With Australia being home to such wondrous and safe cities, and Easter school holidays approaching, now is the time to start planning your next family city adventure. To ensure your next family adventure goes off without a hitch, Tourism Australia has ‘spied’ some of the best kid-friendly pit stops and activities for families to ‘spy’ on their next city trip – we’ve captured them below.
A statement from Managing Director of Tourism Australia Phillipa Harrison:
“There’s no doubt that our cities have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID pandemic. With international travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, as well as concerns among some travellers around health and safety, many of the hotels, restaurants, cultural attractions and experiences that make our cities so vibrant are still doing it tough.
“For those families that are unsure about visiting our cities, we want to reassure them that our tourism and hospitality operators are ready and excited to welcome them and have put in place a range of measures to keep everyone safe during their visit.
“Australia’s cities offer an endless array of entertainment for people of all ages. Whether it’s a day trip or a weekend escape, a city adventure has so much to offer to families and with the school holidays coming up, now is the time to start planning a city visit.”
‘I spy’ an unforgettable city adventure | Tourism Australia’s kid-friendly guide to Aussie cities
‘I Spy’ in Melbourne (VIC):
- I spy a Dino laboratory: for palaeontology obsessed kids take them to experience Melbourne Zoo’s new Dino Lab to explore giant animatronic dinosaurs, become junior palaeontologists, and observe baby dinosaurs in the zoo’s care!
- I spy an interactive oasis: Reopening on 11th February, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is the perfect pit stop for kids to learn about some of their favourite pastimes from film and TV, to videogames!
- I spy somewhere to rest your feet: Jump aboard Melbourne’s free City Circle tram to rest little ones feet. The tram goes past some of Melbourne’s most iconic attractions such as Parliament House, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Exhibition Building!
- I spy a garden: Take little ones to The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria. The garden is perfect for kids that like to get their hands dirty with separate areas to explore (from a Bamboo Forest, to a Kitchen Garden and the Ruin Garden) as well as interactive educational offerings to help kids learn through exploration and play.
- I spy a gondola ride: For the ultimate birds-eye view and ‘I Spy’ vantage point of Melbourne take the kids to Arthurs Seat Eagle. The 30-minute (return) gondola ride offers views from Melbourne to Port Phillips Bay.
‘I Spy’ in Canberra (ACT):
- I spy lions, tigers and bears: at the National Zoo & Aquarium. Pre-book a Close Encounter tour to hand-feed a tiger, meet meerkats or even become a zookeeper for the day. Visitors can also head to the zoo’s Adventureland, a unique playground with over 55 kid-friendly activities!
- I spy the coolest playground in town: the National Arboretum Canberra, where kids can explore the boundless landscape or create their own adventure within the magical Pod Playground. There is also a café and shop with some of Canberra’s most spectacular views for parents wanting to recharge.
- I spy a dinosaur: the National Dinosaur Museum has an impressive collection of fossils, skeletons and most importantly dinosaurs!
- I spy a mad scientist: at Questacon. Spare a few hours for an educational pit stop here where kids can have fun while learning about science and technology. From walking on the surface of the moon to free falling on a six-metre slide kids of all ages will have a blast.
- I spy picture-perfect views: head to Mount Ainslie Lookout for epic views of Canberra. Accessible via. car lookout and enjoy the impressive scenery. Kids will love ‘spying’ Lake Burley Griffin and many of Canberra’s other national attractions.
- I spy a miniature steam train: visit the perfectly landscaped Cockington Green gardens for a miniature steam train ride. The meticulously handcrafted buildings from across the globe are enough to capture even the most excitable child’s attention.
‘I Spy’ in Sydney (NSW):
- I spy something spikey: take kids on a tactile adventure at Taronga Zoo Sydney, where they can have a close encounter with unique animals like echidnas and platypuses!
- I spy something to climb: for early risers watch the sunrise over the horizon after climbing the 134 metre summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. With lots of kid-friendly packages that create the ultimate harbourside day out for families, it’s a one-stop shop. Please note participating kids need to be 8 years old and over 1.2 metres tall.
- I spy ancient cultures: take a unique stroll around Sydney’s Botanical Gardens on a guided tour with one of the garden’s experts. Tours depart every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 10am and kids young and old will even be able to taste some Aboriginal bush foods (depending what’s in season)!
- I spy somewhere to dive: Head to Manly for an Ecotreasures snorkel tour and meet some of Sydney’s unique underwater wildlife with experienced and friendly local eco guides. Jump out of the ocean and keep the adventure going while exploring Sydney’s coastal habitats and see what can be ‘spied’ from the headland lookouts. Kids will need to be competent swimmers and able to float and tread water.
- I spy a boat: Jump aboard a scenic ferry ride from Circular Quay to ‘spy’ some of Sydney Harbour’s famous landmarks from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Sydney Opera House!
‘I Spy’ in Darwin (NT):
- I spy animals: Visit Territory Wildlife Park to see some of Australia’s greatest animals in their natural habitats as visitors walk-through tree top aviaries, stroll past natural lagoons and walk-through the underwater aquarium. Visitors even have the opportunity to get nose-to-nose with giant saltwater crocodiles.
- I spy somewhere to splash: The Wave Lagoon at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct is a must-visit for any family. With shallow water areas for toddlers and a pool with artificial waves, the free Wave Lagoon has boogie boards and tubes on-hand for any visitors!
- I spy a crocodile: Stop by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, set in a scenic location on Larrakia Land at Bullocky Point in Darwin, where not only are they home to an internationally renowned collection, but also have a series of dynamic public programs and drop-in kids activities. Kids will love seeing ‘Sweetheart’ a stuffed 5.1 metre crocodile and exploring the kids-only Discovery Centre.
- I spy an underwater adventure: Head to the heart of Darwin to see crocs up close in aquariums at Crocosaurus Cove. Kids can watch crocodiles and turtles being fed, and wander through the excellent reptile enclosures. And if Mum or Dad wants to get in on the action they can test out the famous ‘Cage of Death’ and ‘swim’ with a monster croc (note: this activity is not for kids under 15).
- I spy a playground: Make a stop by George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens’ children’s playground to reward kids for exploring the city. The playground has everything from a climbing frame, a bamboo ambush trail for hide-and-seek, a sandcastle fort and even a plant maze!
‘I Spy’ in Brisbane (QLD):
- I spy a thrill: Riverlife offers a range of activities to keep visitors of all ages amused – take the kids on an adventure with Abseiling Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point Cliffs tour. This thrilling tour provides uninterrupted views of Brisbane, and the perfect look-out to ‘spy’ some of the cities iconic landmarks. Participants must be at least 8 years old to participate.
- I spy somewhere to splash: For families looking to cool down visit Aquativity in the heart of Brisbane’s South Bank. The interactive water-play park combines education and play to help kids understand the water cycle and water preservation.
- I spy Australia’s oldest railway workshop: Head to The Workshops Rail Museum for hands-on exhibits and huge steam locomotives. Currently bookings are essential to visit, but worthwhile to experience the model railways, sciencentre, and the interactive Nipper’s Railway with kid-friendly activities.
- I spy somewhere to eat: Only 15 minutes from Brisbane’s CBD is Eat Street Northshore a special one-of-a-kind food experience. The festival-esque markets are surrounded by river views and shipping containers overflowing with entertainment, it’s worth checking their website before heading over to align your visit with one of their famous musical acts.
- I spy space aliens: The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium focuses on fun and free education, however admission to some of the exhibits including the Cosmic Skydome are paid. From the Sundial Courtyard to the Observatory and mini theatre budding space geeks will love the interactive exhibit.
‘I Spy’ on the Gold Coast (QLD):
- I spy something fluffy: Settle down for lunch at Mountview Alpaca Farm for an alpaca picnic with some of the alpacas training as therapy animals to visit local hospitals and aged care facilities. With the farm located on a vineyard parents will be able to kick back and relax while their kids play with their new furry friends.
- I spy a trail: Enjoy a gentle 1.6 kilometre hike to swim at Cougal Cascades in Springbrook National Park. The hike is sealed and suitable to do with a pram, but kids will need to be competent swimmers and be supervised in and around the water. Further along the trail is a creek that may be more suitable for younger children. Along the trail visitors will pass a disused sawmill from the 1940’s so make sure the kids keep an eye out.
- I spy something old-school: End the day with a trip down memory lane at Yatala Drive-In. Pile the family into the car to watch a family-favourite film and enjoy hot food and movie munchies from the 50’s-inspired diner.
- I spy a home of arts: Home of the Arts is a contemporary cultural precinct where art meets life from live performances, stargazing, and cinema-watching. HOTA’s have a new children’s gallery that will be opening in early 2021.
- I spy mind bending illusions: Bend kids minds at INFINITY, the Gold Coast’s futuristic maze world. The 30 minute journey through INFINITY takes explorers through 20 extraordinary multi-sensual environments filled with atmospheric sounds, special effects and illusions. Visitors can walk through the experience at their own pace, but it is only suitable for kids over the age of 8.
- I spy a wave to catch: teach kids a new skill at Currumbin Beach’s Currumbin Alley Surf School. After a morning at the beach take curious conservationists-to-be to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s Animal Wildlife Hospital
‘I Spy’ in Adelaide (SA):
- I spy a koala having breakfast: Stop by Cleland Conservation Park to see some of Australia’s native animals in their natural habitat. Families willing to brave an early wake-up call can join the Breakfast with the Birds experience an exclusive tour with the Bird Keeper before the park opens, or even hold a koala!
- I spy cricket fans: Cricket-fanatic families can take a tour of the Adelaide Oval and try the RoofClimb on top of the iconic ovals Western Stand for 360 views of Adelaide and beyond – the perfect place to ‘spy’ some of Aelaide’s most iconic landmarks.
- I spy an adrenalin kick: Visit Skymate at Mega Adventure Adelaide. The aerial structure (18 kangaroos high) will take adventure to a whole new level of fun. Kids can do everything from playing tennis in the sky, rowing a boat mid-air or maneuvering between obstacles from a floating esky, BMX bike and sky-high picnic table. For those looking to enjoy the views without a harness, they can explore the SkyWalk and take 83 steps to the top of the viewing platform for uninterrupted views across the Adelaide Hills and Western shoreline.
- I spy a Japanese garden: For some innercity serenity head to Adelaide-Himeji Garden. The free garden is the perfect place for kids to explore, with everything from water features to giant Bonsai’s, and a great pit stop for an afternoon snack.
- I spy an ancient jail: Take the kids by one of South Australia’s oldest buildings, the Adelaide Goal. Home to some of the states most notorious and dangerous criminals over 147 years, visitors can walk through the Goal and experience what life was like behind bars for Adelaide’s prisoners from 1841 to 1988.
‘I Spy’ in Hobart (TAS):
- I spy a devil: Book ahead to see Tasmanian Devils up-close at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. On the private three-hour night tour families will not only be able to help feed the animals, but also tour the wildlife hospital.
- I spy a poo museum: Richmond’s Pooseum is a unique science museum, and the only one in the world, solely dedicated to animal droppings. Once visitors get past the inevitable giggles, the Pooseum has interactive exhibits to educate visitors on the world of poo. From the Digestion Room, to PooTube and the Pootrid Shop this will be one pitstop the kids won’t stop telling their friends about.
- I spy something to make: Although there is some adult-only content, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) has some tested kid-friendly exhibits from the Musical Trampoline, Dot Obsession and Cloaca Professional by Wim Delwoye (aka. the poo machine). Not only is the museum itself a blast but if visitors arrive by the 30-minute MONA ROMA catamaran ride the fun starts before they arrive, with sheep sculptures acting as seats on the upper deck!
- I spy an underground adventure: Take the kids away from the crowds to a combined dose of wonder and fresh air at the Hasting Caves and Thermal Springs, home to an expansive and ancient cave network. The guided tours from the Visitors Centre through the caves touch on the history and details, while tailoring content for children to ensure they are left in awe. Note in some sections there are no ramps for prams, however there are hand-rails that make carrying small kids doable.
- I spy a horse drawn carriage: Spend a morning in Salamanca, after heading up the historic Kelly’s Steps on Kelly Street to Battery Point tour the neighbourhood in Heritage Horse Drawn Carriages passing by historic cottages that have been standing since the 1800’s.
‘I Spy’ in Perth (WA):
- I spy quirky creatures: visit Perth Zoo to ‘spy’ some of Australia’s quirkiest creatures including the numbat, Australia’s insect-eating marsupial. Depending on when visitors are planning to take a trip it’s best to look online for what kid-friendly programs are running!
- I spy a floating obstacle course: Island Aqua Park is a floating obstacle course that is sure to tire out kids and parents alike. The park is completely surrounded by a floating barrier with underwater netting to keep everyone safe while they slip, slide, jump and swim in the sheltered marina of Hillary’s Boat Harbour.
- I spy a new skill: Head to the Bell Tower in Barrack Square, Perth to learn the ancient art of bell ringing. The kids will enjoy making the city sing as they ring the 14th-century bells, courtesy of Saint Martin in the Fields Church London.
- I spy a mini adventure: Take the kids to step back in time at Amaze Miniature Park, located an hour from Perth, with an extensive display of English replica scale model buildings and railways. The park is set on four acres of perfectly manicured gardens with many areas for kids to explore such as the hedge maze, secret garden and chocolate factory across the road.
- I spy somewhere to fly: Give kids the gift of flight at iFLY Perth. It’s sure to be fun for the whole family as the indoor skydiving is safe for kids, exciting for teens and challenging for adults.