WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
This comprehensive park, conveniently located on the city-side of Darling Harbour, is a joy for all ages. It offers interactive and educational displays, entertaining daily shows, amazing animal encounters, walk-through habitats and daily feeding sessions. Get up and close to the resident koalas and meet Rex, the friendly five metre crocodile living in Kakadu Gorge. Entry is from 9am to 5pm and family ticketing packages are available.
SEA LIFE Aquarium
As one of Sydney’s most popular attractions, SEA LIFE is a must see. Experience the 14 themed zones such as Shark Walk, a 100m glass tunnel beneath the water; the Bay of Rays, the most colourful combination of Aussie rays ever displayed together; Dugong Island, to see two out of only five dugongs on display anywhere in the world; and Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest exhibit of the reef. SEA LIFE is home to over 13,000 animals from 700 species, so even though it is open from 9am to 7pm every day, you may find that you don’t have enough time!
One of the most taken-for-granted aspects of Sydney living is the ferry trip to Manly. Manly is one of Sydney’s most famous and well-loved beaches and is just a half-hour ferry journey from Circular Quay. A variety of companies offer the route from the commuter’s liners to high-speed or info-rich options. When you get to Manly, there are a great many things to see and do, from the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, to tucking into fresh fish and chips on the beach.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
As one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, walking the bridge, if not climbing it, seems like a no-brainer. BridgeClimb offers the opportunity to anyone daring enough to scale the bridge’s majestic arch and see the view of the city and the harbour from the 134m high peak. Three million people from all over the world - from 10 years old to 100, backpackers to celebrities - have made the climb, and, as there are four options available at all times of the day, it would seem a shame not to join them!
Sydney Opera House
Like the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House is an international landmark. The luminous white sails can be seen from all over the harbour as a visual beacon calling people inside. Opera House tours are held on a daily basis. The standard Sydney Opera House Tour starts from $20.85pp for one hour, while the Backstage Tour exposes the inner workings of the shows and performers from $155pp (12 years and over). To see a show at the House is like the cherry on top and choices are many and varied. As a family-friendly option, on the 24 August, the Sydney Youth Orchestra is performing Prokofiev’s magical Peter & The Wolf to the Oscar-award winning BreakThru Films animation.
Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia. Whether you want to take an afternoon stroll with the family through the gardens, or invigorate yourself with a motivational run, the collection of plants from around the world, specifically Australia and the South Pacific, offer a beautiful and exotic distraction from the rush of the urban jungle in the background. Pack yourself a picnic, find a warm patch of grass to lie back on and observe the wide abundance of wildlife that the gardens have to offer; you can see everything from cockatoos and possums to bats and eels. The gardens are open between approximately 7am and 5:30-8pm depending on the month and most areas are free.
With a vast array of cafés and restaurants, and fireworks every Saturday night from 8:30-9pm, Darling Harbour is always an exciting hive of activity. There are a range of activities; everything from catching a movie at the IMAX Theatre, visiting your favourite waxwork celebrities with your family at Madame Tussauds (open 9am – 8pm) or indulging in a delicious meal - Darling Harbour manages to accommodate for all. If you fancy an outing that is as educational as it is entertaining, then you can’t go past the Australian National Maritime Museum (open 9.30am – 5pm). The permanent exhibitions like the Navy, Sea Journeys and Eora First People, and the on-board experiences are great for the whole family, while the upcoming family-friendly exhibitions will get the kids interested. Darling Harbour is easily accessible too being just a short walk from the CBD, and has extensive car parks for those who choose to drive. If your kids want to view of the harbour from the water, catching one of Sydney’s many ferries is a great experience also.
Sydney Tower Eye + SKYWALK
The best position from which to see Sydney is above, and the Sydney Tower Eye +SKYWALK, as the city’s tallest vantage point, takes the cake. Measuring 309 metres at its highest point the tower is by far the tallest building in Sydney and therefore offers uninterrupted views of the city and beyond. SKYWALK is the tower’s main attraction and anyone over eight years old can take the 45 minute tour on the famous glass platform. SKYWALK walk-up prices are adults $26, children $15. Tip: Purchase your tickets online and save yourself up to 30%!
The Rocks are a favourite, and for good reason; as a historical part of Sydney, the place is dripping in charm and character for all the family to enjoy. You can be lured into The Rocks market every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which offers a wealth of delicious eclectic bites to eat and fascinating pieces to buy, or simply take a walk around and discover sweet little cafés with their enticing cakes and pastries, whilst enjoying the beautiful view of the Opera House. If you’re interested in the history of the Rocks and want to learn more, then the family-friendly Rocks Discovery Museum (free entry, 10am-5pm) tells you the story of the area from pre-European times to the present day.
Sydney Observatory’s Planetarium
If the family is after an experience that’s out of this world, head to Sydney’s new digital planetarium. This observatory offers exciting opportunities to learn about the history of space flight and stargazing in the New Digital Planetarium (10.30am, 11.30am, 1pm and 4pm daily). If your kids are into all things in 3-D, then check out the 3-D Space and Telescope Tour (11.00am, 12noon, 2.30pm and 3.30pm daily), where you can experience what it feels like to travel to Mars, and look at the solar system - you might even get a glimpse of E.T. whilst you’re at it! After all that looking up, kids can enjoy a simulated archaeological dig at the Dig It! Archaeological Training Workshops and investigate the history of Fort Phillip. Night telescope tours are also available every night (6.15pm and 8.15pm) for those who want to see the night sky in all its glory. See website for prices.