Best Family Day Trips And Drives In Sydney
Pack your bags, get the kids into the car and head to one of these amazing places over the weekend for an unforgettable road trip!
We’ve handpicked six of the best family drives most of which will take you less than 2 hours, and at each location, we’ve selected family-friendly activities that will ensure everyone has a fantastic time.
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Eurobodalla, South Coast NSW
The Drive: 4 hours from the CBD. Find it on Google Maps.
The longer journey means you'll need to leave early for this one, but the stunning south coast is worth it! Follow the scenic Sydney to Melbourne coastal drive to discover this natural and cultural wonderland.
Mogo Wildlife Park: Offering a more intimate animal experience than big-city zoos, Mogo Wildlife Park is passionate about the conservation of endangered species and prides itself on getting visitors closer to exotic fauna than they've ever been before. Home to over 250 animals, they offer hands-on Up Close & Personal encounters where you can feed majestic lions and tigers, play with squirrel monkeys and servals, and make friends with an Emperor Tamarin! Giraffe Feeding is a fun family experience that runs every day. Fuel up for the day at the Tumbili Terrace Cafe with perfect views of silvery gibbons and meerkats.
Tilba: Nestled among lush pastures and striking mountains, you can step back in time in Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba. These lovely National Trust-classified villages are alive with historic timber cottages, boutique stores and artisan galleries and delicious local produce. Foxglove Gardens is a beautiful garden built around an original farm cottage and the Gumnut Hideaway Gallery displays a photography collection that showcases the beauty of the region. The famous ABC Cheese Factory is a delightful pitstop to see cheese making in action and stock up on tasty treats.
Bingi Dreaming Track: This stunning coastal walk in Eurobodalla National Park traces the ancient footsteps of the Yuin Aboriginal people, the traditional inhabitants of the area. They host guided walks to the top of Gulaga, a sacred dormant volcano and share the secrets of the oldest living culture on earth. Animal habitats are dotted throughout the walk so look out for kangaroos and wallabies and exotic birdlife. There are also great swimming and picnic spots.
Bradleys Head, Mosman
The Drive: App. 30 mins from the CBD. Find it on Google Maps.
If you’re into beautiful scenery and a day of walking, then head to Bradley’s Head!
Taronga Zoo: Definitely the main attraction of Bradley’s Head. A whole day can be made up of a trip to the zoo, with child-friendly areas including KidZoo and Backyard to Bush. The daily schedule is jam-packed with educational and entertaining fun including a squirrel monkey jungle walk, Australian walkabout tour, Elephant stilt-house experience, a seal show and more. Make sure you hop in the cable car for a birds-eye view zoo experience like no other.
Bradleys Head To Chowder Bay Walk: You’ll see the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and sparkling harbour along this gently weaving bush track. You’ll walk past ancient trees and plenty of wildlife with views that are guaranteed to impress. Start on Athol Wharf Road.
A Secret Beach: Just a few minutes walk from Taronga Zoo and accessible via the Bradleys Head Trail, you’ll find a secluded little beach free of tourists and crowds. It’s small and rocky, but if will feel like your family’s own private little oasis.
The Journey: App. 90-minutes via the Hume Motorway/M31. Once you hit Mount Annan (between Campbelltown and Camden), you could make a pit stop at The Australian Botanical Gardens on Narellan Rd. Find it on Google Maps.
You could also go by train - the 2-hour journey that will take you through Mittagong (the gateway to the Southern Highlands) before you arrive at Bowral Railway Station.
There really is so much to see and do in Bowral - the largest town in the Southern Highlands. We even recommend a weekender here to fit it all in.
Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame: Young cricket fans will be in heaven! Cricket springs to life with interactive touch screens, displays showcasing originally used equipment, free tours, art gallery, and gift store with some of the most impressive gear on the market.
Empire Cinema: The oldest commercial cinema in the country, Empire opened in 1915! This is worth a visit at the very least, and a great place to catch an afternoon flick at best!
Bowral Lookout: Take in stunning views over Bowral, the Wingecarribee River Valley and Moss Vale with Mount Gingenbullen and the Cuckbundoon Ranges in the distance! It’s a great spot for a picnic as it is equipped with shelters, tables, toilets and BBQs.
Illawarra Tourism Route: This one is an incentive to take the car rather than the train! In the comfort of your vehicle, you will roll past beautiful greenery, stop at Fitzroy Falls to check out the beauty, drive through lush rainforest and grab a bite to eat in Robertson. There really is so much to explore.
Source: Southern Highland News
The Drive: App. 1 hour 40 minutes. Find it on Google Maps.
A historic little village in the Southern Highlands- a great place to visit in Winter. Remember to bring your appetite.
Bendooley Estate: When you get hungry, make Bendooley Estate your first port of call, where books and dining collide. Cosy yourself amongst the shelves of antique books, cathedral ceilings and exposed timber beams at Berkelouw Books, where children can cuddle up with a book in front of the warm stone fireplace. Inside the Book Barn, experience the freshest produce available in the Southern Highlands including great coffee and delicious wine.
Lolly Swagman: Parents and children alike will adore this old school lolly shop where you can find the gummy delights no longer housed on common grocery aisle shelves.
Berrima District Museum: Inside an old weatherboard cottage, get a dose of what life was like in the early days of the district. Highlights include a German-built canoe and the work of prisoners of war when they were housed at Berrima Gaol during the first World War.
Source: Museums & Galleries Of NSW
The Drive: App. 1 hour 30 minutes. Find it on Google Maps.
NSW Railway Museum: This place will be enjoyed by the young and old, but lovers of Thomas and Friends simply must visit this train haven! During the Summer, you can board a historic railmotor along the Thirlmere Heritage Railway which will take you on a 45-minute journey to Buxton and back.
Thirlmere Lakes National Park: Home to Five freshwater lakes. This is a great spot for bird watching, BBQ’s and picnics with the range of facilities available, and the Thirlmere Lakes walking track which will take you all around the park, past the picnic areas and the adored Heritage Pump Station- which used to replenish the steam railway locomotives on the old southern railway.
Festival of Steam: Time a visit to Thirlmere with the annual Festival of Steam for a weekend of train-loving fun, including the chance to climb aboard large steam trains, shovel coal, and check out some magnificent engines that you just can’t see anywhere else in this day and age. An event for little ones, their parents, AND their grandparents!
The Drive: App. 1 hour 30 mins. Find it on Google Maps.
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.
Early Start Discovery Space: This is Australia’s first kids-dedicated museum! This interactive funhouse makes education fun and encourages children and adults to learn together. Visit The Pod – a 270 degree, double-storey high video projection that responds to your movements, or how about taking the Tummy Tour – a fully interactive trip through one of the body’s most important organs. The family is going to be spending the entire day here, we promise!
Sea Cliff Bridge: Hug the coast on Grand Pacific Drive for the most magnificent scenic route from Sydney. Just after the Royal National Park, you will find the miracle of modern engineering – Sea Cliff Bridge – built away from the cliff face in the water. It’s a great spot to stretch the legs and enjoy the spectacular views.
Coalcliff Beach: Sitting just north of the Wollongong city centre, this is a small, family-friendly beach in the northern suburbs, surrounded by rocks and cliffs. There is a saltwater rock pool at the southern end of the beach, perfect for little explorers who want to learn more about ocean life. For parents that love fishing, cast your lines into the water and see if you can catch anything!
Lake Illawarra: Another Instagram-worthy spot that offers a range of water activities for the family. There is boat and catamaran hire close by as well as several caravan parks, so try your hand canoeing along its gorgeous waters. Reddall Reserve on the foreshore of Lake Illawarra is a popular spot for picnics with a children’s playground that’ll keep them playing for a long while.
Upper Blue Mountains
The Drive: App. 1 hour 40 minutes. Find it on Google Maps.
With such an expanse to cover, we highlight the Upper Blue Mountains region from Wentworth Falls to Mount Victoria to give you our favourites for a great family drive worth going back time and time again.
The Three Sisters; It goes without saying that the Three Sisters are the pride of the Blue Mountains. Their colour changes with the rise and fall of the sun and are floodlit until 11 pm at night, creating a striking image against the night sky. Head to Echo Point for a perfect picture with the Three Sisters.
Scenic World: Get the family pass if you’ve got two or more children and spend a few hours exploring the beautiful paths. Hop onto the Cableway, Skyway or Railway rides (or all of them!) and discover the Blue Mountains from the air and ground. We love the thrilling 52-degree descent Railway, which is a quick and dirty “roller coaster” for those who don’t always enjoy the heart-thumping rides. There are various options for easy 10-minutes to moderate 1-hour walks all clearly signposted. Being a boardwalk, this means that it’s a pram and wheelchair-friendly experience, accessible between the Cableway and Railway stations.
Breenhold Gardens: Explore over 45 hectares of luxuriant gardens, parkland and native bushland. Over the past 40 years several thousand exotic and indigenous trees and flowering shrubs have been planted. It's just stunning, see the picture above!
Wentworth Falls Lake: This beautiful spot sits along Sinclair Crescent, just 12 mins walk from Wentworth Falls train station. Filled with beautiful wildlife and a children’s play area this is a great way to spend a few hours of your day.
Leuralla Toy & Railway Museum: If you have younger kids, this place has the largest collection of toys, trains and memorabilia in the Southern Hemisphere including collections of popular toys like Barbie, Popeye, Tintin and Alice in Wonderland.
Source: Australian Traveller
The Drive: App. 1 hour 10 mins. Find it on Google Maps.
Aside from being 100% Instagram-worthy, Palm Beach makes you feel like you’ve flown far away from the bustling, fast-paced feel of the city and into a haven of serenity. You can also explore the area by ferry through Pittwater and choose to take the Ettalong Beach Ferry Ride which leaves Palm Beach Wharf every 90 mins.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse: The walk up the lighthouse is tough for little ones so bring something that you can carry them in, but once you’ve made it up there, you’ll be rewarded with expansive panoramic views of the Tasman Sea and Pittwater Bay. Then feel free to explore the lighthouse, one of the Sydney Northern Beaches’ most iconic sights.
Governor Philip Park, Playground & Beach: Kids and parents will love this one: a big park, playground and beach rolled into one. With plenty of BBQs, picnics spots and a fully equipped playground, this is a fantastic spot for an afternoon meal!
The Basin: A great picnic spot with a sheltered beach and an inland lagoon where the littlies could have a bit of water play, have a bike ride or spot the local swamp wallabies or kookaburras. The Basin campground in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is one of Sydney's most popular beach camping spots if you decide to stay overnight.
Snapperman Beach: This hidden gem has a long history that reaches back to early European and Chinese settlers and is a top fishing spot
The Drive: App 2 hours. Find it on Google Maps.
The drive to Kangaroo Valley will feel like a holiday in itself with views that will carry you into a world of villages and rolling hills.
Kangaroo Valley Canoes: A 5km canoe tour through Kangaroo River will set any stressful soul at ease. Watch out for kangaroos, wallabies, harmless water dragons, wombats, abundant birdlife, and if luck is on your side, you may even spot a platypus.
Pioneer Village Museum: The eight-hectare open-air museum grounds shows off colonial buildings and natural bushland. A leisure walk through the grounds will take you through a dairy, forge, timber cutters hut, bush school, settler’s cottage, Archie Chittick Museum and a war remembrance room. You can even take our your picnic basket and have a good meal on the grounds.
Fitzroy Falls: an easy 16 mins north of Kangaroo Valley, this lovely area has several easy walks which the kids can do that leads up to a spectacular 81-meter tall waterfall that plunges into the lush eucalyptus forests.
All Aboard, Mittagong: Train lovers will be awed and delighted by the huge indoor/outdoor operating railway which is just 45 mins north of Kangaroo Valley.
Source: NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Minnamurra Rainforest, Budderoo National Park
The Drive: App. 1 hour 50 minutes. Find it on Google Maps.
It’s a magical enchanted forest that’s been nurtured and conserved for over a century – witness first hand the fauna of the area such as the normally elusive Lyrebird, the Eastern Water Dragons, Swamp Wallabies and a host of bird species like bowerbirds and king parrots which make Minnamurra their home.
Loop Walk: If you’re not afraid of heights to take the elevated walkways and paved tracks which link to suspension bridges across the Minnamurra Rivulet. The first 500m of this walk provides for assisted wheelchair access – so it would also be suitable for a buggy. Otherwise, if you have a bub, a carrier would be perfect. It would take between 45mins to 1 hour to complete this walk.
Kelly’s Cottage: Head downstream from the Minnamurra Rainforest to see the 1853 Kelly’s Cottage and its camellia tree, believed to be one of the southern hemisphere’s oldest. The land’s rich soil and water supply make it ideal for dairy farming – and you can still see the monument to Australia’s first butter factory in nearby Jamberoo Valley.
Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk: This exhilarating walk takes you through the canopy of the “rainforest” along the Illawarra escarpment.
Royal National Park
The Drive: App. 1 hour. Find it on Google Maps.
The Royal National Park gives visitors something different each season with open grassland to ocean-fronting clifftops. Each location has different activities that kids and parents can enjoy.
Garie Beach: Nestled in the southern end of Royal National Park, the beach is the perfect spot for whale watching in the winter or for a day of surfing and swimming in the warmer months. Cast your lines into the water for beach fishing, or go birdwatching and see the albatross, sea eagle, and the rarer peregrine falcon as they cruise on the updraft from coastal breezes. You can explore the rainforest gullies around the beach and admire the view from Governor Game lookout.
Wattamolla: It’s the perfect spot for families hoping to do several activities. The calm waters of the lagoon make it great for little ones to go snorkelling and swimming. And the shady cabbage tree palms provide good picnic areas. Take a walk through one of the beach tracks and see if you can spot a sea eagle or oystercatcher!
Forest Path: It's an easy but long path that is great for the kids. It’ll take you across the lower slopes of Forest Island, a hill isolated by the valleys of Hacking River and Bola Creek which almost surround it.
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