I'm a Canberran who loves cheese, wine, chocolate and adventures. Visit my blog at https://thehappyminimum.wordpress.com/
Published June 9th 2019
A Threenager's guide to Canberra's best things to do
It's easy to get caught up in the same habits, go to the same places and do the same things. Sometimes, a change in perspective can shine a whole new light on things so in honour of the interesting and often suprising insights which toddlers can offer, I've asked my three year old to list her Canberra Top Three for Toddlers.
The National Arboretum's pod playground gets most of the attention and rightly so. But when I quizzed Miss Three on why the Arboretum made her list, the answer was simple – because running up and rolling down the hill is so much fun! The hill rolling has the added perks of being free to access and a great way to burn of a LOT of energy (you'll realise how steep the hill actually is as you try and drag yourself back up for the tenth time!) As well as the hill, there are a host of other things to keep the kids busy. The bonsai and penjing collection is fascinating for adults and kids alike and the volunteers are often keen to provide information about the trees and the bonsai process. Just past the bonsai collection is a brilliant garden full of edibles and a separate cactus garden with a raised area perfect for a snack or picnic. And of course, the Arboretum is bursting with nice walks meandering through the forests and plantations including some that are gentle enough for little legs to explore. Last but not least, on those not so pleasant windy days, the Arboretum provides the perfect opportunity to fly a kite – when the conditions are right, there can be dozens of beautiful kites dotting the sky. If you don't own one but want to give it a try, they sell them at the Curatoreum gift shop inside.
Have a babycino at Bookplate Cafe at the National Library
Miss Three loves the outdoor seating area at Bookplate more than almost any other place in Canberra. Soaked in sun, it has comfortable chairs, lounges and a beautiful view of the lake – the ideal spot to sit and watch the world go by. As well as that, the cake cabinet is always jam-packed with delicious treats and you never feel like you need to rush to vacate your table. This is the perfect place to recharge after exploring the area around the lake and while I didn't realise how appealing it is to toddlers, Miss Three insisted it is included on her list. As an added bonus, taking a look around the National Library is a great way to extend the fun and the on-site book shop has some great titles to take home.
For some old fashioned fun, head to Petrie Plaza, Civic and jump aboard a trusty steed on the historic merry go round. It started life in Melbourne over 100 years ago and has called Canberra home since 1974. Taking a ride is such a simple pleasure but one which seems to have a timeless appeal for kids (and adults too). Tickets only cost a couple of dollars and jumping aboard is guaranteed to provide a few minutes of pure joy, lots of giggles and wonder. Unlike a lot of kids rides, adults are welcome to join the littlies on the carousel and it provides a nostalgia trip right back to your own childhood. While it may not be one of the 'big ticket' Canberra attractions, according to my little one, it's definitely good enough to earn a spot in the 'Toddler Top Three'.
Since moving to Canberra a couple of years ago, we've tried and tested many of the city's attractions. This list is, other than one (the Arboretum), completely different to what I would have chosen so hopefully it provides some new ideas for locals and visitors alike on how to keep the kids entertained in Canberra.