New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published June 6th 2017
Fun activities for kids in the heart of the city
Each weekend and school holidays, parents and carers around the region are looking for fun, family-friendly activities to keep the kids entertained. When locals and visitors go to the Canberra's City Centre (also called the Civic), it can be handy to have some ideas of where to take the kids if you have a spare couple of hours, a morning, or the whole day. Also, depending on the age of your kids, where can you visit in the city that the kids will love, without walking too far?
The following are 10 ideas of where to begin your day of adventure and discovery in the city centre. With so many colourful surprises around each corner, who knows what else you'll find?
Colourful public art in City Walk - The Other Side of Midnight, by Anne Ross
1/ The Merry-Go-Round in City Walk is often the first place that many families with young children visit when they head into the city. This renovated merry-go-round, built in 1914, has individually-named horses to ride on and two elephants to sit in, for kids who don't like to go up and down. This affordable attraction costs just $3 for children to ride and is often a treasured memory from a visit to the CBD. See here for details and here for a map to find it. Hours (at the time of writing) are: Monday to Thursday 11am - 3pm, Friday 11am - 8pm, Saturday 11am - 4pm and Sunday 10am - 4pm.
2/ Public Art isn't usually high up on the list of fun things for kids to enjoy, however in City Walk there is a colourful artwork called The Other Side of Midnight, by Anne Ross, that always attracts the children's eye. Inspired by the Merry-Go-Round, this artwork is climbed over and sat on by kids, as they appreciate their colour and whimsical pose. See here for a map to find it. For a full article on Public Art in Canberra, see here.
3/ The Canberra Theatre Centre on London Circuit is a busy location when there are kids shows in town. It has two large theatres and throughout the year they have shows for all aged children from toddlers to teenagers. Current and future shows can be found on their "What's On" listing - with Diary of a Wombat, Mad Hatters Tea Party, Mr Stink and The Hungry Caterpillar Show some examples. See here for details and here for map.
Kids enjoying the puppetry at Circus 1903 (Summer school holidays, 2016) Source: Canberra Theatre Facebook
4/ CMAG (Canberra Museum and Gallery) is located right next door to the Canberra Theatre Centre and has art-inspired school holiday programs for all aged children - scroll down the What's On page to find current kids activities. Younger ones will enjoy the Activity Table and Reading Nook. See here for details and here for map.
5/ Commonwealth Park is just a short walk from the CBD, accessed by a pedestrian bridge on Allara Street (see map here - the brown line is a pedestrian bridge). This bridge takes you directly into the back of Commonwealth Park, which is the location of Floriade each spring. For the rest of the year however, it is an enjoyable 34 hectare park to explore, with a popular medieval playground to climb over at the Commonwealth Park Playground. If you want to just visit the playground, there is also a pedestrian tunnel that goes under the highway from the city, accessible from the CIT Carpark. For a full article on the Top 10 Things to do in Commonwealth Park, see here.
If your kids are happy to walk or ride their bikes further, continue along the Lake Burley Griffin walking path to Kings Park and Boundless Playground, one of Canberra's biggest and most popular parks. This parkland requires a lot of walking - guaranteed to wear them out!
6/ Lake Burley Griffin Cruises is also accessible from the city, by using a pedestrian bridge over the highway from the corner of Marcus Clarke Street and Kendell Lane in the New Acton precinct. As soon as you cross the bridge the wharf is just a short walk away. Kids enjoy riding on this small historical boat, as it was painted in colourful artwork for the Contour 556 festival in 2016. Lake Burley Griffin Cruises takes just one hour - while the kids enjoy looking through the pull-down windows, the adults will enjoy the personalised commentary from Skipper Jim. For a full article on Lake Burley Griffin Cruises see here.
7/ Glebe Park is a leafy 4 hectare park located at the southern end of Bunda Street, the main street that runs through the city centre. Kids will enjoy running around this grassy park, with towering elm trees creating a shady canopy. The highlight however, is the bright red playground with swings, slide, bouncy toys and variety of ladders. If you visit in autumn, it is also the perfect place to have a leaf fight or to lie down and make a "leaf angel". See here for map.
Cross the pedestrian bridge to take a cruise with Lake Burley Griffin Cruises
8/ Dendy Cinemas is located upstairs at the Canberra Centre shopping centre, which takes over three blocks in the city centre. Here you can relax and enjoy all the latest release movies - with popcorn of course! See here for details and here for map.
10/ Canberra Olympic Pool is an ideal place to cool off in Summer, just minutes from the heart of the city. Run by the YMCA, it has a popular outdoor area and heated inside pool. See here for details and here for map.
Still looking for ideas of what to do? Check out the article 50 Things to do in Canberra for Families to see what else there is to do around the region. If you are staying in Canberra's City Centre however, these 10 ideas should ward off the "I'm bored!" comments in the next school holidays - for a short time anyway.
End your day at Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, a 10 minute walk from Bunda Street in the CBD