Can you believe it - the school holidays are back! But luckily for us, there are plenty of fun things to do around the Newcastle region for the whole family!
My family moved to Port Stephens (an hour north of Newcastle) a couple of years ago and we have been exploring the many attractions around the Hunter region ever since. When you first start visiting Newcastle, you soon realise there are hidden gems dotted around the place - you just need to know where to find them. After asking many locals where the best places are to go, we have discovered some top places that we like to return to, each school holidays. These are our family's top 10 picks - where have you discovered? If you have a favourite place or activity that isn't mentioned here, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this article to add it to the list. Let's have some fun these school holidays!
1/ Blackbutt Nature Reserve is quite a surprise, located in the busy suburb of Kotara (not far from the Kotara Westfield shopping centre). This nature reserve doesn't have an entry fee, however, you pay $12 for parking and the money goes straight to the upkeep of the park. As well as a grassy BBQ area and peacocks roaming the playgrounds, there is also a walkway around the reserve with animals to view, such as wombats, reptiles, birds and emus. During the school holidays, they also have shows and interactive sessions. The kids love it! See here for a full article and details.
Don't forget to drive around to Ritchley Reserve and check out the Mega Playground, which is located in the same area. Keep your parking ticket as you can also use it there too.
2/ Hunter Valley Zoo is another top place to visit, if your kids love getting up close and personal with the animals. This zoo may not look large from the front, however, it is surprisingly spacious, with native animals as well as lions, giraffes, meerkats and more! Take your own food, as food options are limited (at the time of writing). See here for a full article and details.
3/ Stockton Active Hub & Playground is absolutely huge and a popular place for families to spend the holidays! Take your kids scooters so they can play on the skate ramp and take your own lunch, so you can have a picnic on the grass. There is also a small food outlet for coffees, drinks and food. If you are visiting from Newcastle CBD, then catch the Stockton Ferry from Queen's Wharf to Stockton and the playground is just a short walk away. See here for details.
4/ Merewether Beach is a scenic spot to explore, with a stunning beach to walk along, an ocean bath to walk around and a handy Kiosk, for pizza by the beach!
5/ Newcastle Beach is the final stop on the Newcastle Light Rail network, and it is a scenic spot to go exploring. Hop off the tram and walk towards the beach, past the kiosk (grab a coffee and a milkshake on the way past!), then turn left and explore the Newcastle Ocean Baths and Canoe pool, before walking around to Nobby's Beach.
6/ Stockton Sand Dunes are located between Stockon Beach in Newcastle and Birubi Beach in Port Stephens. Take a day trip up to Birubi Beach, 1 hour north, and enjoy a wide range of activities in the dunes, such as camel rides, quad biking and sandboarding. See here for details. While you are visiting the region, also check out the Top 40 Things to do For Kids around Nelson Bay.
7/ Newcastle Museum is always a fun place to visit each school holidays, as they have a free science show (book online to secure your tickets) and a stunning interactive kids area. Our family enjoy catching the Newcastle Light Rail (once again!) to the museum, which is located at the Civic stop. See here for details.
8/ The Cinema is always a popular venue each school holidays, with large cinemas at Kotara Westfield, Charlestown and Green Hills. Stock up on the popcorn and enjoy the movie with surround sound or splurge and go Gold Class!
9/ Revolution is a huge indoor trampoline, inflatables and ninja playground, with a wide variety of options to entertain the kids. You can choose to just go on the trampolines, or buy a pass so they can try everything! Adults can also get jumping, so bring your energy. Our tip - get there at opening time before it gets too crazy in the school holidays! See here for details.
Get there early for some space on the trampolines!
10/ Timezone is another good rainy idea, as long as you don't mind spending some money! We enjoy going to Timezone at Kotara Westfield, as we can play multiple games of air hockey and then go and have some lunch nearby at The Rooftop. There is also a Timezone at Charlestown, depending on your closest venue.
Do you have a favourite school holiday activity that I haven't listed here? If so, I would love to hear about it! Please leave a comment at the bottom of this article to add your venue to the list. We are lucky that there are so many activities in the region to enjoy - let's get out and them make the most of them these school holidays!