Sydney With Kids

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Are you visiting Sydney with kids? Sydney is the perfect destination for a family trip!   Read on for the best toddler and kid activities in Sydney!  We visited Sydney in April 2019, when Milana was 7.  It was a mom-daughter trip and we had a blast!  We had a total of 9 days in the city and it was perfect. If I can make one suggestions it’s to not rush. Most people visit Sydney for 3 or 4 days and that’s simply not enough to do the city justice.  We were busy from the time we woke up til bedtime on all of our days, there are so many family activities and sights in Sydney, you will need a minimum of a week to take them all in. There are so many things to do in Sydney with kids!

Our entire trip to Australia was booked using mostly points and miles, making this a very  inexpensive trip.  Travel doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how to do it right!  We flew Delta (premium cabin) from LAX nonstop into Sydney.  The flight was great and Milana slept for the majority of it.   I highly recommend the 1st class kid inflatable pillow for kids on long flights. This is the only reason Milana can sleep for 10+ hours on long hauls.  Sure, once they reach a certain age they can’t lay flat but having a foot rest makes her more comfortable and I can’t imagine traveling without it!  For adults, I highly recommend the Trtl Pillow.  As someone who has never been able to sleep on planes, this has been life changing! I now can sleep for hours and arrive refreshed and ready to go.  I packed Milana’s backpack full of fun travel activities and she was amazing on the almost 15 hour flight there! One of the best things I packed was this Tegu travel set.  It’s tiny and easy to travel with but she was entertained for a while, building so many things.  I also packed some of these tiny animal erasers which were a huge hit!

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The time change in Sydney isn’t bad at all compared to LA.  While Sydney is 17 hours ahead, it’s really only a 7 hour time difference so when it was 11pm there, it was 6am at home.  We adjusted to Sydney’s time from day one without any issues.  Usually coming home it takes longer to adjust, but there was zero jet lag on this trip and we adjusted back to our time from day one.  This is normal for Milana as this kid has never experienced jet lag but not for me so it was a nice surprise!

Some things to note if traveling to Sydney with kids:
-Sydney is a cash free place mostly. In fact, it’s rare that I even pulled out my wallet as Apple Pay (and other electronic payments!) were accepted almost everywhere.
-While I heard that car seat laws are super strict here, not a single Uber driver batted an eye when picking us up. I had our travel car seat with us but they didn’t know that and were going to transport her in their car without any sort of restraint, aside from the adult seat belt.  So not as strict as everyone makes it out to be! I saw quite a few families by our hotel get into Ubers with infants and toddlers on their laps, which is crazy!
-Sydney is very stroller friendly, and with the amount of walking you will do, I highly recommend bringing one! We went in April, which is fall, and it was so hot. I couldn’t imagine baby wearing in that weather never mind in their summer!  Buses and trains have designated spots for your stroller.

HOTELS

We split our stay between 2 Marriott properties, the Westin and the Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay. There are many accommodations in Circular Quay for families in Sydney. There are also lots of Sydney family resorts though we opted not to stay at any.  I wouldn’t recommend the Westin for families for many reasons, but the Marriott was awesome! Because of my status, we had lounge access at both hotels.  They had snacks and drinks and even meals throughout the day, so we popped in whenever Milana wanted a snack.  The Marriott has an indoor pool, which we used and is in a phenomenal location. Just a short walk to the trains and ferries, which take you all over the city.  Make sure to purchase the Opal card when you arrive at the airport so you can start using it right away, and download the app so that you can add money as you go.  We had a view of the Opera House from our room at the Marriott.

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GETTING AROUND

Getting around Sydney using public transportation is super easy and convenient.  We used trains, buses, ferries and the occasional Uber.  Get the Opal card, which gives you access to all of the public transportation, and top up as you go.  I downloaded the app and topped up when the balance was low.  Also, download the TripGo app.  This has been a lifesaver not just in Sydney, but the other places we visited. It will give you directions to anywhere and will tell you the shortest route and which train, bus, etc. to take.  Made getting around super easy!  The ferries were our favorite mode of transportation as the views from them was amazing! Pro Tip: Skip the harbour view tours, just take a cheap ferry instead! We saw the same views as the tours without being stuck on a boat for an hour or more with a small child. Win!

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THINGS TO DO

There are so many things to do with young kids and toddlers in Sydney and a ton of places to take kids in Sydney!  Milana really wanted to see the Opera House so the first thing we did after checking into the hotel is take a short walk to see it.  See the camera around her wrist? We got it just before this trip and she loved it! It’s one of the best kid cameras she’s had.  It’s small, waterproof (you can even use it underwater!) and easy for kids to use. It’s also super durable, as she has dropped it a few times and it’s as good as new! Highly recommend it for little ones.

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Since it was school holiday time, the Opera House was running their junior adventure tours, which was amazing!  I love kid oriented tours because they are fun and interactive for the kids and she is able to learn so much without the boring adult details. To this day, she remembers who designed the Opera House!  The tours are an hour long, the perfect duration for kids. If these are running when you are there, I highly recommend booking!

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One of our favorite things to do while traveling is to explore local supermarkets. Milana especially likes the candy aisle!

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A short walk from our hotel was the Museum of Sydney.  While this isn’t geared towards kids, they had the How Cities Work exhibit while we were there, which Milana loved! Kids also get a scavenger hunt at the ticket counter, which she absolutely loved completing.

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Another (free!) museum near the hotel was the Museum of Contemporary Art. I didn’t think much of it, but Milana wanted to check it out.  We ended up spending quite a bit of time here, she absolutely loved looking at all the displays!

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Since we were there during Easter, I found an egg hunt at the Royal Botanic Garden. I’m so glad I found it when I did because tickets sold out super fast for all the time slots! If you are there during Easter, I highly recommend this activity. Milana loved it! The gardens of course are a great place to explore regardless of time of year, but this just made it much more fun.

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While amusement parks don’t really interest us (we live 15 min from Disneyland!), Milana really wanted to visit Luna Park after I showed her photos.  This is a 5 minute ferry ride away and a fun way to spend a few hours.  Buy your tickets online, as the discount was pretty significant when we went!  They had an Easter egg hunt when we went, where kids had to walk to designated stops on the map to earn prizes.  It’s a cute park with minimal crowds, great way to spend a few hours!

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We also took the ferry to Taronga Zoo one day.  This zoo has amazing views of the city and lots of things to entertain little ones, including a children’s zoo and playground.

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Milana also wanted to visit the aquarium so we went to the Sea Life aquarium one day. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t our favorite aquarium and the layout is so odd, making you go up and down ramps for a good duration of your time!  It’s a fun way to spend an hour or so, but not a must if you’re low on time.

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During our time in Sydney, the Westfield mall by the Westin had a pop up museum called the Sugar Republic.  We have lots of these in the LA area but have never done them here, as most sell out quickly and are often crowded. Well we were able to walk up and purchase tickets here and there were barely any people inside! Milana loved this, I mean it’s a candy museum essentially with ice cream and candy samples so it’s safe to say most kids would love it!

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Sydney also has a Chinatown, which is one of our favorite areas to explore when we travel. The food is always good in Chinatown, no matter where you are! Paddy’s Market is there, which is a giant indoor market that is very similar to the ladies market in Hong Kong if you’ve ever been.

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Sydney also has a fish market, another favorite of ours when traveling! Tons of fresh seafood can be found here as well as lots of restaurants serving it.

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But our favorite activity in Sydney was Featherdale Park. Buy your tickets from Klook to save on admission. A 40 minute train ride, followed by a 10 minute bus ride from the city, this is the place Milana loved the most!  The bus drops you off right in front of their gates, making it easy to get to. This is an interactive zoo that specializes in Australian animals.  You can feed the very tame and friendly kangaroos here, something Milana really wanted to do. It was an amazing experience and should top your list of things to do in Sydney!

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BEACHES

While we were in Sydney technically in the fall, it was in the high 80s and 90s for a good portion of our trip! Sydney is known for its beaches, though I’ll say that beaches don’t generally draw us in as we live in SoCal and have them all right here at home.  The first beach we visited was the famous Bondi Beach, which reminded me of the beaches we have at home.  Milana loved seeing the pool at the beach and their downtown area is cute to explore. I will say this, none of the beaches we went to were safe for kids as the waves were big and rough.

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The other beach we visited was Manly.  You can take the ferry here, making it easy and convenient to reach.  It’s another cute area to explore for a few hours!

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PLAYGROUNDS

One of our favorite things to do when traveling is discovering local playgrounds.  Milana loves them and it’s a great way to meet some local kids to play with. Here are some of the best playgrounds in Sydney!

Her favorite playground was in Darling Quarter.  This was close to our hotel, so we would go almost every evening so she could play with other kids.  There is an area with water play (good thing it was hot!) and then a separate play area.  This playground has bathrooms and lots of dining options nearby, making it the perfect day out.

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Another fun and unique playground was the Ian Potter Wild Play Garden at Centennial Park.  This is a nature playground, with a bamboo forest kids can explore and other natural features. It was another hot day, so Milana got to play in the water. One thing to note: the mosquitoes here were really bad, something we haven’t experienced anywhere else in Sydney.  So bring bug repellant or risk getting lots of bites!

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Blaxland Riverside Park is a bit away from the CBD but has a massive play area with an awesome zip line. However, their decision to build this right next to a prison is mind boggling! Definitely not the best location for a kid’s playground.

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Pirrama Park has a small playground in a residential neighborhood.  This park is very close to the fish market, so doing them together would make sense.

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And last but not least, Wulaba Park. This was another one of Milana’s favorites however it wasn’t very close to our hotel so we only visited it once.  I would say this one is a must visit! It’s so unique and so fun, just look at that slide!

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FOOD

Ah, food. A huge reason why we travel! But I will say this, the food in Sydney was mostly disappointing and bland, unlike Melbourne. I’ve heard this from many people and it turned out to be true.  It seems like salt is their preferred seasoning of choice without much else for flavor. Milana agreed, the food was nothing special.  And the coffee….I struggled so hard to find a good cup of coffee that didn’t taste like hot water. After a few days of terrible coffee, I discovered the Asian tea houses and ended up drinking awesome teas for the rest of my time there.

One of our traditions is to visit Din Tai Fung if there is one.  We have one near our house and it’s Milana’s favorite restaurant. She’s been to the one in Tokyo, Bangkok, Taipei, Hong Kong and now Sydney.  This was one of our favorite meals as always, they seem to have the same taste and quality no matter where you go! My favorite part about the Sydney location was the iPad ordering system.

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Another really good place was this ramen place. It’s in a food court in Chinatown, a place you would never expect to find some great ramen! A local told us about this after hearing Milana say she wants ramen for dinner and it was the best find!  Very flavorful and fresh, I highly recommend it!

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Masala Bowl was another favorite of ours. Milana loves Indian food and loved their butter chicken. Can you see a trend here? The Asian food in Sydney was really good!

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Across from Paddy’s Market I spotted Yomie’s Rice Yogurt that had a line so I knew we had to go. Well there is a reason there is a line! This stuff is amazing, they limit it to 2 per person to keep the line moving and had I known just how good it was, I would have purchased multiple flavors! We got the strawberry one and it was so good.  A must try while here!

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One of the most recommended places to visit are The Grounds of Alexandria.  They have a resident pig, Harry Trotter, and a popular restaurant. However the food wasn’t good at all and the coffee just horrible, I ended up leaving it all behind. Go for the animals and to explore the grounds, but eat elsewhere!

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In Manly Beach, we tried Moo Burgers because I wanted to try their kangaroo burger.  We’ve had kangaroo in the US before and were always told it needs to not be overcooked, medium at most. Well here they cooked it so much that it was like a brick! You’d think they would know how to cook the meat of their land.  Needless to say, the views were nice but the food was awful.

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In Bondi we tried some fish and chips at Bondi Surf Seafood.  It had a very fishy taste, and not in a good way! Most fresh fish and chips don’t taste like this and given how quickly the food came out, it’s safe to say it isn’t very fresh here.

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If you want some good fish and chips, head to the Fish Market.  We loved the one at Doyles, the taste was completely different and super fresh. FishMarket2.jpg

Since we spent so much time at Darling Quarter at the playground, it’s only natural we tried some of the food there.  One of the places we tried was Betty’s Burgers.  They advertised thick shakes and Milana really wanted a shake, but their thick is the consistency of water! We experienced this at another place too, shakes just aren’t their thing.  My burger was so drenched in so much sauce and mayo, that the bun was falling apart. Definitely not my favorite place!

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Another place in Darling Quarter we tried was the sushi place right near the playground.  I don’t recommend it, the sushi didn’t taste fresh and wasn’t very good. There’s a McDonald’s here too, right by the playground, which we didn’t visit. But all the locals had McD meals at the playground, I think they are on to something! 

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However the gelato place by the playground is good, with lots of flavors to choose from!

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Inside the Westfield mall next to the Westin was Grill’d, a burger place. I had the veggie burger and Milana had the kids box.  It was ok, but nothing to make a special trip for.

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We stumbled upon this dessert place called D21 ice cream while walking around. They are super popular on Instagram (one of the few cash only places!), with some cute desserts. They are known for their cute ice cream sandwiches, but Milana chose the cake pop instead.

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One day while walking around, we wanted to stop for a late lunch somewhere and stumbled upon Radley’s, which was packed.  Good sign right? Well the food was so bland! My meal tasted like nothing, literally zero flavor.

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Since many places were closed on Good Friday, we didn’t have too many options for food.  After coming back from Luna Park, we decided to just eat near the ferry and found Eastbank, an Italian restaurant. It was packed because not much else was open and not bad given the tourist location. I had the pesto gnocchi and Milana had a pasta dish.  Kids get a little bag with an activity and stickers to do while waiting for their food, which was a nice touch.

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As you can see, the best food will be found in Chinatown and/or is Asian themed.  We didn’t really care for any of the Australian restaurants in Sydney (though Melbourne was quite the opposite in the food scene!).   If you’re coming to Sydney with kids, stay a week. Don’t rush, I feel like most people do a couple of days while in transit to somewhere else but don’t actually see anything aside from the main tourist attractions.  There is so much to explore here and a week will give you a good start to start seeing more than just the Opera House.

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