The years before school starts are a good time to explore Sydney with the kids mid-week. Keep them busy and engaged (and you too!), make some memories, and avoid the weekend crowds.
An Inner West Mums member asked the Facebook Group for some recommendations on this very topic recently. Here are some of the Group’s tried and tested suggestions for toddler and pre-schooler outings in Sydney. It’s the latest in our #iwmrecommend series.
Visit a museum or gallery
Many of Sydney’s larger museums and galleries run mid-week programs for little ones. These do cost money and can book out quickly, so you’ll need to plan ahead. The MCA hosts ArtBaby tours twice a month. This includes a tour and a tummy time play session for bubs. For toddlers and pre-schoolers, sign up for an Art Safari session, also twice a month. Both these sessions are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
At the Maritime Museum, kids aged 2 to 5 can join a Mini Mariners tour with a costumed guide followed by craft, storytime and games. These are held most Tuesdays and one Saturday a month. Or book in for a Seaside Stroller tour, for parents and carers with a little one aged 18 months and younger.
Another Group member recommended the Museum of Fire in Penrith.
The Australian Museum
The Australian Museum ticks a lot of boxes as an outing – it’s fun, it’s free, and the café makes a pretty good coffee! The Prehistoric Playground runs a program of activities daily, from yoga to story time with a special dino-guest, Winny the Muttaburrasaurus puppet. Plus its regular activities: colour in a dinosaur, scan it in and watch it come to life on the wall. Or fold a piece of paper into a helicopter, place it over the big fan and see how high it flies. Also worth a visit is the Wild Planet animal gallery.
Auburn Botanic Gardens
These low-key gardens are one of Sydney’s hidden gems for little kids. Visit and check out the koi pond in the Japanese gardens, wandering peacocks, a playground and Australian animals.
Visit the Children’s Library at the State Library
In 2019 the State Library on Macquarie Street opened a new Children’s Library. There are books for kids age 0 to 16, and some comfy nooks to settle in and browse the pages. Storytime is held on Mondays at 10.30am. It’s free but you have to book. There’s also a family room with books and toys for children aged under five.
Rivercat to Olympic Park and walk or scooter to Blaxland Park
The Rivercat along Parramatta River offers a very unique perspective of Sydney’s waterways. Catch it all the way to Parramatta – there’s a fun little playground a short walk from the ferry terminal with a long slide and a climbing wall. Or get off at Olympic Park and walk or scooter to the fantastic Blaxland Park playground (pictured above). An IWM member on the Facebook Group says this takes 10-15 minutes.
Run around the Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens makes for a lovely outing. Highlights from Group members include catching the little train that runs through the gardens, joining a workshop at The Calyx or just running around and exploring the garden beds and displays. The Seedlings Nature School runs every Thursday during the school term for children aged 2.5 to 5.
Darling Quarter in the city
Unsurprisingly, quite a few Group members suggested a trip to the Darling Quarter. There’s so much to do! Options include catching a show at the Monkey Baa Theatre. Letting off some steam in the playground. And in the warmer months, cooling off in the waterplay area. Nearby are the Chinese Gardens of Friendship. Take the kids for a wander and feed the koi fish at 11.30am.
Get a Merlin Pass and do the Sydney Aquarium and the Wildlife Zoo
The Merlin Pass is an annual ticket to 10 attractions in Australia and New Zealand. In Sydney, this includes the Aquarium and the adjacent Wildlife Zoo. Do them as separate outings, or make it an epic day out with a visit to both. One Group member suggested spending an hour at each. Prices range from $65 – $95. The cheaper pass cannot be used during school holidays.
Ferry trip to Cockatoo Island, bring the scooter
Jump on a ferry with the scooter and explore Cockatoo Island’s rich and varied past as a meeting place for the Eora people, naval dockyard, penal establishment and school for girls.
Sign up for a class
IWM members recommend Bush Balance nature play, Little Kickers, Gymkidz, Ready, Steady, Go Kids and swimming lessons. One Group member included a link to her sensory play sessions`for toddlers and preschoolers at Concord Bowling Club on Tuesdays.
Go on a walk
Destinations recommended by the Group include Steel Park in Marrickville, Maroubra, Cascade Trails at St Ives and the Bay Run with a stop at Rodd Park.