A trip to Sydney wouldn’t be complete without a day at the beach. Manly Beach is a 25-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. Stroll along the Manly Corso which can be pleasantly less crowded than many of the beaches in the east. Grab a snorkel and explore the calm marine reserve of Shelly Beach just a short walk further round the bend. Or, you can take the kids for surfing lessons where the kids will learn surf etiquette and how to turtle roll or duck dive.
Christmas is a charming time to bring the kids to the city. With plenty of free entertainment,
Tumbalong Park in the heart of Darling Harbour comes alive with lights, roving entertainment and a live music festival. The kids can go wild with the giant floating decorations spread across Cockle Bay and the interactive sky castle and Christmas-styled pedal boats. Don’t miss the giant baubles and building-sized Christmas presents as well as the golden tunnel of lights.
And just close by, take the kids to the vibrant inner-city suburb of Chippendale. The bustling precinct of Spice Alley is home to different types of Asian cuisines where the kids can try chicken rice from Singapore, dumplings from Hong Kong, and bowls of ramen from Japan.
After dinner, wander into Pitt Street Mall to get some Christmas shopping done, where the kids can browse at stores such as Kidstuff toy store and check out the Lego Brickman Exhibition at Sydney Tower Eye.
By night, the City of Sydney has installed a fairy-light exhibition called the Canopy of Light. The pedestrian street will be draped in over 85,000 LEDS and 10 two-metre-tall stars will twinkle their little hearts out with light shows every ten minutes. Be sure to check out the giant Pitt Street mall Christmas tree and make a wish and a donation for this year’s chosen charity, the Kids Cancer Project.
After a full day out, settle in to your hotel. Sydney is home to plenty of family-friendly accommodation, especially in its new range of apartment-style hotels. Base yourself at The Ultimo, which has a Family Suite decked with two king-sized beds and family-friendly staff. Located in the hip suburb of Ultimo, you can’t beat the location. Prices start from $170 per night for the whole family.
Wake up fresh and ready to take on the day. For breakfast, head to The Grounds of Alexandria which is known for decadent brunches and lunches. While you can sip on a Bloody Mary and dig into the rich, tomatoey baked eggs, the kids can try the cafe’s famous fluffy pancakes.
This year, honouring the 30-year anniversary of Disney’s Beauty and Beast, The Grounds has been adorned with a giant magical installation of enchanted giant installations. Floating rose petals, oversized libraries and labyrinths of classic film memories will delight every visitor. The cafe has also designed a menu dedicated to the classic film.
Once the kids have filled their bellies, head back to the city and take the ferry from Circular Quay to Milsons Point. Sydney’s beloved Luna Park has been revamped. There are nine rides with the Big Dipper launching this month. It’s bigger, dippier, faster, higher and 360° loopier. There are lots of rides as well for younger children and sideshow games like Barrels of Fun and the Wonky Walk.
When the sun goes down, the Royal Botanic Garden comes alive with Sydney’s resident wildlife. This rarely accessed night-time expedition is a treasure hunt of the senses with the scent of the gardens in summer coming alive with the sounds of nocturnal creatures of the night. Rub shoulders with golden orb spiders, brush-tailed possums, microbats, flying foxes or tawny frogmouths to name a few.
On your last day, head to Sydney’s west for plenty of family fun. For more sports action, the former Olympic venue of Blacktown International Sportspark is a mega-complex which includes football, softball, athletics, cricket and AFL fields. It’s also the home ground of the Sydney Blue Sox baseball team and the Western Sydney Wanderers soccer team.
You can happily spend a fun-filled day in Blacktown exploring its many attractions, from the Skyline Drive In to colonial heritage at Rouse Hill Estate. Exhaust the kids at Raging Waters Sydney, home to some of the world’s tallest water rides.
At the furthest most tip of Western Sydney Parklands in Eastern Creek, you’ll find a multi-activity outdoor adventure waiting for you. Flex your adventurous spirit and test yourself mentally and physically across more than 100 aerial obstacles on the tree ropes course or fly through the air on one of the world’s fastest zipcoasters.
And in places like Cabramatta and Merrylands, take the kids on a Taste Cultural Food Tour where they will learn about the city’s migrants. For instance, they’ll get an insight into Sydney’s Afghanistan and Persian communities and they’ll get to try Turkish pizzas, Afghan barbecued meats and mouth-watering Persian sweets.
On safari in Sydney
Taronga Zoo Sydney
Magnificent mammals and creatures of all sizes have been patiently waiting for friendly faces to return post lockdown and admire them in their natural habitats. The award-winning zoo has everything a family could wish for on a day out, from daily shows and tours to exclusive feeding times and rare and exotic encounters with more than 4500 animals.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
Take a dive into the wet and wild habitats of underwater creatures in Darling Harbour. Meet Pig, the friendly Dugong, take a glass-bottom boat ride over the reef and face year greatest fears with a shark encounter scuba dive.
Greater Sydney Zoos
Featherdale Wildlife Park in Western Sydney, Symbio Wildlife Park (south of Sydney) and the Australian Reptile Park (one hour’s drive north of Sydney) are all fantastic family-friendly options.
In Sydney’s Western Plains, this open-air zoo offers a safari-style experience with hundreds of native and exotic animals. Be sure to check out the Reptile and Nocturnal House to discover what these creatures get up to when the lights are out.
What’s popping up
Check out these special pop-up events that are open during the summer holidays.
Learn to Skateboard Holiday Clinic
Skateboarding is making a giant comeback for kids of all ages and genders and has come leaps and bounds in terms of teaching techniques for learners of all levels. Based at various parks rights across Sydney, kids won’t just learn the latest tricks and techniques but also the delicate balance of skate-park etiquette and how to tackle obstacles all while having fun and making new friends at the same time.
Described as the “real life Willy Wonka factory of Sydney”, this first-time fun house located at The Rocks is an immersive experience for every sweet-toothed tourist, large and small. It’s a celebration of age-old candy favourites and interactive lolly lands. Swim in a pool of marshmallows, climb inside a giant ‘claw-prize’ machine, leap out of a life-size birthday cake or attend a lesson at Sugar High School.
A 360-degree dome theatre experience (the largest ever seen in Australia) will carry you on a virtual journey to outer space, the lands of dinosaurs, the globe’s deepest jungles and more, narrated by greats like Liam Neeson and David Attenborough.