The 7 best things to do with the family in Sydney

Sydney, December 2021: Christmas lights and Christmas decorations on display in Darling Harbour, Darling Square, the QVB, Barangaroo and Martin Place. (Photo by Chris Southwood/City of Sydney)

Sydney is a great city for the family with plenty to entertain the young and young at heart.

From our famous beaches and fun outdoor adventures to animal encounters and interactive museums, the Harbour City is packed with good old-fashioned fun.

You’ll spot the huge smiling face of Luna Park as your ship sails into Sydney Harbour. The park first opened in 1935 so there’s a fun mix of vintage, Coney Island-style attractions and modern, thrills-and-spills rides.

The entire family will also love the chance to snap a selfie with their favour celebrity or superhero at Madame Tussauds on the other side of the harbour or scream themselves hoarse on a speedy spin around the harbour with OzJet Boat. For something a bit slower, you can kayak right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge or learn to catch a wave at Bondi Beach.

1. New at Luna Park this summer

Luna Park’s Dream Circus will launch under the $15m reimagining of Sydneys Immersive Big Top, a 3000sqm multi-purpose entertainment venue, on December 22. The grand multi-generational spectacle is expected to mesmerise over 50,000 people this summer.

Dream Circus is a world-first immersive attraction which will leave guests awestruck by a narrative journey, captivated by lovable characters, and mesmerised by a one-of-a-kind sensory spectacle. The unique experience has been cultivated by Sydney-based specialist creatives and technicians including Artists in Motion, TDC and Auditoria. The Immersive Big Top comprises state-of-the-art Barco projection technology, a spatially mapped audio system, hologram technology, motion-activated LED screens and the latest in lighting technology that results in a 360-degree visual and audio immersion effect. From December 22.

1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point, (02) 9033 7694

Luna Park Dream Circus.

2. Best family beaches

The calm harbour beaches are perfect for the enture family – try Camp Cove, Parsley Bay, Redleaf, Balmoral and Chinamans Beach. In the east, Clovelly has a long, sheltered bay lined with concrete platforms for easy entry. More confident swimmers will like Coogee and the world-famous Bondi. Wherever you are, look out for lifeguards and always swim between the red and yellow flags.

3. Talk to the animals

Little animal lovers in the family will be captivated by Taronga Zoo where giraffes look out over Sydney Harbour, rare Sumatran tigers snooze in the sun and seals frolic in front of glass in the walk-through enclosure. Get up close to koalas, kangaroos, wombats and crocodiles at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and take a boat ride through the penguin enclosure at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. In Western Sydney, Sydney Zoo is home to more than 4000 animals in a unique immersive habitat.

1-5 Wheat Rd, Sydney, 1800 195 650,

4. Culture for kids

Marvel at the world’s first life-size, anatomically correct model of a Tyrannosaurus rex at the Australian Museum, then let the kids get their hands dirty in the interactive Burra play space. The family can climb aboard a replica of the 18th century HMB Endeavour or go below on the HMAS Onslow submarine at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Or learn about what life was like for convicts in the early years of the Australian colony at Hyde Park Barracks, which has a specially designed Kids’ Trail.

1 William St, Darlinghurst, (02) 9320 6000,; 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, (02) 9298 3777,; Queens Square, Macquarie St, Sydney, (02) 8239 2311,

5. Sydney Fish Market

It’s Australia’s home of seafood, the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting over three million visitors a year. The Sydney Fish Market on Blackwattle Bay is home to seafood retailers, restaurants and cafes. Peruse trays of fresh fish, prawns, oysters, sashimi, plus live lobster, king crab and abalone. Take the entire family for a fabulous fishy feast.

Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Pyrmont, (02) 9004 1100,

6. Take the plunge…

Sydney’s most exhilarating experience for the family! Get your adrenaline pumping and take the plunge in one of the most thrilling animal encounters in Australia. Shark Dive Xtreme is a rare opportunity to get closer than ever to incredible Grey Nurse Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, Wobbegong Sharks, giant Stingrays, and many more amazing sea creatures… all without a cage!

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, 1-5 Wheat Road, Sydney, (02) 9333 9200,

A grey nurse smiles for the camera at SEA LIFE. is the ultimate guide to visiting Sydney. It provides up-to-date information on attractions, places to visit, restaurants, shops, visitor information and transport. The site is published by Cruise Media Australasia, a Big Splash Media company. Editor-in-Chief and Publisher: Peter Lynch.

All map distance references are taken from the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay.
Images courtesy Destination NSW

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