Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia
The perfect Sydney weekend escape or stop on the Sydney to Queensland road trip, Newcastle is an historic city with stunning beaches and delicious food. With family in the area we spend a lot of time in Newcastle, and love staying at our fave hotel in the city, the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Built inside a new tower in East Newcastle, the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel is located near some of Australia’s most famous beaches and best surf breaks. With renowned restaurants, cafes and bars located just a few footsteps away, you really can’t beat the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel’s prime position.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Also nearby are art galleries, shopping, coastal walks, museums and the historic Fort Scratchley, making the Novotel Newcastle Beach Hotel ideal for sightseeing.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Inside the lobby, the hotel has a dedicated kids’ corner with work tables, toys and colouring in books and paper, plus sand buckets and spades which are free to loan and take to the beach.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

The 88 contemporary, spacious guest rooms are all equipped with modern furnishings and guests’ comfort in mind. The rooms have an open layout, with plenty of natural lights, and many featuring an ocean view.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

All rooms have a vibrant colour palette, Novotel’s exclusive Live N Dream bedding experience in a king bed (2 singles upon request) to ensure the perfect night’s sleep, TV with movies on-demand, digital free-to-air and Foxtel channels, high-speed internet access, spacious work station, air conditioning, in-room safe, tea & coffee making facilities, hair dryer and mini-bar.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia
Rooms are available in the following categories: Standard Room, Superior Room, Superior Harbour,  Superior Balcony Room and Superior Family Room.

We stayed in a Superior Family Room, an extra-spacious room with one queen bed and two single beds. Some family rooms have a dining table for 4, and others have a bath in the en suite,(let the hotel know your preference at the time of booking). Interconnecting rooms are available upon request.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Our beds were amazingly comfortable and the room was huge compared to most rooms that we stay in, including the massive bathroom. We loved all the little touches left for us by Novotel staff, such as the kids’ welcome pack with toys, kid-sized robe and kids’ restaurant and in-room dining menu, complete with activities sheet on the back.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

The kids’ menu has a focus on fresh, healthy ingredients, created in collaboration with Sally Fitzgibbons. There are also new in-room fitness videos for the little ones presented by Sally Fitzgibbons and Playschool’s Rachael Coopes to keep them entertained throughout the stay.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

The Novotel Newcastle Beach is home to a modern dining restaurant, Bistro Dalby, with a contemporary Australian menu. The Bistro offers local and seasonal dished, has a fully equipped bar, and also offers an in-room dining menu available 24-7.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

For an additional fee breakfast is offered in the Bistro Dalby daily.  The breakfast features barista made coffee, T2 teas, eggs cooked to order, a hot buffet, cereals, breads, yogurt and fruits, with most organic food and juices on offer. I ordered an omelette and it came quickly and perfectly cooked. I also enjoyed placing my tea order and having a lovely pot of English breakfast delivered to me.

At time of writing, the Novotel has a special “Family & Novotel” offer, which includes accommodation and breakfast are free for 2 children under 16 who share a room with their parents or grand-parents. In addition, welcome gifts, facilities for babies and toddlers, play area, balanced menus, 50% off 2nd room, room available for late check-out on Sundays.

Also, between July 1 and September 30, Novotel hotels across the country will be decorated in Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation theme (for a limited number of families).

For these special guests, on entering the room, they will discover a space entirely designed based on the movie including bed linen, a throw blanket, novelty slippers, bath robes and toys.

Between July and September, selected hotels will also offer kids a Hotel Transylvania 3 welcome gift pack which includes selfie sticks, mini figurines, activity sets and movie posters.  The hotels will also surprise and delight families with family passes to see the movie.

We had the most welcoming, friendly stay at the Novotel Newcastle Beach and look forward to visiting again soon.

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach, NSW, Australia

Novotel Newcastle Beach
5 King St, Newcastle
Online

Parking is available in an underground car park for an additional fee. 

Thank you to the Novotel Newcastle Beach for hosting us! All opinions are my own.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

18 Rainy Day Activities For Kids in Sydney

Rainy Day Activities For Kids In Sydney Australia

Kids + rainy weather = cabin fever! When it’s too wet for the beach or parks, entertain the junior set with one of these 18 rainy day activities for kids in Sydney.

18 Rainy Day Activities For Kids in Sydney

See a movie

Event Cinemas, Australia

Is there anything more relaxing than cozying up watching the latest flicks on the big screen? Check movie times at a cinema near you by clicking here.

Image credit: Event Cinemas

Watch a live show

Babies Proms: Music for Tutus via christineknight.me

Check out what’s on at the Sydney Opera House, the Capitol Theatre, Sydney Lyric Theatre or Parramatta Riverside Theatre. Each venue shows for all ages and demographics.

Check out the Monkey Baa Theatre Company for shows the kids will love.

Image credit: Daniel Boud

Zap and chase at laser tag

 

Dashing through the dark with neon lights and laser guns sound like fun? Team up and challenge your friends and family to a game of laser tag.

M9 Laser Skirmish at Darling Harbour, laser tag at AMF (various locations), laser tag at Kingpin Bowling (North Strathfield and Darling Harbour), Laser Siege (Turrella), laser tag at Strike Bowling (various locations)

Indoor skydive with iFLY

iFLY, Australia

See what it feels like to fly without jumping out of a plane at iFly in Penrith (second location coming soon to Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park. Anyone aged 3 and up can iFly!

Let the wind take you higher in an state-of-the-art, fully-controlled, ultra-safe vertical wind tunnel.

How does it work? Just lean into the wind inside our giant glass tunnel and a column of air lifts you up! You’ll float effortlessly into flight, guided by qualified instructors.

Get more info on iFLY here.

Image courtesy of iFLY.

Strike it lucky at ten pin bowling

Retro fun all across Sydney. Challenge the whole family to a game of ten pin bowling.

Check out locations and prices at AMF Bowling (various locations) Ten Pin City (Lidcome), Strike Bowling (various locations), King Pin Bowling (various locations).

Find your inner Pac-man playing arcade games

Go old school with classic and new arcade games. From air hockey to dodgem cars and a bit of Street Fighter, there’s something for everyone to play.

Find arcade games at Playtime (various venues) and Archie Bros Cirque Electric at Alexandria for a circus-themed arcade extravaganza.

Burn off steam at an indoor play centre


Nubo Play Space Alexandria, Sydney
Kids going bananas? Take them to an indoor play centre to run out their crazies. There are plenty all around Sydney to choose from!

Check out this list of indoor play centres in Sydney to find one near you.

Bounce the day away at a trampolining centre


Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Alexandria
Visit an indoor trampolining centre to literally bounce your cares away. Check each centre to see that facilities they have for kids before taking little ones – some have special toddler times available.

Find a trampolining centre in Sydney on this handy list of indoor play spaces.

Test your agility indoor rock climbing

Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Alexandria

Kids and adults can all enjoy scampering up walls at indoor rock climbing centres. Start at the easiest level and work your way up to pro. Kids can try the beginner walls or special areas designed just for little ones.

Find an indoor rock climbing gym in Sydney on this handy list of indoor play spaces.

Spend the day at an art gallery or museum

Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Australia

Enjoy the peaceful calm of one of Sydney’s excellent museums and art galleries. All are extremely kid-friendly as well as having top-notch exhibitions year-round. The Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Powerhouse Museum, the Early Start Learning Centre and the Australian Museum head up a long list of excellent galleries for kids in Sydney.

Check out this list of Sydney’s art galleries and museums to find one near you.

Take a dip in an aquatic centre

Ryde Pool Sydney Aquatic Centre

It may seem counter intuitive but rainy days are perfect for getting even wetter indoors! Swim some laps and take kids to splash in the water features of these excellent centres all across Sydney.

Check out this list of aquatic centres in Sydney to find one near you.

Chase sharks at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Australia

Get up close to a more than 700 species of Australian aquatic life in 12 themed zones at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. An impressive 13,000 animals live in the aquarium in six million litres of water, including dugongs, rays, tropical reef fish and sharks. A popular exhibit is Penguin Expedition, allowing guests to sail past a colony of King and Gentoo Penguins on a boat ride. The SEA LIFE aquarium is top kids attraction in Sydney and can get busy on public holidays and school holidays.

Get more info on Penguin Expedition and on SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium.

Image credit: Sydney Aquarium

Catch a croc at Wild Life Sydney Zoo

Wild Life Sydney Zoo via christineknight.me

Meet iconic Australian animals at Wild Life Sydney Zoo. This small zoo is the perfect size to take young kids, and is easy to navigate with a wide, flat path, perfect for strollers. Get up close to the Cassowary, echidna, sugar gliders, koalas and kangaroos, plus a giant croc!

Get more info on Wild Life Sydney Zoo.

Up your selfie game at Madam Tussauds Sydney

Madame Tussauds, Sydney, Australia

A wax museum where visitors can take a selfie with Barak Obama in the oval office, or shake it off with Taylor Swift. Aussie legends like Steve Irwin and Ned Kelly are also photo-ready.

Madam Tussads Sydney

The Justice League exhibition is especially fun, an immersive and interactive experience to make you feel like you’re in the movies with your favourite stars.

Get more info on visiting Madame Tussauds Sydney here.

Image courtesy of Madame Tussauds.

Get your Tonya Harding out ice skating

Macquarie Ice Rink, Sydney

Trying to twirl on ice is the perfect way to forget miserable weather outdoors. Spend a few hours getting exercise as well as having fun working on your triple axel.

Check out this list of ice skating rinks in Sydney to find one near you.

Image courtesy of Macquarie Ice Rink.

Read a good book at a library

State Library of NSW Australia

Head to the stunning State Library of NSW to check out their exhibitions or read a book. Established in 1862 it’s the oldest library in Australia. I personally love the idea of reading when it’s raining, so a library always tops my list of things to do in Sydney on a rainy day!

Get more info on visiting the State Library of NSW here.

You could also visit your local library! Check this site for the City of Sydney libraries and locations. You can also visit here to find the location of every library in NSW.

Find your inner Picasso while plaster painting

Plaster Painting Sydney

Little and big kids will love painting up a masterpiece at one of these plaster painting studios across Sydney. Candyland Playhouse even offers ceramic painting, which is where the art work is baked in a kiln after being painted.

Check out your nearest plaster painting venue: Little Plaster House (Bella Vista), Candyland Playhouse (Hawkesbury) who offer plaster and ceramic painting, Plaster Painting Studios (Moore Park), Plaster Master Fun (North Bondi), The Little Plaster Shop (Concord).

Head to the shops

Most of the major shopping centres have indoor play areas for kids, mostly of the soft play variety. It’s easy to pass several hours with snacks, free fun and a bit of shopping – with free parking to boot – at your local shopping centre. A top pick with us for rainy day activities for kids!

Tried and tested shopping centres with free indoor play areas:

Rhodes Waterside
Harbourside, Darling Harbour
Westfield Liverpool
Supa Centa Moore Park
Westfield Bondi Junction
Broadway Shopping Centre has a small play are for kids aged five and under.
Westfield Warringah Mall
Birkinhead Point
IKEA (Tempe and Rhodes)

IKEA is such a gem. Drop kids aged 3 – 9 years of age off at their Småland Magical Forest that includes a ball pit, slides and watching kids movies. Age: 3 – 9 years old, time limit: 60 minutes.

Find your closest Westfield here.

Rainy Day Activities For Kids In Sydney Australia

Do you have any more ideas for rainy day activities for kids?

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Things To Do In Parramatta And Western Sydney With Kids

Things To Do In Parrmatta and Western Sydney, Australia, with Kids

I grew up in Sydney’s South West suburbs, so have spent much of my life in the Parramatta and Western Sydney area. Sydney’s South West and Western suburbs are an incredible mix of history, nature and delicious food, a perfect place to bring up kids or visit for the day. Check out the best things to do in Parramatta and Western Sydney with kids!

The Best Things To Do In Parramatta and Western Sydney With Kids

Casula Powerhouse


Casula Powerhouse, Sydney Australia
Located in South West Sydney, the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre is a place to experience the arts including performances and exhibitions. As well as featuring six galleries with rotating exhibitions, the Powerhouse also has a pair of three-story decommissioned tanks that are open to the public as legal graffiti spaces.

Casula Powerhouse, Sydney Australia

Located in South West Sydney, the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre is a place to experience the arts including performances and exhibitions. As well as featuring six galleries with rotating exhibitions, the Powerhouse also has a pair of three-story decommissioned tanks that are open to the public as legal graffiti spaces.

The Casula Powerhouse runs family-friendly art programs throughout the year. Check out their upcoming events and workshops here.

Get more info on visiting the Casula Powerhouse here.

Image credit: Casula Powerhouse

Blaxland Riverside Park

Blaxland Riverside Playground via christineknight.me

A gorgeous spot for families with one of the biggest playgrounds in Sydney set among three hectares of rolling hills and big open spaces. The playground caters for kids of all ages and abilities with a fantastic water play area (the largest outdoor water play facility in NSW), moving play elements, high and steep landforms and hidden and confined spaces. There’s a double flying fox, mega-swing, tunnel slides, scramble wall, spinning play disk, Viking swing and a multi-level tree house to be discovered and enjoyed.

Get more info on Blaxland Riverside Park.

Museum of Fire

The Museum of Fire, Penrith

Enjoy exhibits focusing on fire safety and firefighting and explore historic fire trucks at the Museum of Fire in Penrith.

Junior firefighters will enjoy puzzles, dress-ups, fire safety activities and computer games.

Get more info on visiting the Museum of Fire here.

Image credit: Destination NSW Adam Hollingsworth

Museums Discovery Centre (MDC)

Inside the Museums Discovery Centre you’ll find millions of treasures and the opportunity to learn about museum collecting, conservation and research practices.

Get more info on the MDC here.

NSW Rail Museum

NSW Rail Museum Australia
Bring your locomotive-loving kids to get up close to trains at the NSW Rail Museum in the historic town of Thirlmere. Since 1975 this little town has been home to a large collection of NSW’s railway heritage, including over 100 vehicles that move on a railway including locomotives, railroad cars and more.

Get more info on visiting the NSW Rail Museum here.

Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

Explore Australia’s unique plant life at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, a 416-hectare botanical garden located in Mount Annan, between Campbelltown and Camden. The wide, flat paths are a delight to follow as they weave in and around the garden areas, as are the grassy hills to roll down!

The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan via christineknight.me

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan has free entry, picnic shelters, barbecues and a playground with an excellent flying fox, making it the perfect outing for families.

Get more info on visiting the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan.

Featherdale Wildlife Park

The Best Place To Meet A Koala in Sydney
A privately-owned zoo in Doonside, near Blacktown, Featherdale Wildlife Park specialises in Australian native wildlife and birds, as well as reptiles and marsupials.

Get more info on visiting Featherdale Wildlife Park.

Calmsley Hill City Farm

#Calmsley Hill City Farm via brunchwithmybaby.com

The place to introduce city kids to a farm! Calmsley Hill City Farm has plenty of farm animals to get up close to, plus tractor rides and interactive shows such as sheep shearing, a small playground, picnic area and cafe.

Get more info on visiting Calmsley Hill City Farm.

Skyline Drive-In Blacktown

Skyline Drive-In Blacktown Sydney

Watch a movie under the stars at Sydney’s last remaining drive-in movie theatre. Introduce kids to the movie experience of a bygone era complete with a Happy Days-style diner, spiders and choc-tops. The gates open at 5:30pm, with parking allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Tune your car’s FM radio or bring along a portable radio to hear the movie. Before you leave home, check session times for what’s on.

Sydney Olympic Park

Sydney Olympic Park

The site of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games is now a monument to sporting legends and a peaceful parkland. Visit Cathy Freeman Park to see the Olympic Cauldron that was used throughout the games and has been transformed into a water feature that kids love to play under in summer, located next to a shady playground and vast grassy field.

To get there: Take a 30 minute train trip from Central Station to Olympic Park Station or a ferry from Circular Quay to Sydney Olympic Park Wharf.

Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre


While adults will enjoy swimming in the same pool that Ian Thorpe won his Olympic gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, kids will go wild over the water slide, Splasher’s Water Playground that caters for kids aged toddler and up, and Rapid River Ride that caters to all ages. Comfortabley heated to 26 degrees, the Aquatic Centre is year-round fun.

Get more information on visiting the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

To get there: Take a 30 minute train trip from Central Station to Olympic Park Station or a ferry from Circular Quay to Sydney Olympic Park Wharf.

Bicentennial Park

Bicentennial Park, Sydney, Australia

A fave for families with its wide expanses of undulating hills, plenty of shade and picnic spots. Bicentennial Park is a beautiful location that combines mangrove wetlands with 40 hectares of gentle hills, meadows, lakes, playgrounds and picnic shelters. Driving to this park is the best option but parking can also be a challenge so arrive early.

Ryde Park: The Groundskeeper Cafe, Playground & Scooter Track

Ryde Park, Sydney, Australia
What a gem of a spot! Ryde Park has a shaded playground outside of the excellent Groundskeeper Cafe, and a new scooter/bike track. The park also has sporting fields and picnic areas.

Get more info on Ryde Park here.

Western Sydney Parklands

Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me

An urban park and nature reserve located in Sydney’s western suburbs, the Western Sydney Parklands contains various parks and attractions that are perfect for families to enjoy.

Plough and Harrow

Plough and Harrow: Best of Southwest Sydney for Families via christineknight.me

This popular picnic spot is surrounded by bush and features a playground, cafe, high ropes course and wide open spaces for kids to run free. The playground’s hamster wheel is particularly popular!

Get more info on visiting Plough and Harrow.

Lizard Log

Lizard Log, Sydney, Australia

A nature-themed playground with a bush setting, Lizard Log also features walking and cycling tracks plus barbecue stations.

Image credit: Western Sydney Parklands Trust

Treetop Adventure Park

TreeTop Adventure Park Sydney via christineknight.me

Adventurous kids will adore getting up high in the gum trees with the Treetop self-guided rope courses. With rope ladders, wobbly bridges and zip lines to navigate, it’s the perfect place for kids to test their problem-solving ability as well as push physical boundaries. Kids must be aged three and older to participate, with the children’s rope course designed for ages 3-9. Treetops Adventure park is located at the Plough and Harrow park.

Get more info on visiting Treetop Adventure Park.

Wet’n’Wild SYDNEY

Wet 'n' Wild, Sydney, Australia

Cool down at Wet’n’Wild SYDNEY, a water theme park filled with over 40 slides, a zone dedicated to kids under 5 and a sandy beach. Popular with younger kids is the Nickelodeon Beach water splash park area that features characters like Dora, Spongebob and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Get more info on visiting Wet’n’Wild SYDNEY.

Image credit: Havewheelchairwilltravel.net

Bungarribee Park

Bungarribee Western Sydney Parklands
Opened in 2017, Bungarribee is a 200-hectare recreational space that features walking and cycling tracks, 20 barbecues, 13 picnic shelters and a playground with a climbing tower, flying fox, plenty of slides, swings and a water play area.

Get more info on visiting Bungarribee Park.

Parramatta

Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park

The second oldest city in Australia, Parramatta was founded in 1788 – the same year as Sydney. Walk up Church street to discover its vibrant, multicultural food scene, or walk along the river to discover the city’s rich history.

Parramatta CBD Riverside Foreshore Park

Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park

We love this playground with its tall slides and sand play area, situated right on the banks of the Parramatta River.

Get more info on the Parramatta CBD River Foreshore Park here.

James Ruse Reserve Playground

James Ruse Reserve Playground via christineknight.me
Our go-to when it’s hot, this playground has an undercover water play area that is a fave of ours. It also features climbing structures.

Get more info on the James Ruse Reserve Playground here.

Parramatta Park

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park: The best of southwest Sydney for families

This World Heritage Listed park is a must see. Gazetted as a People’s Park in 1858, Parramatta Park been a place for locals to enjoy for over 150 years. It’s also home to Old Government House, a historic site and museum and Australia’s oldest surviving building.  Parramatta Park also features wide open spaces with shady trees for picnics, a large formal rose garden, a creek and two playgrounds. Get info on upcoming events in Parramatta Park.

#Parramatta Park Cafe - #kidfriendly #restaurants #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com

While picnicking in the park is the easiest option, we really enjoyed the very kid-friendly Parramatta Park Cafe, or a high tea at Lachlan’s Restaurant inside Old Government House for something special.

Get more info on Parramatta Park Cafe here.

Domain Creek Playground Parramatta Park

Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park: The best of southwest Sydney for families
The largest and most modern playground in Parramatta Park, the Domain Creek Playground is nature-based and features mazes made from branches and wires, water pumps and sand diggers, a flying fox and sunken trampolines.

Get more info on visiting Domain Creek Playground.

Elizabeth Farm

Elizabeth Farm, Sydney, Australia

Built in 1973 for John and Elizabeth Macarthur, Elizabeth Farm is one of the oldest homes in Australia. Inside the house you’ll find reproductions of furnishings and objects that belonged to the home’s original owners. Wander the recreated 1930s garden or enjoy a Devonshire tea at the tea room. The scones are some of the best we have ever tasted.

Elizabeth Farm, Sydney, Australia

Elizabeth Farm runs year-round family tours and programs to engage kids in the history of the property and introduce them to what life was like during the early 19th century. Kids will get a kick out of trying to do the laundry in a tub, throwing quoits or doing some craft. Get info on upcoming events and programs here.

Things To Do In Parramatta and Western Sydney, Australia, with Kids

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Oh la la it’s a fancy outing today! It’s off to the classy Shangri-La Hotel Sydney in the Rocks for a very pink high tea with friends. From June 15 – 29 2018, the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney is hosting a very special Barbie High Tea, created by their executive pastry chef, Anna Polyviou.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Anna Polyviou is often called the Punk Princess of Pastry, and with her bright pink mohawk she is the perfect poster girl for a new Barbie cookbook, which Polyviou has created in collaboration with the iconic Barbie brand and The Australian Woman’s Weekly.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

The cookbook is a fantastic edition to a young chef’s collection, containing a combination of recipes that range from simple enough for kids to do either on their own or with help from adults, to some harder ones that definitely need adult intervention, but that are so imaginative that they will inspire kids to create their next birthday party around the designs.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Our young Barbie (and Anna Polyviou!) fans were keen to try some of the special recipes, which are reflected in the Barbie High Tea.

Each young guest is given their own Barbie Cookbook to take home, which our three discerning diners perused eagerly while waiting for their tea, choosing which recipe they would try at home first.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

High teas are best experienced with friends, and for this special Barbie outing, we invited our usual high tea accomplices, with whom we’ve been sampling sugary treats in fancy frocks for quite a few years now. There is something so special about getting dressed up and having tea in delicate china cups that little girls just adore, and it’s a really wonderful occasion for both us mums and the kids.

The three-tiered silver stands arrived quickly, brimming with so much pink that the girls’ eyes popped out of their heads.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

It’s clear that Polyviou knows her target audience well, and the creative, beautiful AND delicious menu was 100% on pointe with this young audience who are drawn to all things pink and sparkly.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Adults and kids can both order the Barbie high tea. If you’re dining with a few other adults or kids however, you might want to consider ordering the Barbie tea for the kids and the traditional high tea for the adults, and then trying a bit of everything! You can read about our delicious experience trying the traditional high tea here.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea

Barbie Shake

Coconut Raspberry jelly pops
Rocky road cup
Finger bun doughnuts
Rainbow cupcake

Cheesy chicken strips
Vegetable frittata
Ham cheese stars

(As vegetarians were given a slightly different savoury option, with a deconstructed egg sandwich, beetroot tart and cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches.)

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

The savouries are a great kid-friendly twist on a traditional high tea. Super accessible for even the fussiest of kids to enjoy.

The sweet treats were a hit, both visually and also to eat. The rainbow cupcakes were the fan favourite, with the added bonus of sprinkles spilling out of the middle when they were bitten into.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Mine and my friend’s favourite dessert was the rocky road cup – a mix of packet chips and lollies covered in chocolate, it was so nostalgic of our childhoods that we just kept going back for more. Note: the rocky road cup does contain nuts.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Another favourite was the Barbie shake. The strawberry milkshake base on its own was delectable, and with the addition of the Persian fairy floss and lollies it was just a mouth-watering treat that was devoured by all parties.

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

The Barbie High Tea is available from 15 June to 29 July 2018 at $45 per child. It includes a complimentary Australian Women’s Weekly Barbie Cookbook which features some of Polyviou’s Barbie inspired creations. For adults, it is priced at $55 per person with a glass of sparkling and at $65 per person with a glass of Champagne.

The Barbie High Tea is available daily at The Lobby Lounge, between 11:30am and 1:30pm and between 1:45 and 3:45 pm.

Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
176 Cumberland Street,
The Rocks, Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9250 6000
Prices: $$$
Bookings are essential. Please call (61 2) 9250 6144 or email dine.slsn@shangri-la.com
Get more information on the Barbie High Tea here.
Get Directions

Barbie High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel-Sydney

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

Thank you to the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney for hosting us for this very special high tea. All opinions and sugar-high kids are our own. 

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip, USA

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip

The San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip down Highway 1 is an iconic drive through some of the most beautiful parts of California. Stretching 442 miles / 711 kms and taking around 8 to 9 hours non-stop to drive, the San Francisco to Los Angeles drive down Route 1 is scenic beyond belief. Voted as one of the Best American Road Trips by National Geographic, this is one of the most memorable road trips you can make.

Big Sur, California

While the fastest route to take between San Francisco and Los Angeles is the Interstate 5 Freeway (382 miles / 615 kms from Downtown LA to Downtown SF, taking approx 5.5 hours to 6 hours), if you have time to spend, I highly recommend taking the scenic LA to San Francisco road trip down Route 1 instead.

Please be aware that after the 2017 landslide there have been road closures on Highway 1 south of Big Sur / North of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse / San Simeon. The road is hopefully reopening in July 2018. Check here for updates and here for info on the detour.

Spending time in San Francisco? Check out things to do in San Francisco with kids here.

Have a few days sightseeing in LA? Check out things to do in Los Angeles with kids here.

Monterey

Monterey, California

This seaside town is famous for Cannery Row, the the waterfront street with now-defunct sardine canning factories, Fisherman’s Wharf, the fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium and world-renowned PGA Golf Course at Pebble Beach.

We also enjoyed spotting sea lions basking on Del Monte Beach. If you have kids in tow, head to Dennis The Menace Playground, which features a maze and rock climbing wall.

Monterey, California

The scenic 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach is a great detour, with dramatic cliffs, the iconic Lone Cyprus and wildlife to see.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Get more info on Monterey Bay Aquarium here.

Get more info on the 17-Mile Drive here.

Find and compare hotels in Monterey here.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea

One of our favourite little towns, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a must-visit on the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip. Often called Carmel, the town was founded in 1902 and is known for it’s artistic history and beautiful scenery. I would say it’s also known for it’s storybook houses that I would love to retire to one day.

Carmel is very dog-friendly, and you’ll see dogs literally everywhere – on the beach in hotels, restaurants and shops.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We also enjoyed a visit to the Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, also called the Carmel Mission. Built in 1797, the Mission is one o the best examples of Roman Catholic mission churches in California.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Take kids to the Cottage of Sweets, a traditional British-style sweets shop with homemade fudge and imported candies, and locally-owned Thinker Toys.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Sunset on the beach is a must in Carmel. It gets chilly, even in summer, so rug up.

Where to stay in Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We stayed at the Best Western Carmel’s Town House Lodge for the night, which had all the basics we needed.

Find and compare hotels in Carmel here.

Where to eat in Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at bustling Katy’s Place, delicious brunch and lunch at Carmel Belle, great coffee from Carmel Coffee House, upmarket dinner at Casanova (with kid-friendly options!), homestyle Italian food at Il Grillo and baked treats at Carmel Bakery (photo above).

Big Sur

Big Sur, California

The 90-mile stretch of redwood-trimmed coast between Carmel-by-the-Sea and San Simeon is where you’ll find Big Sur. The name Big Sur comes from the Spanish ““el sur grande” or Big South. The name refers to Big Sur’s location, 25 miles south of Monterey.

Big Sur, California

Bixby Bridge

Big Sur, California

The most instagrammable spot on the Big Sur coast, Bixby Bridge was built in 1932, 260 feet/79 metres above a canyon.

Pfieffer Beach and Keyhole Rock

Pfieffer Beach, Big Sur

A detour off the beaten path, but well-worth it, particularly at sunset. Pfieffer Beach is south of Big Sur Station, where Sycamore Canyon Creek meets the Pacific Ocean, framed by rocks at either end.

Keyhole Rock, Big Sur

While tidal pools can be fin to explore at low tide, and the north end of the beach has unique purple sand, the beach is renowned for Keyhole Rock, an incredible natural rock arch formation that waves and the last light of sunset pass through. It’s an incredible place to watch the sunset.

San Simeon

San Simeon, California

The town itself doesn’t offer much, with the main draw cards to the area being Hearst Castle and the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

A  National Historic Landmark, Hearst Castle was the private residence of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s. The lavish mansion is accessible by tour only. Advance bookings are highly recommended.

Get more info on visiting Hearst Castle here.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

San Simeon, California

Piedras Blancas is an excellent spot to observe the magnificent northern elephant seal. Spread over 6 miles of shoreline, the viewing areas provide access to the elephant seals as they bask on the shore at their land-based rookery. We saw literally hundreds of elephant seals when we visited. The elephant seal rookery was one of our favourite stops on the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip.

There is a free car park at the view area, which is open daily and is wheelchair / stroller accessible.

Where to stay in San Simeon

We stayed at the Days Inn San Simeon, which was basic but catered for all of our needs.

Find and compare hotels in San Simeon here.

Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo

Madonna Inn, California

We stopped at the family-owned Madonna Inn for lunch, but it’s an incredible spot to stay the night. The unique resort has been welcoming guests since 1958. The incredible interiors must be seen to be believed. We recommend dining at the Copper Cafe.

Get more info on the Madonna Inn here.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to see the 73-foot long blue whale skeleton, one of only five complete blue whale skeletons in the USA, or the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center for an interactive marine experience. Mission Santa Barbara, also known as Santa Barbara Mission, is also worth a visit. Walk down to Stearns Wharf and enjoy the seaside atmosphere.

Get more info on Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center here.

Get more info on Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History here.

Find and compare hotels in Santa Barbara here.

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

Malibu

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

While there are some beaches (and celebrities) in Malibu, I would suggest visiting the incredible Getty Villa art museum that is located in the area.

Get info on visiting the Getty Villa here.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, LA

The iconic Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909, the first concrete pier on the USA West Coast. Ride the Santa Monica Pier Carousel built in 1939, take a spin on the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel, challenge each other to a game at Playland Arcade and don’t miss the gorgeous sunset.

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

Get more info on visiting Santa Monica Pier here.

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip, USA

 

This blog post contains affiliate links. This means if you book a hotel through a link on this page, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting me and my site!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

The beachside suburb of Maroubra is 10km south-east of Sydney’s CBD. It’s less developed than its neighbours Bondi and Coogee, giving it a more relaxed vibe than its popular cousins. Maroubra Beach and nearby Mahon Pool are a beautiful part of Sydney, making for the perfect day out in any season (ok, maybe not when it’s raining …).

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Maroubra Beach

“Maroubra” comes from the Aboriginal word meaning “like thunder”, which is the perfect name for this beach with giant waves that pound the shore. One of Sydney’s most popular surfing spots, Maroubra is also one of only two National Surfing Reserves in Australia.

The beach has two surf life saving clubs and is patrolled year-round by lifeguards.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Maroubra is less sheltered than other beaches, with can result in bigger waves. Swim between the flags only, as the waves can be dangerous. If you or your family aren’t strong swimmers, consider visiting another nearby more sheltered beach.

Despite its strong waves, Maroubra is still an excellent beach for families.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

The kilometre-long sandy stretch of beach has a wide, flat path running adjacent to it, bathroom facilities at the surf club, a large, nautical-themed fenced playground and excellent skate park.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

We were really impressed with the skate park and kids in it. There were a lot of younger kids from ages 3 to about 10, then teenagers and even a few adults, all skating in the park. The older skaters took a lot of care around the younger kids, which was so great to see.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

There’s also a free outdoor gym, free BBQs, outdoor showers, changerooms and bathrooms.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

A cafe-kiosk on the beach provides an excellent location for sitting in beanbags and enjoying the waves. You can also walk across the street to the strip on cafe and restaurants that are located on Marine Parade, directly opposite the beach.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

We walked up the hill to try Pool Cafe, located across the road from Jack Vanny Reserve. The cafe is excellent. Delicious food, fast service, cute wall art and really fun vibe. Highly recommend. Note there is no kids’ menu, but lots of food kids will eat.

Pool Cafe is located at 94 Marine parade Maroubra. Get more info on the Pool Cafe here. 

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Free parking is available behind the beach and in its side streets. The parking closest to the beach is 4 hours, side streets unlimited. There are also car parks north of the beach at Jack Vanny Reserve and at South Maroubra Beach.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

In the middle of the beach is a large Rubix cube. While this may look like an art work it’s actually a storm water drain cover. The Rubix cube is popular for climbing.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

If you have time, go exploring. South of the beach lies Arthur Byrne Reserve and headland, Broadarrow Reserve is to the west and Jack Vanny Memorial Park, Mahon Pool and the rocky headland are situated to the north.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Mahon Pool

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

The spectacular Mahon Pool is located 500 metres north of Maroubra Beach, up a steep-ish hill. Enter via Jack Vanny Reserve. Follow the path and steep steps leading down from the reserve to the pool.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Mahon Pool was carved into a rock flat in 1932, a 30-metre pool where you’ll find waves crashing over the sides at high tide. Visit at low tide to enjoy the pool with calm water (and plenty of fish inside!).

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

There is a free car park, toilet block with showers and change rooms located at the top of the reserve.

The rock flat is a great place to climb rocks up to the headland. An excellent view of the coast is available year-round, and migrating whales can be spotted from here between June and July.

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

Jack Vanny Reserve
15R Marine Pde
Maroubra

Get more info about Maroubra Beach here and here

Tips For Visiting Maroubra Beach and Mahon Pool, Sydney, Australia

More things to do in Sydney

Find a list of the best things to do in Sydney with kids here.

Find things to do in Sydney for free here.

Get a list of the best kid-friendly beaches in Sydney.

Find the best animal experiences in Sydney here.

Visit the best kid-friendly restaurants in Sydney here.

Find the best high teas in Sydney here.

Head to one of the best museums in Sydney here.

Check out things to do in Sydney on a rainy day here.

Enjoy one of the best ocean pools in Sydney here.

First time visiting Sydney? Get tips for first time visitors to Sydney here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Where To Stay In Phuket Thailand (With or Without Kids)

Where To Stay In Phuket Thailand (With or Without Kids)

Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is home to stunning white sand beaches, beautiful rainforests, luxury resorts and cultural attractions. With thirty stunning beaches, visitors are spoiled for choice! For first time visitors, choosing a location can make all the difference to a holiday, be it relaxing or adventurous, kid-friendly or party-central. This guide will help you decide where to stay in Phuket.

I’ve asked some experienced travel bloggers for their recommendations of where to stay in Phuket. There’s an option to suit all holidays and budget.

Where To Stay In Phuket Thailand (With or Without Kids)

Patong Beach

Patong Phuket Thailand

This west-coast resort town is well-known for Bangla Road, which has the highest concentration of bars and nightclubs anywhere in Phuket and is the main source of nightlight for the whole island. There are plenty of restaurants, shops and attractions in the area, many of which aren’t so kid-friendly.

Tips for staying in Patong

The Bangla Road area is not for children. At night it closes for an all-in street party, with lots of things very inappropriate for kids, but fun to walk down for older people, teens and up.

Patong Phuket Thailand

There are basic restaurants for picky kids like Molly Malone’s pub, McDonald’s and the Hard Rock Cafe. The tuk tuk are a must, especially at night when there is music playing and the tuk tuks are lit up. Our little ones absolutely loved them and called them disco tuk tuks.

Patong Phuket Thailand

One restaurant I would recommend is “On The Rock”, between Kata and Karon beaches. A bit more up market, with beautiful food and a fabulous location with a spectacular sunset. On The Rock is a short tuk tuk ride from Patong.

Patong Phuket Thailand

Patong Phuket Thailand

Patong Beach tips and images thanks to Caroline of Caroline_HarperTravels

Where to stay in Patong

Duangjitt Resort & Spa

Patong Phuket Thailand

This large resort is a perfect spot for families on a budget. The grounds are massive with room for kids to run and play. It has the cutest kids’ club we have ever seen and the breakfast was very good.

Patong Phuket Thailand

The resort has two huge pools, one is so large you can’t see the whole thing without walking around, and it’s also only about 30 metres to the beach, so super close for little legs. There is mini mart opposite the entrance for supplies and offers interconnecting and family rooms.

Find rates for Duangjitt Resort & Spa

Pra-Nang Villa

Patong Phuket Thailand

The villa was magnificent, with a view over Patong Beach. It came with a car and driver making it easy to go up and down the hill to the shops, beach, restaurants and markets. The villa was staffed, so breakfast was cooked and prepared for us each every day.

Patong Phuket Thailand

The five bedrooms all have ensuite, plus there was a two-level pool and games room with pool table and gym equipment.

Patong Phuket Thailand

It was a more expensive way to stay, but we had a family of 11 staying, making it the perfect choice.

Get more info on staying at the Pra-Nag Villa here

Patong Beach accommodation and tips by Caroline of Caroline_HarperTravels

Holiday Inn Resort Patong

Holiday Inn, Patong, Phuket, Thailand

I know what you are thinking. Patong? That crazy party town? With kids? No, I’m not crazy. Indulge me for just a moment! Yes, Patong is known for the nightlife but it certainly does not exclude families. The trick is to pick the perfect accommodation so when the hectic pace gets too much for the wee ones you have a safe place to relax. Once you step through the gates of the Holiday Inn Resort in Patong you instantly feel the tension slip away. The kiddies will love the resort pool which is big enough to never fell crowded and the adults will love the swim up bar to indulge while keeping a watchful eye. Rooms are spacious enough to fit a family of four all in the one room and inter connecting rooms are available. Kids have their choice of a variety of activities at the Kids/ Club and the girls loved the Thai dancing class.

Step out onto the street and treat them to a delicious crepe from one of the many street vendors (with sprinkles of course!) and a visit to the beach, which is just steps away, is a must. Little shopaholics will love haggling at the many markets for a bargain and when the sun sets treat them to one Patong’s many cheap eats. We loved Sweet Restaurant and they always produced a complimentary after dinner treat for the girls which was a wonderful touch.

If your little ones are Hello Kitty fans be warned there is a dedicated shop that we HAD to visit every night and dragging Miss C out without tears was a touch problematic!

Thanks to Allison Smith, Flights to Fancy

Get rates for the Holiday Inn Resort Phuket here

Find and compare accomodation in Patong here

Kata Beach

Kata Beach, Phuket Thailand

A popular location for surfing and diving, plus for families looking for a relaxing holiday on the beach. There are several restaurants, shops, activities and pretty views in the area.

Where to stay at Kata Beach

Kata Leaf Hotel

Kata Beach, Phuket Thailand

I loved Kata Beach’s chilled out vibe and minimal party scene, which make it an ideal spot for families. The beach is sheltered by the bay, and it’s calm waters were great for the kids. It was relatively clean, and a relaxing change from the busier beaches to the North. I didn’t like the lack of sidewalks at the South end of town. At times it was a bit nerve-wracking walking the streets with the kids because of this. And although it’s not crazy busy, the beach was still busy enough to attract it’s fair share of hawkers selling everything from t-shirts to beer! I find it hard to relax when I’m constantly telling someone “no” (I have to do this enough with my kids!).

We stayed in a small hotel towards the south end of town, the Kata Leaf. The rooms were spacious and it was tucked away off the street, so it was nice and quiet. The best part was the covered patio in front of the room where we could relax in the evening while the kids slept inside.

Kata Beach images and accommodation thanks to Kyla Hunter, whereistheworld.ca

Get rates for the Kata Leaf here

Kata Noi Resort

We found Kata Noi, a small, quiet beach just south of more popular Kata Yai (Kata Beach) to be perfect for staying with our elderly parents and one-year-old son. The luxury Katathani Resort takes up most of the beach, but blends in to the background so you barely notice it.

Kata Noi, Phuket, Thailand

We loved staying at the small guesthouse Kata Noi Resort. We had access to the same gorgeous beach for a fraction of the price, and we had a private villa with swimming pool only a few minutes walk from the beach.

Kata Noi, Phuket, Thailand

See here for more information on Kata Noi for families.

Thanks to Nick Kembel, Spiritual Travels

Get rates for Kata Noi Resort here

Find and compare accommodation in Kata Beach here

Karon Beach

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

A relaxed beachside community with shopping, nightlife and a good choice of budget restaurants. There are plenty of beautiful resorts to choose from in the area, at budget-friendly prices.

The closest attraction is Wat Suwan Khirikhet. We spent a beautiful morning at the temple engaging with the monks and their pet chickens.

Where to stay at Karon Beach

Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

We highly enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa. The low-rise resort sprawls around three pools, with a distinctly jungle-feel to it thanks to all of the gorgeous plant life. The hotel features a kids’ club, excellent breakfast with custom-made omelettes and five resorts.

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa

The Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa is extremely family-friendly. We found a tent in our bedroom filled with toys for our daughter to play with, she found a little treat on arrival and discovered a scavenger hunt trail to get her busy around the resort.

Read more about our stay at the Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa here.

Find and compare accommodation at Karon Beach here

Bang Tao Beach

The second-longest beach on Phuket is home to a mix of budget and mid-range hotels in its south end, luxury resorts in its central area, and five-star properties in its northern end. Bang Tao is a quiet spot with a few beach clubs and restaurants.

Where to stay at Bang Tao Beach

Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa

Bangtao Phuket Thailand

We arrived at the Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa late at night from our flight from Bangkok. Thankfully, the receptionist was very understanding that we were tired and checked us in quickly. During the short waiting time, we got cold wet towels to clean our faces – a lovely gesture.

Bangtao Phuket Thailand

We had decided to splurge a little and got the three bedroom villa of the hotel with a private pool. And it was absolutely worth it. We could just open the sliding door of our huge living room and jump right into our own pool. An absolutely amazing experience with maximum privacy.

The hotel itself is in a very quiet location, a couple of km from the beach. They also have a beach club and a private shuttle that goes there every couple of minutes. For us it was fine since we didn’t need to spend all day on the beach. The facilities of the hotel were all top notch – several pools, a fitness area and a really great breakfast.

Thanks to Mike of 197 Travel Stamps.

Get rates for Dream Phuket Hotel & Spa here

Find and compare accommodation at Bang Tao Beach here.

Mai Khao Beach

Sala Phuket Thailand

The longest beach in Thailand is a quiet, relaxing location for a holiday. All you’ll find at Mai Khao Beach is a few luxury resorts and the Splash Jungle Water Park, making it the perfect spot to escape and do absolutely nothing. The majority of the beach lies inside the Sirinath National Park, where Giant Ridley Sea Turtles lay eggs between November and February.

Where to stay at Mai Khao Beach

Sala Phuket

Sala Phuket Thailand

Phuket is mostly developed in the south, so for serenity and seclusion on arriving, I personally prefer to escape north from the airport. And here we would stay on Mai Khao Beach, an area which remains relatively unspoilt when compared to Phuket’s more popular beaches. But seclusion does have its downsides, and there is very little entertainment or excitement in the area, so you’ll have to make-do with the sea views, soft sands, and natural surroundings (although resorts will always offer the usual tours and excursions in the Andaman region).

There are only a handful of high-end resorts along Mai Khao Beach, and to date we have stayed in a couple, although the stand-out stay is undoubtedly SALA Phuket Resort & Spa. A rather fancy, boutique-styled escape, with private pool villas, and beachfront views.

Mai Khao images and accommodation thanks to Allan Wilson, live-less-ordinary.com.

Get rates on SALA Phuket Resort & Spa here

Compare accommodation at Mai Khao Beach here

Kamala Beach

Kamala Beach is located approximately 5km from Patong. It’s one of the smaller towns in Phuket and is still a fishing village, even though tourism also makes up for the local’s income. It’s quieter and more relaxed here compared to other tourist areas in Phuket, and also a bit cheaper.

There’s a lot of greenery in the area, giving it a jungle feeling. Kamala Beach is safe for children and a great place for snorkeling.

Kamala is not the place for parties and doesn’t have as large range of restaurants as nearby Patong, for example. But, In short Kamala Beach offers everything for a relaxing vacation in Phuket.

Where to stay at Kamala Beach

Keemala Phuket

Keemala, Phuket, Thailand

If you want to spice things up, I really recommend staying at the luxury resort called Keemala, which is just a few minutes driving upwards from the beach. Keemala offers that jungle experience as you’ll be staying in villas located in the middle of the jungle with private pools, spa and delicious food.

Thanks Alex at swedishnomad.com for the Kamala Beach tips and hotel recommendation.

Get rates for Keemala Resort here

Compare accommodation in Kamala Beach here

Rawai Beach

Recognisable for the long-tailed fishing boats anchored along it, Rawai Beach is a great location for island-hopping to nearby Coral and Racha islands. It’s a quiet area with a few shops and restaurants, and is located close to attractions such as Promthep Cape and Phuket Big Buddha. Rawai Beach is renowned as an excellent location particularly for families.

Where to stay at Rawai Beach

Find and compare accommodation at Rawai Beach here

Surin Beach

Surin Beach, Phuket

We stayed in this quiet town and enjoyed its peacefulness. Surin Beach doesn’t have much in the way of restaurants or things to do in the area, but does have a beautiful beach and some lovely resorts to stay at.

Where to stay at Surin Beach

Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

Hotel Review: Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort

We stayed at the Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort, a 4-star resort is a short walk from Surin Beach, about 25 minutes from Phuket airport. The resort is large without feeling overwhelmingly huge – it’s big enough to have a lot of great facilities, but small enough to get to know the staff and for them to learn our names. The incredible buffet breakfast has something to suit everyone, the pools are massive and beautiful, and the kids’ club offers plenty of activities.

Read more about our stay at Novotel Phuket Surin Beach Resort here.

Find and compare accommodation at Surin Beach here

Phuket Town

Phuket Old Town, Thailand

The urban centre of the island, Phuket Town is a unique location with pastel coloured buildings lining its streets, great restaurants, shops and attractions such as the Phuket Trickeye Museum. Staying in Phuket Town is great for getting a local experience.

Where to stay in Phuket Town

Find and compare accommodation in Phuket Town here

Naithon Beach

Pullman Phuket Thailand

Phuket’s Naithon is a sleepy beachside village, away from the hordes at the popular resorts town.  One of the last bastions of undeveloped loveliness on the island, Naithon offers a taste of Phuket as it was a couple of decades ago, and visitors won’t find much more than a gorgeous beach, shady trees, a few seafood restaurants and a hotel or two. While the quiet might not appeal to some people, it’s exactly the kind of place we love, because sand, sea and sunshine are all we need to be happy.

Where to stay at Naithon Beach

Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach Resort

Pullman Phuket Thailand

The Pullman Phuket Arcadia Naithon Beach is a jaw-dropping beachfront resort and without doubt, our favourite hotel in Phuket. Just 10 minutes from the airport, the resort is a place where gracious Thai hospitality meets absolute luxury. Accommodation is light, chic and spacious, with separate living and sleeping quarters that are perfect for families.

Pullman Phuket Thailand

There’s a choice of amazing restaurants, two pool zones, one near the kids’ club as well as an infinity pool that offers what must be some of the most spectacular pool views in Phuket. Speaking of the kids’ club, with computer games for my eldest and a ball pit for my little one, it was a hit with both. Offering peace, tranquility and the right amount fun, this is a resort that nails it on every level.

Thanks to Aleney at Boyeatsworld.com.au for the tips and hotel recommendation.

Get rates for the Pullman Phuket Arcadia here

Tips for visiting Phuket

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

What to avoid

Please don’t ride elephants, watch an elephant show or have your photo taken with an animal on the street (such as monkeys). These animals are treated cruelly and participating in these activities enables the businesses to continue to run. More info on animal cruelty in Thailand here.

When to visit Thailand

We visited Phuket at the end of monsoon season (early October), and did experience quite a lot of rain. The rain was mostly in the mornings and late afternoon/evening, however, so there was still enough of the day that was try to get out and enjoy.

What to pack

Mosquito repellant
Sunscreen
Scarf to cover shoulders if visiting temples
Loose, light layers
Hat, swimmers, sunglasses, goggles
Comfortable walking shoes

What to wear

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island
The Thai people tend to dress quite conservatively. Tourists can wear shorts and tanks tops, but avoid showing too much skin when you’re not at the hotel. If you’re visiting a temple, wear pants or a skirt that covers your knees. Some temples will also require shoulders being covered.

Food and Water in Thailand

Take care when eating and drinking water in Thailand. Do not drink water from anywhere other than a sealed bottle in Thailand, or drink anything that comes with ice. Do not eat fresh fruit and salads as they have been washed in tap water. You could get seriously sick if you do. Only eat cooked food and fruit that you can peel yourself.

Money in Thailand

1AUD is about equal to 30THB. A plate of Thai food at a local restaurant will cost about 50-60THB.

Getting around

Common forms of transport

Red buses: We caught one and it cost 40THB for the three of us. It’s basically a small bus with the back area wide open. Please jump on and off when they need to.
Tuk-tuk: Around 100THB for a short distance. Ask for the cost in advance and wedge kids in the middle, tight.
Taxi: Arrange the amount in advance. Call for a taxi from hotels.
Hire car and driver: We hired a car and driver to take us to Old Phuket Town and Big Buddha. It was quite pricey, at 700THB an hour, with a minimum of three hours plus the fourth hour for free.

What to do and see in Phuket


Phuket attractions

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

From Old Phuket Town to the Big Buddha and beautiful Wat Suwan Khiri Khet temple, there’s plenty to see and do in Phuket if you get sick of swimming at the beach!

Read more about our favourite attractions and things to do in Phuket here.

Phuket Day Trips

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

We took a magnificent day trip to Phang Nga Bay, also known as the James Bond Island tour.

Read more about our Phang Nga Bay tour here. 

Other popular day trips include Phi Phi Islands with Maya Bay and Monkey Beach, Similan Islands, Coral Islands, Racha Islands, Khao Lak,  Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi.

Phuket with kids

Phuket Day Trips: Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island

Phuket is an excellent choice for a family holiday. We highly enjoyed our vacation here with our daughter, who was five years old at the time.

Tips for visiting Phuket with kids

Phuket Old Town, Thailand

Most hotels are family-friendly, so it’s not hard to find a resort with beautiful pools and catering to families. Check out the hotels above as a starting guide.

What to look for: pools with slides or shallow ends, kids’ club, kids’ meals, family activities and a safe location away from nightlife.

Most upmarket resorts will offer western food on the property, making it easy for families with picky kids to make sure they still eat something if they won’t want to try the local cuisine.

Pick up sand toys for a few dollars from cheap stores near the beaches and use them both at the resorts as well as in the sand. We got endless hours of amusement for about $2 AUD.

Leave the resort! It can be so easy to just stay inside the property and relax – and never leave the resort. I get it. Travelling in a foreign country with kids can be daunting. However, kids will love seeing what local life looks like in Thailand.

My best memory of our Phuket stay was when we visited Wat Suwan Khiri Khet temple in Karon and my daughter struck up a friendship with the local monks over their pet chickens, despite neither party being able to speak the other’s language. It’s moments like this that really make travel memories special for us.

Read more about things to do in Phuket with kids here.

Where To Stay In Phuket Thailand (With or Without Kids)

 

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. If you book a hotel through some of these links, I will receive a small referral commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids

 

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids, USA

The Louisiana city of New Orleans, nicknamed “The Big Easy”, is known as a decadent party town for adults. For families, on the surface New Orleans can seem pretty un-kid-friendly. While there aren’t playgrounds on every corner, there are, however a lot of fun and creative ways to entertain kids of all ages. We’ve found the best things to do in New Orleans with kids so you can take it easy and enjoy!

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids

Jackson Square

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

This square is located in the French Quarter, with gorgeous architecture on all sides. It’s ideally located near the famous Cafe Du Monde (for beignets) and the waterfront for strolling. It’s an oasis in the city with grassed areas for kids to run around, and musicians and artists edged around the square for additional entertainment. St Louis Cathedral looms over the square, creating a picturesque photo op.

New Orleans

Kids will also love wandering past (and even inside!) the many art galleries in the streets surrounding the square, particularly the Rodrigue Studio with his famous dogs.
700 Decatur St, New Orleans

The French Quarter

New Orleans
The stunning New Orleans architecture might not hold much interest for kids, but they will love the doors of many hues and will want to knock on them all!

New Orleans

There are lots of little speciality stores in the French Quarter that kids will love, including Sucre and Laura’s Candies, as well as stores where masks and mardi gras dress-ups can be purchased.

New Orleans

Audubon Nature Institute

New Orleans, USA

The Audubon Institute is home to numerous nature attractions in New Orleans. The best value is to buy an all inclusive experience ticket.
Online: auduboninstitute.org

All images courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Zoo

New Orleans, USA

As well as being home to animals from all around the world, the zoo houses a unique Louisiana Swamp Exhibit to give visitors a taste of local wildlife. Audubon Zoo is also home to cavies, a near-threatened species of rodent.
6500 Magazine Street, New Orleans
Online: audubonnatureinstitute.org

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

New Orleans Aquarium, USA

See endangered African Blackfoot penguins, touch a stingray, feed a parakeet and watch giant sharks, tarpon and rays at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. The aquarium also prepares rescued sea turtles for release in the wild – watch out for the turtles throughout the aquarium.
1 Canal St, New Orleans
Online: audubonnatureinstitute.org/aquarium

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

New Orleans, USA

The largest museum in North America devoted to inspects and butterflies, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, teaches kids everything they could possibly want to know about creepy crawlies and winged beauties. Watch a live show, wander through a Louisiana swamp, be “shrunk” to bug size and watch thousands of butterflies dance around
423 Canal St, New Orleans
Online: audubonnatureinstitute.org/insectarium

Louisiana Children’s Museum

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Enjoy the museum’s interactive exhibits like a room devoted to blowing bubbles.The trains and transport areas were also a hit for us. With 30,000 square feet of exhibits and programs kids of all ages will enjoy themselves.

420 Julia Street, New Orleans.
Online: lcm.org

New Orleans City Park

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com
This 1,300 acre public park in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a short tram ride from the center of NOLA (which is a fun activity to do in itself). It’s the 6th-largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States, and jam-packed with fun for kids and adults. A visit to City Park is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids.
1 Palm Dr, New Orleans
Online: neworleanscitypark.com

 

New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Gardens

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

The five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden holds more than 60 sculptures and is free to enter and wander around. The sculptures lie nestled among winding paths and a scenic lagoon inside New Orleans City Park.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/new-orleans-museum-of-art-and-sculpture-garden

Morning Call

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

This little cafe serving beignets and chocolate milk (plus cafe au lait for adults) is right next to a large playground and open 24 hours. How adorable is the free hat they give kids? Cash only.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/morning-call

Playgrounds

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.comCity Park features three playgrounds for kid of all ages.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/playgrounds

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

The amusement park features 16 rides including the park’s 100-year-old namesake wooden carousel. The Carousel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Check website for seasonal opening days and times.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/carousel-gardens

City Putt

City Putt is a 36-hole mini golf complex that’s open all year-round.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/city-putt

Storyland

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Featuring 25 larger-than-life characters right out of popular children’s fairytales such as Peter Pan, Snow White and Cinderella. Kids can climb aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship or Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/storyland

Train Garden

Kids and adults alike will marvel at the model of New Orleans in the early 19th Century  with replicas of streetcars and trains winding around it. 1300 feet of track carrying streetcars and trains like those that traveled the city in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, at 1/22 of their actual size.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/train-garden

Coming soon to City Park: Splash Park

Louis Armstrong Park

Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans
This 32-acre park in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, is just a few steps from the French Quarter. Louis Armstong Park honors the great jazz legend Louis Armstrong and features sculptures, duck ponds and plenty of green space for running around.
701 N Rampart St, New Orleans

Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans

Where to eat in New Orleans with kids

The Ruby Slipper

New Orleans
An award-winning cafe with three locations in New Orleans, The Ruby Slipper serves southern breakfast, brunch and lunch with New Orleans flair. We found them to be incredibly kid-friendly, as well as serving delicious food.
Online: therubyslippercafe.net

Mr. B’s Bistro

New Orleans
Serving up Louisiana food inspired by Creole and Cajun dishes, Mr. B’s Bistro is an iconic restaurant in the heart of New Orlean’s French Quarter. Proving that fine food and kids can sometimes mix, Br. B’s Bistro is incredibly kid-friendly, handing out colouring sheets and crayons and balloons to the junior diners.
201 Royal St, New Orleans
Online: mrbsbistro.com

Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans

It’s just not a trip to New Orleans without a beignet from the famous Cafe Du Monde! Opened in 1862 as a coffee stand, Cafe Du Monde is a New Orleans institution serving up fresh beignets 24 hours a day, seven days week. A beignet is a French-style donut, covered in powdered sugar.
800 Decatur St, New Orleans
Online: cafedumonde.com

Getting around New Orleans with kids

Staying on the border of the French Quarter, we had an easy time getting around the historic area of New Orleans on foot. To reach City Park we took the tram, which left from right outside our hotel.

Where to stay in New Orleans with Kids

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

We enjoyed a fantastic stay at the Ritz-Carlton. The staff at this upmarket hotel could not have been more welcoming to us and the small one, even welcoming her with a gift of a plush Ritz-Carlton lion mascot. The hotel’s location was also superb. We were able to walk to every attraction in the city with the exception of City Park. We would absolutely stay here again.

921 Canal St, New Orleans
Online: ritzcarlton.com

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids, USA

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Top Tips For Visiting and Photographing Vivid Sydney

Top Tips For Visiting and Photographing Vivid Sydney, Australia

Vivid Sydney is, without a doubt, one of my favourite times of year. 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. From 25 May to 16 June the event lights up Sydney over 11 precincts, each featuring their own unique light sculptures.

Top Tips For Visiting and Photographing Vivid Sydney

What’s on at all 11 precincts

This year Vivid Sydney is spread across 11 precincts. Each features their own specific light installations.

Barangaroo
Photo by Ken Leanfore

This incredible, giant puppet, was made by Erth, the creators of Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo. It has to be seen to be believed!

Read about Vivid Sydney at Barangaroo

Chatswood
Vivid Sydney
Photo by Steve Christo

The octopus returns! Chatswood is a top pick for taking kids to see Vivid. Lights go on at 5:30pm at Chatswood! Perfect for taking the kids. Grab some food at around 5pm and you’ve got yourself the perfect early night Vivid experience.

Read about Vivid Sydney at Chatswood

Circular Quay

Vivid Sydney

The best view of the Sydney Opera House is from the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Read about Vivid Sydney at Circular Quay

City and Surrounds

Vivid Sydney

A must-see tis year is the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie projection on the Customs House.

Read about Vivid Sydney in the Sydney CBD

Darling Harbour

Vivid Sydney
This year Darling Harbour will feature an inclusive light playground, Tumbalong Lights. The light display has four interactive play installations that give children of all ages and abilities an inclusive and accessible experience.

Darling Harbour is a top pick for families.

Read more about Tumbalong Lights.

Read more about Vivid Sydney at Darling Harbour

Harbour Lights

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me

Read more about Vivid Sydney Harbour Lights

Kings Cross

Read more about Vivid Sydney at Kings Cross

Luna Park
Vivid Sydney
Photograph by Dallas Kilponen

Read more about Vivid Sydney at Luna Park

Taronga Zoo

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

We attend Vivid at Taronga Zoo every year. Their “Lights for the Wild” display focuses on animal conservation. Over 100 sculptures are ready to be discovered on a light trail through the zoo.

Read more about Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

The Rocks

Vivid Sydney

Duck in and out of historic laneways and discover a treasure trove of light sculptures.

Read more about Vivid Sydney at The Rocks

The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Vivid Sydney
Photo by Steve Christo

Always a beautiful location to see light sculptures by the ocean, with the Sydney Opera House in the background.

Vivid Sydney
Photo by Steve Christo

This year, grab a cupcake ($7) from a Sprinkles cupcake vending machine on the trail.

Read more about Vivid Sydney at The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

General Vivid Sydney Tips

Vivid Sydney

Arrive BEFORE the lights turn on

Find a prime position near the lights that you want to see the most without a hoard of people and wait patiently until the lights get switch on. BAM – lights minus the crowds.

Lights go on at 6pm at all locations other than Taronga Zoo, where the lights go on at 5:30pm.

Hit up the most popular installations first

This has always been a key for me in conjunction with the point above. I circle back to those that it’s easy to see even with a crowd last, such as the Customs House, MCA and Sydney Opera House.

See the lights without the crowd

There are a few spots where you can see Vivid lights that are away from the general crowd. For a good view of the Harbour head to the top of the Cahill Expressway (lift at Circular Quay).

You can also visit the Observation Deck of the Sydney Tower Eye for a birds-eye view of the lights, zero crowds!

Lastly, walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s free to walk the pedestrian and bike path. I would suggest walking in one direction from The Rocks to Milsons Point, and catching the train back again.

Dedicate several nights to see it all

I’m sure it’s possible to see everything in one go, but why do it if you can spread it out? With so many locations, Vivid really needs at least three nights to see everything. Break it down into sections that can be covered together. Taronga and Chatswood or Luna Park, Circular Quay, Martin Place and Botanic Gardens plus Barangaroo and the Rocks, and lastly Darling Harbour, which can be done with another of the options with a bit of commuting in between.

Rug up!

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

It gets cold at night, especially near the water. Dress warm including a coat and a beanie and gloves.

Take the kids to Taronga

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

This is my pick for kids because it’s ticketed, so less people, and the lights go on earlier than the other locations.

Read about what to expect from Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo here.

Don’t bypass the smaller Vivid locations, especially with kids

With kids in tow, the locations such as Darling Harbour and Chatswood are also an excellent idea as these spots don’t get as large crowds as the CBD does.

Pick a quiet day to go

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

We always go the first weekend or Monday to Thursday. The first few days are always the quietist, before photos start appearing in the news and reminding people that it’s on. The second weekend, from Friday onwards, is when it starts to get really busy. If there is a big event on elsewhere while Vivid is on, that is also a great night to go!

Take public transport to the city or pre-book parking

Pre-book a car spot if you ca’t take public transport as parking is an absolute nightmare. When taking public transport, be aware that Circular Quay train station might be busy and be prepared to walk to another station if needed.

Find the best places to park for Vivid here.

Bring carriers or strollers for kids

This is for two reasons – one, because it’s night time and little people get tired, but also to keep them out of the way of being stepped on by adults.

Eat food first

We always arrive early in the city and eat before the lights even turn on. My pick is Gateway Sydney for casual, great food.

Tips for seeing Vivid with kids

Vivid Sydney: The Highlights via christineknight.me
Take them to Taronga or Chatswood, where lights go on at 5:30pm instead of 6pm and the crowds aren’t as bad. Darling Harbour, with its interactive light playground, is an excellent choice for families as well.

Take a stroller or baby carrier for little ones.

Feed them first or bring plenty of food for on the go.

Pick up free Lost Child Wristbands for the kids at info booths located on near the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Customs House and Darling Harbour.

Dress kids in high visibility clothing and keep them in sightline at all times.

Photography Tips

Take a good camera

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Take the best one you have. If you have an SLR, bring it. If the best you have is a point and shoot or your phone, then that will do. One of my old photography teachers once said “the best camera is the one you’ve got” and I’ve always remembered it!

A better camera will however produce better results, so when you’re in a tricky lighting situation such as an event after dark, I find it’s always worth bringing the best camera you’ve got.

Turn off the flash

Please, please, please turn off your flash! A good flash on an SLR camera only has a range of about a metre, so a flash on a phone is even more ineffectual. Use light from the installations to illuminate your subject matter rather than the flash.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Caveat: If your subjects are standing in front of an extremely large light sculpture and you want them facing the camera with the object BEHIND them, then this is the one time when I would suggest using the flash. There is a photography op at Taronga with gorillas that is exactly this circumstance.

Use the sculptures to light faces

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Instead of using the flash, position people near the sculptures with the light directing onto them faces. Move yourself into a position where you can see the faces illuminated. Then take the photo.

Take a tripod 

Obviously this is a “if you have one” scenario. In any lowlight situation a tripod is your best friend to providing camera stability and resulting in sharper images without needing to over compensate for the low light by adjusting other camera settings as much.

Lean on fences or props

If you don’t have a tripod or, like me, don’t take one because they’re quite hard to manage with a crowd or you’ve got kids in tow, wedge your camera on solid, immovable objects to get sharper shots. I use fences, the backs of chairs, you get the picture.

Bump up the ISO

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

If you have manual settings on your camera, bump up the ISO A LOT. I bump mine way up to ensure that the photos are in focus. The photos are grainier as a result, but at least they’re in focus.

Give kids an old camera or phone

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

I gave Cheese my iPhone to shoot with this year and I loved the photos she came up with. Kids have a different perspective to adults so the angles and perspectives she shot were completely different to mine.

Get more info on Vivid Sydney here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Tips For Visiting Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo is back for its third year! One of our fave family nights of the year, it’s also our top pick for taking kids to see to see the lights at the annual Vivid festival of lights in Sydney.

In 2018, Vivid Sydney at Taronga runs from May 25 – June 16.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

While you do pay an entrance fee for Vivid at Taronga Zoo, the timed and ticked sessions mean that the crowds are way less and it’s much better managed than the other areas of the festival.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

In line with Taronga Zoo’s focus on conservation, the light show, “Lights for the Wild”, aims to entertain, but also educate the public on 10 of the special animals they are trying to save from extinction in the next 10 years. Each light installation and sculpture tells an important story about conservation.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

While “Lights for the Wild” isn’t as interactive as it was last year (sadly the multimedia bracelets have gone), with only one sculpture that can be touched and manipulated, it’s still a beautiful series of light sculptures in an extremely family-friendly environment.

What you need to know about Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo 2018

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

What’s new this year?

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

While many favourites from the past two years return again, including the gorillas, Tasmanian devil and Sumatran tiger, there are 19 brand new and three revamped sculptures to experience including a goanna, weedy sea dragon, red back spiders and school of blue devil fish.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

The entrance to the light show is completely new. The video projection onto the front of Taronga is gone. In its place is the two-story tall Port Jackson Shark that is now the official exit.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Also new this year is the Taronga Centenary Theatre which shows the multi-award winning animated film, presented as a 270-degree cinematic experience. It’s a great place to stop for a rest beneath a canopy of stars and a glowing planet earth as designed by children, before continuing on the journey back to the top of the zoo.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Visitors can show their support to conservation by tying a glowing yellow ribbon at Ties for the Wild. For each ribbon tied, American Express will make a donation to Taronga’s wildlife conservation.

Getting there

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

While you can catch the ferry, we prefer to drive. If you stay under 90 minutes it’s free. Unlimited parking is $18. We never have any problems finding parking or with traffic either getting there or going back home again.

Pick your session

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

There are now THREE sessions each night: 5:30pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm, with last entry at 8:30pm.

Buy tickets in advance

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Buy your tickets from the Taronga Zoo website. There is a slight price increase this year.

Prices: Monday – Thursday (Ex Public Holiday) Adults: $23.95 Children: $17.95 Concession: $21.56 Friday – Sunday & Public Holidays Adults: $26.95 Children: $18.95 Concession: $24.26 Children under 4: Free

A limited number of Blue Pass tickets are available each night and include a round trip on the Sky Safari. The Blue Passes cost the same as the regular tickets so I suggest getting them if possible. The Sky Safari DOES NOT STOP, it runs along a loop from the top of the pack back to where it started from.

While I saw a lot of people heading straight to the sky safari when they entered, I suggest seeing the other lights first to get ahead of the crowds, and taking the Sky Safari last before you go home when there is no queue.

Make a day of it

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

If you plan to visit the Zoo during the day before your evening Vivid outing, either buy the tickets online in advance at the same time as your Vivid tickets, or you can buy your Zoo day entry tickets at the Zoo ticket desk on arrival to enjoy a 30% discount off General Admission prices*

Please note: Taronga Zoo closes at 4.30pm and Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo commences at 5.30pm. If you are staying on you will be asked to come up to the main entry plaza to get ready for the beginning of your Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo experience. There is a cafe in the main entry plaza and plenty for the kids to enjoy while you’re waiting for the Vivid lights to turn on.

The Zoo Admission ticket is only valid for use on the same day as your Vivid ticket.

Pack food

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

While there are cafes open with basic food if you don’t have time to do this, we always like to bring our own.

Get there early

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

This is really my mantra for anything we go to! Arrive before the lights go on at 5:30pm so you get in ahead of most of the people in your timed session. I would suggest 5pm. Kids can run through the shark and see the first batch of sculptures inside the entrance before the sessions begin, and you’ll be first in line when 5:30pm strikes and the doors open.

Follow the trail

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

The trail winds throughout Taronga Zoo on a circular path. It is completely stroller and wheelchair accessible. The multimedia light sculptures are dotted along the path.

Final Taronga Tips

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

The light trail takes about 60-90 minutes to complete. While the whole trail is stroller and wheelchair accessible there are some steep sections.

There are family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms available for use at the entrance at throughout the trail (please check the map).

Catch Vivid at Taronga Zoo from May 26th to June 17, 2017.

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia

Vivid Sydney Tips

Arrive BEFORE the lights turn on

Find a prime position near the lights that you want to see the most without a hoard of people and wait patiently until the lights get switch on. BAM – lights minus the crowds.

Hit up the most popular installations first

This has always been a key for me in conjunction with the point above. I circle back to those that it’s easy to see even with a crowd last, such as the Customs House, MCA and Sydney Opera House.

Dedicate several nights to see it all

I’m sure it’s possible to see everything in one go, but why do it if you can spread it out? With so many locations, Vivid really needs at least three nights to see everything. Break it down into sections that can be covered together. Taronga and Chatswood or Luna Park, Circular Quay, Martin Place and Botanic Gardens plus Barangaroo and the Rocks, and lastly Darling Harbour, which can be done with another of the options with a bit of commuting in between.

Take the kids to Taronga

This is my pick for kids because it’s ticketed, so less people, and the lights go on earlier than the other locations.

Don’t bypass the smaller Vivid locations, especially with kids

With kids in tow, the locations such as Darling Harbour and Chatswood are also an excellent idea as these spots don’t get as large crowds as the CBD does.

Pick a quiet day to go

We always go the first weekend or Monday to Thursday. The first few days are always the quietist, before photos start appearing in the news and reminding people that it’s on. The second weekend, from Friday onwards, is when it starts to get really busy. If there is a big event on elsewhere while Vivid is on, that is also a great night to go!

Take public transport to the city or pre-book parking

Pre-book a car spot if you ca’t take public transport as parking is an absolute nightmare. When taking public transport, be aware that Circular Quay train station might be busy and be prepared to walk to another station if needed.

Find the best places to park for Vivid here.

Bring carriers or strollers for kids

This is for two reasons – one, because it’s night time and little people get tired, but also to keep them out of the way of being stepped on by adults.

Eat food first

We always arrive early in the city and eat before the lights even turn on. My pick is Gateway Sydney for casual, great food.

Get more info on Vivid Sydney here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!