One of the most common requests I receive on the blog is to put together posts on kids activities in cities other than Melbourne. Without being in the city or having experienced at least some of the activities, it really isn’t something I can do.
Where to start? There are so many activities for children of all ages to enjoy in Sydney over the summer holidays.
Well, I’ll come over all Scottish and confess that I do love doing activities with my kids, which don’t cost too much. So we spend a lot of time in playgrounds, at beaches and around the glorious netted pools around Sydney harbour.
Even these free activities always cost a bit, don’t they? I love to park as close as I can to wherever we’re going so I do end up paying for parking. Plus there seems to be a great need for a cooling ice block at the end of the day.
My older two boys will do a lot of things by themselves these holidays, and my eldest son who is 15 will be working a fair bit too. So some of the activities that do cost money will be more affordable since I will only be taking the twins. Whew!
On that saving money note, there are some good deals on Sydney activities on Groupon and Living Social at the moment. I’ve grabbed a few already, do have a look.
The Best of the Best Playgrounds
Although we love any playground, there are some in Sydney that are very special and that deserve driving across town to. The summer break is a great time to explore new playrgounds since the roads are much quieter.
Click here to check out the best playgrounds with cafes in Sydney. If you haven’t already visited some of the really special playgrounds listed below, do click and check them out. They really are worth making the effort to visit.
- Putney Park Water Playground
- Sydney Park Playground and Bike Track
- Blaxland Riverside Park
- Clifton Gardens Playground and Beach
- Passmore Reserve
- Darling Harbour Playground
Sydney Harbour Pools
Why not pack up a picnic and visit one of the gorgeous pools around Sydney Harbour? Read up as much as you can first, work out where to park, show the family some photos and then set off on a wee adventure.
There are many netted pools and enclosures in our lovely Harbour. With some, you pay a small fee to go in: check out Greenwich Baths or the Dawn Fraser Pool.
Then there are the pretty beaches with netted swimming enclosures. Our favourites include Clifton Gardens with its excellent playground, Little Manly Cove which has a great cafe, Shark Beach in Neilsen Park and Parsley Bay which also has a playground, plus a kiosk.
Manly Waterworks is the only dedicated water slides-only venue in Sydney at the moment. There are three big slides and you can slide all day, but there’s also lots more to do very close by in Manly.
Click here to read about all the other water slides that can be found in Sydney, all within our very beautiful swimming pools.
And there’s always the lure of a big day trip down to Jamberoo Action Park in the hills near Kiama on the south coast. This isn’t just for the big kids, there are slides and rides for littlies plus a terrific little kids’ pool area.
Even if your child doesn’t go on to be the next pro surfer, they’ll learn a lot about ocean and surf safety. And you can all have a great play on the beach after the lesson. Win, win, win.
Find an accredited surf school on the Surfing Australia Surf Schools website.
My eldest son has had lessons at Manly Surf School and through his own school. This year my neighbour and I are planning to take our combined tribe and do a week of lessons.
That should wear them out.
Kids In The Park – Sydney Olympic Park
The summer school holiday program starts on 22nd December and runs until 28th January and there are over 50 activities to choose from.
From art and craft to writing, from archery to water sports, the range is dazzling.
And even better, there are many, many free and very low cost options. Likewise some activities are short workshops, other last three to four days.
There’s so much to see and do around Sydney Olympic Park that a short activity can be the focus of a whole day out, there are so many walks and playgrounds to enjoy as well. Or perhaps a visit to the Aquatic Centre?
Check out and download all the activities on the extensive website here.
Coastal Environment Centre – Lake Park Road, North Narrabeen
The Coastal Environment Centre is managed by Pittwater Council and aims to ‘s to build community skills, knowledge and engagement in valuing and caring for our environment.’
The CEC runs a school holiday program for children aged 5 – 12 years. The kids do lots of hands on learning about the coastal environment of the local area, with a good dash of adventure, plus art and craft
Tree Top Adventure Park
Phone: 02 8605 4300
Brand new in Sydney, Tree Top Adventure Park offers thrilling adventures far from the ground. Children from 3 – 9 years can enjoy the simpler junior courses. Juniors aged 10 and over, and who are taller than 1.4m, have their own courses and parents and carers can even have a go on the adults courses.
Tree Top Adventure Parks are also found in Newcastle and on the Central Coast. It’s terrific to see one now in Sydney.
After safely training, children can climb, leap, fly and swing through the trees, safely secured by a safety rope on a continuous belay.
Costs are $25 per child, $35 for juniors and $45 for adults.
Do check out the website and remember to book ahead.
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House has a magnificent selection of shows for children under their ‘Kids At The House’ program. These school holidays you can see Charlie and Lola, The Cat In The Hat and Imaginocean.
There are also Kids Discovery Tours of the Opera House running in January.
You can find the full program here.
Now of course a visit to the Opera House is a massive treat, tickets would make great Christmas presents. With travel and possibly parking, it’s a very expensive exercise.
But there are also other smaller local theatres and puppet theatres which put on live shows. Look local and you might find a great show for the kids at a much lower cost.
Australian National Maritime Museum
Down at Darling Harbour, the Australian National Maritime Museum always puts on a great series of activities for children over the holidays.
This year they have set up a big adventureland called ‘Pirates.” Children need to pay a small extra entry fee but they will be kept amused for HOURS.
There’s also the usual Kids On Deck Sunday program, a hit with kids aged 5 – 12 years.
And of course after the trip to the Maritime Museum, a visit to the huge playground at Darling Harbour is essential. Don’t forget to pack swimmers on a hot day as the water play area there is irresistible.
Child-Friendly Cinemas and Screening
Some cinemas have ‘baby crying rooms’ where you can sit with the family and cause no-one any bother. Others have specific screenings where no-one will complain if your toddler starts rummaging around under the seats or your baby starts squawking.
There’s a full description of all of these cinemas and screening on my blog here.
Seana Smith is a Sydney-based, Scottish-born mother of four children and author of four books. Seana’s latest book is ‘Sydney’s Best Beaches for Kids,’ the indispensable guide to all the best and safest beaches, baths and ocean pools for Sydney families. All the beaches listed here are described in detail, with all the information you need for a fabulous family day out.
Sydney’s Best Beaches for Kids is a 50 page digital book. Beautifully designed, this digital book is downloaded as a PDF and can read on your desktop, laptop or mobile device for only $7.99. You can buy it here. Seana blogs at: ‘Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel.’