Family Friendly Cities in Australia: 16 of the Best Destinations
In past posts we explored the fabulous family friendly cities found in countries around the world. From London and York in England, to Milan, Rome, and Siena in Italy, to Nice and Aix-en-Provence in France, the world is a playground with endless options for the adventure loving family! In this post we will travel to the land down under to discover some of the best family friendly cities in Australia!
Australia, the largest country in Oceania, is home to the largest barrier reef in the world-the Great Barrier Reef, unique wildlife, dazzling cities, delicious eats, and great culture to connect with. Head to Sydney to explore Darling Harbor and walk out over the Sydney Harbor Bridge, visit the Hinterland waterfalls in Sunshine Coast, see some crocodiles on a river cruise in Port Douglas, or go back in history at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. No matter what adventure you seek, you are sure to find it in Australia!
If you prefer to take a road trip instead of staying in one place, a great ocean road holiday is the perfect option for you! You will find stunning scenery, amazing resorts, and plenty of family friendly attractions!
15 Family Friendly Cities in Australia
Recommended by Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Perth is located in Western Australia and it’s one of the most isolated cities in the world. The nearest city with a population of over one million people is Adelaide, which is over 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) away. Perth is the fourth largest city in Australia. It was founded in 1829, with the British’s fear that the French would establish a colony in the region. Given its location, Greater Perth is completely surrounded by nature, making it wonderful for families to explore with excellent facilities and infrastructure.
In the city center, Kings Park and Botanic Garden is one of the best urban parks in the world. Covering an area of over 400 hectares (988 acres), Kings Park is roughly the same size as the Stanley Park in Vancouver, and it is a mixture of grassed parkland, botanical gardens, and natural bushland, with a beautiful view of the skyline of Perth’s CBD.
Moving a little further from the city, Fremantle is a port city with a local market and a lot of historic sights. It is also connected with Rottnest Island, a perfect location for families to go for a staycation. The Island has a number of vacation homes, beaches, walking trails, and landmarks – it is not only a popular destination for the tourists but also the locals for a weekend getaway.
For something more active, head to Lancelin, a small town approximately one-and-a-half hours’ drive from the city of Perth, as both adults and children will have a great time sandboarding on the largest sand dune in Western Australia.
Recommended by Jane of Staycation Australia
Palm Cove in Far North Queensland is one of the best family friendly cities in Australia. Imagine swaying palm trees, silvery white sand, award-winning restaurants and cafes, and a wide variety of accommodation options to suit all travelers. You will also find no shortage of great things to do in Palm Cove.
Families love Palm Cove beach as it is patrolled by lifeguards and is safe for swimming. One word of warning, though, is that during the months from November to May it is stinger season. Bring a picnic and let the little ones play in the playground on Williams Esplanade whilst the adults can relax and soak up some rays.
One of the popular tours for all the family is a cruise on the UNESCO listed Great Barrier Reef. You will enjoy a day of snorkeling and swimming with lunch included.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: The best time to visit Palm Cove is during the winter months when the temperatures are mild. Summer is the wet season in Far North Queensland. The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is between the months of October and December.
WHERE TO EAT: With so many restaurants and cafes to choose from in Palm Cove you can dine out at a different restaurant each night of the week. Firm favorites are Nu Nu and Vivo, both facing the ocean on Williams Esplanade.
WHERE TO STAY: There are plenty of accommodation options available in Palm Cove. The Mantra Amphora is a popular hotel for families. It faces Palm Cove Beach on Williams Esplanade and has one of the best swimming pools in Palm Cove.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Recommended by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels
The Sunshine Coast is situated on the South East Queensland coast just 100 kilometres (62 miles) or an hour’s drive north of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane. There are lots of activities on offer in this area to suit all members of the family, no matter their interests, making Sunshine Coast one of the best family friendly cities in Australia.
Families will enjoy a visit to Australia Zoo (home of The Crocodile Hunter) or Seal Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium. You can also enjoy any one of the beautiful white-sand beaches such as Kings Beach, Mooloolaba Beach, or the very popular Noosa Beach.
Head to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for amazing hikes and views, waterfalls and a refreshing swim in a rock pool. Visit quaint little hinterland towns and visit a winery or micro-brewery, or taste some freshly made cheese.
BEST TIMME TO VISIT: There are so many things to do on the Sunshine Coast, so it is easy to visit and enjoy at any time of the year. The warmer months of October through April will allow you to make the most of the numerous water activities the coast is famous for.
WHERE TO EAT: The best way to experience the local produce of the region is by visiting one of the many farmers markets. The Original Eumundi Markets is said to be the biggest and best arts and crafts market in all of Australia. Visit with a good appetite so you can sample your way around the artisan foods. The Noosa Farmers Market is the perfect way to spend your Sunday morning grazing your way through the endless stalls. If you love seafood, visit The Spit at Mooloolaba and try fresh Mooloolaba prawns straight off the trawler.
The choices of things to do on the Sunshine Coast are endless!
Recommended by Natalie from Curious Campers
If you are looking for a city that is easy to get around and has lots of free activities, look no further than Adelaide. South Australia’s capital has a friendly, relaxed vibe without the big city hustle and bustle. Ringed by parklands, the city has a nice garden feel.
Adelaide is nestled between a strip of coastline dotted with beautiful beaches and the Adelaide Hills. Because of its unique setting, it is the perfect family holiday destination with a lot to do in a small area. In the city centre you’ll find the Adelaide Museum, Botanic Gardens, and Zoo all within a few minutes of each other.
Adelaide’s coastline has over 20 beaches, the protected waters make them some of the safest, family friendly beaches in Australia. The adjacent esplanades can have everything from playgrounds and water parks to toy train rides and mini golf to keep you busy. Glenelg and Semaphore are two popular spots.
Away from the coast, the Adelaide Hills are only 20 minutes from the city. Cleland Wildlife Park, Hahndorf Farm Barn, the Big Rocking Horse, Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens and berry picking at Beerenberg are all great family activities. Woodhouse adventure playground is a fun place for the whole family too.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Adelaide winters can be cool and damp so to enjoy the outdoors the best time to visit is from October to May. The city has a vibrant food scene, no matter where you stay, you’re never far from great local bakeries and cafes.
STAY: The best family friendly accommodation is in the local caravan parks. If you want to be close to the water, try family oriented West Beach Caravan Park. If you like the idea of waking up with kangaroos and echidnas on your doorstep, Belair National Park is the spot to stay.
Recommended by Ania from The Traveling Twins
Australia is a beautiful country with many great places to visit. One of the nest family friendly cities in Australia is Canberra – the Australian capital city. The city offers a variety of things to do for families with young children and those with teenagers, including outdoor activities like biking and hiking, as well as lots of indoor options like museums and galleries.
The best family friendly spots in Canberra for young children include the National Museum, the National Gallery and the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. For teenagers, Parliament House is worth a visit.
In Canberra, we had a few favorite places. One of our favorites was the National Museum of Australia where kids can learn about Australian history and culture, including Indigenous Australians. We went there twice as there was so many things to do and learn. Plus the museum has great outdoor space outside, where kids can freely run around.
My second favorite was Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre where kids can learn about science and technology through play. And the third one was the National Film and Sound Archive, a great place to explore Australian film and sound culture.
We loved Canberra as it is full of places where kids could learn from history, nature, science to arts. We totally recommend Canberra for families with kids!
Recommended by Paula from Truly Expat
Wagga Wagga in New South Wales largest inland city with over 64,000 residences. It is one of the fastest-growing inland cities in Australia, and it is an important agricultural, military, and transport hub.
You can visit this beautiful town all year round, spend your time along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River during summer or cozying up in front of the fire at one of the gorgeous wineries in the winter. It is all there at your fingertips.
You can not visit Wagga Wagga without a trip to the Museum of the Riverina (MOR). Wagga Wagga is proud of its sporting abilities, and it is all found here at this exciting museum. Other pieces of history include: The RAAF Wagga Heritage Centre, a cruise along the Murrumbidgee River, and a walk around the Botanical Gardens.
WHERE TO EAT: Did you know that the almighty Chiko roll showed its presence for the first time here in Wagga Wagga? Sure some fantastic cafes and mouth-watering farm-to-table restaurants are all around this big country town, but the most Australian thing to do is: grab a Chiko roll from a local takeaway.
WHERE TO STAY: There are many affordable, family-friendly accommodation selections in Wagga Wagga. However, I would highly recommend Quest Wagga Wagga, as it is ideally located and has all amenities ideal for families.
Recommended by Tracy from Tracy’s Travels in Time
Port Douglas, located north of Cairns in Tropical Far Northern Queensland, is the perfect holiday destination for those seeking access to both the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
In Port Douglas, although we don’t recommend swimming in the sea due to the risk of crocodiles and stingers, Four Mile beach is definitely worth a visit and stretches from Island Point to the rocky mangrove reef of the Mowbray River. For the perfect sunset location head to Rex Smeal Park with a picnic and enjoy the friendly and relaxed atmosphere as everyone enjoys the views from the headland.
If you are interested in seeing some of the crocodiles that call Port Douglas home take a river cruise on the Lady Douglas. Cruises last 1 1/2 hours and include a trip up the Dickson Inlet with snacks and beverages to enjoy along the way.
Other things to do in Port Douglas include walking up Flagstaff Hill for beautiful views of Four Mile Beach, day trips to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree, and of course access to the Great Barrier Reef by boat (or even more fun) by helicopter.
WHERE TO EAT: There are lots of great places to eat and drink in Port Douglas. Recommendations include Seabean Tapas Bar and Restaurant, the Iron Bar and the Little Larder for breakfast.
WHERE TO STAY: Recommended accommodation is the Port Douglas Motel. Ideally located, reasonable prices, clean and well furnished rooms, friendly staff and a beautiful pool make this our go accommodation when we are in Port Douglas.
Recommended by Sharee from Inspire Family Travel
You can’t visit Tasmania without exploring its capital city – Hobart. Located on the Derwent River Hobart is a great place to learn about Australia’s convict past, explore historical areas, immerse yourself in culture, connect with nature, and taste a delicious range of food.
One of the popular places to visit in Hobart is Mount Wellington. Drive to the summit that stands at 1,270 metres (4,167 ft.) and appreciate the breathtaking views over the city and surrounding areas.
If you are travelling on a Saturday, the iconic Salamanca Markets, which are one of the largest markets in Australia, lure visitors who are searching for some tasty local produce, handmade items, or a quirky souvenir.
While wandering Salamanca Place and the Hobart Docks admire the historic buildings that have now been converted into popular cafes, restaurants, and gift stores. Continue walking onwards to Battery Point which is one of the most historic and attractive areas in Hobart with its beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings and houses.
To experience history and culture further you have the choice of visiting the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery or travel via ferry to MONA where you can witness contemporary art in a privately owned museum.
For a change in pace enjoy a picnic or stroll through the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. The gardens boast trees that date back to the nineteenth century and a range of exquisite flower and plant displays including the world’s only Sub-Antarctic Plant House.
Recommended by Bailey from Destinationless Travel
When it comes to fun family holidays in Australia, Darwin in the Northern Territory is one of the best places to go! Although small, this capital city is unique and fun. Plus, there are plenty of fun things to do in Darwin!
Some of the most exciting activities include crocodiles! Head to Crocosaurus Cove on Mitchell Street to see some huge saltwater crocs, hold baby crocodiles, and even swim with crocodiles – if you dare! However, if you want to see crocodiles in the wild, head out to the Adelaide River and go on a jumping croc cruise. This is one of the best tours in Darwin and fun for the whole family – plus, it’s educational too!
For another fun day trip, head to Litchfield National Park to swim at the base of some stunning waterfalls. Wangi Falls, Florence Falls, and Buley Rock Pools are all worthwhile. It only takes just over an hour to reach them from Darwin city.
WHERE TO EAT: While in Darwin be sure to also visit the famous Mindil Markets. This market is held every Thursday and Sunday evening from May to October. Here, you can grab some food from one of the dozens of food trucks and then sit on Mindil Beach and watch the sunset. There are also street performers here and plenty of shopping too, it’s the perfect place to grab a souvenir.
WHERE TO STAY: Be sure to stay near Mitchell and the Darwin Waterfront when you pick a hotel. This is the downtown area in Darwin and where you’ll find the most restaurants and activities for tourists. Plus, it is simply stunning as the ocean surrounds nearly the entire city!
Recommended by Sally from Our3kidsvtheworld
Ballarat is located approximately 1 hour west of Melbourne and is accessible by public transport utilizing the V/Line system. Ballarat is Victoria’s third largest city. Ballarat is famous for gold, with gold being discovered in Ballarat in 1851. This sparked the Victorian Gold Rush. You can learn all about this era by visiting Sovereign Hill.
Sovereign Hill is by far the most popular attraction in Ballarat, a living open air museum depicting the story of the area during the gold rush boomtown. Prior to 1851, Ballarat was a sleepy pastoral settlement which grew rapidly into a city built on wealth derived from gold. Driving around Ballarat you’ll see many building dating back to this era. Sovereign Hill opened in 1970 and quickly become a major tourist attraction.
You can visit the Ballarat Wildlife Park, not quite a zoo but it definitely has enough animals to keep the kids entertained for a good part of the day. The big cats are impressive and there are a good range of Australian native wildlife to visit as well.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: The best time to visit Ballarat is during the Winter Wonderland event during winter. The city comes alive with all things winter. There is a light and sound show each evening in Main Street, Sovereign Hill that is definitely worth visiting with faux snow and the kids love it. There is an open air ice skating rink in the centre of town. Make a day of it at Sovereign Hill and stay for the light and sound show. Make sure you try one of their famous toffee apples.
WHERE TO EAT: There is a new and emerging food scene happening in Ballarat and there’s no shortage of places to eat. The town centre has plenty to choose from so either google and book a table or walk in and try your luck, good recommendations include Okami Japanese, Forge Pizzeria for pizza and pasta, and if looking for something a little upmarket try Underbar.
Recommended by Alan from Frequent Traveller
The coastal city of Bundaberg is in the Wide Bay region of Queensland. With a mild climate, calm swimming beaches and a host of attractions it’s no wonder Bundaberg is a popular year-round holiday destination and one of the best family friendly cities in Australia.
One of the best family attractions of Bundaberg is the Mon Repos conservation park located approximately 15 minutes from the centre of Bundaberg at the beachside suburb of Mon Repos.
Mon Repos beach is home to the largest concentration of nesting Loggerhead turtles on the eastern Australian mainland. Located within the conservation park is the Turtle Centre which has educational and interactive displays of the local marine life including the work being undertaken to protect the endangered Loggerhead turtles. Visit during turtle season from November to March and you can join nightly turtle encounter tours to experience Loggerhead turtles in their natural environment. A truly magical family experience.
The Hinker Hall of Aviation located in the picturesque botanical gardens is a must visit for the whole family and highlights the life of Bundaberg born aviation pioneer Bert Hinkler.
Perhaps the best-known export of Bundaberg is the famous Bundaberg Rum which is manufactured locally. The adjoining visitors centre has daily tours of the production distillery and provides an informative insight into the history of Bundaberg Rum.
WHERE TO STAY: Many visitors to Bundaberg choose to stay at one of the nearby beaches such as Bargara Beach which has a wide selection of accommodation styles catering to all budgets. Our choice for accommodation at Bargara the is the Point Resort which is perfectly located within a short walk to shopping, restaurants, and safe swimming beaches.
Bundaberg should be on everyone’s list of places to visit as one of the best family friendly cities in Australia with something for everyone.
Recommended by Nadia from Perth Weekend
Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley region is one of the best family friendly cities in Australia. Founded in the late 1880’s on the back of a booming pearl shell industry, Broome is a city with a rich history and vibrant multicultural community.
Families can spend a day relaxing on Broome’s iconic beaches. Cable Beach is world-renowned for its clear turquoise waters and bright white sands that span 22 Kilometres (14 miles). There are activities for the whole family on Cable Beach including water sports, camel rides and good old fashioned beach relaxation. Viewing a spectacular Sunset over the Indian Ocean is also an absolute must for visitors!
Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park, located just outside of Broome, is a great stop for visitors to the area. There is something here for the whole family. The park is home to some of the largest crocodiles on display in Australia and visitors can watch these enormous predators in action during daily feeding tours. The kids can get a photo taken inside the giant crocodile jaws and hold baby crocs.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: The best time to visit Broome is the dry season which is around May to October. The rest of the year is Broome’s wet season, and rainy, hot and humid and also brings the possibility of cyclones.
WHERE TO EAT: A visit to Broome would not be complete without a stop at Matso’s Brewery – Australia’s most remote brewery. Adults can sample their refreshing beers by grabbing a tasting paddle. The menu containing burgers, fish and chips, steak and nuggets for the kids will refuel visitors after a big day of exploring.
WHERE TO STAY: Broome has accommodations to suit all travel styles. Cable Beach Club Resort and Spa is a great family-friendly luxury option. RAC Cable Beach Holiday Park is a great option for travelers wishing to camp or stay in self-contained cabins.
Recommended by Paula from Sydney Expert
The harbor city needs no introduction. Its two main icons are familiar to almost everyone and you should spend some time exploring them, but there is significantly more to discover. And best of all, many of the popular things to see and do in Sydney for families are absolutely free.
The first thing every visitor to Sydney should do is take a ferry ride to Manly. The trip takes 30 minutes and is a great way to appreciate both the size and the beauty of Sydney Harbour. Once you arrive in Manly, you will find an enormous variety of places to eat and both harbour and ocean beaches to splash in. Shelly Beach is perfect for kids.
The next hotspot for family travellers is Darling Harbour. This huge entertainment zone features several kid-friendly attractions including the Maritime Museum, Sydney Aquarium, the Chinese Garden and best of all an epic, free playground and water play area that kids of all ages can enjoy. This is the best place in the city for family dining too!
Leave some time to walk the kids across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It costs nothing, and the view is amazing. You could also consider the Sydney Harbor Pylon Museum, which tells the story of the bridge and offers 360-degree views of the city.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: The best time to visit Sydney is in Spring however any time of year works as the weather is never too bad. Try to avoid travel during the Sydney school holiday periods and you will save on accommodation costs and find fewer crowds at the family attractions. However, with some planning, you can still enjoy the city at busier times.
WHERE TO STAY: If you are travelling with 2 or more children, the Hyde Park Inn on Elizabeth Street and large family rooms at good prices. There is transport at the door when little legs tire and Hyde Park is right across the street.
Recommended by Bec from Explore Victoria
Melbourne…the world’s most livable city and one of the best family friendly cities in Australia.
For anyone wanting to Explore Victoria, Melbourne will be the best place to start. Planning a trip to Melbourne for families is easy with the city being amazingly kid-friendly as well as easy to get around. While there is free Melbourne CBD public transport on the trams you will need a MYKI card to get out a little further to some of the amazing Melbourne attractions.
Kids can experience seeing the unique Australian animals with a visit to the Melbourne Zoo or have an action-packed day out at Luna Park at St Kilda where even the adults will find the inner child having a blast. If your family loves art and culture then a trip to the national gallery of Victoria or the Melbourne Museum is the perfect way to spend some time.
You can all sit in Federation Square (or Fed Square to the locals) and enjoy a rest as you do some people watching or after you have visited the awesome ACMI. A wander around Southbank along the Yarra River is fantastic for excellent food and from there you can visit the Eureka Sky Deck for magnificent views over Melbourne.
In Melbourne, being the sports capital of the world, families who love sports will also be able to indulge in that activity in Melbourne. From AFL (Australian Rules Football), cricket and all the way to F1 racing there is a time that Melbourne hosts a world-class sporting event.
Day trips from Melbourne are also a must when visiting Victoria. You can see Little Penguins on Phillip Island, ancient rock formations on the Great Ocean Road, step back in time at Sovereign Hill, or get back to nature with some camping at Wilson’s Prom.
WHERE TO EAT: For families wanting fresh food and some souvenirs to take home look no further than the Queen Victoria Market. You can get some fine fresh food here and then plan a spectacular picnic in one of the superb green spaces that Melbourne has or you can grab something there and eat it before you go!
WHERE TO STAY: Accommodation in Melbourne is easy to find on any budget. From affordable hostels like the YHA, all the way to luxury stays at the Crown you will find a perfect place to stay that suit your budget to get the very best out of your trip to Melbourne.
Recommended by Suvarna from Suvarna Arora
Fremantle is a lovely port city in Western Australia known for its maritime history. What’s so great about this city is its chill vibes and lined-up cafes on the side of the road. Fremantle is one of the extremely family friendly cities in Australia as there are many attractions in Fremantle that are amazing for kids to visit so that they don’t get bored. Also, all the main attractions are within walking distance of one another.
Some of the top things to do in Fremantle include visiting the Fremantle Prison, the Roundhouse, wandering through the Fremantle market where kids can shop, eat, and can have their faces painted. The Esplanade park has a playground with a lot of trees that provide shade making it a great picnic spot. It also features a 40m (131 ft.) high Ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas making it safe for kids.
There are also a few beaches in Fremantle like Bathers beach, Port beach, etc. where kids can enjoy themselves and adults can have a beer/cocktail by the beach restaurant/cafes.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: It is great to visit year-round but spring/autumn days are the best to enjoy some sunshine along with bearable temperatures as summers can be really hot.
WHERE TO EAT: When in Fremantle you can’t miss fish and chips by the harbor as it is said to be the best in the area.
WHERE TO STAY: There are a number of places to stay in Fremantle but the Esplanade hotel is situated at the best location, just adjacent to the Esplanade Park.
Recommended by Bernadette of Book Retreats
Brisbane is the third-largest city in Australia, behind Sydney and Melbourne. It is the capital of the state of Queensland in the northeastern part of the continent. It also boasts of sunshine more than 250 days a year, which makes it an ideal place to enjoy outdoorsy adventures!
Mt. Coot-tha looms over the city and along its sides, bikers can be seen racing down trails while people of all ages take on bushwalking trails. The Brisbane Botanical Gardens, full of sub-tropical plants, is also called the mountain home. Kids will enjoy the garden because of its Hide ‘n’ Seek Trail that leads kids on an adventure to learn more about the secrets of the forest. To take in a panoramic view of the city head to the observation deck to get a great picture of Brisbane and the surrounding areas.
For animals lovers, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has hundreds of koalas, kangaroos, and other animals endemic to Australia. Visitors can get up close and personal with the animals too. And water-lovers have too many places to choose from – from the Brisbane River and South Bank Parklands to the beaches of the Moreton Bay.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Year-round sunshine
WHERE TO EAT: Because of the year-round sunny weather, the city has a great café culture. Outdoor dining and rooftop bars are a dime a dozen too. Their seafood is some of the freshest and the local catch is the Moreton Bay Bug, a kind of slipper lobster, which is a must-eat. The lamington, a popular confection made of a square of cake ensconced in chocolate and coconut is said to have been invented in the city. And the city also claims avo toast or avocado toast to be theirs too though Sydney may argue otherwise!
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