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The Ultimate Canberra Family Holiday Bucket List

A city filled to the brim with an amazing collection of things to do and endless sights to see,  Canberra promises to be a delight for the whole family. Whether you’re looking for things to do during school holidays or planning a weekend away with the family, you’re sure to find plenty of great things to do in Canberra with your little ones. 

To help you get started, we've put together the Ultimate Canberra Family Holiday Bucket List featuring top things to see and do that's fun for the whole crew. 


Breakfast & Shopping at Old Bus Depot Markets

Images via Old Bus Depot Markets | Weekend Notes

Recently celebrating its 25th year, the Old Bus Depot Markets is a must-visit Canberran icon and local favourite. Open every Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, the Markets is a lovely spot for a bit of shopping and breakfast. The shops have unique, handcrafted products that you won't be able to find anywhere else, and fresh food that will give you the energy for all the walking you'll have to do. 

The kids will be endlessly entertained by the buskers, painters, and all the other amazing talents on display at the market. Be sure to bring the little ones to Anne’s Face Painting stall!

Located at 21 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston
Open Sundays from 10am to 4pm. 
Cost: Entry is free!


National Zoo & Aquarium

Images via National Zoo & Aquarium | Her Canberra | ABC 

The National Zoo & Aquarium is a crowd-pleaser for all ages. Mini zookeepers and zoologists-to-be can see a variety of native and exotic animals such as dingos, hyenas, giraffes, lions, penguins and more!

This standout attraction in Canberra is also home to the largest inland saltwater tank in Australia. You can wander at your own pace or choose one of the many specialised tour experiences where you can feed a bear, pat a red panda, and get up close and personal with a cheetah! 

Either way, a visit to the National Zoo and Aquarium will make for a truly unique and memorable trip highlight. For a quick bite, the Rainforest Café is a top spot to rest while being entertained by a family of super cute Capuchin Monkeys nearby.

Located at Scrivener Dam, Yarralumla
Open Monday to Sunday from 9:30am-5:00pm
Cost: Child - $23.50, Student Card Holder - $37.50, Adult - $44.50 and Family Passes from $127.50.


Quizzical Alley

Images via Weekend Notes | Trends Map | Quizzical Alley 

Got a Harry Potter fan in the family?  A trip to Quizzical Alley is sure to win you some cool parent points.  Located in Fyshwick, this quirky shop is known as the premier spot for Harry Potter merchandise in the country. From chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, "Muggles Welcome" doormats, Hermione Granger's time-turner necklace and Gryffindor ties, they’ve got it all! 

Kids can even try on the Sorting Hat to find out which one of the four Hogwarts houses they are in.  

Travelling with a larger group? Consider booking yourself a Brews and Bubbles Potions Class which hosts up to 10 witches and wizards in an interactive potion class. 

Located at 5 Pirie Street, Fyshwick 
Open Wednesday through Friday, 10am till 5:30pm & Saturday & Sunday 10am till 4pm.
Closed Monday & Tuesday.


Picnic with a view at Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve

Images via All Trails 

Quality family bonding time is made at the picturesque Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve. It is one of Canberra’s best hiking and picnic spots with some of the most stunning views of the city and the Brindabella ranges. 

Whether you’re driving, cycling, or hiking, you will be rewarded with picturesque views of the city in all its glory. It’s truly an amazing spot to watch the sunset or stay back come nightfall to see the city lights come to life. Be sure to pack a picnic blanket and a basket full of goodies for a fun day out. 

Located at Mount Ainslie Drive, ACT
Open 24 hours 
Cost: Entry is free! 


DreamWorks Animation Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia

Image credit: Kung Fu Panda, 2008, by Ritchie Sacilioc © 2017 DreamWorks Animation and Dragon Flight. Photo: Mark Ashkanasy © 2019 DreamWorks Animation, courtesy of the National Museum of Australia | Canberra Times 

Prepare for awesomeness! Running from now until February 2020, the DreamWorks Animation Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia features some of your most beloved films, like Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and more. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of some of DreamWorks most popular films with scale-models, informative talks from animators, and lots of interactive exhibits. This can’t-miss Canberra exhibit is a surefire hit for kids, fans of animation and filmmaking, and nostalgic adults. 

Got a budding animator? Head to the ‘Drawing Room’ where kids can experience how to draw, animate and bring their characters to life on screen with the same tech and software that DreamWorks artists use!

Another fantastic feature of this exhibit is the quiet hours session, developed from their partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia. This ensures that all kids will be able to enjoy the exhibit. These sessions are taking place on November 12, so be sure to book your tickets before they sell out.

Located at the National Museum of Australia, Lawson Crescent, Acton 
From 12 September 2019 until 2 February 2020, Open 9am-5pm daily
Cost: Adult - $20, Concession - $16, Children 5 to 16years - $12, Children under 4 years enter free. Family passes available from $50.


Cockington Green Gardens

Images via Cockington Green Gardens | Viator

Enter a world of miniature magnificence at the Cockington Green Gardens! Wonderfully unique, this bucket list topper is home to some of the best miniature displays on earth. 

The whole family is sure to enjoy the meticulously crafted miniature buildings and landmarks from Greece, Columbia, Scotland and all over the world! It’s easy to be entranced by each piece - the attention to detail may leave you staring at one tiny house for an hour.

Aside from this incredible display, there's also a playground, picnic area, and a miniature train ride that takes you on a scenic journey around the mini world and the beautiful garden landscape. 

Located at 11 Gold Creek Road Nicholls 
Open everyday from 9.30 am – 5pm
Cost: Between $11.50 and $19.50. Free entry for children under 4 years .Family passes from $59


Australian Institute of Sport

Images via AIS 

Sport is a big part of Aussie culture, so be sure to add a visit to the Australian Institute of Sport to your holiday itinerary. Guided by an elite athlete, kids will get the behind-the-scenes scoop on where and how their sporting heroes trained or train to become one of Australia’s national champions. It is a great way to further ignite your little one’s passion for sports. 

The tour ends at Sportex, an interactive sports exhibit where they can have a go at football penalty shootouts, rock climbing, wheelchair basketball and even virtual downhill skiing. There's even a public swimming pool if you and the kids want to go for a dip after your tour. And if you're lucky, you might even get to see Australia’s best swimmers in action or gymnasts and athletes in training.

Located at Leverrier St, Bruce
Tours Desk open Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm, Weekends from 10am-4pm
Cost: Adult -$20, Child (5-17yrs) - $12, Student/Seniors - $15 & Family passes from $55


Outdoor fun at Commonwealth Park

Images via Kid Size Living Canberra | Weekend Notes 

Australia's capital city is pretty much a playground for kids to engage in art, history and nature and the Commonwealth Park stands out as one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas in Canberra. It even plays host to major Canberran events such as Floriade, Spilt MIlk Festival, Australia Day, Enlighten Festival celebrations and many more. 

Located just an 8-minute drive from Deco Hotel, on the northern side of the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore, the well-kept park boasts exceptional waterfront views with cafes and restaurants dotted along the way. It is truly an oasis in the heart of the city.

Kids are sure to enjoy the open spaces and playgrounds throughout.  Take a leisurely walk along the promenade to enjoy the scenery or take the back paths and discover a variety of wetland birdlife, spectacular sculptures, and native wildlife. 

Located at Parkes, Canberra City
Open all day everyday
Cost: Entry is free


National Dinosaur Museum 

Images via National Dinosaur Museum | Visit Canberra 

Dino enthusiasts of all ages are sure to love a visit to this unique museum located just a short 13-minute drive from Deco Hotel. The  National Dinosaur Museum is home to an awe-inspiring collection of fossils, bones, and a number of moving animatronic dinosaurs! It's a great educational opportunity that will keep you and your family entertained for hours.

Spend the day roaming through our interactive dinosaur garden and get up close and personal with the dinosaurs including Canberra’s famous big dinosaur, the larger than life Stan the T-Rex!

Just be careful in the gift shop, otherwise, you'll be surrounded by stuffed dinosaurs on the ride home.

Located at 6 Gold Creek Road, Nicholls 
Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm
Cost:  Adult - $16, Child - $10.50, Concession - $12, Family passes available from $45.


Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra

Images via Visit Canberra | Timeout | Weekend Notes

One of Canberra’s many outdoor gems, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is home to some of Canberra's most spectacular eco-systems that offers a fantastic mix of exploration and fun for the whole family! 

With snow gum woodlands and open grasslands in its valley, Tidbinbilla is home to a variety of bird, as well as platypus, echidnas, koalas, wallabies, emus, kangaroos and more.

Whether you prefer a leisurely walk or relaxing bicycle ride, there are many fun ways you can explore Tidbinbilla. You’ll find 22 marked trails at Tidbinbilla – ranging from a 15-minute walk to full day hikes. For families with young kids, we recommend the Congwarra Trail, a  3 to 4-kilometre trail and takes you to a playground. 

For a classic Aussie day out, pack a picnic and cook up a BBQ while keeping the kids entertained in the Nature Discovery Playground.

Located off Paddy's River Road, via Cotter Road (Weston Creek) or Point Hut Crossing (Gordon)
Open at 7.30 am -  6 pm during winter, and 7.30 am - 8 pm in summer
Cost: Between $8 to $13 per vehicle. For more information, click here.


Questacon - The National Science & Technology Centre

Images via Questacon | Canberra Convention Bureau

This list topper is a family favourite for its awesome line up of interactive science exhibits and colourful displays designed to excite, entertain and encourage young minds. So if you’re looking for something to keep them off their phones, a visit to Questacon will surely spark their imagination and pique their scientific curiosity.

Kids can experience an earthquake, meet a robot, or free fall down a six-metre slide. And for little tots aged 0 to 6 years, Mini Q is a safe and colourful playspace where they can play, learn, and tinker around.

Located at King Edward Terrace, Canberra 
Open Monday to Sunday from 9am - 5pm
Cost: Between $17.50 and $23.00. Free entry for children under the age of 4 years. Family rates from $70.


The National Arboretum

Images via National Arboretum / Facebook

Discover beautiful native and exotic fauna, fly kites in the expansive open fields, and soak up some sun at the National Arboretum.

Home to 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world, there is truly nothing quite like the Arboretum anywhere else in Australia. Kids will also love the Pod Playground, a one-of-a-kind outdoor play space for kids (and kids at heart). Its design encourages kids to clamber across the climbing nets, slip down the tube slides and run around the acorn-shaped cubbies, all the while making new friends.

Feeling peckish? The Sprout Cafe stocks delicious snacks, small meals and fantastic coffee. For something more substantial, head to the Conservatory Restaurant for breakfast or lunch, offering classic Australian cuisine using only the finest local produce. Bookings are essential so be sure to plan in advance. You are also welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy the many outdoor dining areas. 

Located at the National Arboretum, Molonglo Valley
Open every day from 7 am - 5.30pm
Cost: Free entry


Australian National Botanic Gardens

Images via Australian National Botanic Gardens | Parks Australia | Trover

Escape the hustle and bustle of the Canberra city centre and experience the beautiful array of native flora and fauna at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Take the whole gang for a stroll through the rainforest gully, rock gardens and stunning bushland nature trail to discover its spectacular collection of Australian native plants. The gardens draw crowds all year round with informative guided nature talks, school holiday programs, new exhibitions, and even a day spa!

For the perfect picnic spot, set up shop under the shady eucalypt trees at the grassy Eucalypt Lawn. In the summer months, the lawn plays host to the Sunset Cinema, featuring the latest movie releases, blockbuster hits and family-friendly favourites.

Located at Clunies Ross Street, Acton
Open Monday-Sunday 8:30am-5pm 
Cost: Entry for the Gardens is free, however costs  for parking and touring services may apply  


GoBoat Canberra

Images via Visit Canberra | High Country Online

For the perfect summer day out, switch up your regular picnic set up and take a packed lunch on board a GoBoat. Take the whole family out for a cruise along Lake Burley Griffin with these easy-to-use Scandinavian picnic-style boats - perfect for first time captains and experienced sailors alike.  

It is a wonderful way to experience the scenic Lake Burley Griffin and the city’s many lakeside highlights. We guarantee that it will be an experience your young skippers won’t soon forget! 

Located at Wharf 2 Trevillian Quay, Kingston
Prices to hire a GoBoat range from $99-$249
Booking times may vary. Please click here for more information.





Featured image via GoBoat Canberra