Sydney is a world-class city that’s right on Melbourne’s doorstep – and hence a fantastic place to visit with kids, even if just for a few days.
If you have limited time here’s a short itinerary of where to play, eat and sleep in Sydney’s CBD and inner suburbs.
Things to do in Sydney with Kids
1. SEA Life Sydney Aquarium
SEA Life Sydney Aquarium is a large aquarium exhibition featuring fish, sharks, jellyfish, penguins and more. The newest exhibition is ‘Day and Night in the Reef’ with tanks showing how the reef looks and behaves at different times of the day.
SEA Life Sydney Aquarium, 1-5 Wheat Rd, Sydney NSW 2000 +61 1800 199 657
Madame Tussauds Sydney is a branch of the famous Madame Tussauds waxed figures museum in London. While I don’t think it’s worth visiting as a standalone attraction, when combined with multiple attraction tickets it’s a bit of fun for an hour or two if you have kids old enough to recognise the people or to operate a phone camera.
The waxworks are quite lifelike and positioned in various realistic backdrops. Baby 2.0 (6yo) is freaked out by most of them and refuses to go near enough for photos. Lady AB (8yo) has a great time taking selfies with various celebrities.
Madame Tussauds Sydney, 1-5 Wheat Rd, Sydney NSW 2000 +61 1800 205 851
3. Wild Life Sydney Zoo
It’s a mostly indoor exhibition highlighting Australian animals, particularly the big five – kangaroo, koala, crocodile, platypus and wombat.
We find it quite crowded at certain points and you’re expected to visit in a particular order The enclosures are not very big and there are not very many animals.
Wild Life Sydney Zoo, 1-5 Wheat Rd, Sydney NSW 2000 +61 1800 206 158
4. Sydney Tower Eye
Sydney Tower Eye is Sydney’s tallest point and offers a birds-eye view of the city. To be honest the only real point of interest is the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in my view and as such Sydney Tower Eye is not really worth the entry fee unless you’re a first time visitor to Sydney.
Sydney Tower Eye, 100 Market Street 2000 Sydney +61 1800 258 693
5. Junior Adventures Opera House Tour
Every school holidays the Sydney Opera House offer a Junior Adventures tour just for families. It’s a 1-hour walk through of the famous building, with visits to various auditoriums, activities and photo opportunities.
It’s suitable for kids 4+ who are able to walk independently, have a long enough attention span and are able to engage with the tour guide.
Star Wars: Identities is a temporary exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. It uses the stories and characters from Star Wars to explore how people form personal and social identities, as well as including artefacts, costumes and footage from the films for Star Wars fans. Full review.
7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl’s famous book comes to life on stage with the musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The adventures inside Willy Wonka’s factory are wacky, funny and at times, truly magical. Full review.
Australian Museum, 1 William St Sydney
Taronga Zoo is the most beautiful zoo in Australia! Taking the ferry from Circular Quay to the zoo’s magnificent harbourside setting is a highlight, and that’s before you even see the African animals, splash in the water play area and enjoy the seal show. READ THE REVIEW.
Buy discount tickets for Taronga Zoo.
Buy discount tickets for Sydney Taronga Zoo Express Combo (Ferry Tickets, Zoo Entry & Sky Safari Cable Car)
Buy tickets for Taronga Zoo 2 Hours Wild Australia Experience with Cable Car Ride
Buy tickets for Taronga Zoo VIP Aussie Gold Tour with Cable Car Ride
Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) or Powerhouse Museum is our favourite museum in Sydney. It’s an interactive science and technology museum with a whole permanent Wiggles exhibition sure to delight toddlers. READ THE REVIEW.
Other reader tips:
Where to play in inner-city Sydney
11. Wulaba Park
Wulaba Park is a colourful playground in Waterloo with a huge slide and lots of climbing opportunities. Well worth a special trip with older kids. It’s one of Australia’s 40 best playgrounds. Full review.
Wulaba Park, O’Dea Ave & Amelia Street, Waterloo
Prince Alfred Park features big grassy meadows, tennis courts, a small playground (with slides and swings set further away) and the Prince Alfred Park Pool. The pool has a splash pad open at certain times and a lane set aside for water play.
14. Pirrama Park
At Pyrmont you’ll find Pirrama Park, a water play playground with wonderful harbour and ship views.
The park is inspired by its watery surroundings, with a giant whale embedded into the splash zone. There’s also a large sandpit area with a water pump, a challenging climbing frame, swings and accessible merry-go-round.
There’s a kiosk selling drinks and basic fare next to the playground and change facilities within the public toilet block.
The bus and light rail stops are very close by so there’s no need to scrounge for parking either.
Pirrama Park, Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009 +61 2 9265 9333
Other reader tips:
- Timbrell Park playground, Livvi’s Place
- Victoria Park playground
- Grant Reserve playground Coogee Beach
- Mort Bay Park, Balmain
- Waterplay Park Marrickville
- Jubilee Playground Glebe
- Sydney Park
Where to eat in Sydney with Kids
15. A1 Canteen
Until recently Chippendale was not my radar for inner-city cool – I’ve always headed to places like Surry Hills, Redfern and Darlinghurst for the trendiest eateries and unique shops.
My first exploration of Chippendale is in search of A1 Canteen and I discover the other exciting eateries at Kensington Street.
The menu is Asian-influenced and high-ceiled space is cool and calm. The toilets are on the upper level so not really suitable for little kids or prams.
The window seating is perfect for people watching.
A1 Canteen, 2-10 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008 +61 2 9280 3285
16. Spice Alley
Spice Alley is a collection of hawker stalls nestled in courtyard off Kensington Street. As most of the seating is outdoors and the food is casual it’s suitable for families who are looking for fast, cheap and trendy South-East Asian eats.
We discover Alex Lee Kitchen via Uber Eats and the kids request their Singaporean food delivery three nights in a row! I highly recommend their laksa, chicken satay and roti.
Alex Lee Kitchen, Spice Alley, Kensington Street, Chippendale NSW 2008 +61 2 9281 0822
The closest cafe to our Airbnb is Brickfields, famous for their sourdough. The corner location offers up views of the bakers working in the kitchen while the front counter groans with cakes, tarts, pastries and of course bread.
Brickfields, 206 Cleveland St, Chippendale, NSW, 2008 +61 2 9698 7880
18. Whisk and Paddle
Inside Prince Alfred Park and next to Prince Alfred Park Pool is the kid-friendly Whisk and Paddle cafe (formerly Meadow Cafe).
It’s a bright open space with a menu of cafe standards (highly recommend the blueberry pancakes), a few books and toys and best of all, just a hop skip and jump to the small playground so if you have older kids you can sit and enjoy your breakfast while the kids play.
There’s a kids menu, high chairs and change facilities in the public toilet blocks adjoining the cafe.
Whisk and Paddle, 105 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW 2010 +61 2 8065 6363
19. Cafe Oratnek
In a leafy back street of Redfern you’ll find Cafe Oratnek, a terrace house transformed into a Japanese inspired cafe by former bills head chef Kenny Takayama.
While the cafe doesn’t have a kids menu or toys, the outdoor courtyard is lovely for wandering and there are high chairs if you don’t want your child wandering!
The most famous menu item is Katsu sandwich, a huge pork katsu between soft white bread with tonkatsu sauce and shredded lettuce. I also have a delicious soba noodle salad and don’t miss the AMAZING matcha brownie!
Prince Alfred Park is just across the road, with its grassy areas, playground and pool.
Cafe Oratnek, 4 Pitt St, Redfern NSW 2016 +61 2 8394 9550
20. North Bondi RSL
North Bondi RSL is surely the most upmarket RSL that I’ve visited! This multi-level building overlooks the most famous beach in Australia and offers cheap eats (especially if you’re a member) and huge portions.
There are high chairs, a kids menu and change facilities.
The North Bondi Children’s pool is perfect for a post-dinner paddle and play.
North Bondi RSL, 118-120 Ramsgate Ave, North Bondi NSW 2026 +61 2 9130 3152
21. MAAS Cafe
The airy cafe includes an outdoor terrace overlooking the courtyard, high chairs, kids menu, colouring-in activities and change facilities. The kids lunch packs are particularly good, with a choice of sandwich, chicken tenders or vegetarian quiche with fruit, a drink and a cookie.
MAAS Cafe, Level 3 Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo NSW 2007 +61 (02) 9217 0519
22. Opera Kitchen
A visit to the Opera House is a must-do for every Sydney tourist and there are several eateries underneath the sails that you can visit with kids. The Opera Bar is more upmarket, with more refined dishes, while the Opera Kitchen is more of a bistro affair for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Both the Opera Bar and Opera Kitchen offer spectacular views of the harbour and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Opera Kitchen Lower Concourse Level Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000 +61 2 9250 7032
23. Food on Five at Westfield Sydney
While food courts are not normally high on my list of want-to-eat-places on the fifth floor of Westfield Sydney (on your way up or down from Sydney Tower Eye) you’ll find ‘Food on Five. It’s a food court with a difference.
Notable eateries include Din Tai Fung, Sushi Hon and PappaRich, with cuisines and dishes from all corners of the globe. The seating and setting are nice too, with huge floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city streets.
Westfield Sydney Food on Five, 5050 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia, +61 2 8236 9200
24. Three Williams
Three Williams is a cool hipster warehouse cafe that’s also child-friendly! There’s no kids menu but Lady AB loves the crunchy French toast and then afterwards gets creative on the chalkboard. There’s pram access, high chairs and a change table in the disabled toilets and the staff are super friendly.
Three Williams 613a Elizabeth St, Redfern
Bitton Gourmet is a classic French cafe and providore with pram access, high chairs, kids menu, change table in the toilets – and a self-contained carpeted play room!
Bitton Gourmet 36-37A Copeland St, Alexandria
26. Chefs Gallery
Chefs Gallery is a huge Chinese restaurant with an open kitchen making noodles, dumplings and roti. Pram access, high chairs, plastic cutlery and entertainment from the kitchen.
Chefs Gallery Regent Place, 12/501 George Street, Sydney
27. Jamie’s Italian
This is a grown-up restaurant that caters for kids. The decor and lighting is sophisticated and moody but if you don’t need to bring a pram right to your table then it’s surprisingly kid-friendly if you go early. There are colouring-in activities, a kids menu, high chairs and delicious Italian food. Highly recommend choosing any of the handmade pastas.
Jamie’s Italian 107 Pitt St, Sydney
28. Din Tai Fung
Find pram access, high chairs, kids cutlery, fast service and the best xiao long bao you’ll ever have. READ THE REVIEW.
Din Tai Fung World Square, Level 1, 644 George St Sydney
Fantastic, fresh and seasonal food in hip, unique surroundings. The kids will go nuts with the Secret Garden play space, delicious baked treats, excellent chocolate hazelnut milkshakes and farm animals. READ THE REVIEW.
The Grounds of Alexandria 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria
Other reader tips:
- Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont
- Sydney Park Kiosk, St Peters
- Nield Park Pavilion, Rodd Point
- Coogee Pavilion, Coogee
- The Henson Marrickville
- Doyle’s, Watsons Bay
- MCA Cafe, Museum of Contemporary Art
- Opera Kitchen
- The Fine Food Store, The Rocks
- West Juliett, Marrickville
- Petty Cash, Marrickville
- Clover Cafe, Annandale
Where to stay in Sydney with Kids
Airbnb is always our first port of call when looking for family-friendly accommodation. It provides a home away from home experience and it’s easy to search for family-friendly accommodation in the location that suits you.
I recommend staying in the inner city with good access to family attractions and public transport, such as CBD, Surry Hills, The Rocks and Darling Harbour. If you have a car then you’ll need to go further afield, as parking in the inner city may be hard to find.
We have previously stayed in Ultimo and Chippendale via Airbnb. Sign up to Airbnb and receive $40 discount off your first home booking (I get $18 credit too).
31. Meriton Suites
Meriton Suites have spacious apartments and suites that are great for families. They are super comfortable and come with stunning views – but of course, it comes at a price. Keep an eye out for any specials for their properties in Sydney CBD.
32. The Grace Hotel
The Grace Hotel is an elegant Art Deco and historically significant hotel in Sydney’s CBD. While it’s not the most kid-friendly accommodation I’ve stayed in there are certain aspects of it which made our visit comfortable.
- The location: It’s right in the heart of the CBD which means shops, restaurants, entertainment and public transport (Town Hall railway station and bus stops) are very close. For its location the rooms are very quiet.
- The facilities: The hotel offers interconnecting rooms, free cots, free wifi, rooftop indoor pool (plus spa/sauna/health club) and comfortable king size beds perfect for bouncing on!
- The service: As is befitting a 4.5 star hotel the service was excellent. Staff offered to assist us with luggage and to help me get kids out of the taxi.
- The price: The hotel often has special deals – we stayed in half price rooms. This made it cheaper than other central Sydney Airbnb options.
- The dining: The hotel has its own restaurant the Grace Brasserie which offers a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. Downstairs adjoining the hotel (but not part of it) is Vapiano, a kid-friendly restaurant with pizza, pasta and salad. It’s not amazing but it is open for dinner at kiddie hour, convenient to the the hotel and cheap.
- It’s on a busy corner block which means if you arrive by taxi it can be awkward unloading luggage and kids safely onto the narrow pavement. The Clarence Street entrance has steps, the York Street entrance has a small taxi rank for taxis to pull into.
- The Deluxe Room (the most basic room) doesn’t have a bath, just a shower.
The Grace Hotel, 77 York St, Sydney
Bubs Taxi – a specialised taxi service with facilities for babies ie up to three rear-facing or front-facing car seats
Opal card – The electronic tap payment card is the only card you’ll need to get around on all public transport including trains, ferries, buses and light rail. Children aged 4-15 years must have their own child card.
My preferred way of getting around Sydney is by ferry. It’s an easy hop and off system, the harbour is breathtaking and it’s so relaxing (albeit a bit windy). The other option is by bike but I’ve not found an easy way to do that with kids. When I’m on my own I love to cycle around hip Surry Hills.
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