NSW Family Sunday Drive: We're Off To The Central Coast

By: Phoebe Ackland, ellaslist

Whether you're after a big family day out, a short city-break, a longer stay, or just want an excuse to have some screen-free bonding time in the car, the Central Coast ticks all the boxes! A mere 1-hour and 10-minute drive from Sydney, there are so many destinations to visit, places to see, things to explore, and family fun to be had. 

This is your next family Sunday drive destination! Don't head off till you read our guide of some of the highlights. The best part about the Central Coast is that once you're there, everything is pretty close, with many of the beaches a mere walk or short drive away, so try to fit in as much as you can! Enjoy. 

1. Terrigal

A 1-hour and 30-minute drive from Sydney. The highlight of Terrigal is no doubt Terrigal beach, one of the Central Coast's most popular. It's like the Bondi of the coast, a cosmopolitan, bustling little seaside town full of cafes, shops, locals and happy visitors. At the beach, there's Terrigal Haven with a boat ramp, fishing charters, snorkelling and scuba-diving, as well as a small ocean rock pool at the southern end of the beach, picnic and BBQ facilities. It's a great spot for swimming, surfing, and the perfect family holiday spot for a longer stay, with great-value accommodation nearby to suit all budgets. 

The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre in Terrigal is another family favourite. They have a great program of tours, talks and activities for children under 12 years of age. Kids can look at specimens from the sea under microscopes, get their hands into touch-aquariums, follow marine trails and get involved with marine-based experiments. Entry is only $6 for adults and $4 for kids. 

The Wildflower Place is a lovely little destination, a specialist nursery with fresh native flowers delivered daily from farms across Australia. All these sights might build up an appetite, so we recommend Bellyfish Cafe, which has a prime beachside location. They use only the best local produce in their delicious menu, so make sure you breakfast, brunch or lunch here (if you can beat the locals to a table!)

Bellyfish Cafe

2. Avoca Beach

A 1-hour and 30-minute drive from Sydney. Like Terrigal, the highlight of Avoca is its gorgeous, pine-tree-lined beach! You'll find a rock pool at the southern end, and if you happen to be holidaying on the 4th Sunday of the month, make sure you hit up the Avoca Beachside Markets, with 120+ stalls, and free live entertainment by the water. 

If you love water-based fun, then you just can't go past Aquafun on Avoca Lake. Explore the waterway via pedal boat, stand-up paddleboard or kayak. The season restarts in September for the warmer weather. If you're visiting on a rainy, miserable day, hit up the Avoca Beach Picture Theatre for some never-fail family entertainment.

You might be interested to explore the deliberately-sunk Ex-HMAS Adelaide, sitting at 32 metres below the water's surface, and a mere 1.8km from Avoca Beach. It has created an artificial reef that older families and adventurous spirits will love to dive to check out. The Mount Bouddi Walking Track is another nice activity- a short, easy walk (so little ones won't be out of their league) starting at the Mount Bouddi picnic area. You might spot colourful parrots, kookaburras, eucalypt woodlands, and of course, spectacular coastal views once you emerge from the bush. 

Aquafun on Avoca Lake

3. The Entrance

A 1-hour 30-minute drive from Sydney. There is just SO much for families here! Out top pick? Pelican feeding! Each day at 3.30pm, head to Pelican Plaza, a feeding platform for swarms of pelicans hoping for a bit of fresh whole fish. The tradition started over 20 years ago when staff from the local fish and chips shop threw the pellies 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 50m pool and a children's pool- 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. 

4. Glenworth Valley

A 1-hour and 40-minute drive from Sydney. The gorgeous Glenworth Valley is the perfect destination for outdoorsy families who want some action and adventure! There are heaps of activities on the program, including our top pick: horse-riding! There are school holiday camps, riding lessons, pony rides for little ones, guided rides, cattle drive experiences, gourmet picnic rides (ideal if you are sans kids!) and free range horse riding where you can really explore the land. 

Adrenaline junkies will love feeling the wind on their face with a bit of quad-biking, or a kayaking adventure like a gentle 2.5-hour eco kayaking tour, a luxurious wine and seafood kayaking tour, or you can hire your own kayak or stand-up paddleboard for a real adventure. You can even go abseiling down a rock face, suitable for both beginners and the more experienced! 

For a video-game experience minus the screens, you have to get involved in a huge outdoor game of laser skirmish- head to toe in commando gear, this is live action, unlike anything you've ever experienced! If your family just can't get enough of all the action, then stay in some of the Glenworth Valleys' awesome accommodation options: camping in tents, teepees, or cabins. 

Glenworth Valley Horse Riding

5. On The Way

Conveniently, there are some awesome wildlife parks on the journey heading to the Central Coast, off the Pacific Motorway, just a 1-hour drive from Sydney. One is the Australian Wildlife Walkabout Park where little kids will love getting hands-on at the farmyard nursery with mini goats, pigs, alpacas and the like, and don't be surprised if one of the many 'roaming free' animals gets really close to you as you venture around the park- wallabies, emus and tortoises included! The Australian Reptile Park is another great one with a program full of super exciting shows including funnel web milking, koala feeding, dingo talks and turtle walks! 

Reptile Park

6. Treetops Adventure Park

A 1-hour and 20-minute drive from Sydney. Another destination worth a stop-over! In Wyong Creek, Treetops Adventure Park will have you swinging on Tarzan-style ropes, zipping along on flying foxes, teetering on tightropes, swinging off trapezes, wrestling up twisted ladders and whizzing through the air with some seriously mind-blowing ziplines. Their Vertical Challenges courses are suitable for children as young as 3 years old, so this is an adventure for the whole family to enjoy. 

Treetops Adventure Park

7. Amazement

A 1-hour and 20-minute drive from Sydney. Families will be utterly amazed at Amazement! In Wyong Creek, this farm and fun park has six labyrinthian hedge mazes to get lost in, a petting zoo, pony rides, a mini bike track, horse and cart rides, a kid's playground, a bird sanctuary, giant board games, a cafe, and even farm stay accommodation for families who just can't get enough. This really is worth a stopover: it's got SO much to do for kids and families of all ages, combining carnival-style fun with fresh air and plenty of lush green spaces. 

Feature image courtesy of Glenworth Valley


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