Best Things to do in Canberra with Kids

Things to do in Canberra with Kids

In this guide, we cover all the best things to do in Canberra with Kids, as well as tips on the best Canberra family accommodation and how best to get around.

Canberra is such a brilliant place to take the kids for a family holiday.  While some might think this capital city of Australia is just about boring politics, the truth is it’s absolutely jammed packed full of great attractions for families.  Kids activities Canberra has includes loads of awesome free museums, super fun kid friendly attractions and great outdoor family activities.  The truth is, you’ll probably struggle to fit it all in with just one trip.

If you’re wondering what to do in Canberra with kids, then reading this guide is a great place to start.  We cover all the top family activities Canberra has as well everything you need to know about the top Canberra attractions for families. You’ll also find suggestions on where to stay in Canberra with kids and how best to get around while you’re there.

This post may contain compensated links.  Please refer to my disclaimer here for more information.

Talk to other families about their tips on visiting Canberra with kids and join our Thrifty Family Travel Facebook Group.

Best Things to do in Canberra with Kids Map

Before we get into the details of all the fun things to do in Canberra for kids, check out the map below, which shows you where all the different attractions are.  Zoom in and out for a better view.  This will help you better plan your itinerary as you can easily see what attractions are close to each other.

Best Things to do in Canberra for Kids

Below in this things to do with kids Canberra section, I’ve provided lots of information to make your planning easier, including locations, opening hours and ticket prices.  

Please note that all prices mentioned were correct at the time of writing and may fluctuate depending upon changes to currency conversion and rate increases.  To check the rate in your local currency, click here.

Questacon – National Science and Technology Centre

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

One of the most popular things to do with kids Canberra offers is Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre.  This is an excellent museum that, across four levels, has over 200 interactive exhibits designed to get excited about all things science.

There are many awesome things on display here where kids can get super hands one and even be part of science experiments. For example, kids can experience what it’s like to be in an earthquake, walk across a replica of the moon, freefall six metres down the vertical slide and even see what it’s like being close to a lightning bolt.  

There is a section designed especially for the little ones in the Mini Q.  This area for 0-6 year olds has a water play station, a child sized bakery and shop, and a spaceship they can play in.  This is perfect for those looking for things to do with toddlers in Canberra.

A great place for the little scientists is the Science Sprouts workshops.  These one hour sessions are designed for kids aged 3 to 6 and run twice each morning, Wednesdays through to Saturday.  In these sessions, kids can watch live shows, role play and participate in hands on science experiments.  These sessions have an additional cost to the general admission fee, with tickets being $11.25 per child and per adult.

Pretty much every child that visits Questacon loves it – it really is one of the super fun things for kids to do in Canberra. It does get super busy though, so try and avoid peak times.

Location: King Edward Terrace, Parkes

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

Price: Adults $24.50 | Kids (4-16) $18.90 | Family $73.40 (2A+3C) – Tickets are for 2 hour timed sessions, with the first session at 9 am and the last being at 3 pm.

National Zoo and Aquarium

The National Zoo and Aquarium is a privately owned zoo sprawled across 19 hectares and a visit here is one of the fun things to do in Canberra for families.  Here you’ll find a range of native and exotic animals, including lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, monkeys, penguins and more, as well as the largest inland saltwater tank in Australia.  

For kids aged between 2 to 12, the Adventureland Playground is the perfect place for the little ones to use up some of that energy.  There are 55 activities for the kids within this area, including cubby houses, rock climbing, slides, swings, net climbers, and more!

As well as strolling around and admiring the various animals that call the park home, families can get up close and personal with certain animals through the park’s animal encounters (which are an additional cost).  Encounters include feeding tigers, lions, bears and more.  You can also be a zookeeper for the day and get some hands on experience behind the scenes.

The National Zoo and Aquarium also has a lovely picnic area complete with BBQ facilities, so it’s a lovely place for families to enjoy lunch.  A cafe is also on site too.

The National Zoo and Aquarium are not overly big – but this is part of the attraction.  For families with younger kids or those short on time, it’s easy to see most animals within a day and there is no huge walks between the different animals.  We found it a great zoo to visit and enjoyed our time here.

Location: 999 Lady Denman Dr, Yarralumla 

Opening Hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

Price: Adults $55 | Kids (3-17) $32 | Family $152 (2A+3C)

Sleep with the Animals at Jamala Wildlife Lodge

Jamala Wildlife Lodge Review

If a day visit to the zoo wasn’t enough, then why not spend the night and safely sleep with some of the animals right outside your window.  Families can choose to have rooms with views of the sun bears, tigers or lions or do what we did and sleep in a treehouse with giraffes right outside your balcony! 

This is a fantastic all inclusive experience with your stay including all meals and a private tour of the zoo.  For dinner, you’re treated to an African style dinner where the kids eat first and then when the parents are enjoying their meals (complete with unlimited wine!), the kids are whisked away for a private guided tour of the aquarium.

One of our favourite parts of the whole experience was the private guided tour of the zoo.  Our tour guide Jake took us around the zoo and told us lots of information about the different animals.  We also got to feed a few of them, including deer, llamas, antelope and the highlight being the giraffes!  We even got to pat a rhino!

Of course, relaxing around our gorgeous tree house was pretty cool too – especially with Skye the giraffe, right outside the window.  It’s important to note though, that the animals aren’t chained (thank god!) to your window or anything and they are free to come and go as they please.  So Skye wasn’t always outside when we wanted her to be – but I wouldn’t have it any other way – it was great to know that she only came and visited us when she felt like it.

While kids are more than welcome at Jamala, it’s important to note that different rooms have different age restrictions.  Plus, if kids are under 6, they can only come on the designated family nights, which are held once a month – they’ll have more fun on these nights anyway as there will be plenty of other kids around.

A night at Jamala is certainly no cheap experience. Rather, it’s one of those once and a lifetime special splurge moments where your family will enjoy an experience they will never forget. Certainly one of the more memorable Canberra things to do with kids.

Read our full review on staying at the Jamala Wildlife Lodge here and see our YouTube video here showing all the highlights from our stay.

Location: 999 Lady Denman Dr, Yarralumla 

Opening Hours: Check in is 1 pm and check out at 11 am the next day. However, you’re welcome to spend more time at the zoo outside these hours.

Price: Varies depending on room choice – click here for more details.

National Arboretum 

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

A short drive from Jamala, you’ll find the National Arboretum, a 250 hectare parkland created after the bushfires that burned the area in 2001 and 2003.  The huge parkland is home to forests and gardens, including many rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world.  

The area is a lovely recreation area with over 20km of tracks used for walking, running and cycling.  Tracks range from a short 600 metres loop to a long 7.2 km return track.  There are tracks for all levels of fitness – you can see a map here.

One of the most popular places for families is the Magical Pod.  The Pod has giant acorn cubbies, nest swings, music making instruments and banksia pods that encourage children to climb, explore and most importantly, just have fun.

Around the parkland are also a range of interesting artworks to look at and grab some photos of the family posing with them.

The National Arboretum also has a cafe and restaurant on site, as well as various picnic areas.

Location: Forest Dr, Molonglo Valley.

Opening Hours: Daily from 7 am to 5.30 pm

Price: Entry to the park is free

The National Dinosaur Museum

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

Another one of the super fun Canberra attractions for kids is the National Dinosaur Museum – particularly if you’ve got little ones and after things to do in Canberra with toddlers.  The kids will absolutely love seeing all the dinosaurs on display here – with 23 complete dinosaur skeletons, robotic dinosaurs as well as hundreds of other prehistoric items on display; it’s Australia’s largest collection of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

Outside in the garden, you’ll find a range of gigantic dinosaurs, including Stan the T-rex.  At  20 metres long, 6 metres tall and 8 metres long, Stan is the museum’s biggest dinosaur.  A few other fun things to do here include standing in the jaws of a megalodon, touching a real 150kg meteorite from Argentina, see the real diplodocus vertebrate section, touch real life dinosaurs fossils and loads more.

If you happen to be visiting during school holidays, the museum also holds a range of other special events such as guided night tours on Friday evenings. Also, be sure to pick up an activity sheet on arrival so that the kids can make the most of your visit.

If you visit on weekends or ACT school holidays, there are free guided tours as well at 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm.

Location: 6 Gold Creek Rd, Nicholls

Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

Price: Adults $20 | Kids (4-16) $12 | Family $55 (2A+2C) –  Tickets are for 1 hour timed sessions inside the museum and unlimited access outside, with the first session being at 10 am and the last being at 4 pm

Canberra Reptile Zoo

When it comes to things to do in Canberra for kids – what child doesn’t love the chance to check out some reptiles! If that sounds like your kids, then a visit to the Canberra Reptile Zoo is an absolute must!  With over 50 different species on display, here you’ll see all kinds of reptiles, including frogs, bearded dragons, snakes, turtles, geckos and more!

There are a few special exhibits here, such as the ‘Reptiles in Space and Time’, where the kids will learn the history and evolution of Australia’s coolest reptiles through fossil records. Kids can even have a close-up encounter with snakes through the ‘Snakes Tales’ demonstration – where kids can even hold a friendly python! 

Location: Gold Creek Village, O’Hanlon Place, Nicholls 

Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Price: Adults $20 | Child (4-12) $12 | Family (2A, 2C) $55.

Cockington Green Gardens

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

If you’re looking for things to do in Canberra with children who love dolls and trains, then a visit to Cockington Green Gardens is a must!  Cockington Green Gardens displays meticulously handcrafted miniature buildings from more than 30 different countries! 

Many exhibits are on display, such as a 34-room Georgian-style dollhouse, even a doll’s house that replicates the house in the classic novel ‘The Seven Little Australians’. There are also miniature cricket grounds for aspiring sports players, fairy-tale castles for the beautiful princesses and replicas of architecture for the ‘culture vultures’. 

Families can explore this fascinating display via foot or take a ride on a mini steam train that travels around the village. 

If you’re visiting around lunchtime, there is also a Garden Cafe on site, as well as a picnic area with free barbeques and tables.  There is also a playground area where your kids can run around freely.  

Location: 11 Gold Creek Rd, Nicholls

Opening Hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

Price: Adults $25 | Child (4-16) $15.50 | Family (5) $75 | Extra Child $7.

Canberra Walk in Aviary

At 1000 square metres, the Canberra Walk-in Aviary is huge! The aviary is home to almost 600 birds from 58 different species.  Visitors here can simply walk in and enjoy watching the birds as they fly freely all around you.  

Your entry fee includes a small plate of bird food, so you might even be lucky enough to have a few friendly birds sit in your hand while feeding them.

Location: Federation Square, Gold Creek Village, 18 O’Hanlon Place, Nicholls 

Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm during the winter months and 5 pm during the summer months.

Price: Adults $17| Child (4-16) $12 | Family $52.50 + Extra Child $6

National Museum of Australia

The National Museum of Australia is another one of the great places to visit in Canberra for kids, where kids will learn about Australia’s history through various displays and activities.

The National Museum of Australia has a focus on the land, national and people of Australia.  One of the more popular exhibits includes the display covering some 50,000 years of indigenous heritage since the 1788 settlement.  In fact, the museum holds the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal bark paintings and stone tools.  

The museum also covers key moments of Australian history, such as the Federation and events like the Sydney 2000 Olympics and Phar Lap, one of Australia’s great racehorses.   For the kids, the highlight of the National Museum of Australia is visiting KSpace and building a time travelling robot via a touchscreen. 

The museum also holds a range of tours and talks each day – some are even free.  Depending on your family’s interests, there is sure to be the perfect tour.  For families with young children, they have some self guided family tours designed to encourage the kids to explore the various exhibits and outdoor spaces – grab a map for $2 at the information desk).

While the National Museum of Australia probably isn’t one of the things to do in Canberra for toddlers, for families with curious school aged children or for older children, a visit to the National Museum of Australia is something the entire family can enjoy.

Location: Lawson Cres, Acton

Opening Hours: Daily 9 am to 5 pm

Price: Free, but a donation is encouraged – some exhibits such as KSpace ($20) have a cost and require a booking, as do museum tours. 

NFSA Screensound Australia

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

If learning about the history of filmmaking and the sounds of Australia interests your family, then a visit to NFSA is one of the must family things to do in Canberra. The NFSA is a ‘living’ archive with over 3 million items relating to film, TV, music and more. At NFSA, you’ll find films, television and radio programs, videos, audiotapes, compact discs, phonograph cylinders and wire recordings that have been preserved for future generations. 

Items on display date back to the late nineteenth century, right through to the present day.  This makes it a fun experience showing the kids some of the TV programs you once watched when you were a child. As well, it’s a great place to explore the various facets of Australia’s people, culture, ideas and beliefs across various periods in time.

If you have an hour or so, the NFSA is one of those places to go in Canberra for kids that the entire family will enjoy.

Location: McCoy Circuit, Acton 

Opening Hours: Daily 10 am to 4 pm.

Price: Free, although special exhibits may have an entry fee. 

Royal Australian Mint

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

Another must when it comes to things to do in Canberra with family is visiting the Royal Australian Mint.  Here you’ll see the actual place where Australia’s currency is made as well as a load of other exhibitions.

On entry, be sure to pick up the ‘My Visit to the Mint’ activity book, available from the front desk.  This book has a range of activities to really get the kids engaged. Families can also participate in free family tours and public talks, which children will enjoy. 

A highlight of the trip for many is minting your very own $1 coin. Also, the kids will no doubt love seeing real life robots in action. Finally, the whole family can watch robots hard at work in the mint from the observation work.

This is a really interesting place to take the kids and see where money is made – it’s also one of the awesome free things to do in Canberra with kids too.

Location: Denison St, Deakin 

Opening Hours: Weekdays: 10 am to 4 pm | Weekends and public holidays: 12 pm to 4 pm.

Price: Entry is free – although it’s $3 to mint your own coin.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is an art gallery with a bit of difference in that it is a collection of over 3000 portraits of prominent Australians who have shaped our country.  The portraits have been done with all kinds of mediums, including photography, painting, drawing and more and include a range of famous Australians, including athletes, entertainers, politicians and others from various areas of society.

Wandering the halls of the Gallery is an interesting way to spend time with the kids, letting them find some of their Aussie heroes lining the walls.  It’s also a great way for families to discuss Australia’s history and various events that have led to the great nation it is today.

From time to time, the Gallery also has a range of special workshops for kids, like arts and crafts and storytime.  So be sure to see what’s on during your visit to Canberra.

Location: King Edward Terrace, Parkes

Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

Price: Free – bookings essential

Old Parliament House: Museum of Australian Democracy

In terms of things to do in Canberra kids, one of the more interesting museums they will love is Old Parliament House – the Museum of Australian Democracy.  Within the gorgeous National heritage listed building (home to federal parliament from 1927 to 1988) are a range of super fun activities for kids and exhibitions, tours and events where families can learn about our Australian social and political history.

The best area for young kids is the “Play Up” area, where kids can dress up, read and enjoy puzzles and crafts. It’s a great experience for children to learn how different life would be without their bedroom, favourite food or a warm jacket, in an engaging environment. 

The whole family will undoubtedly enjoy the “Behind The Lines” exhibition downstairs – the exhibit looks at the year 2020 via 104 political cartoons.  In this area, you’ll also find the Whoosh Machine, where the kids can pop in their ball and watch it travel through a bunch of tubes, the Family Trail and a drawing activity.  They’ll also probably enjoy the Zine lounge where they can design and print their very own magazine. Another fun area is the “Yours Faithfully” exhibit which encourages visitors to engage in the lost art form of letter writing by using tools such as old typewriters. 

Families may also enjoy joining one of the various free tours the museum hosts throughout the day. For example, there is a building history tour where you’ll get an in depth understanding of the changes made to the building over the years or a Meet the Press Tour where you’ll learn more about how the journalists worked in the Old Parliament Building.

If you want fun things for kids in Canberra that will keep them engaged for a few hours while also satisfying your curiosity, definitely add a visit to – Museum of Australian Democracy to your list.  It’s also one of the good indoor activities for kids Canberra has.  Oh, and did we mention it’s one of the free things to do in Canberra with kids?

Location:18 King George Terrace, Parkes

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am – 5 pm

Price: General admission free

Parliament House

A visit to Parliament House is a must for families interested in politics while visiting Canberra with kids.  This is particularly a great place to visit for primary school aged children who would have started to learn about Australian politics.

Of course, Parliament House is the current home to the Australian Parliament, which symbolises Australia’s democracy. However, it is also a place where decisions that shape the nation are made, a site for celebration, memorial and sometimes protests. 

Families can wander around the great halls of parliament house, admire the grand marble foyer or reflect on Australia’s ancient beginnings while standing outside in the forecourt.   There are also 23 hectares of gardens to explore, including native gardens, formal gardens, RSL Fountain and the armillary sphere sundial.

Probably the best way to explore Parliament House is by taking their free guided tour.  These tours go for 90 minutes and are led by trained guides who share their knowledge about the various parliamentary buildings.

Location: Parliament Dr, Canberra

Opening Hours: Friday to Monday 9 am – 5 pm and Tuesday to Thursday 8.30 am to 5 pm

Price: Free but bookings essential.

National Gallery of Australia

If you have any creative, arty type members of the family, then you make like to visit the National Gallery of Australia, one of the largest art museums in Australia.   Across three floors and there are various works of art on display, including a sculpture garden.

In addition to the permanent and special exhibits on display, the Gallery regularly holds various events such as tours and workshops, including some, especially for children.  There are even some designed for teenagers.  So be sure to check what’s on during your visit.

Location: Parkes Place East, Parkes 

Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm 

Price: General Admission Free, bookings recommended.

National Library of Australia

Ok, so a library may not sound like that much fun for kids – but don’t immediately dismiss it – particularly for families with little ones, as libraries are often full of great activities for kids.

The National Library of Australia overlooks picturesque Lake Burley Griffin and is the largest reference library in Australia with over 10 million items and counting!   In addition, it also often shows special exhibitions – so check to see what’s on during your visit to see if there is anything of interest for your kids.

You can also join a library tour, where you get an interesting behind the scenes look into what goes on in one of Australia’s largest libraries!

Location: Parkes Place West, Canberra

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 8 am to 8 pm | Friday 8 am to 5 pm | Weekends and Public Holidays 9 am to 5 pm

Price: Free

Lake Burley Griffin

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

Canberra hugs the shores of Lake Burley Griffin and is considered the centrepiece of Canberra. Its shores are home to several attractions, many of which have already been mentioned in this guide.  However, Lake Burley Griffin can be a great place for families to visit, offering various outdoor activities.  

For the families that want to get out on the lake, then there’s kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding or a range of other water sports.  A more relaxing option is to take a leisurely cruise, catch a ferry or even be your own skipper and explore the lake on a Go Boat.  There are even areas for swimming (Yarralumla Beach, Weston Park East and Black Mountain Beach).

A popular activity for families is to ride their bikes along the 40km shoreline or go for a walk.  The parklands around the lake are also perfect for a family picnic or grab something to eat from one of the lakes many cafes.

Location: Centre of Canberra

Opening Hours: Always

Price: Free to visit the Lake.

Yarralumla Play Station at Weston Park

Yarralumla Play Station is a family friendly adventure hub guaranteed to keep kids of all ages entertained for hours. It is home to one of Australia’s largest mini golf courses, features a miniature railway, farm and family friendly cafe. 

Let’s start with the mini golf course.  There are 36 holes across two courses which are sprinkled with some of Canberra’s most representative landmarks. Here you’ll see a 25-metre wide replica of Lake Burley Griffin and the Parliamentary Triangle, amongst others – how many will your kids be able to recognise?.

The kids will love riding the miniature railway that coasts in a figure-eight around the park.  And don’t forget the little farm, which consists of ponies, lamb, chickens, sheep, alpacas and even more that roam around their enclosures freely.

At the Play Station, there is a cafe on site that sells some great kid friendly food and there are plenty of picnic tables under trees for families to relax.

Yarralumla Play Station is one of those places that the whole family will enjoy – definitely one of the great things to do for kids Canberra offers.

Location: 9 Pescott Lm, Yarralumla. 

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 4 pm | Weekends from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm

Price: Farm $16 per adult and $14 per child | Train $7 per adult & kids (under 12mos FREE) | Mini Golf from $20 per adult and $17 per child for 18 holes

Australian War Memorial

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

When you’re thinking of things to do for kids in Canberra, a visit to the Australian War Memorial may not be the first thing that springs to mind, however for school aged children; it is a great opportunity to increase your children’s knowledge about Australia’s involvement in various wars.  It is a sobering museum where both adults and children learn about the history of war, remember those who have lost their lives, and explore the magnificent buildings, statues, and exhibits. 

There is a lot to see at the Australian War Memorial, and what your family will be interested in will depend on the age of your kids and any connection you may have with people who have served in the military.  Here is a quick overview of the different exhibits at the time of publication:   

  • First World War Gallery: Covers Australia’s involvement in WWI, including Gallipoli, Sinai and Palestine.
  • Second World War Gallery: Covers Australia’s involvement in WWII, including against Germany, Italy and Japan.
  • The Hall of Valour: Honours the Australias who have received the Victoria Cross and the George Cross – the highest awards for bravery.
  • The Holocaust: Witnesses and Survivors: Features stories from Holocaust survivors who made new lives for themselves post war in Australia.
  • Conflicts 1945 to Today: This exhibit uses cutting edge technology with large iconic objects to tell stories about Australia’s involvement in conflict over six decades. Includes conflicts in Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and more.
  • Afghanistan: The Australian Story: Covers Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan.
  • The Memorial: Features several areas remembering those who have lost their lives during war, including the Roll of Honour, Hall of Memory and the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.

In addition to the various displays and exhibits, the Australian War Memorial is particularly interesting for those who may have had a relative serve in the military.  Extensive records are kept at the Memorial, including official records, photographs, diaries and letters.  You can search either a person, a unit or an event.

If you’re visiting the memorial before closing time, it’s recommended that you stay for the Last Post ceremony.  The ceremony commences at 4.45 pm and starts with the Australian national anthem, followed by the piper’s lament.  Visitors often lay wreaths during the ceremony, which ends with the sounding of the Last Post.

The Australian War Memorial also has a cafe on site.

Location: Treloar Cres, Campbell

Opening Hours: Daily 10 am – 4 pm 

Price: Free Entry.

CSIRO Discovery Centre

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

From plastic banknotes to WiFi, CSIRO innovations have improved people’s lives in Australia for more than 100 years.  To see some of these innovations, take the family to the CSIRO Discovery Centre, which includes an interactive display of world-leading research.

At the Discovery Centre, there is a range of separate exhibits and workshops, which have all been designed for children of certain age groups.  Kids are encouraged to get hands on and involved in various activities to discover how CSIRO’s innovations in science, technology, engineering and maths have influenced their lives.

While many of these sorts of hands on centres are usually designed for young children, at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, the emphasis is on older kids, particularly high school children.  You’ve got the Collections Forensics, where kids work together to try and solve a crime, as well as the DNA to the Max, where kids will take a closer look at food DNA.

So if you’re getting stuck on fun things to do in Canberra for teenagers who perhaps aren’t all that interested in politics – then perhaps the CSIRO Discovery Centre is just what you’ve been looking for.

Location: N Science Rd, Acton

Opening Hours: Weekdays 9 am to 4:30 pm. Weekends Closed. At the time of publishing only open during school holidays.

Price: $10 per person – Bookings Essential

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

If your kids are interested in space exploration, then one of the things for kids to do Canberra has for your itinerary is a visit to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.  The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex gives you a chance to learn more about Australia’s role in space exploration. 

At the complex, there is a range of exhibits and displays – see a piece of the moon which is over 3.8 billion years old, see the latest images from our Solar System, discover what food astronauts eat, see actual items previously used in space, watch a movie on the history and future of space exploration and more!  You can even see fantastic views of the largest antenna complex in the southern hemisphere.

There is also a cafe on site and a playground for the younger kids and various picnic areas for lunch.

Location: Paddy’s River, Tidbinbilla, 421 Discovery Dr, Paddys River

Opening Hours: Time of publication, temporarily closed but plan to re-open later in 2024 as per their website

Price: Free

Australian Institute of Sport

For the sporty family, one of the fun kids’ things to do in Canberra is visiting the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).  The AIS is a high performance sports training institute where some of Australia’s top athlete’s train.  Families can visit the institute and get a behind the scenes look during a 90 minute guided tour.

During the tour, guests will visit Sportex, an interactive sports exhibit with some great Australian sporting memorabilia. Visitors can also have a go at wheelchair basketball, virtual downhill skiing, rock climbing, performance rowing, football and more.

Location: Leverrier St, Bruce

Opening Hours: Weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm | Weekends from 9.30 am to 4 pm | Tour times: 10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm and 2:30 pm with 90mins duration

Price: $21 per adult | $13.50 per child (5-17) | $60 for Family (2A+3C) 

Telstra Tower

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

Rising some 195 metres above Black Mountain, the Telstra Tower is visible from most locations around Canberra.  The Tower offers spectacular indoor and outdoor 360 degree views across the city from its two open observation decks or enclosed viewing gallery.

The Tower is also home to Canberra’s highest cafe, which is located on the Ground Level and Canberra’s most elevated operating post box, which is emptied daily. 

So for the very best views across Canberra, take the kids up to the top of the Telstra Tower.

Location: 100 Black Mountain Dr, Acton.

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am to 10 pm – The tower was temporarily closed at the time of publication.

Price: Adults $7.50 | Children $3 Under 4 – Free | Family (2A, 2C) $17.

Canberra Glassworks

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

Have you ever seen glass artists at work?  It’s pretty fascinating seeing them so effortlessly creating their masterpieces.  If your kids are into different art mediums, visiting the Canberra Glassworks may be another cool place to take them.

Canberra Glassworks is a leading centre for contemporary glass art, craft and design and from time to time opens to the public so you can see the artists at work.  Even better, though, if you can, is signing the kids up to make their own masterpiece.  Kids just need to be 8+ and then can design and create their very own glass time.  These programs for kids are offered during school holidays.

Tours go for 45 minutes and workshops also go for 45 minutes.

Location: 11 Wentworth Ave, Kingston

Opening Hours: Tours and workshops run from Wednesday to Sunday between 10 am to 4 pm 

Price: Tours $30 per person | Workshop $30 per person | Tour & Workshop $60 per person

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Australia’s National Botanic Garden is just minutes from the CBD and can be a great family day out for those who enjoy the outdoors.  Across 35 hectares, the garden has many paths where families can look for rare, even endangered plant species and spot the colourful birds flying around. 

Families are recommended to take the Children’s Discovery Trail – Who Did That? walk.  This walk is just 330 metres and, via activity stations, helps kids understand the importance of plants for our Australian animals.  Grab an activity book from the Visitor Centre.

The Paperbark Treehouse is a real highlight for kids visiting the gardens.  From the top of this three-storey treehouse are great canopy views of the surrounding forest. There is wheelchair access via ramp to the first platform and then a ladder which will take you up to the crow’s nest at the top of the structure. 

Other places within the gardens the kids may enjoy include the Red Centre, Rainforest Gully and the Eucalypt Lawn.  

As well as the beautiful gardens, there is often special events, such as free or cheap guided walks.  These change occasionally, but there is usually something designed for families, such as guided walks through the Rainforest Gully or a ride through the gardens onboard the magical Flora Explorer Bus. One hour free tours of the gardens depart daily at 11 am.

The gardens are also the perfect place for a picnic lunch, or you can buy lunch at the on site Pollen Cafe.  From the gardens, you could also walk to the Telstra Tower, which is 5.4km return.

Location: Clunies Ross Street, Acton.

Opening Hours: Daily from 8:30 am to 5 pm

Price: Free

Corin Forest

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

Wondering what to do in Canberra for kids away from the city?  Then definitely consider a day trip to Corin Forest. Located in the Tidbinbilla Mountain Ranges, approximately 45 minutes from the heart of Canberra, Corin Forest is a year-round alpine experience. Canberra’s only winter snow recreation area is a must for families who don’t see snow much and don’t have much experience out on the slopes. 

At Corin Forest, there are a variety of activities waiting to be experienced, including:

  • Snow Play: Kids can build snowmen and have awesome snowball fights with the family – $25 per person for a 2 hour session. 
  • Toboggan: Hire a toboggan to use during your snow play – $5 per session.
  • Alpine Slide: Descending 1.2km through the majestic mountain ash forest – $28 per person for one hour.
  • Snowsports School: For kids aged 4+, they can take a ski lesson, there are adult lessons too.  Price starts at $145 and includes skis, jackets, pants and helmets. 
  • Ski and Ride: Ski down the beautiful mountain – $55 per person or $110 (kids) & $130 (adults) for skiing, skis and boots. Prices are for a 3 hour session.

After having a splendid time on the mountain, warm up with the cafe’s selection of gourmet burgers and woodfired pizzas, plus an open fire for toasting marshmallows!  There is also a great picnic area with plenty of tables.  You can bring your own portable BBQ or hire one on site for $5 per half hour.

During the summertime in the Corin Forest, the retreat is much quieter, but you can still come and enjoy the Alpine Slide. In addition, there are a few other attractions in the area that you might like to visit, including Square Rock, Gibraltar Falls and Tidbinbilla.

So no matter how old your kids are, if you’re looking for things to do in Canberra for toddlers, things to do in Canberra with teenagers or any age in between – a day out at Corin Forest should definitely be on our list – particularly if you don’t get to see snow very often.

Location: 1268 Corin Dam Rd, Tidbinbilla Range

Opening Hours: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

Price: It’s free to visit, but prices vary depending on activities and rentals. 

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Image Credit: Thanks to Visit Canberra

Across 54.5 hectares, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve sits on the edge of the Namadgi National Park and is home to plenty of wildlife.  While visiting the Reserve, you may see koalas, kangaroos, birds, reptiles and more.  Some visitors have even spotted the odd platypus here!

Across the Reserve are over 20 marked walking trails that range from an easy 15-minute stroll to an all-day bushwalk. In addition, families can bring bikes and cycle the reserve on the sealed road and fire trails or simply sit back and relax with wildlife.

A popular area within the reserve for families is The Sanctuary.  The Sanctuary is a large wetlands area that is surrounded by bushland.  A fence protects it, so it is a great haven for native animals – making it the perfect place to spot wildlife.  Within the Sanctuary, you’ll also see the Vet Centre – which has floor to ceiling windows so visitors can peek in and see vets doing their health checks on the local wildlife.

The Eucalypt Forest is also a great place to take the kids.  Located on the forest floor, this area of 17 hectares is also surrounded by a fence offering protection for the animals.  It’s the ideal place to see free ranging koalas.

Of course, a visit to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve isn’t complete without taking the kids to the Nature Discovery Playground.  The playground features a flying fox, slide, swing, climbing rope frames, bouncy toys and more.  It’s usually a good spot for seeing kangaroos too.

There aren’t any cafes at Tidbinbilla, so bring a picnic for the family to enjoy.

Location: Paddys River Rd, Paddys River.

Opening Hours: Daily from 7.30 am to 6 pm (April to October) and 8 pm for the remainder of the year.  Visitor Centre all year from 9 am to 5 pm.

Price: $14 per vehicle

Best Canberra Family Accommodation

There is a great range of family accommodation in Canberra and below, I’ve listed three great options for all kinds of budgets. 

For even more options on where to stay in Canberra with the kids, click here for our guide on the best family accommodation Canberra has to offer.  This guide covers ten recommendations in great locations, which will accommodate the entire family.

The Village Hostels Canberra

Yes, the The Village Hostels Canberra is a backpackers, but they also have fantastic accommodation for families at a super low price.  Located just on the edge of the city centre, the The Village Hostels is ideal for those after budget family accommodation Canberra has.  

The Village Hostels has everything you need within walking distance.  Just 230 metres away you’ve got the Canberra centre which is a large shopping centre full of clothing shops and food places like McDonald’s, Sushi,  Oporto and loads of coffee shops. Within the Canberra Centre, you’ll also find supermarkets such as Coles and Aldi, where you can pick up supplies for the kids. The The Village Hostels also has a bus stop just a few hundred metres away, making it super easy for families to visit attractions by public transport.

The Village Hostels family rooms are ideal, given they’re can accommodate two adults and up to three kids.  Each family room has a queen bed, a bunk bed and a trundle bed. Parents will also love how the kid’s beds are set back behind a little nook, offering a little privacy for the parents – great for putting little ones to bed early.  The rooms also have a private bathroom, air conditioning, TV, wifi and tea and coffee making facilities. 

Being a backpackers, you’ve also got access to a range of shared facilities, including a rooftop BBQ area, shared kitchen and a games room. 

If you’re looking for Canberra budget family accommodation in the centre of town, surrounded by everything you need during your trip – definitely consider The Village Hostels – it’s a great place to stay with the kids.

Click here to check availability and for pricing.

Breakfree Capital Tower Apartments

For families visiting Canberra during the warmer months and wanting a bit of space for the kids, the Breakfree Capital Tower Apartments is a fantastic choice.  This complex offers families spacious two bedroom self contained apartments and has a nice outdoor area complete with a swimming pool.

The Breakfree Capital Tower Apartments is located in a quieter part of town on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin.  While there aren’t too many shops or places to eat close by, having a spacious apartment, you’ll be able to prepare all your own meals for the kids.  Although you’re really only a short 15 minute walk to the centre of town.

Depending on the size of your family, you’ve got the option of two and three bedroom apartments here.  Two bedroom apartments can accommodate families of up to five and the three bedroom apartments can accommodate families of up to seven people.  While master bedrooms come with a queen bed, most additional rooms come with single beds and living rooms tend to have sofa beds.

Apartments are spacious and come with fully equipped kitchens.  They also contain a washing machine, dryer, living area, lounge room and balconies – some with views across Lake Burley Griffin and out to Parliament House.  The complex also has a swimming pool, sauna, bbq area, tennis courts, squash courts, gym and secure parking (costs extra).

With Breakfree Capital Tower Apartments, you’re getting a lot for your money – spacious self contained apartments with great facilities and reasonably easy access to all the attractions in Canberra – what more do you need.

Click here to check availability and for pricing.

Jamala Wildlife Lodge

If you want something extra special for your family, a real splurge, a once in a lifetime experience – then you’ve got to consider the Jamala Wildlife Lodge.  The Lodge is a 10 minute drive outside of the city centre, and probably not the place you’d stay for Canberra sightseeing – but a stay at Jamala is an experience in itself!  Now before you keep reading – let me tell you there is nothing “thrifty” about a stay at this place – rather, this is a once in a lifetime bucket list for your family that the kids will be raving about for years!

The Jamala Wildlife Lodge is an all inclusive luxury hotel located in the middle of the National Zoo and Aquarium. Basically, this hotel has strategically built treehouses and bungalows around the enclosures of certain animals, so your family can safely spend the night sleeping right next to some of the world’s most loved exotic animals.  You can choose to stay near lions, sun bears, giraffes, and other amazing animals that will be literally just outside your room.

No matter which room you choose, each room is just pure luxury!  You’ll have gigantic king beds and pull out sofa beds for the kids, a huge bathroom with shower and bathtub, spacious living areas and, of course fabulous views of your chosen animal.  We stayed in the treehouses which overlooked the giraffe enclosure – it was a real treat waking up to giraffe smiling through our window!  It’s important to note that there are certain age restrictions for each room, but you’re sure to find one that will suit your family.

Now, this isn’t your standard hotel where you’re left to your own devices. Instead, this is an all inclusive experience.  On arrival, you’re welcomed with a scrumptious afternoon tea and in the evening you’ll enjoy an amazing three course dinner in an area of the lodge that looks into the lions and hyena den.  Kids are provided with their own special dinner and even taken for a private tour of the aquarium so that parents can enjoy a little alone time.  Did I mention dinner also comes with fine wines too!

One of our favourites parts of staying here was the private guided tour in the National Zoo and Aquarium.  Jake, our tour guide, shared lots of knowledge with us as we visited certain animals.  We even got to feed deer, llamas, antelope and the highlight – giraffe!  Actually, I think the highlight for me was patting a rhino!  They are soo cute and friendly – who would have thought!

Your stay at Jamala also includes entry into the National Zoo and Aquarium, which you’re free to visit on the day of arrival or the following day.  Given your room is right in the middle of the zoo, you can even stroll around super early in the morning when no one else is around – it’s super cool staying in a zoo – even if just for one night!

Now it’s important to note that the animals are free to wander around their enclosures as they like.  They’re certainly not chained up outside your window or anything (thank god!).  So for us, we were looking out over part of the giraffe enclosure – so if the giraffe chose to go into a different section of the enclosure, we couldn’t see her.  This was the same for the lions and hyenas during meal times – sometimes they can into the den while we were there, sometimes they didn’t. So while it’s disappointing not to see them all the time – I was actually happy about this; the animals really are free to roam as they like. 

As you can see, a stay at Jamala really is an experience in itself and one that I highly recommend for parents wanting to do something super special and memorable with their kids. So why not spend a night here while in Canberra and then move onto one of the other cheaper accommodation options from this guide for your sightseeing.

Click here to check availability and for pricing.

Getting Around in Canberra

Below we’ve provided some tips on how best to get between the airport and the city and tips on how to get around the city and between various attractions.

Canberra Airport to the City

With the Canberra Airport just a 10 minute drive from the centre of the CBD, it’s super easy to reach the city from the airport. 

For families generally, the easiest way is going to be by taxi or rideshare.  There is a taxi rank just outside the airport or for rideshare; follow the signs from outside the arrival gates – it’s super easy to find.  Expect the fare to be around $30 to the centre of town.

If you’re travelling alone and trying to save on costs, then a shuttle bus leaves from the airport terminal to the city.  This is called the Rapid 3 and it operates every 15 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes during the weekend.  Tickets can be purchased from the vending machine on the ground floor in the arrival halls.  Fares are just $5 for an adult or $2.50 for a child – even cheaper if you have the MyWay card – see below.

Getting Around Canberra 

Canberra isn’t overly big and you’ll be able to walk between many attractions.  However, no doubt during your trip you will from time to time need to get transport.

For families, you may find it just as easy and relatively inexpensive to get a taxi or rideshare between places.  However, if there is just yourself travelling or you and one other, then the buses are the way to go.  You can plan your bus trips either by using Google Maps or here.  Also if you do plan on using buses, it’s recommended to download the NXTBUS Service app so you can get real time information about when the next bus is coming.

To use the buses, you will need a MYWay Card which you’ll use to tap on and off whenever you get on the bus.  These can be purchased at various places across Canberra for $5 per adult and $2.50 per child.  If you don’t want to get a MYWAY Card, you can get paper tickets at vending machines, although these are only located at major bus stops (including the airport) and light rail stops. Unfortunately, you can’t buy tickets on the bus.

Fares are pretty simple in that regardless of where you go for adults, they are $3.22 during peak times and $2.55 during off peak time and for kids, they are $1.22 on school days and $1.61 on non school days – kids under 5 travel free.  Tickets from the vending machine are around double the price.

For travel further afield, it will be best to hire a car.  If you want to visit a few places outside of the city centre, I’d recommend hiring a car for a few days and using local transport while exploring the city centre.


Hopefully you’ve found this guide on visiting Canberra helpful.  If you are bringing the kids to Canberra then I recommend you check out our guide on where to stay with kids here as well as a detailed review on staying at the Jamala Wildlife Lodge here.


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