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Where Are The Best Places To Escape The Summer Heat in Canberra?

Home > Canberra > Family | Indoor | Parks | School Holiday Activities | Swimming Pools | Questions
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Writer's Answer:
by Sue W (subscribe)
New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published January 18th 2018
You know it's summer when the temperatures start hovering around the late 30's every day and there is at least one 40 degree day lurking somewhere on the forecast. So where do you go in Canberra to escape the summer heat? We may not have coastal breezes like many other Australian cities, however we do have some unique areas to escape those hot, scorching days. These are my personal suggestions, however if you have a favourite cool spot that isn't mentioned, please leave a comment at the top of this article and share your tip.

So hop in the car, crank up the air conditioning and spend the day somewhere cool - in both senses of the word - this weekend.

pine island, canberra, tuggeranong, murrumbidgee river, river swimming, ACT, escape the heat, cool, family, swimming, river,
Enjoy a refreshing swim at Pine Island beach, on the Murrumbidgee River


River Swimming Holes are located all along the Murrumbidgee River, with the Cotter region the most popular area with locals. Take a dip at Cotter Avenue, Cotter Bend or Casuarina Sands to cool off. Alternatively, if you live in Tuggeranong, check out Pine Island or Kambah Pools.

The Rainforest Gully Walk at the Australian National Botanical Gardens is a cool walk to do, under the canopy of rainforest trees and shady ferns. If you visit early, the gardeners often have the overhead sprinklers spraying over the forest, which you can happily cool off under as you walk through. See here for details.

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Kids enjoy exploring the paths, stairs and bridges of Rainforest Gully, Australian National Botanical Gardens


Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
is located 40 minutes south west of the city and has a number of shady bushwalks to do, if you are feeling energetic. Cascades Trail is a short walk through a rainforest and The Sanctuary winds through shady bushland and past platypus pools. Entry to the park costs $12 per car for the day. See here for details.

Parks around Lake Burley Griffin are popular places to relax with a picnic on hotter days, with large shady trees and cool breezes off the water (hopefully!). Two popular parks are Commonwealth Park and Weston Park, however you could easily find a shady spot anywhere around the scenic lake and lie down in the shade.

The Himalayan Cedar Forest BBQ Area can be found at the National Arboretum and it is a cool place to sit and enjoy lunch, under the shade of centuries-old trees. When you've finished, why not take a quick drive to the National Arboretum Visitors Centre and enjoy a cold drink with a view (in air conditioning!) at Sprout Café. See here for details.

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A shady and secluded spot - Himalayan Cedar Forest BBQ Area


The National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden is a shady and serene place to lay down a picnic blanket, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Make sure you are there between 12:30pm - 2pm to walk through the water mist of Fog sculpture, by Fujiko Nakaya. Kids in particular enjoying running through the mist - which is similar to running through the sprinkler at home, except with a finer mist!

fog scullpture, canberra, national gallery of australia, sculpture garden, cool places to go in canberra, escape the heat, summer, kids, families, picnics,
Cool down with Fog sculpture, by Fujiko Nakaya


Indoor Swimming Pools
are the ideal places to cool off - out of the burning heat and the suns harsh UV rays. During the school holidays many of them have inflatable obstacle courses to run through, or splash parks for toddlers. See here for a list of Canberra's pools.

Ice Skating
is a great way to stay cool in summer, with Canberra's only ice rink located in Phillip in Woden. When you have finished they also have swimming pools outside, so you have the best of both worlds! See here for details.

Queen Elizabeth Park II in Queanbeyan is a popular choice for families, with water jets to run under near the playground along the Queanbeyan River. See here for details. Also see here for more water Splash Parks for kids in the region.

queen elizabeth park II, queanbeyan, splash park, ACT, kids, families, water, shad,e playground, queanbeyan river,
Water jet fun at Queen Elizabeth Park II in Queanbeyan, 20 minutes from Canberra


The Cinema is also another popular way to spend a hot day in Canberra. Why not spend all day in air conditioning and watch a back-to-back movie marathon? Movie cinemas in Canberra are Dendy (CBD), Palace Electric (NewActon Precinct), Hoyts (Belconnen and Woden), Event Cinemas (Manuka) and Limelight Cinemas (Tuggeranong).

The Local Library
is another place to escape to, with the latest magazines to read and books and DVD's to borrow - all for free! See here for details.

Ice-creameries are a cool place to hang out on hot days - see here for some favourites.

Large shopping centres are packed on hot days, as everyone escapes the heat and hits the sales! The largest shopping centres are at the Canberra Centre, Canberra Outlet Centre, Belconnen Westfield, Woden Westfield, Tuggeranong Hyperdome and Gungahlin Marketplace.

Museums and Galleries are another obvious choice if you want to enjoy crisp and cool air conditioning around the Capital City. You could easily stay there all day out of the heat, looking at the exhibits and having lunch in their cafes.

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Walk up the air-conditioned factory viewing platform at the Royal Australian Mint


Indoor Play Centres for kids are a great way for them to have a play, without getting too hot. Check out Monkey Mania (Fyshwick), Lollypops (Majura Park), KidCity (Mitchell), Funland Canberra (Mitchell), Let's Play (Gungahlin) and Flip Out (Mitchell and Hume). Also check out iPlay arcades and Skate Nation for more indoor fun!

Ten Pin Bowling Centres often get booked up on hot days, as it is fun for all ages. Take your time playing your games and see who will walk out the ultimate champion! See the AMF Bowling website for Belconnen and Tuggeranong.

Indoor Mini Golf can be enjoyed by all ages, with indoor courses at Jungle Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf in Griffith and Mini Golf King, at the Canberra Outlet Centre.

Pubs with pool tables are always a popular places to spend a hot day, with cold beer on tap, delicious food for lunch and games of pool with friends. Two popular choices are the Kingston Hotel and the Civic Pub, so get your friends together for pool competition at the pub!

When the mercury hits 40 degrees - where will you be cooling off in Canberra this weekend?


kingston hotel, canberra, shady, beer gardens, pool tables, excape the heat,
Have a game of pool or a cool drink in the shady beer garden at the Kingston Hotel


* For owners of dogs, keep them cool with a swim in the Murrumbidgee River - see locations here.

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