Canberra's Perfect for a Family Getaway

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Stepping into an air-raid shelter, feeding a tiger, minting a $1 coin, and boating on the lake are just some of the activities that families can do in Canberra. Seeing the city through a child’s eye will give you a completely different perspective on Australia’s National Capital and now’s the time to get planning a family getaway!

Plenty of Play 

Most of the major attractions have activities for kids, and better still, some – like the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House - are free. It has facilitated craft from 10.30am to 12.30pm and storytime at 12 noon every day. Older children can unleash their creativity in the Zine Lounge, with an array of creative tools to help them publish a magazine. 

For a small charge, the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre at the National Museum of Australia is a fun, immersive play space for kids up to six years old. Older kids can don a headset and enjoy one of the amazing virtual reality experiences, such as Beyond the Milky Way or the Antarctica Experience (parental discretion advised for kids under 13 wearing headsets). 

Questacon, just a 10-minute drive from Adina Serviced Apartments Canberra James Street, is a big magnet for kids with its interactive science exhibits, including an earthquake simulation. It also has a play space, Mini Q, specifically for 0-6 year olds, with a really cool water play feature and a construction zone where they can don hard hats and indulge their inner engineer.  

At the Australian War Memorial, littlies can dress up in a nurse’s uniform, while the sound and light show themed around World War II Lancaster bomber, G for George, is so exciting that it has been known to stop teenagers from text-messaging. Kids never tire of minting their own $1 coin at the Royal Australian Mint. It costs $3 but who cares when it’s the old folks’ money?  

Sports-mad families love the Australian Institute of Sport where elite athletes conduct behind-the-scenes tours. Its interactive Sportex exhibition simulates skiing, tests how you would fare as a wheelchair basketballer, has a thrilling skeleton run, and shows how you measure up to an elite athlete. If the AIS is home to sporting giants, Cockington Green miniature village is for those who appreciate things small-scale. Its ride-on steam train is loved by big and little kids alike, as is the old-fashioned carousel in City Walk. 

Canberra is full of surprises and one that even a lot of locals don’t know about is Calthorpes’ House, built in 1927, the year Parliament House opened. It is furnished exactly as the Calthorpe family left it, right down to clothes in the wardrobes - it even has an air-raid shelter! The National Dinosaur Museum is fun for all ages, while the outstanding National Zoo and Aquarium has some great behind-the-scenes tours (check ahead for tours specially tailored for young children). 

Lake Burley Griffin and its foreshores are perfect for outdoor pursuits with free barbecues, picnic spots and parks where the kids can run around and feed the ducks. Rent a drive-yourself GoBoat to see Burley Griffin’s beautifully designed city from the water. The motorised boats seat eight and no licence is needed. Kayaks, paddleboats, and tandem and family bikes are also available for hire. Canberra is home to the Australian story, a great place to educate kids about their heritage, and a recreational paradise for big and little kids alike. 

Family Friendly Dining 

Dining options are equally plentiful. The Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club is a great choice for families, as kids can run around on the grass and watch the activity on Lake Burley Griffin while enjoying fish and chips or a burger at Snapper & Co. There are plenty of excellent Asian eateries in Civic, Manuka and Kingston where children are welcome, including Abell’s Kopi Tiam, Timmy’s Kitchen, and the much-lauded Thai restaurant, Mork’s. Check out Bicicletta or Pizza Gusto for pizzas. 

 Adults can quench their thirst at Capital Brewing Co., where there’s a huge playground for the kids and Brodburger’s very popular burgers and hot dogs. The elegant Chifley’s Bar & Grill at the Hotel Kurrajong welcomes families for a dinner experience with a side of Australian history. The National Arboretum has an incredibly cool kids’ playground and a casual café as well as a lovely restaurant. 

Linger a Little Longer  

For family accommodation in Canberra, the options are many and varied. Take a trip into yesteryear at the Hotel Kurrajong, where the kids can get a history lesson about early Australian politics (Ben Chifley lived here while he was Prime Minister). Relax in a comfortable home away from home at one of the Adina Serviced Apartments in Dickson, James Court or Kingston (perfect for an extended stay). If you are arriving late or catching an early flight, the Vibe Hotel Canberra is steps from the terminal and a short drive from the city. The stylish, luxe A by Adina Canberra has 2-bedroom interconnecting rooms and is right in the heart of the city, conveniently located for visiting Canberra’s major attractions. 

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