Canberra with kids: things to see and do in 2 days
The capital of Australia, Canberra is an easy to navigate, compact town with plenty of resources well suited for the whole family, whether you have a baby or a teenager. Most definitely it is a must visit place for Australian and international homeschoolers due to the richness of historic sites and museums. Although there is plenty to see in Canberra with kids, two or three days are enough if time is limited.
Since the whole ten years past from our last visit, it was decided spontaneously ( can you see a trend here?) to take a drive. Located short three hours away from Sydney, Canberra sounded like a perfect weekday getaway to take our homeschooler to. The timing was well calculated too, a few weeks before Christmas.
Once we left the city, the endless signs for wineries lined up inviting us for a “friendly pop in”. That is the beauty of the drive in the rural area where the fresh produce is grown right, left and center. The road from Sydney to Canberra is smooth and straight. When the iconic Lake George comes to view, the visitors are welcomed to ACT.
Our stay ten years back was in Ridges, to my memory the location and service were perfect. This time, though, we were lucky to lodge at Steven’s sister. She generously offered us a room for Nick and a couch for ourselves. It was more than we bargained for. Saving a few dollars here and there is always a win.
The main idea for us was to revisit the places we had been to ten years ago. Then Nick was a toddler, this toddler has grown up a little, also became a homeschooler ( read more here ). A perfect match.
What to do in Canberra with kids if you have only 2 days
Day 1 Morning
Located on the Lake Burley Griffin with the Parliament House view across the water, it is the FREE and great place for all ages. A modern slick design certainly makes the first impression unforgettable. This is the place where Australian history comes alive, inspiring visitors to wanting to learn more.
There is a big parking lot, not free but it’s a small fee to pay for entry into such amazing spot. We paid for 1,5hs and that was just enough for us. I’d say allow 2 or 3 hours – more children you have, longer it will take to explore. The whole family enjoyed interactive exhibitions that are specifically made to keep kids interest and attention. They are welcome to push buttons, scroll through screens, watch videos, take photos of anything with everything. Smart move, I say.
Another great place for children is Kspace, a special interactive area where children are encouraged to build a robot that takes them on the journey of the Australian history.
The best time for a visit: weekdays, school days. There is a beautiful cafe on premises with outdoor playgrounds.
The stunning drive through Anzac Parade took us to the top of the hill, which is located minutes from the CBD. The memorial offers an undercover free of charge car parking. Entry is also free but donations at the entrance are highly appreciated. The exhibitions are simply marvelous and leave visitors feeling quite emotional.
The world-class museum is split into different sections, the galleries are dedicated to periods in Australian history: the world war 1 and world war 2. Upstairs is a committed area where certain times are allocated to play war films, that’s when the lights go dim. On the same level, there is a cafe to enjoy a little rest. The place isn’t great for small children but brilliant for older through to teenagers. Our favorite area is where all war aircrafts are displayed.
Do you want to experience the real feel of what the War Memorial is about? Attend Anzac Day service.
Day 2 Morning
An excellent way to peak at what politicians might be doing on the day. The place offers public access and entrance. I found it a very welcoming sign. Typically Australian.
Wander around, take as many photos as you like – there is no restriction. To enter the inside of the House be prepared for the security screening. It is open every day except Christmas and has a huge basement parking, free of charge on weekends, public holidays and the first two hours on weekdays. Make the most of it!
There is no better way for the whole family to emerge into a spirit of the great Australian nation. No age barrier, although a guided tour might not present any interest for younger children.
Both located shoulder to shoulder about 30 mins drive from the center. A magnificent way to spend the afternoon with family. While the entry is not free, family passes are offered.
“Cockington Green Gardens” or The Miniature Village as the locals lovingly named it isn’t your typical Australian attraction. Set within beautifully landscaped gardens, the tiny handcrafted buildings from around the world are erected. Make your way through magnificently recreated displays originated from Croatia, England, Scotland, Peru, Turkey and many more ( all up about 30 ). Hope on the Miniature Train ( what kids doesn’t like them? ) to take a second look around, riding in comfort ( no whining kids this time ).
Had enough of geography? Head across the road to The National Dinosaur Museum. Renowned as Australia’s largest permanent display of prehistoric specimens is right next to the gardens. It makes sense to pop in for a browse. Again, children will find plenty of interactive hands-on exhibits, just to add to the fun.
At the end of the fulfilling but tiring day, we stumbled across an amazing marketplace called Supabarn. I have never seen this machine before, have you? An automated pineapple corer and slicer! A whole pineapple goes in and comes out perfectly sliced, ready to eat. Wow, the technology! This discovery certainly spiced up our second day in Canberra with kids. Locals were pausing to watch us taking photos and videos of the super pineapple slicer. Ha! I hope they had fun just like us.
Conclusion: with all the honesty, we could go longer than 2 days in Canberra with kids because it’s an amazing place full of exciting activities. Some folks find it a boring part of Australia but we don’t! Having been to Canberra a couple of times now, I feel very comfortable and safe here, it sure is a nice place to raise children or just bring them for a visit.
I’d like to hear about your experiences if you’ve ever visited Canberra with children, what you got up too or what your children loved about it? Please, share in comments.
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