, meal or drink with a divine view.

Older kids and teenas (and adults) love to have a wander round the groovy shops, great for buying beach clothes, there’s an independent book shop too.

But you can also explore further. Over on the Pittwater side you can find the tiny and very cute Paradise Baths; swim there and go up the road to the super healthy Forage Wholefoods Cafe on Hilltop Road.

Posts to print out:

Avalon Beach + Rock Pool

Paradise Beach + Baths

Parramatta River Stroller walk

Parramatta Big Day Out

Ah, there’s so much to do in Parramatta, one day will not be enough.  If you like to walk, play in great playgrounds, see indigenous art, explore historical places and then have a yummy meal followed by ice cream then Parramatta is the place for you.

Can I highly recommend arriving by ferry, the delightful Rivercat (my kids love the name) if you are coming from anywhere east of Parramatta?

Parramatta Park is a major focus of a visit, but don’t miss the short Riverside Walk too.

Posts to print out:

Things To Do in Parramatta With Kids

A Trip To Parramatta By Rivercat

Parramatta Park Playgrounds

Parramatta Park Stroller Walk

Parramatta Riverside Walk

Cockatoo Island Family Day Trip 8

Cockatoo Island

A visit to Cockatoo Island is worth a whole day, there’s so much to explore there and so many places to walk around. But relaxing and enjoying the views, or playing a game with the kids on the wide grassy spaces is also good fun.

Cockatoo Island has history by the bucketful, amazing structures to see, like the huge tunnels you can walk though and the old steam crane.

There’s nowhere to swim on Cockatoo Island that I know of, but if you’re hot and sweaty after your visit and you’ve taken the ferry from Greenwich then a visit to Greenwich Baths to cool off would work well.

If you’ve come to Cockatoo Island from the city then a meal at Circular Quay or a walk around to the Opera House would make your day a massive one.

Posts to print out:

Cockatoo Island With Kids

Greenwich Baths on Sydney Harbour

Greencwich Baths Sydney 6

Auburn Botanic Garden Japanese Garden
Serenity, my kids could quickly shatter that!

Auburn Botanic Gardens 

You might well this that a Botanic Garden will not hold the interest of children, but this one does.

There’s lots to see and plenty of space to run around plus an Aviary and Arts centre close by and the fauna Reserve within the Gardens too.

Check out all the info on the Gardens when you read and print out the post below. You could extend your day with a walk along the Duck River which is beside the Gardens, or just by having a play on the river banks.

Posts to print out:

Auburn Botanic Garden

Parramatta Heritage Centre: Walking The Duck River

Collaroy Playground 1 13

Collaroy on the Northern Beaches

If you have little children then Collaroy will provide you a splendid big day out.  The playground there is most excellent, with great equipment, BBQs and uplifting views.

There’s the surf beach but also a more sheltered shallow beach just past the rock pool, walk along the walkway going south to find it.

You can pop over Pittwater Road to find a groovy beachy cafe if you fancy that. Or The Collaroy is a large bar and cafe just past the surf club and it has a kids play area and good meals for kids.

You could extend a visit to Collaroy by visiting Narrabeen Lake on the way there or back… but that would make it a HUGE day for kids.

The Collaroy

1064 Pittwater Road, Collaroy

Collaroy website here

Posts to print out:

Collaroy Beach Playground

Collaroy Beach and Rock Pool (must update the photos but the info is all good)

family days our sydney
One side of beautiful Jellybean Pool

Glenbrook Swim, Play + Eat

I’m counting Glenbrook as being within Sydney because it’s really so close. Maybe I should move it to the Family Days Out Beyond Sydney, but will start with it here.

We recently visited Jellybean Pool and had the most wonderful time. Now, I would avoid this pool on hot Sundays in summer and certainly on public holidays unless you get there super super early.  

Find a time when it’s not hectic though and this is a magical spot, fairly easy to get to (but not with a stroller) and delightful for kids of all ages.  There is deep water here though so you need to keep a really close eye, in fact stay right beside, the non-swimmers.

Also in Glenbrook you will find a most excellent playground, see full post below plus Cafe 2773, info here..

Café 2773, Glenbrook
This café ticks every single kid friendly box and then some. With cute babycinos and even cuter baby animals, you can easily spend quite a few hours in this very popular café. They even have a cubby house and space for an outdoor picnic. This is a wonderfully toddler friendly cafe.

Adults can either enjoy a perfectly brewed coffee or a glass of vino with their gourmet wood fired pizza or other delicious menu offering. And if your kids still have some energy to burn, head across the road after your meal and check out the train themed Glenbrook Park.

Address: 19 Ross St, Glenbrook

Cafe 2773 website here.

Posts to print out:

Jellybean Pool at Glenbrook

Glenbrook Park Playground 

20131000 Fairy Bower Manly 002 blog
Gorgeous fairy Bower at Manly

Manly Family Day Out

Ah, there’s so much choice in Manly!

If you have older children or speed freaks then a swim and a play in the waves at South Steyne is a great start to your trip.  Head next to the water slides at Manly Surf n Slide then have some fish and chips and you’ll have worn them out.

But you might choose instead to walk along the promenade all the way to Queensliff and maybe even back south to Shelly Beach where you can stop for a swim and a coffee or something to eat at The Boathouse.

If you love to snorkel then just pop straight over to Shelly Beach where you could spend the whole day popping in and out of the water, saying hello to the fish, the rays and the wobbegongs.

Teenagers will enjoy a long wander around the shops in Manly and those who love to eat will find dozens of cool cafes, some excellent fish restaurants and great pizzas with even better views.

If you are in search of a secret hideaway try Little Manly Cove, or hire a kayak and go to Store Beach.  Lovers of exquisite ocean pools must not miss beautiful Fairy Bower Pool. History buffs will love a visit to the amazing Q Station Manly too.

Parking: Can be a nightmare in Manly… getting there by public transport is ideal.  There are three council car parks but these fill fast and only offer 2 hours free. Check this article on parking in Manly.

Myself, I have often paid to park in the Grande Esplanade car park near the Wharf, entry on Gilbert Street. I’ve often had six kids with me so parking was cheaper/easier than taking them all on the bus.

Posts to print out:

Things To Do At Manly With Kids

Manly Four Beaches Walk

Many Surf n Slide

Shelly Beach With Kids

Snorkelling at Shelly Beach

Manly West Esplanade Beach

Little Manly Cove With Kids

Manly to Balgowlah Stroller Walk

Fairy Bower Rock Pool

Q Station Manly Day Trip or Stay 

Store Beach by Kayak

Shelly Beach playground Cronulla 2

Cronulla + Sutherland Day Out

If you do not know the Shire, as the locals call it, then a day trip will give you and the family a good introduction. There are lovely beaches in this southern part of Sydney plus lots of other things to do.

A visit to the very family-friendly Shelly Beach with its excellent playground, pool and beach is highly recommended.

You could follow this up with a visit to the nearby E. G. Waterhouse National Camellia Garden, a firm local favourite with plenty of space to run, plus two playgrounds as well as the flowers.  There is also a delightful Teahouse within the Gardens, a lovely place to stop and have something to eat.

Address: 104 President Avenue, Caringbah NSW 2229

Check out more Sutherland Shire options on this post too.

Posts to print out:

Shelly Beach Cronulla

Shelly Beach Playground

Camellia Gardens website here

sydney family days out
Views over pool, bridge and river; there’s so much to do at Como

Como Pleasure Grounds

Most of the day trips we suggest have two locations, but there’s so much to do at Como that it’s here on its own.

There are nature walks, a loop track which is great for bikes and trikes, a good playground, a pretty picnic area, a kiosk and cafe, and then the outdoor pool and below it there are tidal baths.

And this is all free to visit. Marvellous!

Post to print out:

Como Pleasure Grounds

Cables Wake Park Penrith 3

Penrith Parks + Water Play

Head west for a full day of outdoors family fun at Penrith. This is a lovely part of Sydney for explorers. You might start with a visit to a museum, the adults might like to go for:

Penrith Regional Gallery at 86 River Road, Emu Plains 2750 which offers free Entry

Penrith Regional Gallery website is here

But the kids might demand a visit to Penrith’s Museum of Fire instead. My kids call it the Museum of Fire Engines.

For thrills and spills, at some expense, you could try iFly the Indoor Skydiving centre.  Or you could head over to Cables Wake Park where older kids and adults might like to try wake boarding.  The excellent Aqua Park there is a great place to cool off in the river.

For more walks and views and playing, a visit to the Sydney International Regatta Centre, a 5 km loop will wear out the most active family members.

Posts to print out:

The Museum of Fire Penrith

Cables Wake Park Penrith

iFly Indoor Skydiving

Sydney International Regatta Centre

More Ideas For Great Days Out Within Sydney

Minerva Pool + Dharawal National Park 

The Basin on Pittwater

Bobbin Head Playground and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

Cumberland State Forest Walks With Kids

Darling Harbour Things To Do

Manly Dam Picnics and Walks

Nancy’s Freedom Farm in Arcadia

A Kids Trip To Parramatta By Rivercat

Q Station Manly 

Sydney OutBack Wilderness Tour

Wylies Baths in Coogee + Clovelly Beach + Rock Pool

What other big days out in Sydney can your family recommend?

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best family Sydney days out

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