A Family-friendly Guide to Canberra
Surrounded by rugged mountains and bushland, Canberra is a cool city-meets-country destination. For families, it’s an easy weekend getaway and the perfect mix of culture and play, with incredible galleries and museums, kid-friendly restaurants, beautiful parks and plenty of open-air activities. And since it’s so small, you can cover a lot of ground in just a couple of days. Where else can you spot a kangaroo hopping around in the bush, and then stroll the city streets minutes later?
This hotel has a bunch of cool, contemporary rooms and suites, including the Kids Cubby. Connected to the East Apartment, it’s decked out with bunk beds, kids play and dining table, Lego, bean bags and an Xbox.
If you want to be able to whip up your own meals, the Mantra is made up of self-serviced apartments. It’s family-friendly, and conveniently located in the CBD.
Travelling with older kids? Splash out on a stay at The Avenue, which has spacious rooms with all the trimmings.
A hop, skip and a jump from the Canberra Centre, the hotel is very central, and has everything you need for a comfortable stay, including an indoor pool (and a bubbly spa for the parents!).
For an incredible safari experience close to home, book the Jamala. Part of the National Zoo, you and the kids will learn all about the zoo’s animals, then retreat to your treehouse-style accommodation.
The charming café has a great kids menu which features bagels melts, French toast and fruit salad.
The birthplace of the famous ‘Freakshake,’ the kids will love you for the indulgent desserts-in-a-glass (be warned, the sugar high will be intense!).
In Kingston, this burger joint is a popular local haunt – and for good reason.
These guys have the best roast lamb sandwich in town.
A relaxed eatery located inside the Australian War Memorial. It has a solid kids menu and sweeping views of the lake.
Home of Canberra’s best ice-cream, the café serves up classic flavours as well as some interesting combinations.
It has an open kitchen, so the kids can see just how the chefs produce thousands of fresh, juicy dumplings a day before feasting on them.
This cosy café has healthy options, and something to please even the fussiest kids. While they’re waiting for their order, the kids can amuse themselves in the outdoor play area.
A bustling local haunt, the family-friendly spot whips up simply but delicious food and has a playground where parents can keep an eye on the kids.
The owners here make almost everything from scratch – try the waffles with homemade gingerbread ice-cream.
A warm and welcoming gastropub, with plenty of options for the kids to choose from.
They have an amusement arcade and offer face painting most Friday nights.
Located at Weston Park, they have a 36-hole golf course that features the city’s iconic attractions in miniature form! Plus, there is a ride-on miniature train and farm animals.
Bike around Lake Burley Griffin
If the sun is shining, hire a bike and cruise the foreshore. An easy ride and the scenery is gorgeous. Bikes not your thing? You can also pop on a helmet and ride a Segway (available for kids over 12).
Picnic on the lake
Thanks to Go Boat Canberra, you can skipper your own boat and enjoy a picturesque picnic (and maybe a cheeky glass of wine for the parents) on Lake Burley Griffin. No boat’s license required.
Stroll the Cockington Green Gardens
An activity the whole family will enjoy (we’re looking at you, Dad!), the garden is a teeny-tiny model world, with miniature buildings, people, animals, castles and sports grounds.
These wetlands are amazing for wildlife watching. As you move along the marked walking trails, you might spot a platypus, possum, wombat, echidna, emu or kangaroo. There’s also a koala sanctuary.
Enjoy a picnic lunch on the rainforest boardwalk, then make your way to the Children’s Discovery Walk, which teaches kids about the importance of plants and animal biodiversity through fun activities. The gardens host scavenger hunts from time to time, too.
If the kids are busting to spend their pocket money, let them pick something out at the Sunday markets, which feature stalls selling food, sweets, handmade jewellery and clothes.
The zoo is quite intimate, so you can conquer it in a half day. It’s home to exotic animals like lions, tigers, giraffes and penguins, and offers hands-on experiences for animal lovers.
Take the fun indoors
Kid-friendly Museums & Tours
There’s a lot geared towards children here. Kspace allows them to design houses of the future on a computer, and a treasure hunt that leads them in search of weird and wonderful artefacts.
Tucked inside the National Science and Technology Centre, this is an absolute must. It’s made up of seven, science-themed rooms, each of which has hands-on experiences, experiments, and cool displays.
At the Discovery Zone, Australia’s military history is brought to life. The kids can see submarines, tanks, planes, and check out a First World War trench.
Watch the pros turn panes of glass into works of art or sign the kids up to make their own masterpiece.
If your children are sporty types, they’ll love watching the country’s elite athletes do their thing. Along with tours, the AIS has Sportex, an interactive exhibit where you can test your skills against the world’s best.
Does your little one always claim the banker in Monopoly? Treat them to a visit to the mint, which offers fun insights into the world of money making.
The Pod Playground is the coolest playground in town, hands down, with banksia cubby houses, wooden pods shaped like acorns, musical bridges, ropes and slides. Inside the Arboretum, there’s a gorgeous collection of bonsai.
I'd love to live near