The Best Kid-friendly Museums in Sydney

  • Family

Whether you’re sheltering from the rain, escaping the stinking heat or just want to help kids get creative and use their imaginations, a family trip to one of Sydney's kid-friendly museums will do the trick!

Little ones are never too young to be introduced to a bit of art, culture and history, and Sydney is alive with unique and exciting places to explore. Make a date to discover some of the best kid-friendly museums in Sydney.

10 Kid-friendly Museums in Sydney

1. Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the best kid-friendly museums in Sydney
The MCA's creative kids and family programs are bursting with art-filled activities.

Affectionately known as the MCA, Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art is one of our absolute favourite places to go - it is just so family-friendly! While we love their ever-changing schedule of fantastic exhibitions, they also run family tours and kid's activities to introduce mini creatives to art.

We recommend Art Safari or Art Baby for a perfect family day at the museum and the Bella Family program for families with special needs. They also have a great rooftop cafe with a view!

Location: 140 George St, The Rocks

2. Australian National Maritime Museum

Australian National Maritime Museum
Explore galleries, join tours and enjoy creative crafts and free play at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

It's Australia’s national centre for maritime collections, exhibitions, research and archaeology - but you might know it as the museum with the Endeavour replica out the front. At the Australian National Maritime Museum, your kids can get hands-on with Captain Cook's ship and relive his voyage to Australia.

The Darling Harbour museum presents a changing schedule of stimulating exhibitions including the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year photography exhibit, plus a host of family-friendly events like Seaside Stroller Tours, Mini Mariners and Kids on Deck.

Location: 2 Murray St, Sydney

3. Powerhouse Museum

The Lab Powerhouse Museum
Play, make, imagine and create at The Lab at the Powerhouse Museum.

The Powerhouse Museum is the perfect place for inquisitive kids to have a hands-on, interactive experience. The museum boasts a unique and diverse collection of objects that spans history, science, technology and design with exhibitions and programs designed to engage children and young people. Plus, it's FREE.

Train buffs will love getting up close to Locomotive No. 1 and learning about New South Wales’ first train, while The Lab is a brilliant immersive multimedia space to expand your imagination and explore and digital technologies. 

Location: 500 Harris St, Ultimo

4. Australian Museum

Nights at the Australian Museum
Nights at the Museum gives the whole family the chance to explore the exhibits, DJs and much more!

The Australian Museum, our leading natural history and culture museum, is back after a huge $57.5m renovation. The new-look museum boasts large, modern spaces improved amenities, a new Museum Shop, a second café and incredible exhibits and installations.

The museum's touring exhibition hall has almost doubled in size and Little dino lovers will have a roaring good time in the Prehistoric Playground! And if you've ever been curious about what goes on at a museum after dark, you won't want to miss Nights at the Museum.

Location: 1 William St, Darlinghurst 

5. Sydney Living Museums

Sydney Living Museums
Hear the fascinating story of the Hyde Park Barracks come to life.

Known collectively as Sydney Living Museums, families are always welcome to explore the twelve gorgeous heritage properties under the SLM umbrella including Elizabeth Farm, Vaucluse House, Rouse Hill House & Farm and Elizabeth Bay House. Each boasts beautiful grounds and a story from Australia’s past at every turn, and there are always exciting activities on the calendar.

The Justice and Police Museum is another intriguing venue to learn about Sydney's past and sometimes seedy underbelly. 

Location: Visit the website for different Houses & Museums.

6. Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory
Learn all about the impressive Sydney Observatory features and their role in history.

*Temporarily closed for heritage maintenance works. Reopening in 2022.*

Set in beautiful gardens overlooking Sydney Harbour, the ever-enchanting Sydney Observatory never gets old for either little or big kids! The museum and education centre is an astronomy hub with famous telescopic domes for exploring the sky with experienced guides. At night, you could see stars, planets in the solar system, the Moon or even nebulae that are light-years away. By day you can observe the active Sun with special lenses.

Location: 1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point

7. Museums Discovery Centre

Museums Discovery Centre
Go behind the scenes at the Museums Discovery Centre

The Museums Discovery Centre is a storage collaboration with the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums, bringing together exhibits and artifacts that explore the various collecting, conservation and research practices of our museums and reveals their hidden treasures through guided tours and events. 

The centre is home to millions of treasures, with hundreds on display for you to explore, and thousands more waiting to be discovered through booked tours of the deep collection stores. There are amazing permanent exhibitions as well as kids' programs, and it is currently open every weekend, free of charge.

Location: 172 Showground Rd, Castle Hill

8. The Rocks Discovery Museum

The Rocks Discovery Museum
A free museum full of interesting artefacts and anecdotes from The Rocks' vibrant past.

If you find yourself around Circular Quay with the family, don’t forget to check out the Rocks Discovery Museum set in a gorgeous restored sandstone warehouse. The free, family-friendly museum tells the story of the historic Sydney precinct with thousands of years of history from pre-European days to the present on display.

There are four fascinating permanent exhibitions, plus a unique collection of images and archaeological artefacts and fun, interactive audio and visual elements that bring the history of the area to life. Join a free daily guided tour of the museum and learn about the area's rich history.

Location: Kendall Lane, The Rocks

Further Afield

9. NSW Rail Museum

NSW Rail Museum
Hop aboard real-life steam trains at the NSW Rail Museum.

For all Thomas-loving and train-loving fans, a visit to the NSW Rail Museum is a must! Located in Thirlmere just over an hour south of the Sydney CBD, the NSW Rail Museum is heaven for all train enthusiasts as it houses real-life steam trains from bygone eras.

Along with housing one of the largest collections of rail heritage in NSW, the NSW Rail Museum run real-life steam train rides every weekend for the whole family to hear the toot-tooting of a vintage steam train. Plus, Thomas fans will get a kick out of their annual Day out With Thomas and the Thirlmere Festival of Steam is a family favourite every year.  

Location: 10 Barbour Rd, Thirlmere

10. Bundanon

Bundanon bridge
Bundanon's new Art Museum and Bridge.

If you're passing through the Shoalhaven region, we highly recommend stopping off at NSW's newest museum offering at Bundanon. 

Bundanon's new Art Museum and Bridge for Creative Learning opened in 2022 and offers a world-class creative learning centre with guest accommodation, dining facilities and sweeping views over the Shoalhaven River. The new 500-square-metre Bundanon Art Museum has been designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) and is a destination in itself. The exquisite bridge structure has been embedded into the landscape to make the most of its lush natural surroundings while housing Bundanon’s extensive $46.5-million collection of viewable items.

Contemporary exhibitions, unique cultural experiences, events, animal encounters, concerts, and learning programs are on offer at Bundanon, along with contemporary accommodation and on-site dining at the Ramox Cafe

Location: 170 Riversdale Rd, Illaroo

Thanks to Hasbro: This article is brought to you in partnership with Hasbro Gaming our Supporting Brand Partner for the Unplug & Play Initiative.

More Unplug and Play Ideas

How To Make Your Own Slime
Get Creative With Play-Dough
We Love These Hands-On Museums

Have you signed up to our newsletter? Join ellaslist to get the best family and kid-friendly events, venues, classes and things to do NEAR YOU!