A Family Day Out in Manly

  • Preschoolers
    Mums & Bubs

By Serina Hajje, ellaslist

Manly is a perfect destination for a family day-out with the kids. We’ve done the hard work for you and planned the perfect route. Now all you have to do is follow it and have fun!

From sea-life to thrilling water rides, peaceful strolls to hidden beaches, Manly has so much to offer. We’ve included kid-friendly restaurants, special deals and a list of the best activities and parks for you and the little ones! Plus a map of all the destinations and travel time, so pick and choose what activity is best for you and the kids!


Your journey starts at Circular Quay! Head over to Wharf 3 where the Manly Ferry comes and goes every 30 minutes. With gorgeous harbour views and the crisp smell of the sea, it’s one of the best ways to travel.

There are also private boat companies that operate directly from other ferry terminals, such as Manly Fast Ferry and Captain Cook Cruises.

If you’re going on a Sunday then you’re in luck: it’s Sunday Family Fun Day. For $2.50 there is unlimited travel all day Sunday in Sydney, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Hunter and Illawarra areas, by train, bus, ferry and light rail. More information about cheap travel on Sunday Family Fun Day.

2) ACTIVITY STOP: Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary

Conveniently located near the Ferry drop-off area, Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary is full of educational and exciting activities and fascinating sights for kids.

There are daily guided tours to see the sharks, feed the fish and a chance to watch cute penguins having a fishy snack at various times throughout the day. The tours are full of interesting facts about animals and conservation, and if you come at the right time you may just spot a brave diver swimming with the sharks!

Meet the Stars of Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

Gnash your teeth at the sneaky sharks, find a Nemo or two, watch the stingrays slide along the ocean floor and giggle at the charming turtles. Your kids will be enchanted by the fish eye view of underwater life. And of course, don’t miss the colony of adorable and endangered penguins who will be tap dancing their way around.

Reach out and Touch

Kids are generally told to ‘not touch’! But it’s just the opposite at the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary touch pool. Here, kids can feel a shark egg, hold a crab and explore other animals and shells found in the marine environment.


Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary is offering a special promotion for ‘Mums & Bubs’ giving 1 parent and 1 child entry for just $15 – saving up to $27. The offer is only available Monday to Friday9:30 AM to 4:30PM, until August 28. Children must be aged between 0 and 4 years. Click here to download ‘Mums & Bubs’ Voucher


Where: Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary, West Esplanade, Manly
When: 9:30am – 5pm (last entry at 4:30pm), 7 days a week

Read about our recent visit to Manly Sea Life Sanctuary


Papi Chulo

After exploring the watery depths of the sanctuary the kids will be starving. Papi Chulo has launched a ‘Papi Penguins’ kids menu in partnership with Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary and the SEA LIFE Trust. $1 from every kids meal sold on the menu is donated to the SEA LIFE Trust to help Manly’s Little Penguins and other marine life. This family friendly restaurant is situated right on the wharf with a gorgeous view of the water.

Read about our delicious meal we had at Papi Chulo

Where: 22-23 Manly Wharf
Reservations: 02 9240 3000 or Book Online

The Boathouse Shelly Beach

The Boathouse is a new restaurant that’s opened up next to Shelly Beach. Grab some fish and chips and coffee from the kiosk and then head to the sand! Shelly Beach is also one of the best spots for snorkeling so bring your gear and greet the fish with the kids!

Where: 1 Marine Parade, Manly


After all that delicious food, how about a chill-out on one of Manly’s stunning beaches is a must! Build a sand sculpture of one of the animals you saw at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary or just let the kids run wild in the sandy sanctuaries.

Manly’s best kept secret: Collins beach

Located on the harbourside, Collins Beach is one of Sydney’s prettiest and least visited beaches. Although it’s tricky to get there with a pram, if you’re looking for a quiet but spacious place for the kids, then this is your beach. Complete with a waterfall and a colony of Penguins, the only one on the Australian Mainland, it truly is a fantastic afternoon experience.


If the kids need to burn off some energy, we’ve got two great afternoon activities planned for you: Waterworks and Biking on the Beach. Or else spend an hour or two creating some arts & crafts at Studio Make.


Waterworks is a water-park with fully supervised giant slides and a large spectator viewing area. It’s an action packed, fun, safe and easy day out with the kids. And it’s located right next to Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary!

When: Saturday and Sunday: 10 – 5pm
Cost: Ranging From $18 for one hour to $100 for a family day pass
Note: Children must be at least 110cm tall to slide

Bike the Beach with Manly Bike Tours

Did you know that Manly Bike Tours are ranked the no. 1 outdoor activity on TripAdvisor. They provide kids bikes, a baby trailer and baby seat (cute!) and a map with an easy to follow route, taking you to places like Shelly Beach and past the Mediterranean style villas along Cabbage Tree Bay. The shortest bike tour is only an hour and it’s a lovely chance to see all that Manly has to offer.

Where: Shop 6 – 54 West Esplanade, Manly.
Check out the different bikes and rates! The cost covers a helmet, lock, map and bag.

Studio Make

Looking for a low-key indoor activity? We’ve got you covered at Studio Make, an art & craft venue for kids aged 2 to teens. Just drop-in, pick a plaster (from $5- $40), and get painting! Once the kids, and you of course, have finished with your masterpiece the staff will gloss your plaster and add the glitter of your choice!

When: Monday–Friday 9:30am-1:30pm ; Saturday 10am-4pm,
Where: 1/40 East Esplanade, Manly


Manly has some action-packed playgrounds on offer. If you’ve got a bit of time before your ferry departs, have a swing and a slide at one of these playgrounds:

Little Manly Point Park & Playground

With a awesome view of the water, let the kids play in the playground while you grab a coffee in a nearby cafe!

Manly Lagoon Reserve and Playground

A smaller playground but with a skate park across the road and plenty of grass and paths for bikes. If the kids are a little tired, catch the 136 or 139 Bus from Stand A on East Esplanade and then hop off at North Steyne, near Collingwood Rd.

North Steyne, Manly Beach

North Steyne playground is an accessible park for kids of all abilities. It is full of fun equipment like swings, spinwheels and activity centres. You can find it between Steinton St and Denison St.


Wow! What a Day! Head down to the wharf and catch the ferry back to Circular Quay, where you’ll enjoy the sun setting over the sparkling harbour and the kids dozing off in your lap.


Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary is offering a special promotion for ‘Mums & Bubs’ giving 1 parent and 1 child entry for just $15 – saving up to $27. The offer is only available Monday to Friday9:30 AM to 4:30PM, until August 28. Children must be aged between 0 and 4 years. Click here to download ‘Mums & Bubs’ Voucher






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