It can be easy to go on the same family holidays in NSW, but this year go and explore somewhere new. Local businesses desperately need your help to stay afloat and there’s no better time to help others and explore new places.
We’re going to share some of the best family Sydney getaways so you can bookmark this post to save for future holidays.
In this post, you’ll find all Sydney getaways for families within a five hour radius. If you’ve ever heard about Sydney locals going up or down the coast on their holidays, these are some of the places they tend to go to. But we’re throwing in some hidden gems near Sydney as well.
When you hear of family holidays on the South Coast, I tend to think of places like Batemans Bay and Bermagui. Here are some of the best places to take your family on holiday from Sydney.
1. Family Weekend To Southern Highlands
Distance from Sydney: approx 90km / 1h30m drive
The Southern Highlands is a fantastic place to go on holidays with kids in Sydney. There’s actually loads to discover and to keep the kids entertained so we’re going break it down with the best to discover from Wollongong, Kangaroo Valley and down to Kiama and everywhere in between.
There’s loads of fun family activities in the Southern Highlands for families. Firstly we recommend you check out our guide to Wollongong which covers most of the areas mentioned in the Southern Highlands. Here’s some of the highlights for families.
Nan Tien Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an amazing place to walk around and they do some of the best Asian food in Sydney!
Sri Venkateswara Indian Temple at Helensburgh is an absolutely beautiful temple hidden just off the highway. Plan your visit around the same time lunch is served – I doubt you’ll find anywhere else in Sydney serving up authentic Indian food than here.
Make sure you respect both temples and cover up your shoulders and above the knees before going in. You’ll also need to take your shoes off when walking inside the temples. Keep noise to a minimum as well.
Outdoors activities in Southern Highlands
Keep the kids entertained at the Symbio Wildlife Park in Helensburgh ($99 for 2 adults and 2 kids) . The great thing about this wildlife park is they offer encounters with the animals. If you’ve ever wanted to feed a kangaroo in Sydney, or hold a koala in Sydney, you can at Symbio Wildlife Park!
Take the kids up to Sublime Point (you can drive up) to see the views over looking the Southern Highlands and take a look around The Wollongong Botanic Gardens (both free).
If you’re visiting the Southern Highlands in Summer, take the kids to Jamberoo Water Park. Although it’s a fantastic water park, it’s not cheap. At the time of writing, pricing for next season hadn’t been announced.
If your kids love a bit of an adventure, check out the Illawara Fly Tree Walk which is Australia’s top adventure treetop walk, which costs from $70 for a family of four.
And let’s not forget about the famous Kiama blowhole (free). As the largest blowhole in the world, it’s somewhere you absolutely have to visit on your trip to Wollongong and the Southern Highlands!
It’s hard to believe Jervis Bay is just a three hour drive from Sydney. The incredible blue water and white sand makes you think you’ve gone to a tropical island. It will be hard to go back home after a weekend getaway to Jervis Bay.
It goes without saying that you’ll have so many amazing beaches in Jervis Bay to choose from. Start with going on the White Sands Walk which takes about an hour or so to walk from Vincentina at Nelson Beach to Hyams Beach. If you’re starting at Vincentina, there’s a playground here too.
If the kids aren’t used to walking that far, you can start further along the path at Blenheim Beach or Greenfield Beach. The track is mostly boardwalk and its really flat. Best of all, you’ll be walking right next to the water so you can decide which beach to stop at.
End the walk by dropping by the Hyams Beach Store & Cafe for lunch. And of course, check out Hyams Beach, the whitest sand beach in the world.
If you’re visiting during between May – November, make sure you go on a whale watching cruise which costs approximately $65. Otherwise dolphin cruises run all year round and cost around $35 pp. Just wait until you you see the dramatic coastline from the boat, the cliffs are incredible!
Other child friendly activities in Jervis Bay include a visit to the Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens or if you’re kids are up for a bit of an adventure, head over to the Trees Adventure in Nowra. You’ll be able to climb trees and cliffs which costs between $25-$48 pp. Kids as young as 4 years old can take part in this adventure!
There’s a cool playground in Mollymook called Livvi’s Place which is located behind the Mollymook Surf Club. Complete with a pirate ship, slides and a trampoline, you could spend the entire day here.
And if you don’t spend your entire Sydney holidays at the beach, then make sure you check out Funland in Ulladulla.
4. Family Holidays To Batemans Bay
Distance from Sydney: 277km / 3h50m drive
Batemans Bay is another really popular family holiday on South Coast of NSW. Located nearly a four hour drive from Sydney, it’s the type of place which offers up fantastic camping options, beautiful beaches and lots of fun things to in Batemans Bay.
Although Batemans Bay was hit by the Australian bush fires in January 2020, make sure you make the effort to visit and support the local businesses as much as possible.
Let’s start of with the Mogo Zoo in Batemans Bay. It’s not your typical Australian zoo because Mogo Zoo is home to the only white lions and snow leopards in Australia. There’s plenty of ticket options for families of various sizes but the standard 2 adults and 2 kids ticket costs $95.
Make sure you go on a tour to Montague Island which is home to around 10,000 Little Penguins and fur seals too. Located near Narooma, Montague Island is one of the most popular South Coast tourist attractions! A family tour costs $410 but there’s also loads of tours to choose from.
Batemans Bay is also home to some of the best snorkelling in NSW. Head over to Guerilla Bay or McKenzies Beach to snorkel in Batemans Bay!
If you’re looking for playgrounds in Batemans Bay, go to Corrigans Beach Reserve Park.
5. Blue Mountains For Families
Distance from Sydney: 100km / 1h30m drive
Blue Mountains is a classic Sydney day trip and a weekend away from Sydney for families because it’s so close and there’s loads to do. Most of all, you’ll feel like you’re far away up in the mountains.
Scenic World is one of the most loved places to visit in Blue Mountains for families. Kids will go bananas when jumping on board of the steepest railway in the world AND the steepest cable car in the world at Scenic World.
If you’re looking for family friendly walks in Blue Mountains, you can check out the Three Sisters Walk which takes you directly to the Three Sisters. It’s only 800m and takes about 20 minutes. You can check out our entire list of the best walks in Blue Mountains and best lookouts in Blue Mountains if you need more inspiration.
Also head up to Mount Wilson during your visit to walk around the beautiful Breenhold Gardens. It’s only open during Spring and Autumn but it’s incredibly stunning and worth a visit. You’ll realise it’s no wonder many movies have been filmed at Mount Wilson because of its beauty including The Great Gatsby.
If you’re looking for things to do in the rain in Blue Mountains for kids, check out Kids Kingdom.
And of course, you can’t go to Blue Mountains without visiting Jenolan Caves, one of the best family activities in Blue Mountains.
Wombeyan Caves is a brilliant family camping holiday in Sydney. The campsite at Wombeyan Caves is fantastic and is home to loads of wildlife like the resident kangaroos. There’s a shop on site too so if you need any basics for your weekend, they should be able to help you. Just bring everything with you for your trip, including water.
You’ll be able to go on loads of guided walks which is organised at the shop and tourist information office. And you can go on a self guided walk at Wombeyan Caves like we did – the kids will love it!
We’ll be sharing loads of fun family activities north of Sydney with you. From Palm Beach and all the way up to South West Rocks, you’ll never have to think about where to go on your future family getaways from Sydney.
7. Family Getaway To Palm Beach Sydney
Distance from Sydney: 44km / 1 hour drive
Although Palm Beach is technically a Sydney suburb, there’s loads to do in this beautiful tropical paradise making it one of the easier family getaways from Sydney.
Visit the many amazing beaches in Palm Beach. The best family beaches near to Palm Beach include Paradise Beach (our favourite hidden gem) which is located on Pittwater side so the water is completely flat and down the road from the equally excellent Clareville Beach.
Take the kids up to the top of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse – it’s only a 20 minute walk and worth it for the views.
Check out Bible Garden for views overlooking Palm Beach from the opposite direction of Barrenjoey Lighthouse. You can park outside the garden although parking is limited.
Jump on the ferry to The Basin or to Patonga for the day. If you end up driving around to West Head lookout in Ku-ring-gai National Park, you could potentially do the America Bay walk with the kids too. It takes just 20 minutes.
The Hawkesbury River & Wisemans Ferry offer up loads of fun activities for kids! We recommend jumping on the Riverboat Postman Cruise where kids can help the Postman deliver the post to the residents who live around the Hawkesbury.
Further up the river and you’ll come to Wisemans Ferry. There’s some great family walks to explore along The Great North Walk where you’ll find the ruins from when the convicts built this road.
You should also visit Tobruk Sheep Station as well which is a family friendly sheep farm where you can interact with the animals.
You’ll find Australia’s largest selection of pedal boats, kayaks and stand up paddle boards at Aquafun, based at Avoca Lake. You can even try them all in the extra fun option if you can’t decide which one to choose!
The Avoca Beach Picture Theatre is not only an awesome cinema but it was voted at the BBC’s Top 20 Cinemas of the World in 2014! Make sure you make the effort to visit this family run cinema when you’re in town!
If you’re heading to Terrigal, check out the Greedy Guts Market on the second friday of every month.
The Australian Reptile Park is home to exotic reptiles from around the world where you can enjoy behind the scenes tours, live shows and themed exhibitions. This great family day out is located just 30 minutes from Avoca in Somersby and costs $105 for 2 adults and 2 kids.
One of the most popular things to do in The Entrance is the public pelican feeding. Every day you can pop down to the beach next to Memorial Park and watch the pelicans being fed at 3.30pm.
We love Long Jetty at The Entrance. It’s a really cool hidden gem with street art, beautiful homeware shops and vintage shops to check out. The cafes are also excellent, serving up healthy food.
For swimming, we love Toowoon Bay which because of it’s positioning, split into two beaches. The water is calm here so it’s perfect for kids to swim in.
The Entrance Baths and Norah Head Rock Pool are also great places to swim.
If you’re looking for a few more things to do, head over to Munmorah State Conservation Area and spend the day at Frazer Park Beach. There are loads of rock pools here but there aren’t any facilities so bring everything with you. A bit further up the coast you should check out Catherine Hill Bay which has lovely flat waters too.
11. Explore The Amazing Glenworth Valley
Distance from Sydney: 75km / 1 hour drive
If you’re looking for an adventurous weekend from Sydney which is easy to organise and there’s activities on tap that you don’t need to plan the how to get there’s, then a weekend camping at Glenworth Valley could be just the trick! It’s also a great place to bring the whole family who are looking for a decent family holiday from Sydney which isn’t too far to get to.
Glenworth Valley has a range of campsites to choose from in open fields. So, just be prepared that they aren’t like a holiday park as they are unpowered, but they do have hot showers, toilets, BBQ areas and picnic tables.
Things to do at Glenworth Valley
The great thing about Glenworth Valley is they are completely set up for family holidays. You can go abseiling, quad biking, horse riding and kayaking. You won’t find another family holiday near Sydney like this!
12. Weekend In Newcastle NSW
Distance from Sydney: 165km / 2h15m drive
Newcastle is such an underrated city near Sydney. It’s much quieter which means you won’t be fighting for space on the beach, you’ll find great restaurants, shops and of course loads of things to do with kids in Newcastle.
Family Hotels In Newcastle: Rydges Newcastle (they have babysitting services too!)
Things to do in Newcastle
If you’re looking for the best places to swim in Newcastle, head over to the famous Merewether Baths. We also recommend going for a walk down to The Breakwall and along the Anzac Walk, check out the brilliant The Regal Cinema (they offer up free food during each session and it’s only $8 to watch a movie). And obviously go and find The Fairy Garden (near Newcastle showground).
Go and check out Blackbutt Reserve which is a bit like a wildlife park in the middle of Newcastle. You can get up close to loads of Aussie animals and even participate in the feeding times for koalas and wombats!
Bring your bikes with you as The Fernleigh Track is a brilliant cycle track from Adamstown to Belmont which is really popular with families. The kids will love it!
A little bit out of town and you’ll find Caves Beach which is worth exploring. The pub at caves beach do decent food too! And if the tree walking experience sounds like fun to you, check out TreeTops at Blue Gums Regional Park. There’s over 96 challenges to choose from and it costs around $48 per adult and $28 per child (up to 9 years).
Port Stephens in NSW is a fantastic holiday destination for the whole family, and it’s just a three hour drive north of Sydney. If you had to pick just one family getaways from Sydney, then pick Port Stephens.
Firstly, Port Stephens Harbour is twice the size of Sydney Harbour and it’s home to at least 165 dolphins. And you can actually go swimming with dolphins, the only place in NSW you can tick off this bucket list item!
So, what else is there to do in Port Stephens for the family? You’ll find the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere at Stockton Beach Sand Dunes. And, there’s loads of activities to keep the whole family entertained! Expect tours around the dunes, sand boarding, quad biking, camel rides and horse rides along the beach.
Go on a family hike to the top of Mount Tomaree which has incredible views overlooking the many beaches of Port Stephens. Don’t worry though, it’s not as hard as it looks and kids should be able to make it up there in about 20 minutes or so.
Then spend the day at one of the many beaches to explore in Port Stephens, especially Fingal Bay and Zenith Beach. Best of all, Shoal Bay is a fantastic beach for families because it has flat shallow water for the kids to splash around in.
Seal Rocks & Blueys Beach are the type of Sydney family holiday when all you want to do is spend your time at the beach. Al lot the beaches in the area are amazing – honestly I doubt you’ll find better anywhere else in NSW!
When in Seal Rocks, head up to the Lighthouse to see views overlooking the beautiful Treachery Beach. I you have a 4×4, you can drive onto Treachery Beach too.
Make sure you go to The Pacific Palms Recreation Club to watch the sunset over the water. They do a cheap Chicken Parmie here too!
I’ve met so many Australians who all have memories of their family holidays from Sydney to Forster. It’s the kind of place that attracts so many Sydneysiders because it’s far enough away from Sydney and has a holiday vibe which makes it one of the best family getaways from Sydney.
Although the town has a bit of an 1980s vibe to it, the water and lagoon have a turquoise colour which you won’t find anywhere else like it in NSW.
Head over to the main beach pool for swimming, cape Hawke Lookout for a family walk, and spend the day at Big Buzz Fun Park.
If you’re looking for day trips, head up to Old Bar Beach, especially if you’re visiting during the October long weekend as the Old Bar Beach Festival will be on. It’s a kombi van festival with fairground rides and a fantastic holiday for families on the beach.
You should also check out Ellenborough Falls which is the third largest waterfall in Australia.
16. Family Holiday To Port Macquarie
Distance from Sydney: 386km / 4h10m drive
Port Macquarie is another popular family getaways from Sydney. Although it’s a four hour drive, you can always break it up by spending the night. in one of the excellent places mentioned in this post.
One of the most popular things to do in Port Macquarie with kids is the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. Arrive in time for the koala feeding at 3pm! In the theme of koalas, you’ll find the koala public sculptures dotted all around Port Macquarie.
We’re ending with South West Rocks which is the furthest family holidays from Sydney. Although it’s a five hour drive from Sydney, it’s worth the journey and its one of the best family getaways from Sydney.
Stop off at one of the places mentioned above on the way up and another on the way back home to break up the journey.
South West Rocks is a really popular family getaway from Sydney because it boasts fantastic campgrounds on the beach. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if South West Rocks has the best family camping in NSW because its’s that good.
There’s two campsites to choose from in South West Rocks. One is located right in the middle of town on the beach and opposite the cafes, restaurants and the other is just outside of town.
You’ll find loads of flat water beaches to choose from at South West Rocks, the historic Trial Bay Gaol to explore as well as plenty of short family friendly walks to discover. There are plenty of shops to walk around, decent cafes and a beautiful little cinema in South West Rocks too.