Best Summer Day Trips And Drives From Sydney
What's Summer without a spur of the moment, adventurous road trip? Crank the air conditioning and set out to one of these great family destinations around NSW offering family-friendly things to see and places to go. The best part? They're all only a short and pleasant drive from Sydney.
A 1-hour and 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.
Mogo Wildlife Park
Give the kids a history lesson in the gold rush town of Mogo in Eurobodalla, roughly a 4-hour drive from Sydney. This small town near Batemans Bay is also famous for its world-class zoo, Mogo Zoo where 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.
Sadly, this area was severely impacted by the bushfires of December 2019, so they need your visits more than ever. It's a little further than your usual day trip, but we say it's worth it!
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, and 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.
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, this 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.
Find out more about Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures here.
Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park
A 40-minute drive from Sydney’s CBD. 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 and 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.
From 3 pm-6 pm on Wednesdays in the summer, don't miss the Kiama Farmer's Market at Surf Beach. Shop with picturesque views in front of you, with the opening of the markets 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!
A 1-hour and a 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.
A 1-hour 30-minute drive from Sydney. There is just SO much for families at The Entrance! Our top pick? Pelican feeding! Each day at 3.30 pm, head to Pelican Plaza, a feeding platform for swarms of pelicans hoping for a bit of fresh fish. The tradition started over 20 years ago when staff from the local fish and chips shop threw the pelicans their scraps, and it continues to this day. You'll learn about the local pelican colony as you watch the show.
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