Beat the boredom: Super Sydney school holiday activities

By Jay Chabon

When it comes to school holidays, Sydney is one big playground.

Whether your kids love science and technology, the world of nature, theatre, or just want to hang out at the beach, there’s so many places to visit in Sydney during January.

The city is all geared up for young visitors this summer, with a full program to keep them busy and you sane!

Book in at Y Hotels, then head out and explore some of our favourite kid-friendly places.

Pirate Kids at the Horrible Histories display.
Above: Pirate Kids at the Horrible Histories display.

Australian National Maritime Museum

Pesky, pernicious… no we’re not talking about kids’ attitude in the school holidays, but the swashbuckling pirate theme of the family-friendly activities at the Sydney maritime museum.

The kids can take command of a pirate ship (rather than your house), try out different weapons (in the museum rather than on their unwitting siblings), or find their fate on the wheel of misfortune (better odds than risking the wrath of mum or dad).

Plus there’s dress-ups, games, theatre performances, films, workshops and so much more.


Above: The Art of the Brick: DC Comics exhibition exclusive to Powerhouse Museum.

Powerhouse Museum

Meanwhile at the Powerhouse … it’s all about super heroes.

Catch Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Joker and other heroes and villains in large-scale LEGO-built glory in The Art of the Brick: DC Comics exhibition.

The kids can also contribute to the museum’s giant comic strip or star in a super hero photo.

A host of super cool workshops are on offer over the summer break too, from bringing LEGO to life with stop animation, to Minecraft missions, and other music, maths and computing adventures.

The Wiggles and toy train exhibitions are also sure to delight the kids, plus there’s the permanent displays on science, technology and popular culture to explore.


Scouts at Trailblazers climbing wall in the Australian museum.
Above: Scouts at Trailblazers climbing wall in the Australian museum.

Australian Museum

Who said museums were boring?

The Australian Museum sure isn’t.

This awesome archive of science, culture and the animal kingdom offer kids endless fun and parents solace and sanity in the very long January school holiday break.

Youngsters can role play navigating, adventuring and surviving in the wild through tracing famous footsteps featured in a Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 greatest explorers exhibition.

The kids can also make their own survival kits and become desert dwellers for a day.


Above: The Wind in the Willows performance in The Royal Botanical gardens.
Above: The Wind in the Willows performance in The Royal Botanical gardens.

Royal Botanic Gardens – The Wind in the Willows

Seeing a live show with an outdoor theme in the beautiful surrounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens is something of a summer tradition in Sydney.

We’ve previously seen Titania, Oberon and Puck brought to life in A Midsummer Night’s Dream outdoor performance

Now we’re super excited that The Australian Shakespeare Company is continuing its long-running summer tradition in 2016, bringing Toad, Ratty, Mole, Otter, Badger and Weasel to the gardens for a live production of The Wind in the Willows (January 6-23). 

So pack a picnic, pack the kids and head on down to the riverbank.


Above: Balmoral beach.
Above: Balmoral beach.

Balmoral Beach

Sydney is spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches, but we have a serious soft spot for Balmoral.

We spent many a summer’s day there as wee tikes, swimming and building sandcastles by day on the beach, and eating fish and chips and kicking a ball around on the grassy foreshore by night.

The sheltered shores provide swell-free swimming spots that are ideal for kids.

The littlies will love exploring around the rock pools or taking the footbridge from the beach to Rocky Point.

There’s oodles of space for a picnic on the foreshore, or enjoy a bite at a waterfront cafe or restaurant.

Some of the other best beaches in Sydney for kids include Clifton Gardens (like Balmoral it’s in the Mosman area), Clontarf Reserve and Shelly Beach (in the Manly region) and Clovelly Beach (part of Randwick in Sydney’s east).


Above: Discovery rangers, educational activity, WilderQuest.

National parks – WilderQuest

Kids can discover the delights of national parks with WilderQuest junior ranger activities focused on the bush, waterways and historic sites.

In Sydney Harbour National Park it’s all about convict encounters at Fort Denison (January 11) and Goat Island (January 18).

Take on your own family adventure with a walk, swim or picnic at one of the islands or foreshores making up the 392-hectare national park.

Or venture to Sydney’s outskirts for WilderQuest activities or a day trip to Ku-ring-gai Chase or Lane Cove national parks.


How do you keep the kids busy in school holidays? Tell us in the comments section below.


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