Can you believe we’ve been living in Sydney for almost two years?! Time flies when you’re having fun exploring. Lately we’ve had a few Mums message us to say they’re planning a trip to Sydney and asking our recommendations for things to do in Sydney with kids. We thought it was about time we write a blog sharing the things we love to do in our new home city.
We’ve discovered Sydney has loads of family friendly attractions, restaurants and activities. Aside from the iconic places to visit, you’ll find spectacular beaches, fun ferry rides, modern playgrounds, tree top adventures and much more. As always our favourite things involve getting outdoors, keeping our boys active and checking out the local eats along the way!
In no particular order these are our top ten things to do in Sydney with kids so far.
1. Ferry Ride from Circular Quay to Manly
We’ve been on the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly three times now. It has become a school holiday tradition and never gets old. You get a whole new perspective of Sydney from the water and the best views of the Sydney Opera House. There’s a fast ferry if you’re short on time but we prefer the majestic old green and yellow ferries. The old ferries all have a name and my seven year old was very excited when he spotted a ferry, he says was named after him, the other day.
Once you arrive at Manly Wharf, walk along the Corso lined with shops and restaurants to beautiful Manly Beach. From here you can walk a further fifteen minutes to Shelly Beach where you’ll find The Boathouse cafe and restaurant. Grab a seat or a takeaway coffee and relax with your toes in the sand while your kids play on the beach right next door. On the way back my boys enjoy looking out for fish as well as giant crabs on the rocks and snorkelers at the aquatic reserve, Cabbage Tree Bay.
Be sure to bring a backpack with swimmers and a towel because aside from the beach there’s also Manly Surf n Slide, just a few minutes walk from Manly Wharf. The three slippery slides keep my boys running and sliding for at least two hours every time we visit! Before you board the ferry back to Circular Quay make sure you cool down with an ice-cream from Gelatissimo at Manly Wharf. You can thank me later!
2. Luna Park Sydney
It’s no surprise my boys keep asking us to take them back to Luna Park. Packed full of rides, snow cones, fresh fairy floss, roving entertainment and views for days, it’s impossible not to have fun! One of our favourite things to do is Coney Island. This is a large indoor area filled with old-school rides including wavy sack slides, crazy mirrors and fun obstacle courses all beautifully restored.
Our boys couldn’t get enough of the slides and my eldest son even braved the highest and steepest slide of all. Not for the faint hearted! Also not to be missed is the ferris wheel with spectacular views of the harbour and the dodgem cars (our family favourite).
Before going I would recommend checking out the Luna Park website as it provides information on height restrictions for all the rides, how to get here and any other special events that might be on when you’re visiting. We recently visited Luna Park when Spooksville was on, so the kids got to enjoy extra activities such as face painting, slime making and trick or treating.
We’d recommend taking public transport and packing your own lunch if you can, as a full day can get pricey. My ten year old is tall enough to go on the rides alone however my seven year old needs an adult with him on the majority of the rides. Regardless, there’s something for everyone and it’s a fun way to create memories as a family or with friends.
3. Bondi Beach
Bondi Rescue is always playing on repeat at home so our boys were super excited to visit iconic Bondi Beach. After having a swim and watching the surf lifesavers in action, head across the road from the beach for take-away fish n chips. We like sitting at the picnic tables on the grassy esplanade where our boys can kick a ball after we’ve eaten.
If you feel like getting more active, there’s the gorgeous walk from Bondi to Coogee. You won’t make the whole walk and back with little kids but even just going a short distance gives you stunning views of the coastline. Visit in October and you have the added bonus of seeing the amazing Sculptures by the Sea outdoor art exhibition along the walkway.
4. Sydney Opera House and Opera Bar
Our boys were both in awe of the Sydney Opera House when they saw it for the first time. They had been learning about it at school in Perth so seeing it in person was amazing for them. When we recently visited The Sydney Opera House we were lucky enough to see the family show, Deadly 60 Down Under.
We would recommend catching a show too, if you can, as it adds to the experience. Check out The Sydney Opera House website to see what’s on. There’s always a variety of kids shows on during the school holidays.
Afterwards heading to Opera Bar for a drink or a meal is a must. They have a kids menu (a bit expensive but worth it for the views) and you’ll all enjoy watching the boats come and go from buzzing Circular Quay. My boys are still talking about the giant cruise boat with a big red slippery slide on top, which we watched leave the harbour when we were here last.
5. Darling Quarter playground and restaurants
Not many cities have playgrounds in the heart of the CBD, but Sydney does! Darling Quarter is a reasonably new addition to Sydney. The slippery slides alone kept our boys busy for ages and we can highly recommend family friendly Umi Sushi & Udon, right across from the playground where we headed for lunch.
We took a short walk to the Chinese Gardens where our boys were excited to see table tennis tables along the way (BYO bats and ball). They also spotted some cool seats with pedals cemented into the ground which kept them amused for a while.
Next time we’ll head to the Monkey Baa Theatre Company to watch a kids show and during Summer I’d love my boys to check out the water play area. We would recommend checking out the Darling Quarter website before you visit as there’s often family-friendly events on here, especially over the Summer months.
6. Cockatoo Island
A hidden gem in the heart of Sydney! Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with convict history. There’s loads to do with kids including a giant chess board, basket ball hoops (hire a ball or take your own), two kid-friendly restaurants and walking tours for kids during school holidays. You can even stay overnight in a tent or other accommodation, watch movies and sit by the bonfire.
When we visited we had limited time to explore but our boys enjoyed running around the island, up the steps to the tennis courts on the rocky cliff above, with magnificent views of Sydney. We grabbed some hot chips before heading back on the ferry. Taking scooters is a good option as there’s loads of walking for little legs and plenty of open space for kids to get active.
7. Sky Zone
If we were going to suggest one indoor playground to go to in Sydney with kids, it would be the massive fun-filled Sky Zone. Our seven year old always heads straight to the foam-pit and trampolines whereas my ten year old loves dunking a ball in the basketball hoops and the organised games of dodgeball.
There’s also a cool and colourful climbing wall and an Enduro Ninja Warrior style obstacle course. If you have older kids, you can literally sit for hours while they’re entertained. We would recommend booking or phoning ahead as it can get busy, especially on school holidays and weekends.
8. Watsons Bay
Catching a ferry to beautiful Watson’s Bay is a family favourite. Make sure you try the famous Doyles fish n chips for lunch or dinner (located at the wharf where the ferry docks). We recommend getting takeaway (there is an option to eat in) and then eating them at Robertson Park right next door.
After having a run around at the park, we take a walk up the hill where there’s dramatic ocean views from The Gap. There are plenty more walks if you’re feeling active including the walk to South Head and the historic Hornby Lighthouse. Tip: The ferries are cheap on Sundays (you pay no more than $2.80 a day for both adults and children).
9. Treetop Adventure Park
My youngest son went to Treetop Adventure Park for a birthday party and raved about it for weeks. This is the perfect spot for kids to get active amongst the native gumtrees. You might even be lucky enough to get up close and personal to the wildlife! Young and old can challenge themselves on over one hundred obstacles including wobbly bridges, rope ladders, tunnels, cargo-nets and even zip lines!!
There are different courses for kids depending on their age and ability however they need to be at least three years old to participate. My seven year old came home with loads of stories and I could tell he was super proud of what he’d achieved and the brand new experience he’d had with his friends. We would recommend looking at their comprehensive website before visiting.
10. Balmoral Beach
Stunning Balmoral Beach is an awesome place to visit during any season. During Winter we came here with my young nephews visiting from New Zealand and had the best time. It gets very busy during the Summer months so consider arriving early or catching public transport. Our boys love to play at the fenced playground while we enjoy a takeaway coffee from the cafe next door. There’s a cool circle of swings which always gets my little man excited.
Take the short walk along the water to the rotunda, where you’ll see a cute bridge to an island with spectacular views of the ocean. Bring scooters if you can as there’s a long shared pathway. The beach itself is very sheltered and perfect for little ones. Pack a picnic or there’s a range of cafes to choose from, including takeaway fish n chips.
We hope you find our list of favourite things to do in Sydney with kids helpful. We’d love to hear if you made it along to any of the places we’ve recommended. Feel free to ask any questions or let us know if you have any other suggestions. We still have a lot more of Sydney to explore ourselves!