The great thing about visiting Sydney – at any time of year – is there is always something going on.
While Sydney definitely shines in summer with plenty of stunning beaches and outdoors fun on tap, there’s plenty to do in winter as well. In fact, having Bondi Beach to yourself in the cooler months makes it the perfect time to visit.
For families of all sizes and ages, you’ll find Sydney has heaps of kid-friendly activities and attractions, including many free things to do and special events (hello, school holidays!).
Plants with Bite
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney has a fab free (and ongoing) exhibit in its Calyx building that zeroes in on carnivorous plants – think Venus flytraps, pitcher plants and other exotic varieties. Kids will love peering at these botanical tricksters and getting hands-on with other activities – and bonus, it’s warm and cosy inside. There's also plenty of photo ops against the living plant wall, also in The Calyx display, which is the largest vertical floral wall in the Southern Hemisphere.
Luna Park Winterfest
Or you can embrace the cold and get your (ice) skates on under falling snowflakes at the outdoor ice rink at Luna Park Sydney at Milsons Point (FYI – there’s push-along penguin aids for the littlies to lean on). On until 22 July, in Christmas in July with Santa roaming around the park as well as winter warmers like caramel-filled pretzels – yum!
The 2019 Archibald Prize Exhibition
Take your budding Picasso to the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney city to see the artworks from one of Australia’s most prestigious prizes. There’s plenty of discussion points for kids amid the portraits and an activity booklet to jot down ideas and doodles on the children's trail. The portraits are on display until 8 September, 2019 but head in before 11 August, 2019 to cast a vote for your fave portrait in the People’s Choice award. Don't miss the Young Archie exhibition at the front of the main Archibald Prize where you can check out portraits from seriously talented artists aged five to 18 years.
Tip: If the pint-size art enthusiasts are getting restless, head outside to the Domain where they can run around for a bit.
Apollo 11 Exhibition
Toy Story 4 may be in the cinemas but kids can also go to infinity and beyond at this spaceship-themed exhibition at Powerhouse Museum in Pyrmont. Running until January 2020, kids can check out more than 200 objects associated with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Don't miss the enthralling Museum of the Moon, an installation by artist Luke Jerram, which is 7m in diameter and each centimetre of the sphere (using real lunar footage) represents 5km of the moon's surface.
Taronga Zoo Sydney
This is the perfect multi-generational day out – I’ve visited with my mum, daughter and a teen cousin in tow – and a guaranteed crowd pleaser for all ages and stages. The adventure starts with the 12-minute ferry trip from Circular Quay to the zoo and continues as you wander the grounds and check out the fascinating residents – big and small. New additions to spot include the three Sumatran tiger cubs (check them out on the interactive tiger trek) and a baby western lowland gorilla, Mwamba. Wide walkways make it easy to navigate with prams and if little ones get tired of walking, you can stop and have a picnic or play. For an extra price (or purchase as a package), wee daredevils can tackle the high ropes courses with options for three- to eight-year-olds and kids aged eight and over.
Tip: Buy your tickets online to save on the entry price.
This famous crescent of white sand is just 8km from Sydney central (take the bus) and worth a visit in winter, even if it’s too cold to swim you can still wander around and experience those views. For older kids and teens, the 6km Coastal Walk from Bondi to Coogee (set aside around two hours for a leisurely walk) is simply stunning and there’s the added incentive of an ice-cream at the other end – a treat in any season!
Where to stay
Bondi Beach may be chockfull of tourists in summertime, but visit in winter and you’ll get to experience more of the beachside community feel. The QT Bondi is right on Campbell Parade, fronting that famous stretch of sand. This family-friendly hotel has a vibrant colourful interior and the self-contained rooms are great for families (two adults and one child per room) with a microwave, stovetop and laundry facilities. Or check-in to QT Sydney, which can accommodate two adults and two kids per room, and is located right in the heart of the CBD.
We also like the BreakFree on George for self-contained accommodation in a great central location, or to hang out in the entertainment hub of Darling Harbour, we recommend the 4.5-star Novotel Sydney On Darling Harbour Hotel (ask your consultant about family packages).
More great family-friendly stays in Sydney include Mantra with the choice of rooms, suites and self-contained apartments in two city locations (Bond Street and Kent Street); Adina Hotel Apartments (heaps of locations across Sydney); or for a luxury option, there's the Quay West Suites at the Rocks.