Best things to do with kids in Darling Harbour these school holidays
Looking for things to do in Sydney these school holidays? There’s a million things for kids to do at Darling Harbour from dragon tours to eating free pizza.
Do you run out of stuff to do with the kids over the school holidays too? Lucky for us and our little ones, there’s are so many things to do in Sydney and Darling Harbour if you know where to go. There’s a zoo, an aquarium, beautiful parks, one of Australia’s best kids playgrounds, a dragon tour at the Chinese Gardens of Friendship and lots of kid-friendly restaurants.
So what are you waiting for? Get the kids ready and get down to the waterfront to start ticking off the 16 best school holiday activities at Darling Harbour.
DARLING HARBOUR FROZONE
Lace up your skates and start practicing your pirouettes, because Darling Harbour is getting an ice skating rink! From 4 to 17 July (10am-9pm daily), the forecourt of the International Convention Centre will be transformed into a winter wonderland, perfect for school holiday fun. Walk-ins are available but it’s better to book online to make sure you don’t miss your chance to get skating.
DARLING QUARTER CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUND
If you gave a 10 year old genius with a wild imagination free reign to create whatever they wanted, you’d probably end up with something like Darling Quarter Children’s Playground. In the heart of Darling Quarter, this wonderland features a huuuuge 21 metre long flying fox, an 8 metre-long mega-slide and 83 sqm of climbing nets. Plus it’s surrounded by some Darling Harbour’s best cafes and restaurants so Mum and Dad can treat themselves too.
If the kids fancy some wide open spaces and lush green lawns for a game of tag or a picnic, Tumbalong Park is the way to go. This 5 hectare grassed area is smack-bang in the middle of Darling Harbour, right next to Darling Quarter Children’s Playground. Plus if the kids (and the kidults) need to relax after all the fun, the serene Chinese Garden of Friendship are just next door.
DISCOVER THE CHINESE GARDEN OF FRIENDSHIP
These school holidays, discover a hidden oasis at the Chinese Garden of Friendship. The kids can have fun partaking in The Emperor's Quest, where 12 animals of the Chinese lunar calendar are hidden in the Chinese Garden. Each one has its own character and a whole treasure chest of legends—and one of the animals is you. The Chinese Garden is open from 10pm to 4pm daily, adults entry $8, kids entry $4.
WILDLIFE SYDNEY ZOO
Experience Australia’s diverse and adorable wildlife all at once at Wildlife Sydney Zoo in Darling Harbour. Put at least a half day aside because there’s a lot to see - from Tasmanian devils in the Devils’ Den and cuddly koalas in Gumtree Valley, to forest dragons in a replication of the incredible Daintree rainforest.
SEA LIFE SYDNEY AQUARIUM
There’s so much to explore at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium during the school holidays. That includes the largest Great Barrier Reef exhibition in the world, teaming with jubbly jellyfish, colourful coral, sea turtles and more. There’s also a sub antarctic exhibition where you’ll catch king and gentoo penguins waddling around and diving into icy waters. Further on, you’ll find gigantic sharks, dugongs, shipwrecks, rockpools and more.
ENJOY A PICNIC WATERFRONT OR IN THE PARK
There are few better spots in the world for a picnic than Darling Harbour. Load up the kids’ lunch boxes, dust off your deck chairs and find a spot in Tumbalong Park, or in one of the many community spaces along the boardwalk on Cockle Bay Wharf. Or if you’re keen to get active bring your bike and enjoy a ride with a view along the Darling Harbour promenade.
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM
The Australian National Maritime Museum is home to Australia’s biggest collection of maritime treasures, exhibitions and archaeology. Find it right on the waterfront at Cockle Bay Wharf. Excite the kids and get up close with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Sea Monsters: Prehistoric Ocean Predators exhibitions.
STROLL ALONG THE BOARDWALK
As far as free things to do in Sydney go, a stroll along the boardwalk in Darling Harbour is near the top of the list. If you’ve got the time and want to get the kids out for some exercise, you can walk around the entire Harbour, all the way from Pyrmont Bay to Millers Point.
MEET THE QUEEN AT MADAME TUSSAUDS
It’s time to feel famous at Madame Tussauds Sydney! Get up-close & personal with your favourite celebrities and become the star of the story with their interactive experiences. Whether you’re visiting to save the world with the Justice League, meet the Royal family or master and perform a Bollywood dance routine on stage, it’s time to rub shoulders with the stars once again! Save 20% by booking online - entry for children is $26.40 and adults are $36.80.
RIDE THE STAR OF THE SHOW FERRIS WHEEL
The best view of Darling Harbour is from the top of the Star of the Show Ferris Wheel, next to the Harbourside Amphitheatre. It’s open seven days a week from 10 am to late and tickets cost $8 per person or $30 for four.
VIST DARLING SQUARE
Whether you’re 5 or 25 or 55, there’s so much to do at Darling Square, Sydney’s newest dining and entertainment precinct. There are 35 international cuisines to choose from, a beautiful green square perfect for a picnic, and a library inside the beautiful Exchange building. If you and the kids are hungry pop by Nakano Darling and treat yourself to their ‘Kids Eat Free’ Sunday offer with a choice of Karaage or Gyoza kid’s bentos. Or if you need a nice, strong coffee stroll down to Auvers Cafe and order the little ones the kid’s nuggets and hash browns combo. If you want to cement your status as the favourite parent, head to Shortstop after you eat for a dessert of delicious, freshly fried donuts.
FRATELLI FRESH FOR BAMBINOS
Fratelli Fresh has everything you could ever want at dinner time. There’s a rotisserie, pizza oven, fresh pasta station, house made gelato counter and several bars (adults have to have fun too). Plus the kids menu is free for under 12s and features classics like ham and cheese pizza and yummy spaghetti.
PANCAKES ON THE ROCKS
Every kid loves pancakes, if your kids say otherwise - they’re fibbing. Pancakes on The Rocks is every kid’s dream with a menu featuring almost 40 types of pancakes and crepes, alongside delicious American style classics.
HARD ROCK CAFE
American rockstar vibes, massive cheeseburgers, vanilla-oreo milkshakes and baby back ribs - Hard Rock Cafe Darling Harbour has it all. If you’re looking for a restaraunt that you and the kids will love these school holidays, this might be your best bet.
Betty’s Burgers and Concrete Co. have been called the best burgers in Australia. That’s a big call and we’ll leave it to you and your little ones to be the judges! If they’ve got room after their big cheeseburgers, the tikes will also love the ‘concretes’ - frozen custard served in a cup and slathered in delicious toppings like crumbled biscoff cookies, cinnamon sugar and peanut brittle.