Every Australian and visitor should visit Canberra, our nation’s capital, at some stage, just to appreciate where the political power in the country resides.
Even if politics is not your thing it’s a family-friendly destination, as it’s easy to get around with car and there are plenty of places to play and visit for a long weekend or a week.
Here are my Top 13 places to go in Canberra with kids.
- Airbnb Canberra
We book a family home in the central suburb of Reid through Airbnb. The cosy heritage cottage is in a prime location across the road from Glebe Park and Canberra Centre shopping centre.
It contains 4 bedrooms (one bedroom comes off the master bedroom), two bathrooms, kitchen and laundry, a large backyard with swing set and a small basket of toys.
Book your first trip via Airbnb and get $45 off (I can a referral bonus too).
- Parliament House
Admittedly not the most exciting destination with little kids but if you have older children then learning all about how parliament works is a must-do. Welcome tours are free while some more in-depth or specialist tours eg to the private gardens are paid.
Parliamentary sitting days: 9.00am (Monday and Tuesday) and 8.30am (Wednesday and Thursday) – 6.00pm.
The Public Galleries in the Chambers are open whenever the Houses are in session.
Non-sitting days: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Australia’s best science museum is a place to inspire curious minds. Experience hands-on fun and learning with experiments, demonstrations and displays. FULL REVIEW
- Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
Heritage building with a fantastic indoor children’s play and learning area ‘Play Up’ which explores the UN’s Universal Rights of Children. FULL REVIEW
- National Museum of Australia – In the museum’s KSpace Primary school aged children can build a robot using touch screens and then learn about Australia’s history.
- Australian War Memorial – Discovery Zone where kids can dress up and become immersed in the lives of soldiers, submariners, helicopter pilots and more.
- Cockington Green – see the world in miniature with a model village and model versions of iconic buildings.
- Yarralumla Play Station – 36-hole mini golf course, Petite Park Petting Zoo and Miniature Railway.
- Pod Playground at National Arboretum
The National Arboretum is home to a collection of rare and endangered trees but for families the main attraction is the unique Pod playground, one of Australia’s best playgrounds. FULL REVIEW.
- Boundless Canberra
Canberra’s first fully accessible playground is fenced, large and centrally located near the banks of the lake at King’s Park. FULL REVIEW.
- The Hamlet
A food truck park is always a winner with my family because everyone gets to pick what they want to eat. The Hamlet is a permanent fixture in hipster Braddon and is filled with food vans, a gallery and other pop ups.
We try Peruvian street food from Mr Papa and love the crumbly pastry of the empanadas. The kids are kept amused by the pinball machines and the barbers tucked in the corner.
The Hamlet, 16 Lonsdale street, Braddon +61 407 283 218
Wed-Sat 12pm- 9pm
Sun 12 -3pm
What child can resist gelato and cakes? The quality hand made gelato and sorbet is stored in pozzetti tubs and their also famous for their filled choux pastries.
Frugii, 28 Lonsdale Street, Braddon +61 438 366 368
- The Cupping Room
Hip cafe serving mostly nearby ANU students and staff. If you have kids it’s better to hang out outside as the inside seating is rather tight and definitely difficult with a pram. The kid’s menu is small but there’s plenty on the standard menu to offer.
Oh and the milkshakes are huge! I ordered a standard red velvet milkshake split into two cups ($8) and look what came out for each child!
The Cupping Room 1/1-13 University Ave, Canberra +61 2 6257 6412
Sat-Sun and public holidays 8am-3pm
- Jamie’s Italian
The experience for children is great, for adults not so much. A colouring-in sheet doubles as a children’s menu and for $9.50 the kids get a generous bowl of spaghetti and meatballs (though the meatballs are on the hard side), a side salad and a secret prize for eating all your greens!
The downside is the service is patchy and the standard menu is expensive for the quality. Thus it’s only somewhere I would recommend if you/your kids love the Jamie Oliver brand or you’re looking for an easy family dining experience and don’t care too much about the quality of the food or service.
Jamie’s Italian, Canberra Centre, 125 Bunda St, Canberra +61 2 6268 0400
- Local Press
My favourite cafe experience in Canberra. Local Press is a wholefoods cafe with a healthy and inventive menu – the green smoothie, waffles and black rice are all recommended.
The setting is just gorgeous too, with vintage and nautical inspired decor and water views from the Kingston foreshore boardwalk. If you sit outside there are rugs too. Pram access, high chairs and a disabled toilet at the back.
Local Press, 81 Giles St, Kingston +61 2 6162 1422
- Portia’s Place
This Cantonese restaurant is a Canberra institution and a bit of a pollie hangout at night. But go early when they open at 5pm and you’ll have the place to yourself. Try their signature Peking duck wraps and other popular dishes such as the scallops with ginger and shallots and stuffed eggplant.
The staff seem to enjoy having kid in their restaurant and Lady AB and Baby 2.0 loved the fortune cookies and even Freddo Frogs at the end!
Portia’s Place 11 Kennedy St, Kingston +61 2 6239 7970
Daily 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5–10PM
- Joe’s Bar
A moody, cool hangout in the East Hotel Griffiths. It’s got a sophisticated wine bar sort of vibe so it’s not suitable if your kids still need high chairs and plastic cutlery. Otherwise go early when the adults are at work and take the kids to enjoy brilliant antipasto boards and hand made pasta.
Joe’s Bar 69 Canberra Ave, Griffith ACT +61 2 6178 0050
Daily 12 noon til late
- Old Bus Depot markets – every Sunday the market hosts food stalls and sellers of unique handcrafted wares.
Where are your favourite places to stay, visit, play and eat in Canberra?