New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published May 18th 2017
Update April 17th 2018
Jamies Italian - the suggestion for dinner - has now closed. There are still a wide range of family options in the city centre.
Bring your energy for this HUGE day out
We all remember what it's like to be a kid. Sometimes Mum and Dad would take us to places that we didn't want to go to and see things we didn't really want to see. What if, for one day, kids could choose anything they would like to do - what would be their Ultimate Day Out? Here in Canberra, the options are endless. In winter in particular, there are hundreds of fun activities to do for kids inside our national museums, galleries and buildings, as well as indoor trampolining centres, play centres, inflatable parks, shopping centres, entertainment precincts and much more. Of course, there are outdoor playgrounds to visit in the city, north and south, however there are times during winter where some indoor options can come in handy. Canberra isn't all about "adult stuff" - political stoushes and prized art collections - it is a family friendly city which likes to have fun.
As a Mum with a young daughter who likes to explore these kid-friendly venues, we have put together an "Ultimate Day Out" for kids in Canberra during the cooler months. Ensure you get a good sleep the night before - this day is going to wear you all out!
Experiments and surprises at Questacon! Source: Questacon Facebook
If you are anything like our family, you are up early - long before the sun even thinks about rising in winter. For this reason, we have discovered many venues around the city which open early for coffee and a good breakfast. The Pancake Parlour in the heart of the CBD fits the bill as it opens at 7am, 7 days a week. This is a particular favourite with kids as they have booths to slide into and colouring-in to keep them busy while they wait for their pancakes. The restaurant is located below street level with no windows, so it becomes a warm and cosy "cave" on a chilly winter morning. See here for details.
9:00am - Questacon Science Museum
After your hearty breakfast, hop back in the car and cross the city to Questacon. If you arrive too early, take a walk along Queen Elizabeth Terrace on Lake Burley Griffin and take in the city sights. If Mum or Dad need a second coffee, there is also the Elixer coffee hut down by the lake, near the International Flag Display, for a coffee top up.
At 9am, the doors open to Questacon - see here for entry prices. To start your adventure, walk up the ramp to the top of the building and then spend hours exploring each room on the way back down. This is a hands-on museum, so each activity in the rooms can be played with and experimented on. Without realising it, kids are learning different aspects of physics, engineering, science and how things work. Staff are on hand to explain what to do and help them learn, in a fun and exciting way. Play air hockey with a robot, experience the feeling of a free fall, cut up paper cups into helicopters and watch them fly, be shocked by the sound of lightning strikes in a cage - and much more. For young kids, there is the hugely popular Mini-Q area for kids under 6. At the end of your visit, take a walk through the gift shop which has an excellent range and a variety of prices. As you will be here for a few hours, pick up something for lunch at the Mega Bites Cafe and have a short rest! See here for details.
1:00pm - Gold Creek Village After an exciting morning at Questacon, hop back in the car and take a drive to Gold Creek Village, 20 minutes north of the city. Here you have some options on how you can spend the afternoon, with a variety of family-friendly choices available. If your kids love dinosaurs, then explore the National Dinosaur Museum and discover something new. If you have young kids, they will enjoying running around the life-like statues at the front of the museum. Another choice is the hugely popular Cockington Green Gardens, with small villages of miniature scenes and a small steam train to ride (for an extra cost) inside. Walk around and be amused by the humour and detail in the village scenes. Another option for bird lovers is the Canberra Walk In Aviary with over 60 species of birds to meet and experience flying over your head. When you walk in, you receive a plate of apples and worms so you can feed them by hand. Lastly there is the Canberra Reptile Zoo, a small zoo where the staff walk around with lizards and snakes you can touch. If cost is no limit, then you could enjoy two or more of these attractions in the one afternoon.
6:00pm Dinner - Jamies Italian Around Canberra there are numerous family friendly restaurants and pubs to choose from for dinner, many with colouring-in or activities for the kids. In the middle of the city there are several good choices on Bunda Street, with Jamies Italian a popular venue for families every night of the week. Book a table online to ensure you get a seat. Kids are provided with colouring-in pages and crayons to keep them entertained while waiting for your meals. As most kids will starving by then, after such a big day, this is a sanity-saver! Choose between pizzas to share or something from the tasty and healthy Kids Menu, with veggies on the side. See here for booking details.
After Dessert - Bed
Finally! Hopefully you have all had fun on your "Ultimate Day Out for Kids in Canberra" and the kids thought it was "the best day ever"!