Best Summer Day Trips And Weekend Getaways From Sydney
If you've got a day to get away, or better still a whole weekend, these beautiful hotspots are bursting with family-friendly adventure. Leave the hustle and bustle behind and escape the city on a road trip to one of these awesome destinations.
Here are a few of our favourite places to get away from it all across NSW. Let's go...
1. Batemans Bay
Three hours and 30 minutes from Sydney
Here you'll find some of the best beaches in NSW. The family-friendly Long Beach, which is perfect for little kids as the waters are calm. Or the secret gem of Guerilla Bay found just ten minutes from Batemans Bay which has great rock pools for exploring at low tide. There is also the Perry Street Cinema which shows the latest flicks for kids films. And there's also a huge carnival called the Bell’s Family Carnival that runs in January. But really, the reason why this is one of our favourite weekends away is because of the nearby Mogo Zoo. Here you can get up, close and personal with rhinos, tigers, lions, red pandas, meerkats, monkeys and more. While you're in Mogo, check out the famous Mogo Pies and the kids will love a roadie snack at Mogo Fudge.
2. Hunter Valley
Two hours and 30 minutes from Sydney.
From award-winning gardens to an outstanding zoo, there's so much fun to have in NSW's leading wine country that really has nothing to do with wine. But, parents, no judgement if you partake in a few glasses while there!
Hunter Valley Wildlife Park is home to a menagerie of interesting exotic and native animals, from dingos to iguanas and monkeys to lions and, as a recent addition to the Sydney Wildlife Parks family, is now a part of the biggest private collection of animals in Australia! Kids will love hand-feeding some of the farmyard animals, kangaroos and birds in the walk-through interactive yards. Hunter Valley Wildlife Park has started three new daily experiences: the Lion Encounter, the Maned Wolf Encounter and the Capybara Encounter. Plus, young animal lovers can grab a new free animal passport to map their adventure. Then Hunter Valley Gardens is also our top place to visit. An outing to the award-winning themed gardens will take between 2-3 hours and all the pathways are stroller friendly. Right next to the Hunter Valley Gardens is Hunter Valley Aqua Golf & Putt-Putt. The driving range is a 50,000m2 lake with a number of floating target nets, and they off fantastic prizes for those lucky enough to hit their ball into one of the nets. There's also the chocolate factory, lunch at Tempest Two and of course, plenty of kid-friendly wineries in the region. To learn more, check out our full guide to the Best Places To Take Kids In The Hunter Valley.
3. Southern Highlands
One hour and 30 minutes from Sydney
Picture perfect and not that far from Sydney, the Southern Highlands is made up of idyllic villages that all offer something truly unique. There’s Bowral, probably the best known, with its beautiful walks and delicious farm-to-table restaurants. The best time to visit is in September for Bowral's famous Tulip Time Festival. It's full of kid's activities, live music, stalls of all kinds, and a dazzling, colourful display of flowers. Or Mittagong, which is plunged in deep history. Or Moss Vale boasting to one of the best art galleries in the region. You can read a full guide to every Southern Highlands village to visit here.
Three hours from Sydney
Home to the most magnificent caves in NSW, a super-fun aqua park and a kitschy ice-cream parlour that's an instant hit with kids, Bathurst might be one of the lesser-known family-friendly destinations in NSW but it should be firmly high up on your bucket list. Its biggest drawcard is definitely the real T-Rex dinosaur at the Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum. Watch your kids run wild in the dinosaur-themed Bathurst Adventure Playground, learn about car and motorcycling history at the National Motor Racing Museum, or experience a ghostly night tour at Abercrombie House. There’s so much to do and you can read our full guide to the top ten things to do in Bathurst for even more inspo.
A 1-hour 30-minute drive from Sydney
The Gong may not strike some people as an interesting family day out, but it’ll surprise you. With a constantly changing schedule of family activities and hidden gems everywhere, Wollongong is definitely an underrated Aussie city.
The Early Start Discovery Space at the University of Wollongong is a reason in itself to head to the Gong. This is a kid's-dedicated museum with an interactive Tummy Tour which teaches children about internal organs!
Just after the Royal National Park, you will find the miracle of modern engineering – The Sea Cliff Bridge – built away from the cliff face in the water. It’s a great spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the spectacular views, so make sure you zip your car past here.
Stop and sniff the flowers. If you're after natural beauty, head to the Wollongong Botanic Garden where they host great school holiday programs for kids as well as garden yoga! You'll see Aussie plants in the Dryland Garden, exotic species in the Flowering Trees And Shrubs Garden, rainforest species in the Rainforest Collection, all kinds of roses and a beautiful gazebo in the Rose Garden, and oh so much more.
A 2-hour drive from Sydney
Newcastle is action-packed and full of family-friendly fun. Speers Point Park is often ranked as the best playground in Newcastle. With a 9-metre tall spiral slide, flying fox and 12-metre tall climbing tower, it's definitely worth a playtime pit stop.
Newcastle Museum has a super hands-on science section called Supernova, where touching and feeling is encouraged. There's a soft-play section for toddlers called Mininova with stuff to slide down, build with and climb on. It will be perfectly warm in Newcastle, so a swim at Nobby's Beach is a must. There are beautiful ocean baths, a lighthouse you can stroll to via a coastal walking track, a great kiosk and picnic shelters.
If all the adventuring makes you hungry, head to Megamania, a huge playland meets restaurant - that's a winning combination if we've ever heard of one. Enjoy schnitzels, steaks, pasta, seafood and salads as kids enjoy jumping castles, super slides and epic climbing structures.
7. Glenworth Valley
A 1-hour drive from Sydney
This is the adventurous destination that the Beckhams chose to visit on a trip to Australia! Home to the country's largest horse riding and outdoor adventure centre, Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures is THE place to go for off-the-grid action and adrenalin. Partake in activities like quad biking, abseiling, horse riding, laser tag, kayaking and camping. The whole family will love this one-stop adventure hot spot.
It's also incredibly beautiful with its wide-open pastures, lush rainforest, dramatic rock formations and towering ancient eucalypts. You can dip your toes in the crystal-clear waters and natural rock pools of Popran Creek and spot many species of native fauna including wallabies, goannas, king parrots, lyrebirds and kookaburras.
8. Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park
A 40-minute drive from Sydney
Head west to Doonside to get an up-close experience of Australia’s unique wildlife in a natural bush setting. Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park is a haven for the world’s largest collection of Australian native animals with over 2,000 furry, feathery and scaly creatures. Better still, most of them love to interact with visitors! You can cuddle up to a koala, hand-feed kangaroos or meet ‘Ngukhur’ the huge saltwater crocodile. There are also Tasmanian devils, dingos, echidnas, wombats, little penguins and a diverse range of birds, plus a Farmyard Nursery, where kids can roam free amongst the sheep, goats, geese, lambs and bunnies, and a Reptilian Pavilion.
Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park makes a fabulous family day out for animal lovers, as you meander through the pathways discovering the abundance of roaming resident fauna, the maze of animal habitats and the fascinating interactive enclosures.
A 1-hour 50-minute drive from Sydney
We can bet that what families are looking for in a summer weekend getaway is plenty of water. If that's you, this gorgeous seaside destination on the NSW South Coast will do the trick.
No doubt the attraction that springs to mind when you think of Kiama: their blowhole is the largest in the world! From the safe distance of the viewing platform, check out the spectacular plumes of water shooting skyward, then enjoy some lunch at the nearby picnic areas or have a wade in the rock pool.
In summer, the Kiama Farmer's Market at Surf Beach is the place to shop with picturesque views in front of you. The opening of the markets is signalled each week by the ringing of the bell. You'll find fruits, vegetables, oysters, local beef, honey, eggs, milk, sourdough, and lots more.
Make the most of this waterside location and take the coastal walk - a pathway hugging 22 km of sparkling coastline. It begins at Minnamurra, will take you past headlands, rivers, beaches, the town centre, the Blowhole, Little Blowhole, beaches, bays, finishing at Werri Beach. A great way to see all the natural beauty of Kiama.
Then, of course, there's Jamerboo Action Park literally down the road in Jamberoo. This is water and play heaven for kids of all ages and will award you some serious Mum and Dad brownie points if you take the kids for a visit!
10. Palm Beach
A 1-hour 10-minute drive from Sydney
Palm Beach is Home and Away, literally! The live set to fictional Summer Bay in the popular Australian TV series, this idyllic peninsula enveloped between Pittwater and Broken Bay will make you think you’ve walked into a suburban paradise.
Take the easy 1 km walk up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and keeper’s cottage and be rewarded with expansive panoramic views of the Tasman Sea and Pittwater bay on either side, 91 metres above sea level. Toddlers might find the distance a little difficult.
Governor Philip Park, Playground & Beach on the east side of the peninsula is a big park, playground and beach rolled into one. Let the older kids run amok with a ball or frisbee, or let the little ones clamber on the playground while you lay on a picnic blanket basking in the sun.
When you get hungry, enjoy delicious eats and rustic charm at The Boathouse. Menu items include Sydney rock oysters with ginger and lime, buckets of fresh prawns, beef burgers, and delicious kiddie's shakes in bear-shaped jugs.
11. The Entrance
A 1-hour 30-minute drive from Sydney
There is just SO much for families at The Entrance! Our top pick? Pelican feeding. Head to Pelican Plaza, a feeding platform for swarms of pelicans hoping for a bit of fresh fish.
Kids love Vera's Water Garden, a colourful water play area and a wading pool full of jets and fountains on the foreshore, as well as the skate park suitable for rollerbladers, BMX bikers, skateboarders, and onlookers! The Sensory Gardens are also a beautiful place to spend a moment, built for the vision-impaired who can touch, feel and smell the very best aromas and textures that the Aussie bush has to offer. It's wheelchair accessible too. The Avoca Beach Ocean Baths are the only ocean baths on the Central Coast, so they are a must-visit too. There's a 50-metre pool and a children's pool to enjoy!
Active families will love the Tuggerah Lakes Cycleway - a 12km scenic track that hugs the beautiful waterways, with nature parks, playgrounds, picnic and BBQ areas dotted along the way. We also recommend the Heritage Walk that will introduce you to the characters and places of times gone by through old photographs on a relaxed 2-hour stroll.
Other Road Trips Near Sydney