While there are many things to do in Sydney for kids, on our most recent trip we stayed around ONLY around the CBD area and were busy as bees! In fact – you would not believe how much we saw in 6 days with 2 kids and traveled very little distance.
Top Things to do in the Sydney CBD with Kids!
To Start with, our idea of travel, especially traveling with grandparents and kids ranging from 72 to 3, is to take things pretty easy and not cram too much in to one day. This means nearly always returning to our apartment for a rest in the afternoon and being home for dinner.
As such, when Mumma recently had a conference in Sydney we decided to balance work with pleasure; that meant that a few half day activities. Our family finds long trips to different attractions tiring, and so we specifically decided to limit travel to some of Sydney’s most famous sights for that reason. We figure there will be plenty of time when the kids are older.
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Darling Harbour & Darling Harbour Playground
We walked along this area people watching, gazing into the restaurants, and admiring the public art, like birds at Cockle Bay Wharf and the Darling Harbour Woodward Water Feature. With plenty of eateries of all budgets, we re-fueled and then continued onto the Darling Harbour playground where an extensive water playground provided plenty of hours of fun.
The Chinese Garden
Not more than 500 metres walk on from the Darling Harbour Playground, this beautiful Chinese Garden is a world of its own. With plenty of blossoms, pavilions, and Chinese style nooks and crannies we felt ourselves transported to China. The children loved the special kids’ activity where they found the Chinese animals hidden among the garden.
We were recommended this area by another parent and we are so glad we checked it out. My mother pointed out that Barangaroo was a shipping terminal when she was last in Sydney. Now it’s been redeveloped as a wonderful park with a rocky outcrop, with plenty of rocks, trees, and shrubs
We jumped along the rocks, dabbled our toes in the harbour, and admired the boats. When we rounded the rocky headland, the Sydney harbour bridge was in front of us! We only wish we had some scooters, this place was a scooters dream!
In the planning stages of a trip? We think that there still is nothing like Lonely Planet for consistent, reliable advice.
With higgledy piggledy streets and an eclectic group of olden day buildings, we felt like we had stepped back in time in the atmospheric The Rocks area. We didn’t linger but we noticed arts markets and great eateries where you could while away your day. We settled for an ice-cream as a refresh, but wished we could have spent much longer. All the while, you are in the shadows of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and it makes for a fantastic atmosphere.
Taking The Ferry To Luna Park
The great thing about traveling with kids is that activities don’t need to be complicated to be enjoyable! We took the public ferry from Circular Quay to Luna Park and the kids absolutely loved every minute! When thinking of things to do in Sydney for kids, make sure you add this to your list. It is simple, affordable, and highly enjoyable.
We weren’t intending to go into Luna Park but discovered that it was actually free to wander about…and yes…we then did actually buy some rides, games, and eat popcorn and fairy floss. Though we were economical in our visit, we stayed about 1.5 hours and spent $100. So while it is super memorable and fun, it can end up on the expensive side!
The Train To Mrs Macquarie’s Chair & The Entire Royal Sydney Botanic Gardens
We all agreed that we loved the Botanic Gardens. What an incredible thing for Sydney to have at their center, so much greenery and space. On our first day, when we were struggling with the jet lag, we took the little train around the gardens which won points with both the kids. The train tours start and finish at the Queen Elizabeth II gate (by the Opera House)
Cost Adults – $10 Children – $5 (3 to 17 yrs) Concession – $5 (Students / Australian Seniors) See The Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney website for more information.
The Opera House
This was the “one thing” our 4-year-old wanted to see in Sydney; and it did not disappoint. This is consistently listed as one of the top things to do in Sydney for kids, and parents alike.
There is something breathtaking to see such a famous icon in real life. We saw the Opera House nearly every day we were in Sydney as we explored the CBD area. Each time, in each light, it did not disappoint; what a fabulous piece of architecture! The kids had a great time running up and down the steps!
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
To climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic thing to do; but coming in with a $250AU/$200AU (adult/child) price tag it wasn’t something we felt we were going to lash out on during this trip!
Instead, we visited the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout. There are 200 stairs to the Pylon Lookout and we thought it was doable when doing our planning. What we didn’t take into account was that it was already a steep climb up onto the bridge (from Harbour Level) and we’d beeen walking all morning. The Kids and Nanna were too exhausted. Papa did do it and was blown away by what he saw! We would definitely recommend it as a cheaper way to get great views of the Harbour.
Costs: General Admission (13 years and over) $13, Children (5 to 12 years, inclusive) $8.50, and Children under 4 free! See the Pylon Lookout website for more information.
Sydney Attraction Passes
As we decided to limit our time in Sydney around the CBD (instead of heading further afield) we investigated and purchased a Sydney Attraction pass which you can read about here: Sydney Attraction Passes.
This was a big investment for our family, and if we had of had more time/ different limitations for the trip (e.g., mumma didn’t have meetings to get to etc.) we might have opted for some different sightseeing. However, this ticket meant that we saw a lot in a short time. It was well worth the for value for money considering there is so much many things to do in Sydney for kids.
Wildlife Sydney Zoo & Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
For someone new to Australia, or people with small kids and short attention spans, you really can’t go past these two different attractions. Australia’s great diversity is represented here and there is an amazing lot to do and see! Want to see a koala or kangaroo, then you can tick them off right away. The only thing that saddened us about this place is that the enclosures weren’t large for some of the bigger animals.
Sydney Tower Eye
Included in our Sydney Attractions Pass was a trip up the Sydney Tower Eye! It is fantastic to get a bird’s eye view of the city to understand its layout. Especially how the Harbour, Sydney Opera House, and Harbour Bridge connect the city.
I’ve saved the kid’s favorite for last! We went to Madame Tussauds only because it was included on the 5 attraction pass. The adults were a little non-plussed and we assumed that the kids were too small to know who all the identities were. As often; how wrong we were!!!! They LOVED Madame Tussauds and the many interactive exhibits (like doing a makeup session and walking on the catwalk).
The visit turned out to be a history lesson as well, with the kids getting pictures with famous people like Mahatma Gandhi and Barack Obama! Ours were 3 & 7 at the time of the visit, so I can only assume that kids that are slightly older would get more out of it than ours did. I am looking forward to looking through the photos when they are older and talking about who the people were and what they achieved. Ironically this was one of the best things to do in Sydney for kids, our kids at least.
Where did we stay in Sydney CBD?
These are some apartment style hotels that we considered:
Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney – With a 24-hour reception and room service, you have the amentities of hotel with the comfort, and spaciousness of an apartment. Two great locations in Sydney are the Sydney Town Hall and Darling Harbour locations. Click here for the latest prices and availability.
Meriton Serviced Apartments – If you are looking for a home away from home in Sydney consider these apartments. With 13 different properties across Sydney including the Waterloo, Kent Street, and Zetland areas, there are many to choose from. Click here for the latest prices and availablity.
What things to do in Sydney for kids, CBD area, did we miss?
- Walking in Hyde park
- The Playground at Prince Alfred Park next to Central Station. Come out the Devonshire Street exit and turn right on Chalmers. Actually there’s a year round heated swimming pool at Prince Alfred Park too.
- The National Maritime Museum.
What would be on our bucket list for our next Sydney trip with kids?
- Taronga Zoo
- Cockatoo Island – various people raved about this.
- Taking a swim in the famous swimming pool at Bondi Beach
- Walking along the coast from Bondi to Coogee or in reverse
- If we had time and could travel further afield we would love to spend a night in the Blue Mountains.
We found this blog post helpful – Sydney With Kids On A Budget
These are our top picks of things to do in Sydney for kids, focusing on the CBD area. If you wish to travel a bit further afield using Sydney as a base, check out this great post from Y Travel blog.
Have we missed any of your favorite things to do in Sydney for kids? Let us know in the comments!
Travelling further afield in New South Wales?
Sydney is the capital city of New South Wales; a wonderfully diverse state with so many things to do and see. We would love to spend our time slow travelling up the coast from Sydney to Brisbane. Be inspired with these Gems on the Far North Coast of New South Wales.
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