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Exploring Sydney with the kids and family for free - Part 2: Explore Sydney Beaches & Parks

Exploring Sydney with the kids and family for free - Part 2: Explore Sydney Beaches & Parks

You may be visiting or simply exploring the wonderful playground, Sydney which you call home. You have come to the right spot! We have curated some of the best FREE things to do and explore Sydney with your kids and family. 

Our suggestions prioritise public transport options.  On Sundays, NSW Transport’s Family Funday lets you explore Sydney with unlimited travel on trains, buses and light rail for only $2.50 per person. Kids under 4 travel free!

This is PART TWO of a 3 part blog series: our Guide to fun free activities for kids and families in Sydney. 

Next Up: 

2) Enjoy Sydney's Beaches and catch some rays!

3) Visit Sydney’s parks and relax in nature while your kids play!

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 2) Enjoy Sydney's Beaches and catch some rays!

Adventuring around Sydney is not complete without a visit to the beach! Ensure your family stays sun-smart (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, rashie!) and well hydrated.

a) Shelley Beach

A 10 minute walk away from the main Manly beach, is the sheltered cove that is Shelley Beach. With no major rip and a maximum depth of approximately twelve metres, it’s a safe spot for your kids to play in the water. Shelley Beach is like nature’s aquarium where your kids can come up close to beautiful marine life while snorkelling. There are also electric BBQs available!

Shelley Beach - Destination NSW

Photo Credit: Andrew Gregory, Destination NSW

How to get there: Catch the ferry to Manly from Circular Quay, followed by a 20-25minute walk along Marine Parade to Shelley Beach. You can also get dropped off at Marine Parade, Manly 2095.

b) Balmoral Beach

Balmoral beach is a sheltered beach in Hunters Bay, Middle Harbour on Sydney's North Shore. There are loads of fun activities to do in serene waters. Along the length of Balmoral beach is a promenade where you can hire kayaks, sailboards and stand-up paddle boards. Enclosed by a shark net, Balmoral Baths is an ideal starting point for kids and especially babies and small toddlers.

How to get there: Hop on a ferry at Circular Quay and alight at Taronga Zoo (Bradley’s Head Road Mosman) for a connecting bus (238).

c) Tamarama Beach

Hop away from the tourist hot spot that is Bondi Beach, and explore the smaller 80 metre long beach that is Tamarama. Tamarama Beach is a beautiful spot for your kids to watch surfers and get them to dip their toes in the water. There are frequent rips so please be careful and always, swim between the flags. There is also a small playground with sunshade, and Tamarama Park with open grass is close by.

How to get there: Catch the 361 bus from Bondi Junction which stops directly at the front, or get dropped off at Tamarama Marine Drive 2026.   You can also take up one of our favourite walking track recommendations, the scenic coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama.

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 3) Visit Sydney’s parks and relax in nature while your kids play!

Plan a picnic with your family and some friends at some of our awesome park suggestions below.

a) Branch out at the Royal Botanic Gardens

Nature? Check. Views? Check. Learning? Check. The pristine Royal Botanic gardens is in the heart of the city. Your kids can learn about Australia’s unique flora against a backdrop of the majestic Sydney Harbour. The Royal Botanic Gardens houses different gardens ranging from Australian natives, to succulents and even an oriental garden for some international flavour. Time your visit with a free daily guided walk for small families under 6 people (fees may apply for larger groups). You can also hop on board the Choo Choo Express (paid), a novelty ‘train’ without tracks that winds through the Gardens. Tickets are sold at the entrance closest to the Opera House.

How to get there: A train to Circular Quay, then a short walk to Mrs Macquarie’s Road next to the Opera House is the easiest option. You can also alight at Martin Place train station and walk but this is a less scenic route.

b) Uncover a hidden gem at Clark Park and Wendy Whiteley’s secret garden (really, not so secret now):

Clark Park is our favourite picnic spot that overlooks Lavender Bay on Sydney’s lower north shore. Clark Park is a wide expanse of grass that is perfect for intimate family gatherings and located right behind Luna Park. Hidden just below Clark Park is Wendy Whiteley’s secret garden. However, this garden is not pram-friendly given its windy paths. Wendy Whiteley is the muse and wife of the late, renowned Australian artist Brett Whiteley. Sadly, Brett passed away in 1992, followed by the tragic death of ther daughter Arkie in 2001. Wendy channelled her grief into transforming derelict NSW railway land into a magical, public garden that can be enjoyed by everyone.

How to get there: A 6 minute walk from Milsons Point station or a 6 minute walk from North Sydney station. You can also catch a ferry to Milsons Point ferry wharf, or get dropped off at Harbourview Crescent, Lavender Bay 2060.

c) Learn how to ride a bike, and picnic at Sydney Park

Sydney Park is 40 hectares of grassy hills and beautiful wetlands in Alexandria, south of the city. Sydney Park is a dog-friendly spot that is the perfect backdrop for picnics and playtime. There is a large, tactile playground with swings, bridges, sponge flooring and a water play zone!

Sydney Park - Destination NSW

Photo Credit: Destination NSW

A must-have for any avid bike-riding kids is the bike course next to the car park on Sydney Park Road (opposite Mitchell Road).Kids get to learn safe riding skills including road traffic signs (‘stop and go’ signals) on wider paths with challenging hills, curves and bridges.

How to get there: A 5 minute walk from St Peters train station.

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