When I was young it was always exciting when we were told that we would be going into the city for the day during the school holidays. "The City" was this magical place where there were cafes inside department stores, cinemas and all of our favourite shops. These days there are department stores, cinemas and shops everywhere but my own children still get excited about a trip to "The City" - and not just because we get there by train and take advantage of the free CAT buses to get around the city.
There are always plenty of things to see and do during the school holidays and we have often downloaded the City Playground Pass. There are many special deals and you can enjoy a day in the city without spending a fortune. Here are the 5 best places we have been to so far:
Although it does cost to get in ($14 per adult, $9 per child, under 5's are free) there are often deals on in the holidays where you can get one child for free with each paying adult. This makes it more affordable. It's worth going on a Wednesday or a Friday to see the bell handling demonstration. Visitors (adults and children alike) get a chance to ring the bells themselves and see how they all work.
Once you have seen the demonstration you can go up to the next level and watch the bells through the glass as the next group of people have a turn at ringing them. Then up to the outdoor viewing platform for a great view of the Swan River.
This place is great in so many ways. It's open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and entry is free. There's something to suit kids of all ages including a giant snakes and ladders, colouring pictures, books to read, puzzles and - of course - the chance to dress up and climb into the old fire truck. There are educational exhibits and a museum room. The staff love interacting with the kids and were friendly and informative.
We went in the afternoon about 3pm (an hour before they closed) and it was a good chance for everyone to sit down and have a rest, while still engaging in interesting activities. It wasn't very busy at this time either.
The art gallery is always interesting and until December 2, 2013 you can visit the Van Gogh, Dali & Beyond exhibition for an entry fee of $19 per adult, $9 per child and under 5s free. The Gallery of Western Australia is closed on Tuesdays.
Also in the cultural centre the kids enjoy the Play Space based on nature and sound. You can show them the vegetables and herbs growing in the Urban Garden too.
Kids love making sounds and balancing in the Play Space.
4.Perth Mint I was doubtful about this choice - what could be fun about looking at a few coins after all? But it fitted in with our plans for the day and was on the Red Cat route. The cost is $15 for adults and $5 for children (4-15). Between April and November 2013 they are carrying out renovations and therefore the entry fees are reduced and the cafe is closed.
Having not been to the Perth Mint before I cannot compare our visit with the usual visit when renovations are not happening. Having said this I was pleasantly surprised by how much the kids enjoyed the visit. If you have younger children I would recommend not doing the guided tour - although interesting to me, my children were bored. The rest of the exhibits were fantastic. Favourites with my daughters were the Record Breaking Coin, finding out their weight in gold, trying to lift a gold brick, and for $2 getting their own stamped Perth Mint coin. The highlight was the gold pour. Watching the liquid gold turn into solid gold was just like watching a magic trick!
5. Queens Gardens
If you're using the Red Cat to get around the city then this is the perfect place to stop between the Fire Station and the Perth Mint. The kids can run around and play while the adults can sit down and have a rest! If you're carrying a few snacks with you this is a perfect spot to sit and have lunch in the middle of your busy city day.