Sydney for families: just a hop across the ditch

Sydney is a bustling, vibrant city that makes a simple walk around the block an adventure. It's the perfect place to escape for a family-friendly getaway, says Isobel Benesch.

 

Getting around

Public transportation in Sydney is efficient and easily accessible from almost anywhere in the city and the buses, trains, and ferries create added adventure for kids. Grab Opal cards at a local newsstand and use for the entire trip. Uber is probably the fastest and most convenient way to get around the city; however, Uber has very strict policies regarding children as passengers. Uber won’t take children under six without a car seat or booster seat, so if you have a travel booster seat or you have kids that are older, this is the most efficient way to get around the city. Maxi Cabs can be booked via an app with carseats and capsules for your babies and toddlers, but keep in mind that the rates can rise quickly if you get stuck in Sydney’s notorious traffic and if you’re travelling with several children in tow, you will be charged time-anda-half for more than four passengers.

 

Where to stay

Airbnb

If you’re looking for a home away from home, use Airbnb’s family-friendly filter to select from a number of homes that cater to tiny travellers. Using the family-friendly feature, we found a home that came with a small backyard for the kids to run around, as well as children’s toys, a portacot, highchair, kids’ plates and cups, and breakfast foods making our entire stay comfortable and enjoyable. Check the location and accessibility of public transport nearby to make life easier when it comes to getting from place to place and back home again.

Swissotel Sydney

Located in the centre of the city, close to plenty of public transport options, the Swissotel Sydney is a tranquil and serene place of respite standing tall over the bustling and vibrant cityscape below. The two bedroom “Kids Room” suite with a view of the Sydney Tower was amazing on its own, but the best part for us was that the kids room in the suite was actually made for kids! The attached kids’ room had two beds decorated with kid-friendly, bright and fun bedding, stuffed animals, a tent, books, colouring books with pencils and crayons, trains, trucks, building blocks,and even a nightlight. The bathroom was filled with bath toys, kids mats, fun towels, and they even thought of stools for your little ones to reach the sink. It was like having our very own luxury apartment in the city.

Swissotel Sydney was great for kids.

Getting there

When you’re traveling with kids, you want the trip to your destination to be comfortable and enjoyable, while not spending your entire vacation fund on the trip itself. Jetstar makes travelling as a family affordable with regular sales and packages that can save you money. Book online at jetstar.com for several flights to Sydney at familyfriendly price points. The flight time from Auckland to Sydney was a little over three hours, so we packed carryons full of flight-friendly activities in preparation for a marathon play session. Our pre-ordered food was delivered right after take-off, and we also ordered kids snacks and activity packs onboard which provided hours of entertainment.

An easy hop across the ditch on Jetstar

Things to do

SEA LIFE  Sydney Aquarium

With abundant sea life, a dinosaur dig, and a chilly boat ride that gets you face-to-fin with penguins, the aquarium is an outing that all ages will enjoy. Dive underwater without getting wet in the seemingly never-ending tunnel that winds under the tanks as sharks, rays, and sea turtles dive overhead.

Checking out the sea turtles at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

Taronga Zoo

Praised by visitors as one of the most beautiful zoos in the world, Taronga Zoo is a great place to learn about Australia’s native animals, as well as animals from all over the world. It's a quick ferry ride across the waterway and makes for a fun day of animal encounters, shows, and keeper talks.

Opera House (pictured at top)

Kids’ Shows What could be more memorable than experiencing firsthand a family-friendly show at this world-famous landmark. With shows, activities, and kid-friendly food geared towards the younger crowds, you could make an entire day out at the Opera House with your little ones for a oncein-a-lifetime experience.

Royal Botanical Gardens

Enjoy the serenity of the city and harbour views from these gardens, and spending an hour or so here is a relaxing and free way to enjoy one of Sydney’s most beautiful spots.

Luna Park

Opening its doors in 1935, Luna Park is a Sydney staple complete with an old-fashioned fun house, mirror maze, and wheelspinning barrel. Go in the late afternoon or early evening and watch your little ones be dazzled as the entire place comes to life when the rides light up in every colour of the rainbow and hop on the ferris wheel at sunset for a spectacular view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House that will wow the entire family.

Luna Park is fun for all ages.

Bondi Beach

With its boho beach vibe, iconic Iceberg Life Saving Club ocean pool, and a ferris wheel parked alongside the crashing waves, Bondi Beach is another famous beachside getaway that you won’t want to miss. The stunning coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi Beach is the perfect way to get little legs moving for an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of central Sydney.

Left: We loved the vibe at Bondi Beach's Iceberg Life Saving Club ocean pool.

Manly Beach

Watch surfers catch a wave, build a sandcastle, or just dip your toes in the water at one of Sydney’s hundreds of beaches for a day of free family fun. Manly Beach, a bustling beach town north of Sydney, is a must-see for the picturesque ferry ride alone. Famous for surfing, Manly is a great family day trip where you can walk the palm tree-lined fairway, grab an ice cream cone, and let your little ones wade in the calmer waters of Shelly Beach, a short coastal walk south from the central pedestrian thoroughfare.

WHERE TO EAT

The Acre Eatery

With simple, fresh farm to table dishes, an expansive play area, live chickens, and a sprawling vegetable garden, Acre Eatery is a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of the urban jungle, and is a great option for parents looking for stress-free dining with kids. The food was light, fresh, and satisfying and the boys were able to run around in the play area and check out the chickens while we finished our meal.

Hello chooks! Acre Eatery

Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds is a large collection of dine-in and a-la-carte restaurants with a kids play area, real farm life, and picture perfect gardens - everything you want to keep the kids entertained while attempting to grab a bite to eat in the middle of a large metropolis. With ample outdoor seating on the a patio located near a cubby house full of chalkboards, air hockey, and a climbing wall, it’s easy to take a few moments to relax in the midst of all of your adventuring while your little ones happily burn off energy. The main attraction is Kevin Bacon, the pig known and loved by all of Sydney, who lives on site with some cute chooks.

Every part of  The Grounds is a truly beautiful photo opportunity.

UberEats

When you can’t imagine everyone sitting through an entire meal at a restaurant after a day of exploring or you’re unable to find a place to eat and everyone is melting down, UberEats will come to the rescue, delivering meals directly to you. With a wide variety of food options, you’ll be able to find something for everyone and don’t have to worry about going anywhere.

Isobel Benesch is a Kiwi, married with three littlies, who has recently returned to live in New Zealand from California. She is a writer, stylist, and lifestyle blogger, and you can find more of her work on Instagram at @belandbeau and on her blog belandbeau.com.
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