Bless 'em—but spending time with kids can get expensive. If you're scratching your head for ways to keep kids (yours, or otherwise) occupied without spending a cent, you're not alone.
From mad outdoor experiences to some peace and quiet with a side of literacy, here are our top picks for free things to do with kids in Sydney.
Museum Of Contemporary Art
A breathtaking collection of Australian and international artists’ work, the MCA is a must for any art lover… and their kids. The MCA hosts ARTplay (hands-on activities inspired by current exhibitions) for babies to five-year-olds at various times every Wednesday, and, of course, it’s free to visit the gallery and explore the collection at the kids’ whim. The entire MCA is pram-accessible and there is a cafe and parents room—you can learn more about visiting the MCA with kids on their families page.
Run Amok In A Park
It’s no secret that Sydney is covered in excellent parklands that are free to visit, but some have more to boast about than others. A great free summertime activity for the kids is to splash around in a water play area, like you can find at Nurragingy Reserve in Doonside (where you'll also find the Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens with a traditional gateway, stone bridge, pavilion and waterfall gazebo), Blaxland Riverside Park in the Sydney Olympic Park (which also boasts a flying fox, mega swing and tree house), and Steel Park in Marrickville, which represents water’s natural movements in the play zone.
Art Gallery Of New South Wales
A must-do with the little ones, AGNSW is extremely kid-friendly, and totally free (to see most of the displays and exhibitions and many of their events), while for ticketed exhibitions, children under five are admitted free. Visit the welcome hub in either building to learn about current free family activities, and grab a guide to children's trails, booklets, and activity sheets. While exploring, keep an eye out for the children's labels, which encourage kids to discover art in a way that is meaningful for them, with active prompts that develop creative thinking and visual literacy. Learn more about visiting the AGNSW with kids here.
Plan A Picnic
Sometimes, all it takes to keep the kids’ craziness quelled is a change of scenery, so a picnic is a great free activity to mix things up when holiday cabin fever strikes. Check out our picks for the best spots in Sydney to enjoy a sunny picnic here.
The Australian Museum
It doesn’t get more thrilling than getting up close with dinosaurs, so a visit to The Australian Museum is an absolute must if you’re looking for free things to do with kids in Sydney. As well as the beloved regular collection, there are immersive exhibitions and interactive experiences for them to enjoy. The entire museum is pram-accessible, and there are two spots to grab a milkshake and relax, plus a baby change room. You can also see if there are free upcoming tours and workshops at The Australian Museum’s events calendar page here.
Stretch Your Legs On A Bushwalk
When there’s serious energy to burn, heading out for a bushwalk is the perfect free activity to do with kids in Sydney. Whether you’re dealing with little legs or more capable explorers, we’ve compiled the best bushwalks to do in and around Sydney with kids here—just don’t blame us if a piggyback is involved at some point…
Find Some Chill In A Library
If it’s time for some narrative magic (or maybe just some peace and quiet) get the kids to some of Sydney’s awesome libraries—most have free kids programs, or at least a huge array of reading material for them to get absorbed in. Some of our faves include Rockdale Library, which has a fairytale woods-inspired reading room and a great collection of kids materials, and, of course, the State Library where you’ll find The Children’s Library piled high with age-appropriate reading material (prams are welcome, too, and you don’t need a library card to visit).