More Day Trips in Sydney for People with Prams Last year I visited Sydney with my three young daughters, and with no desire to stray too far from the heart of the city, I needed to find destinations that I could access easily with a pram.
Returning this year, we did most of these activities again (except the monorail, they tore that down). However, with two prams this year (our middle child was unwell) we needed to find even more pram-friendly destinations in this beautiful city.
When I asked my daughters what they wanted to do, they replied 'craft'. Right. There's only so much glue and glitter you can tolerate in a hotel room but when my husband was searching online and found the Dandylions program, I knew it was exactly what they wanted.
Dandylions is a kids program run by the Botanic Gardens Trust during school term time, so it is focused on kids under five years. Locals can book into an entire term of classes, but they keep a limited number of casual spots for blow-ins like us. You need to book (we called the day before) and they don't run during school holidays, but it was a great morning of craft, games, singing and activities that made the kids feel quite at home.
Some of the morning is structured and some is free play. There is plenty to keep younger kids amused, including the very little ones who have a massive blanket under the shade of a tree and boxes of age-appropriate toys.
All activities are plant and garden related, and the morning we visited we were able to make a collage of the life cycle of the butterfly using dried pasta and leaves. There was play dough to make creatures with, and we made beautiful butterflies on sticks using dyes and coffee filters.
Depending on where you are staying in Sydney, accessing the Botanic Gardens is either a walk, bus ride or train trip away.
Check out the Dandylions webpage for details on how to get there. Classes run between 10.30am and midday on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the theme changes each week.
Call in advance to book a space and make sure you leave plenty of time to get there, because unless you have a hire car, it will involve walking from Circular Quay across the Gardens to the eastern side of the Park. My best hint is to follow the picturesque path that runs inside the harbour boundary of the Gardens. The specific area where Dandylions is located isn't terribly well sign-posted, but you need to follow the sign to Mrs Macquaries Chair.
Other tips are to bring hats, sunscreen and plenty of water and snacks. There are no places to buy food in the gardens, and a grumpy toddler having a melt-down in the middle of Sydney's biggest gardens makes a long walk even longer.
Cost: $15 per family (up to two children), $20 for three kids
Catch the Ferry to Taronga Zoo
Taronga has to be one of Australia's most beautiful zoos, with incredible views across the harbour to the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Even if you don't have kids, it is a brilliant day out, and the fact that you can travel there by ferry makes it even more special.
The ferry to Taronga Zoo leaves from Wharf Two (the one closest to the Opera House) every half hour or so, and the trip takes only about fifteen minutes. There is room to sit with prams inside and at the back of the ferry, but if you would prefer, you can actually hire prams when you arrive at Taronga. They're pricey ($15 a day) but they are top-of-the-line three wheeled strollers with plenty of storage, and let's be frank, the rest of the day is going to cost you a pretty penny already.
The easiest and most economical way to buy tickets is to get a combined ferry/zoo ticket in advance. There are various discounts available and you should check here to see what you are eligible for.
In a nutshell, entry to the zoo for an adult is $44 and children aged between four and 15 is $22. A combination ticket includes the ferry and zoo entry, and also a ride on the Sky Safari cable-car (adults $56). Make sure you know what you are buying because if you just buy the Zoo Pass from Sydney Ferries at Circular Quay this is only the ferry and zoo admission and not the cable car.
Remember, if you are a Zoo Friends member from another state (such as from Perth Zoo, Adelaide Zoo or Melbourne Zoo) you automatically get free entry to Taronga. You still need to pay for your ferry ride though ($11.60 return for adults).
Here are my tips for a great day at Taronga:
- If you have a combination ticket, take your Sky Safari ride from the ferry wharf to the top of the zoo and walk your way down. Taronga has been built on the side of a steep hill, and while the ramps are wide, smooth and very accessible for prams, walking down them is much more fun than walking back up them. Each cable car can have one pram, but if you have a very large or double pram, expect to be asked to fold it down.
The Sky Safari takes you from the wharf to the top of the zoo
- You cannot buy tickets to the Sky Safari from the cable car itself. Basically if you haven't bought a combination ticket beforehand from Sydney Ferries, you only have two options to get into the zoo. Firstly, if the zoo's lower entry is open (Monday to Friday 11am to 4pm, weekends 9.30am to 4pm) you can take the three or four minute walk to the lower entrance and then walk your way up and around the zoo from there. Only do this if you have strong legs.
Alternatively, you can catch a bus (which should be there when the ferry comes in) up to the main entrance. This is an extra cost on top of the ferry/zoo ticket and while the drive is only a few minutes, legally the bus drivers are not meant to take more than two prams at a time (open, with kids in them), so if there are a bunch of families with strollers, you might have to wait, or fold your stroller down.
There are plenty of wide ramps for prams and wheelchairs
- For some reason, there is no ramp from the Sky Safari directly to the wharf, and the lift is often out of action. You need to walk to the lower entrance and then take the ramp from there, or bump your pram down the steps.
- If it's the first time you have caught a Sydney ferry – yes, the wharf is made from concrete, but yes it IS moving.
- There is a large food hall in the middle of the zoo, near the elephant enclosure to stop for lunch. It's pretty expensive but the food is good. Try the chorizo rolls with caramelised onions. Alternatively, pack a picnic and sit on one of the many shaded grassed areas.
- Make sure you bring your camera with plenty of spare batteries. There are framed vistas everywhere, and the giraffes must have one of the most picturesque homes in the world.
- I already mentioned it, but I will repeat myself: the zoo is very steep. Don't go shopping beforehand and think you'll just drag your shopping around all day. Wear comfy shoes and bring a hat.
When: Open daily during summer from 9.30am to 5pm (closes at 4.30pm in winter)
Cost: adults $44, kids $22 (discounts for families)
Sydney Sea Life Aquarium
Situated in the heart of Darling Harbour, Sydney Sea Life Aquarium is a beautiful, pram-friendly (albeit pricey) experience. Since it is located indoors it is great for all kinds of weather, and you can buy combination tickets with a number of Sydney's other big attractions which are much more cost-effective.
Upon entering the aquarium you are asked to pose in a number of ways, and while it may initially catch you off guard, at the end of your journey through the aquarium a souvenir book will be available for purchase, with three different photos of your group (all digitally changed to make it look as though you are watching penguins or standing near a shark). You might want to think about adding it to the price of your day.
So, ticket prices. If you are just visiting the aquarium alone and simply walk up to the door, it costs $38 for adults and $24 for kids aged 3 and older. If you are remotely organised you can save up to 30% if you buy tickets online in advance.
Alternatively, you can also swing by the Sydney Visitor centre on the way to the Aquarium and ask for some copies of the Official Sydney Guide which has discount coupons in the back for Sea Life as well as other great pram-friendly attractions such as the Powerhouse Museum and Taronga Zoo.
Sea Life is very pram-friendly, but be warned that there are ramps. Lots of ramps. It begins to feel like Hogwarts after a while going up and down, but don't be tempted to leave the pram at home or at the hotel: carrying a tired child up and down those ramps would test even the fittest parent.
You are led on a journey, and you have to follow the path from one end to the other. There are a few discrete doors if you need to leave an area for some reason, but otherwise to walk from one end to the other can take between one to two hours depending on whether yours kids are the type to run ahead and not look at anything, or if they spend hours in front of each tank. You can spend all day if you like.
There are so many amazing things to look at, and while each area is themed according to the various marine areas in Australia from the Great Barrier Reef to the mangroves, even for the smallest child, the colourful sea creatures are fun to look at. For older kids and interested adults, there are interactive displays everywhere for you to learn more about our aquatic world.
There are two underwater tunnels where you are able to walk amongst a range of sea creatures including massive sting rays, colourful Dora's and Nemo's and an entire space dedicated to sharks. My favourite would have to be the lettuce-eating dugong (there are only five on display in the whole world). It's astonishing how chubby it is considering its diet of lettuce, and be prepared for some thorny questions about boy and girl fish parts as the various animals swim overhead leaving little to the imagination.
There is a small kiosk part way through the journey, but you can always bring snacks. At the end (after you walk through the shop) there is a larger café area with food and ice creams available for purchase. A family bathroom is located part way through the journey as well as at the end.
Cost: walk up rate is adults $38, kids $24 but you can get much cheaper tickets if you buy online
Walk to the Rocks Markets
It might be a push to say the Rocks Markets is for the kids, but they certainly sell a number of cool things kids would love. It is a quintessential Sydney experience, easy to access on weekends and very pram-friendly (mostly).
The Markets at the Rocks has been in operation for more than twenty years, and you will find a range of local, hand made and exotic gifts, jewellery, clothing and toys. Set in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge itself, the stalls run down a number of the cobblestone streets including a large undercover section on George Street.
The main section on George Street is probably the least pram-friendly, simply because it can be difficult to push a pram through the throngs of shoppers. If you have a wing-man, one person can push the pram on the outside of the stalls, while the person with the credit cards flies solo through the middle.