Nelson Bay is a scenic, seaside suburb in the region of Port Stephens, located over 2.5 hours from Sydney. One of its main attractions for families is the beauty of the area, with aqua-blue water, white sandy beaches and a whole host of outdoor activities to enjoy. Although the warmer months are the best time to visit this area, you can enjoy this tourist town all year round due to its temperate climate and beautiful, blue sky days in winter.
So what is there to do in Nelson Bay that is for kids, outdoors AND free? Keep reading for 10 ideas from our family, however if you have any more suggestions, please leave a comment at the bottom of this article and share your top tips. So slop on the sunscreen, slap on a hat and explore the Nelson Bay region this weekend!
Family fun in the summer school holidays at Little Nelson Bay
2/ Playgrounds are always a fun and free way to get outside and enjoy the local area. The best ones, according to my daughter, is the Nelson Bay Playground and the Fingal Bay Playground. See here for details.
3/ Bike Riding is another fun activity to do with your kids outdoors, with many bike tracks to explore. One of our family's favourite bike rides is to park the car at Bagnalls Beach and ride along the bike path past Dutchmans Beach to Nelson Bay. We then continue down to the Nelson Bay Foreshore and ride along to Little Beach, before turning back. Along the way, there are four playgrounds at Bagnalls Beach, Dutchmans Beach, Nelson Bay and Little Beach.
Go for a bike ride - completely free! (photo taken at Wanda Wanda Headland, Soldiers Point)
4/ Free BBQs are located in the reserves behind the bays and beaches of Nelson Bay, for the community to use to cook up tasty BBQs. Although it does cost money to buy some snags, bread and sauce, it is a cheap activity to do with your kids after a swim at the beach. See here for some top locations.
5/ Free Events happen each weekend around Nelson Bay, with local markets held each Sunday at Neil Carroll Park. Throughout the year there are also free, family friendly events, such as school fetes, school holiday activities, Australia Day BBQs, the ANZAC Day march, the Love Sea Food Festival, Christmas Carols and New Year's Eve fireworks.
Watch live music at free events in Nelson Bay, such as the Love Sea Food Festival
6/ The Stockton Sand Dunes are located at Birubi Beach, 15 minutes from Nelson Bay. They are the biggest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, as part of the Worimi Conservation Lands. It is free to walk through the dunes, run up the sandhills and roll down the sand! If you visit in summer take plenty of water - it really does feel like you're in the Sahara Desert!
7/ Visit A Local Lookout to go whale watching between May and November, or to admire the local area. See here for details.
8/ Tomaree Head Summit Walk is a strenuous, steep walk that is suitable for older primary-school age children and older. It begins at the base of Tomaree Headland in Shoal Bay and zig-zags its way up the side of the hill to the top. Once you get to the top, you will be blown away by the 360-degree views of the region - into the bays of Port Stephens and also out to sea. If you visit between May and November, you may even spot a whale or two! See here for a full article.
9/ Fish Feeding at the d'Albora Marinas in Nelson Bay is a daily activity at the small stage near the cafes. It only takes about 15 minutes, but children of all ages enjoy watching the hundreds of fish come to the top of the water. See here for details.
10/ Discover A New Beach To Walk Along around the Nelson Bay region. Look at the map of Nelson Bay and get your kids to choose a bay that they want to explore. Collect shells, thread some daisies, dig some holes and take a picnic to have on the sand.
These are just 10 ideas of what to do around the Nelson Bay region, but there are many more things to discover along the way. Half the fun of exploring with kids is that the day seems to fly by with new games, new discoveries, new ideas, and creative conversations. One thing is for sure - you won't find a more scenic region to do it!