SYDNEY RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES FOR THE FAMILY
Rainy days in Sydney don’t have to make you want to pull your hair out.
I know that when I check the weather and it says its going to rain I want to cry. Trying to entertain toddlers, well children of any age, when its rainy is not easy. It’s even worse when you haven’t got an idea or a plan of what to do.
Sydney is full of kids entertainment both outdoor and indoor, you have just got to know where to look for it.
With the rain showing no signs of stopping I put together a list of things I wanted to do with the kids. I thought this would be a great post to share with you all. Once I got started though I couldn’t stop and now I’ve got a comprehensive list of what to do on rainy days in Sydney.
I hope that this list gives you a chance to take a breath and keep the kids entertained without having to do too much research or thinking yourself.
While the below list may include some ideas that seem quite far away or out of your normal area I suggest giving them a try. Taking a drive on a rainy day is lovely especially if you pop in a kids cd or audio book. Thankfully the library loans these out so you don’t have to listen to the same one over and over again.
Here is the list of more than 99 great activities for rainy days in Sydney
If you know of a great idea I haven’t included – please be sure to let me know. Either drop a comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know!
Eat out at a family friendly restaurant
There are plenty of good restaurants in Sydney but some are just not kids friendly. The best is when you find a great restaurant which has good food for adults but also caters for children. Our regular is Ironbark in Manly listed below and even lets the kids eat free if you get there early enough. It also helps that the wait staff are divine.
- I am loving Harbord Diggers. The food is so good and there is an unusual kids play area to boot.
- Coogee Pavilion is a must for anyone in the Eastern Suburbs.
- The Belrose Hotel, check out our full review by clicking on the link. This is a firm favourite with families and the food is okay for adults. The best part of it is the layout of the restaurant which allows you to eat your meal and watch the kids at the same time. Just make sure to book a table in advance. Read the review for detailed information including which table to book.
- The Newport. We visited recently in the rain and it was perfectly fine. The only difficulty is walking between the different food kiosks in the rain but dressed in a rain coat and gumboots makes this experience even better for kids.
- Fratelli Fresh in Darling Harbour is also very cool!
- Woolwich Pier Hotel.
- Hotel Pennant Hills. There is plenty of space and two little play areas for kids. You can eat and watch the kids play at the same time which is perfect.
- Castle Hill RSL which I have heard is amazing but haven’t visited yet. If you have visited please let us know what its like or better yet, send us some pics.
- The Lodge in Lane Cove. Kids eat free at certain times on certain days.
- The Spur Steak Ranch in Penrith is awesome!!
- Terry Hills Tavern. I’ve never been but you will find plenty of reviews online.
- Ironbark Pizza, Manly. As I said, this our local pizza place and really good with kids. We love going there – dad comes from the city by ferry and we pick him up in Manly.
- Wokbar, Dee Why. This is a families’ favourite hot spot on the Northern Beaches. If you’re keen to visit you must book a table and ask for one with a sea view. My son is obsessed with this place.
- Pittwater RSL. I think this is the next place we will visit. If you have visited please let us know what its like or better yet, send us some pics.
- The Australian Brewery in Rouse Hill.
- The Greens in North Sydney. This is probably better for an overcast day so the kids can still play outside. I wouldn’t visit for dinner on the weekends as I can imagine it is filled with people having drinks.
- Brewhouse Marayong in Kings Park.
- The Collaroy has just been completely renovated and is good for kids with its little play area similar to the bigger area in the Newport and Coogee Pavilion. I must actually get a review up soon. Sorry everyone, definitely am letting the team down here.
Coffee, Babychinos and Sweet Treats
One of the best things to do on rainy days in Sydney is take the kids out for a baby chino and delicious treat. My aim this year is to find the best place in the North for donuts – I haven’t started the quest yet but I will soon.
- Roselle Espresso. We visited on a rainy day with two little kids and it was great. Roselle Espresso isn’t particularly good for older kids (4 years plus) but for toddlers it is perfect.
- Boathouse Balmoral or Palm Beach. Any reason to visit the Boathouse will do for me. While both of these are lovely to visit in good weather, they are equally stunning in the rainy weather. The views are stunning and the food is great.
- Chicken and Fish Head Cafe in Beecroft. Don’t let the name put you off!! This is a cafe and a kids store which may seem like a dangerous combination but given its popularity it must be doing it right.
- The Rocks Pantry, North Rocks Shopping Centre.
- Loft Cafe. At the very top of the Mac Centre you can grab a coffee and let the kids play in the soft play area. This is one of my favourite places to visit.
- The Garden Cafe at Ashfields Leagues Club.
- Little Tastes, St Peters.
- Espresso Warriors, Warringah Mall. I love visiting Espresso Warriors, the food is delicious and the staff are divine. I recently let the kids come with me and they had the best time. “The best baby chino ever” according to my 4 year old and an oreo cronut made for two very happy kids.
- Tramshed in Narrabeen is so cool! The kids can have their chinos or food in the actual tram!
- Hide and Seek Cafe, Leichhardt. This is one I am going to get to in the next few weeks. The play space for kids looks amazing. I will let you know as soon as we have visited.
- Sideways Deli Cafe in Dulwich Hill.
- Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse.
- Wild Pear Cafe Dural. Indoor seating but with a verandah that overlooks a nursery. If you’re in Dural you have got to try out the Wild Pear Cafe. Although famous for their milkshakes the menu has some other delicious offerings.
Go for an Indoor Swim
Rainy days in Sydney don’t mean you can’t swim. Use the opportunity to go check out some of the awesome indoor pools.
- Kuringaai Fitness and Aquatic Centre. Recently refurbished it has two big swimming pools (one 25m heated indoor, two outdoor), a kids pool and a small paddling pool. There is a water play area with shooting water. You can even have ice-creams and coffee because there is a cafe inside the centre. For more information check out the YMCA website.
- Lane Cove Aquatic Center. I have heard such good things about this swimming centre. It has the standard indoor 25 meter pool, outdoor 60 meter pool and a leisure pool. Additionally there is a sauna, steam room and spa. What I didn’t know that you can even have birthday parties at the Lane Cove pools.
- Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre in Enmore Park, Marrickville. As well as the normal features there is a special access section, a kids splash pool and fountains and water features. You can currently get a 5 day free pass so be sure to check out their website.
- Manly Andrew (Boy) Charlton Aquatic Centre. The Manly Pools reopened after a major refurbishment in 2016 and is perpetually busy. There are two heated outdoor pools, a shade covered baby and heated toddler pool, shaded seating areas and a 25 metre indoor heated pool with ramp. Specifically for the kids there is a children’s water play area and leisure pool. There is also a cafe inside the complex.
- Sutherland Leisure Centre. Like the others there is a 50-metre heated outdoor poo, heated outdoor utility pool and two heated indoor pools. For kids there is a play area and a pool. For more information check out the Sutherland Shire Website.
- Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre and Splasher’s Water Playground. This must be one of the best pools in Sydney. It has a great play area complete with permanent water slides. Aside from the water slides there is splashes water playground, a river rapid ride, water volcanoes and the standard spray jets. This is one you have to check out!
- Hurstville Aquatic Center. With a permanent indoor slide, bridge and water spray in the middle of the swimming pool this centre is lots of fun. There is a cafe onsite and a creche too!
- Ryde Aquatic Leisure centre. It has one of those cool surfing walls, heated pools inside and out and a cafe. Let’s go kids often has discounts for entry and for the “Surf Ryder”.
Run out energy at an indoor play centre
When I see its going to rain, this is the first thing I think of doing with the kids. I am not alone in this thinking and often there are many more moms and kids who have also decided to run off some excess energy at an indoor play centre.
My advice is to go early and during the week. Weekends at indoor play areas are just nuts, as are the afternoons and holidays when school is out.
- Lollipops in Castle Hill is possibly the best play place in the area. It is a good size and it has tons of different play areas for kids to explore.
- Wannabees Play Town where kids can dress up and pretend to be a fireman, hairdresser, construction worker, chef. Check out our full review because you want to plan your visit before you go. There is one in Hornsby now too that we love!
- Monkey Mania at the Entertainment Quarter.
- Sandbucket Play Centre in North Narrabeen. There are three play areas for the different ages and free onsite parking.
- Nubo in Alexandria is great but for the quieter option you can visit the Chatswood one. I put up lots of photos of Facebook about the latter in the last couple of months.
- Soft Play at Sportsbliss at Thornleigh.
- Sky Zone (75 O’Riordan Street, Alexandria). Absolutely love this place, it has to be one of the best jumping parks in the City.
- Tree House, Cromer. This is smaller than I expected but good for kids under 5.
- Moving Bodies, Mt Kuring-gai. This is the best place to visit with really little ones and toddlers – there is a bug open soft play area for them to toddle around. When my 4 year old is at daycare and its just me and the 2 year old this is where we go.
Try Ice Skating
If you are braver than I and better on the ice then taking the kids ice skating is a really fun rainy day activity. You could even get the kids excited in the lead up to it by watching a winter movie (Frozen springs to mind as does Snow Dogs both of which are available at the Warringah Libraries.
Here is the relatively short list of ice rinks that you could visit on one of the more frequent rainy days in Sydney.
Most ice rinks run on session times so check out each ice rink to see when those sessions are.
- Ice Zoo in Alexandria. It’s open 7 days a week and their daily schedule is up on the Ice Zoo website.
- Macquarie Center Ice Rink.
- Canterbury Olympic Ice Rink. There is even a Friday night disco and skating lessons.
- Penrith Ice Palace
- Sydney Ice Arena next door to Norwest Markettown Shopping Centre.
Just be warned if you are not excellent on the ice it can be hard with two little kids who can’t skate. I recently learnt this the hard way!
Visit one of Sydney’s Museums
Sydney’s Museums have undergone a mind-shift and are now child friendly. Aside from Sydney’s Living Museums here are the museums I rate are good for kids.
- Powerhouse Museum. We love the Powerhouse and with threats of it closin
- Australian Museum we visited the Australian Museum in the wet weather recently and had a great morning.
- National Maritime Museum is fantastic to visit if your child enjoys boats. You get to explore the boats themselves and then go inside to check out the exhibits. Often there is a child friendly exhibit – the last one we went to was a Pirate Exhibit and it was awesome!!
- Museum of Fire in Penrith. I’ve really keen on visiting this museum and I will do it this winter, weather regardless.
- Justice & Police Museum situated at Circular Quay I feel as though this museum would be more suited to older kids who would enjoy getting dressed up and participating in mock court proceedings.
Art and Culture
I love Art Galleries but I thought I would have to wait a while until the kids were old enough before we could visit an Art Gallery. I was wrong, quite a few of the galleries now cater to children with activities being set up specifically for them.
Here are a few of the museums or cultural experiences you could enjoy on rainy days in Sydney.
- Art Gallery of NSW There are a number of activities set up for kids, from tours to workshops. Check out the link to the gallery for more information on whats on at the moment.
- Museum of Contemporary Art. There are different family programs on at the MCA, check out the family section of the MCA website for details of the various activities available.
- Take a tour of the Opera House.
- White Rabbit in Chippendale houses contemporary art from China. There is also a tea house on site. I wouldn’t recommend taking young children to the White Rabbit.
- Take in a show at Monkey Baa Theater. We went to Diary of Wombat recently and it is such a welcoming environment for children. It is also so enjoyable for parents – to be able to go watch a show without worrying about your children shouting or clapping or talking too loudly. We recently went to Josephine Learns to Dance and it was beautiful!! Really worth seeing.
Find your creative side
I haven’t been to any of these as my kids have been too young up until now. With the cooler months approaching I am going to try get through this list myself.
- There are bread making classes for kids and adults. Our favourite isThe Pottery Cafe in Collaroy!
- Brasserie Bread.
- Nubo in Alexandria has robotics, cooking, building and all sorts of things. You can access Nubo’s Whats On page here.
- 4cats studio has two studios – one in North Sydney and the other in Lindfield. There are set programme that run for families and kids.
- Plaster Master in North Bondi. The link is a schedule of all the activities on offer these school holidays.
- Jenny’s Painted Pots
- Build a bear (Penrith Westfield, Castle Towers Shopping Centre, Sydney City Meyer)
- Free Range Living in Kirrawee has classes and tea parties. Check out their website for more information.
- Studio Make, Fairlight (next to Manly). Join in the fun at the “Make Mess” Friday.
- Kids Artwork, Burwood. There are a variety of classes for the different ages.
- Li’l Crafters in Marrickville has two sessions every Monday and Friday. Check out Li’l Crafters for details of the two different sessions.
- Plaster Painting Studios at EQ, Moore Park.
- Maker’s Loft is a cafe with craft activities too boot. There is a weekly playgroup every Friday from 10am to 12. I haven’t tried it yet but can’t wait to go visit.
- Bunnings often have activities on Saturday mornings for kids. Check your local Bunnings noticeboard for information on the session they are running.
- ArtSpark between Roselle and Balmain offers art, sewing and drama. There are holiday programme so check out the Art Spark website.
- The brand new JellyBeanStreet where you can make art and help fellow kids. Book here – https://www.jellybeanstreet.com/inner-west-eastern – tell your friends, make a playdate out of it and know that we can’t wait to see you there!
I have worked through lists and lists of libraries to find decent libraries for kids to visit. While your local library will probably have Rhyme Time or Story Time for kids you want to visit a library that has a designated kids space.
Here is a list of libraries that have good kids’ spaces.
- Gordon Public Library
- Surry Hills Library and community center
- Wollahara Public Library
- Watson’s Bay Library
- Kings Cross Library
- Stanton Library
- Double Bay Library
- Castle Hill Library
While other libraries like Dee Why and Warringah Mall have kids areas in the library, it is too close to the main section of the library for the kids (or their parents) to be able to relax. You can check out a comparison of the Northern Beaches Libraries here.
Child Friendly Movie Cinemas
I have read a lot about “movies with kids”, initially I thought it was great that so many different theatres catered for kids. This is not a completely true though.
While most cinemas will tell you that they are child friendly or cater for “movies with kids” what this means is that a parent or carer can take their child and watch an adult movie in a cry room or with the lights and sound adjusted. These are not movies to take kids to.
I’ve now contacted all the movie theatres and found the following information.
- The Palace, Norton Street has a babes in Arms screenings at 11AM on Thursdays at Palace Norton Street.
- Hayden Orpheum shows Frozen sing-a-long on the first Sunday of each month, and mums/dads/bubs session run usually once a fortnight on a Monday (outside of peak periods).
- Ritz Cinema has a Bubz Club which has screenings on Monday and Wednesday at 10am. There is also the opportunity to meet a princess, family day and special sensory screenings.
- HOYTS Junior programme which is currently showing Peppa Pig at 14 cinemas in NSW. Sessions generally screen every Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday mornings but check availability on the HOYTS website
- Reading Cinemas has Family Days, you need to contact your local Reading Cinema to find out what is specifically available.
- Dendy Cinemas, Newtown screens a range of family friendly films which generally coincide with the school holidays.
Shopping centres with a play areas
I thought I shopped a lot but seeing as I only have reviews of 3 of the shopping centres listed below, I clearly don’t shop enough.
- Warringah Westfield Mall, Brookvale. There are two play areas – check out the full review by clicking on the link.
- Westfield Parramatta
- Rouse Town Hill Center
- Westfield Bondi Junction
- Rhodes Waterside
- Stanhope Village
- Castle Mall Shopping Center
- Macquarie Center.
- Hornsby Westfield, Hornsby
- Top Ryde. I haven’t been yet but can’t wait to go visit.
- Belrose Supa Center
- Westfield Eastgardens
- Broadway Shopping Center
- Stockland Baulkham Hills
- HomeHQ Aartamon