Truly one of the most family-friendly cities in all the world, you may not want to come home.
After spending a few days in Sydney, you’ll seriously consider packing your bags and moving the family Down Under permanently. It’s that inviting and that spectacular. With gorgeous weather, a vibrant cultural scene, and some of the world’s best city beaches, Sydney will not disappoint.
What to do?
Arguably one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the Sydney Opera House is simply stunning. But it’s the story behind the Opera House that you’ll find most interesting. I was afraid that my kids, ages 7 and 10, would find the tour here boring, but they were intrigued. It’s truly a must-do! Cost: Family $67; book online; special kids’ programs in July.
Sydney is blessed with beautiful weather and beautiful beaches. Hop on a public bus (Bondi Express) and head to famed Bondi Beach. Inspired by the surfers in the water, my boys spent the entire afternoon body surfing on the waves. But do be careful as the surf here can be big; little ones should never be left in the water alone.
KidTripster Tip: Skip the overpriced 360-degree views from the observation deck of the Sydney Tower Eye, unless you plan to do theSkywalk. Otherwise you’ll find the views from one of the city’s affordable ferries are just as stunning.
Speaking of views, if you’re looking for an urban adventure, climb the city’s famous Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb Sydney. Yes, it’s 1,332 steps, and the entire experience takes 3-1/2 hours, but man, the views! Choose from dawn, day, twilight, and night climbs. You must be over 8-years old and more than 4-feet in height to climb. Children (8 to 15) must be accompanied by an adult (maximum of three children per adult). Watch a video here. Cost: Youth (8-15) starts at $188; Adult starts at $172; book online. Of course, if you don’t like heights, you can always walk across the bridge instead.
KidTripster Tip: Several operators offer a day tour to the Blue Mountains, known as Australia’s Grand Canyon. I have to say, if you’ve actually been to the Grand Canyon or the American Southwest, you’ll be disappointed by the Blue Mountains. Tours typically include a very long bus ride with stops at Featherdale Wildlife Park. Even the Skyway cable car over the canyon and the railway, supposedly the steepest in the world, couldn’t save this tour for our family. Better idea? Hop on a ferry and head to Manly Beach.
Where to stay?
There’s a lot of competition for lodging in Sydney, but the ADGE Apartment Hotel deliveries a funky, family-friendly alternative to the chain hotels. Located on the edge of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD), it’s just a 13-minute walk to the Central Train Station, giving you easy access to the airport and attractions. No, there’s no harbor view here, but your family will have loads of space with a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. The kids are likely to dig the vibrant color scheme. The units are impeccably clean; the housekeeping staff even leaves notes under the beds, assuring you that those areas were cleaned as well! The complimentary cheese tray and fresh apples are a nice touch. Starts at $208/night.
Where to eat?
Grab lunch at Darling Harbour, the city’s entertainment district with restaurants, shopping, and plenty of family-friendly activities. There’s always something going on here, and the best part is that it’s typically free! Don’t miss the Darling Harbour Children’s Playground, one of Australia's best with water games, climbing ropes, swings, slides, and flying foxes. Don’t know what a “flying fox” is? You’ll have to go!
Spend an evening in the historic district, called The Rocks. Admire the roughly-laid cobblestone lanes, the wooden beams in the warehouses, and the crushed cockle shells that make up the mortar between the hand-carved sandstone bricks. There’s plenty of good restaurant choices here to please even the pickiest of eaters.
It’s about a 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. If you book that flight with Qantas, you can then get discounts on in-country flights through the Qantas Explorer program.
Heading to Ayers Rock next? Click here. Or maybe Brisbane? Click here.
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah travels with her husband and two sons. No matter what any Aussie tells you, she says that Vegemite is awful and should be avoided at all costs!