Canberra with Kids: Top 10 Attractions not to Miss
Mums & Bubs
Despite the widespread opinion that our nation’s capital is a worthwhile city just for politicians and gaggles of school kids on their primary school pilgrimage to Questacon, Canberra is actually a cultural city with clout; offering some of Australia’s best and most kid-friendly museums, outdoor activities, educational play experiences and food spots.
Visiting Canberra with kids is a definite family bucket-list item, particularly when you include these top 10 Canberra attractions.
This extraordinary interactive museum is a labyrinth of fun and wonder. Start at the top and work your way down! Science is at its most fun in Questacon, and both adults and kids will be amazed as they make their way through each gallery. Check out what special events and exhibitions they're hosting, like the current Mission to Mars guided tour where you can defy gravity in the Space Café installation. From engineering shows to botanical labs, your kids will leave with dreams of becoming scientists!
2. Quizzic Alley
Jump on your Nimbus 3000 for a magical ride to this new world of witchcraft and wizardry. Quizzic Alley stocks Australia's largest collection of official Harry Potter merchandise, as well as hosting siriusly spellbinding Brews and Bubbles Potions classes in their Academy of Sorcery. Hogwarts fans will be transfixed by the extensive range of coveted licensed goodies from books to robes and chocolate frogs to cute baby Nifflers. There are board games, puzzles, backpacks, toys, wands, stationery, posters and jewellery among the Hufflepuff of Potter paraphernalia.
3. Cockington Green Gardens
You'll have the whole world at your feet at Cockington Green Gardens with its unique and charming display of miniature buildings, including famous international landmarks. The delightful and fascinating handcrafted city is set within beautiful gardens with a Garden Cafe where homemade scones are a must. Hop on the miniature steam train for a tour and look out for Waverley’ - the epic 34-room dolls house! There is also a picnic area and playground.
4. National Art Gallery of Australia
Plan a family art adventure at the National Art Gallery of Australia with free interactive tours, hands-on art-making workshops and a ‘treasure hunt’ throughout the gallery searching for artworks. They have an Open Studio every weekend with free creative activities inspired by current exhibitions and host Super Sunday, a free monthly program for the whole family, featuring music, storytelling, performances, dance and art-making to inspire creatives of all ages. See their top tips for visiting with kids.
5. National Dinosaur Museum
See Australia’s largest permanent collection of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals at the National Dinosaur Museum, with over 50 life-like models, including robotic dinosaurs that move! Be brave and stand next to a T-Rex! Take a guided tour, tailored to suit all ages, and gain a unique insight into dinosaur biology and evolution in a fun-filled, interactive experience. Get to touch fossils and specimens, ask questions and take photos.
6. Old Parliament House
A firm favourite among kids is Old Parliament House, a living museum of Australian social and political history. With an entire ‘Play Up’ area dedicated to entertaining the younger ones, there’s craft, drawing, reading, dress-up and more.
The National Museum of Australia is another favourite among families, thanks to a designated KSpace - the Museum’s interactive adventure game for kids which lets them build their own time-travelling robot then blast off to explore a mystery location in Australia’s past. The Australian War Memorial also has designated kids activities including storytime and craft, as well as a ‘Discovery Zone’ with a helicopter you can sit in, a submarine you can walk through and a host of interactive areas.
7. Black Mountain Tower
A national landmark and one of Canberra's most popular tourist spots, Black Mountain Tower, akaTelstra Tower, is a 195m telecommunications tower above Black Mountain. The indoor and outdoor viewing platforms offer sweeping 360-degree views of Canberra. It has a café, souvenir shop, revolving restaurant and Canberra's highest operating post box!
8. National Arboretum Pod Playground
Let the kids burn off some energy at the National Arboretum's unique Pod Playground. With giant acorn cubbies, nest swings, banksia pods, music-making instruments and rope tunnels, what more could an adventure-loving kid ask for? The challenging and exciting nature space encourages children to explore, learn and enjoy, while the nearby Village Centre has a cafe for all the recharge needs of tired parents!
9. National Film and Sound Archive
Remember Skippy? The Mike Walsh Show? Simon Townsend's Wonder World? Australia's archive for film, TV and radio is a Canberra institution and they've preserved our cultural history and our memories, so you can have fun sharing your old favourites with your kids! With over 3 million items across 170 collections, the National Film and Sound Archive will take you on a fascinating journey through the history of these influential art mediums in Australia, exploring iconic films like Mad Max, Muriel's Wedding and Storm Boy, displaying vintage Cadbury advertisements and celebrating cultural touchstones like cricket, the beach and the BBQ. See a series of animated short films and peek inside a kid's party time capsule.
10. Cool Canberra Festivals
Thanks to its burgeoning cultural scene, Canberra plays host to some pretty epic festivals throughout the year. Floriade is the city’s celebration of spring, which brings the city to life through beautiful floral displays during September each year. Enlighten is Canberra’s answer to Sydney’s Vivid which includes the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, a stunning sight across the Canberra sky.
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