New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published January 12th 2017
Ideas for play dates, family days and weekday fun
Parents of young children are always looking for fun, safe and interactive things to do on weekends and holidays. When the holiday is over however, there is often one parent at home during the week, also looking for things to do with their child on their own. During term times there are numerous (and highly recommended) community programs to go to, such as ACT Playgroups, Paint and Play, Mainly Music, Storytime and Giggle and Wiggle. The following list contains 15 ideas of other fun activities to do with your toddler or pre-schooler during the week or on the weekend, around the region. From visiting the local park or family friendly café, to buying an annual pass to the zoo and visiting whenever you like, there will hopefully be something here for all families. Which one(s) will you put on your calendar this week?
Cupcake Decorating at Tommy & Me Cafe, Macgregor. Source: Tommy & Me Facebook
FUN THINGS TO DO - INDOOR
1/ Tommy & Me Café is a popular kid-friendly café in Macgregor with lots of toys, tasty menu, crafts and a relaxed atmosphere - where no one bats an eyelid if there is a sudden screech or something loud drops on the floor. There are craft activities and cupcake decorating held throughout the week which usually costs $5, or is free with a coffee purchase - see the Tommy & Me Facebook for the what is happening this week. See here for a full article on Tommy & Me Café.
2/ Mini Q is an under 5's area of Questacon science museum and is perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers - especially in the winter months or on rainy days. Many Canberran families buy an annual pass to Questacon, so they can utilise this area whenever they wish. Children under 4 are free. It has a soft play climbing frame, pretend play areas, water play zone and other areas to explore. See here for details.
3/ Play School Live In Concert comes to Canberra every Winter, as part of its national tour, and is shown at the historic Albert Hall in Yarralumla. Every year, two of the show's presenters come to do a live performance with all the favourite Play School toys. For approximately $20 a ticket, it is a memorable event for all small children - and equally as fun for the carers! See details here of the next show.
Fun for kids - and humour for adults - at Play School Live in Concert
4/ Play Up at Old Parliament House is an area dedicated to this age group with puzzles, games, books, colouring in, cushions, bean bags, pretend play and more. Pay the small entry into the museum and you will find yourself here for hours. See here for details.
5/ Indoor Playgrounds at Shopping Centres can be a lifesaver on a rainy day, hot day - or any day! Both of the Westfield Shopping Centres in Canberra have excellent soft play toddler areas called Play World. See the websites for Woden and Belconnen for more details. Gungahlin Marketplace north of the city has a soft play obstacle course playground, and Tuggeranong Hyperdome has a Kids Corner outside Target, designed just for toddlers.
6/ The Canberra Theatre in Civic Square has touring children's shows throughout the year, with names such as Paw Patrol, Sesame Street, Giggle and Hoot, Dora, Dinosaur Train, We're Going On A Bear Hunt and more. See here to see What's On. Book in early though, as seats near the front book out fast.
7/ Indoor Play Centres are handy on those days when you want to get out of the house, but aren't sure of what to do. In Canberra there is Monkey Mania (Fyshwick), Lollypops Playland (Majura Park), Kid City (Mitchell) and Let's Play (Gungahlin). Each have an under 5's area with soft play and small equipment. Flip Out Trampoline centre offer $15 Mums and Bubs deals during term time at Hume and Mitchell, so you can both jump and play together. A new addition on the scene is Kambah Inflatable World in Tuggeranong, which has an under 5's area and is only open on weekends and school holidays.
8/ Skyzone Indoor Trampolining Centre has Little Leapers kids program for under 5's on weekdays between 10am to 1pm, during school terms only. The sessions start on the hour and cost $10 per child. There is colouring-in on the tables, toys to play with, tents to crawl through, staff to help build forts out of foam cubes and soft toys on the trampolines. See here for a full article on Skyzone Indoor Trampolining Centre, with Little Leapers.
FUN THINGS TO DO - OUTDOOR
9/ Playgrounds around Canberra are an ideal way to spend the morning as they are free, you can take your own food and there is plenty of room for the kids to run around. If you have just moved to the area, or visiting Canberra, see the following articles on the best playgrounds in the City, Tuggeranong, Woden, Weston Creek, Belconnen and Gungahlin. What is the most popular playground in Canberra? Pod Playground tops the list every time, although there are many other smaller local parks around each suburb which are also a lot of fun, especially for toddlers.
10/ Cafes with playgrounds include Rodney's Café and Tulips Café which are both located in plant nursery's in Pialligo, near Canberra Airport. Both have a colourful playground with a small slide and cubby houses. Millhouse Café in Queanbeyan is located 20 minutes from Canberra's CBD and has toddler toys and a colourful cubby house to play inside. Lastly Krack'd Peppa Café in Tuggeranong is located at the entrance of a historical pub and has swings, tall tower to climb, long slide, chalkboard and sandpit, ideally suited to pre-schoolers.
Top (left to right): Rodney's Cafe, Tulips Cafe. Bottom: Millhouse Cafe, Krack'd Peppa.
11/ The National Zoo and Aquarium is another venue for all aged children and if you live locally, it is another place where you can buy an annual pass if you think you will go back time and time again. If your child has a fascination with animals, they will enjoy the long necks of the giraffes, being able to pat a kangaroo, laughing at the antics of the monkeys and will want to get in the water with the penguins! This zoo is being upgraded all the time and is home to Jamala Wildlife Lodge, where people pay thousands per night to sleep or dine with lions outside the window. See here for details.
12/ Miniature Trains are a favourite for this age group, with a particularly popular one at Yarralumla Play Station at Weston Park. This blue train looks like Thomas the Tank Engine and kids enjoy going for the short ride around the property looking at their miniature animals and riding through tunnels. See here for details.
13/ Civic Merry-Go-Round on City Walk in the CBD, is an oldie but a goodie, with rides costing $3 on this historical antique from 1914. Kids will enjoy picking out their favourite horse to ride, however if they don't like the up and down movement, there are also two stationary elephants to enjoy. See here for details.
Stationary elephant on the Merry Go Round, City Walk
14/ Lake Burley Griffin Bike Paths are flat, smooth and a fun way for to kids to practice their new scooter, trike, bike or sit in the pram while you take a walk. Many families park their car around the National Library and ride along Queen Elizabeth Terrace - with plenty of things to see along the way. This popular stretch of pathway has birdlife, people riding by on Segways to watch, the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden to run through (including the popular Fog sculpture) and there is a little coffee and food outlet in the centre of Queen Elizabeth Terrace, to stop for a snack.
15/ Splash Parks are a fun way for kids to cool down in the summer months, with many venues around the city made specifically for toddlers and pre-schoolers. See article Kids Splash Parks and Water Play in Canberra for more details. More recently, a new splash park has been opened at Queen Elizabeth II Park in Queanbeyan, 20 minutes from Canberra's CBD.
As parents, grandparents and carers know, there is nothing more rewarding than watching their child's face light up in wonder and hearing them giggle in pure joy. Wherever puts a smile on their face soon becomes popular venues for play dates, family days and weekday fun, all year around. With so many fun things to do, where will you try out first?