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Free things to do in Sydney these school holidays: A destination guide for families

Sydney may seem like an expensive destination to visit but there are plenty of free things to do and see that the entire family will enjoy! From free museums and city tours, to walks and barbeques in the park, there is plenty of fun to be had in the city and surrounding areas of beauty. To get you started, here are our recommendations for events, attractions and highlights for keeping you and the kids entertained.

Visit a free water park

Apart from Sydney’s beautiful beaches, there are fun waterparks dotted around Sydney for free fun in the sun. Blaxland Riverside Park is located along the Parramatta River and claims to be the biggest and best park in Sydney as well as the largest waterpark. Cathy Freeman Park, also in Sydney Olympic Park, features a gigantic Olympic Cauldron with cascading water which the kids will love splashing in. Waterplay Park in Steel Park in Marrickville has a lovely playground with equipment to suit both the little one and older children as they include interactive fountains, sprinklers and misty spray elements.

Sydney’s best snorkeling spots

Enjoy a day full of adventure and the wonders of marine life as you take your family snorkeling at one of Sydney’s best snorkeling spots. Dive in to Clovelly’s calm water and search for “Bluey” the groper and his relatives. Spot small fish, sea anemone and other delicate marine life at Little Bay. In between Manly and Shelly Beach, you’ll find one of the most impressive ranges of marine life. From stingrays to wobbegong sharks to the much less frightening flathead and cuttlefish, this spot will impress the whole family!

Interactive learning experiences

Take the family to visit the Powerhouse Museum which contains more than 250 extraordinary permanent exhibits which give kids a brilliant hands on interactive experience. From touching skeletons and large scale train models to watching clockwork performances, there is plenty to learn and enjoy. The Wiggles Exhibition is a treat for those under 5, older kids will enjoy the world of fashion design or how a Boulton Watt engine works and the inner-child of the parents will love the Pacman games they spent too long playing in the 1980s.
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Sunshine days in Shelly Park

Take the train to the south coast and enjoy a barbeque or picnic at Shelly Beach park in Cronulla. There are barbeque stations in the park along with a few pavilions. The kids can swim for hours in the Shelly Rock pool. There is also a playground in the park which offers hours of fun. So, find the shade of a tree to lay your blanket under or set up on the beach. This location is not only scenic but is also a great place for families to spend hours on a sunny afternoon.

Visit the Sydney Fish Markets

Just a short walk from Darling Harbour and the Maritime Museum, you can wow the kids at the amazing display of freshly caught seafood at the Sydney Fish Markets. It may sound like just another fish market, but there is a reason that this location attracts large groups of locals and tourists every day. For locals, it is a great place to enjoy a seafood lunch. For tourists, the wharf is an iconic representation of Australia with its fishing boats and stalls of seafood in all shapes and sizes. For a cost, you can take a behind the scenes tour or participate in a cooking class.
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Visit the best playgrounds in Sydney

Sydney has some amazing playgrounds scattered throughout the city and they are all unique in their own way. Blaxland Riverside Park in Olympic Park has a play space that offers tunnel slides, a tree house, a flying fox and a water play area. Darling Harbour’s, Darling Quarter kids playground, has a new and exciting playground complete with harbour views. The kids will find a gigantic circular swing, balance ropes and a long flying fox! Enmore Park in Marrickville offers two space rockets for the kids to pretend they are astronauts! These just a few of the many playgrounds across Sydney.

Spend the day at Cockatoo Island

Only a short ferry ride from Sydney’s centre is Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour’s largest island and most fascinating historic sites. The island is open daily and the entry is free. Take an audio tour or self-guided journey and explore the island’s convict and shipbuilding industry. Take in the harbour views from the café and the Cockatoo Island Marine Centre. Pack a lunch and make it a day that the family will love! In addition, you can also stay overnight on the island and camp for a fee.

Outdoor BBQ sessions

We’ve said it before, but you can’t beat a slice of outdoor cooking in the sunshine surrounded by the family. That’s one of the perks of having access to free BBQ stations situated all over Sydney, and all visitors and locals are welcome to make use of the facilities. Enjoy a breakfast barbeque at North Bondi Beach. Cook barbeque ribs for lunch at Cockatoo Island. Celebrate a birthday in one of the barbeque pavilions along the water in South Cronulla. Enjoy sunset views of the harbour at dinner in Shelly Beach in Manly.

Entertainment at The Rocks

The Rocks is a very historic section of Sydney but there’s more to it than the history lessons that go on at local museums; people flock in from all corners of Australia to experience the hive of activity that is happening seven days a week down by the water’s edge. The Rocks is home to markets selling food and souvenirs, as well as being a platform to see and hear live music from up and coming artists. Restaurants and cafes are stocked with treats that will keep the kids full all day long. And for the grown-ups, how about taking a step back in time at The Rocks Discovery Museum. Whilst there, you can learn about the establishment of the English colony and the time when the sailors, whalers and traders made The Rocks their home. It’s a great educational experience for the entire family to enjoy!

Visit La Perouse and Barefoot Island

Take your family to the area that Captain Cook first discovered in 1770 and referred to in his journal as a ‘small bare island.’ The fort on the island was built in the 1880s to protect Sydney’s back door. It was in operation until 1908, when it became a home for war veterans. You can walk across the bridge to Barefoot Island for free. Entry to the fort costs about $10.00 on Sunday afternoons. However, there is so much to do and see around the area without the fort. You can go snorkeling, visit one of the surrounding beaches and hike on one of the walking tracks.

For more fun and exciting ideas to try when exploring Sydney with the family don’t miss out on iVenture Card’s night-time and best recommended things to do guides.

Sydney Attractions