Best things to do in Newcastle with kids

Looking for the best things to do in Newcastle with kids?  This guide has got you covered!

Newcastle is nestled on the stunning New South Wales coastline, a few hours north of Sydney.  The region is well known for its incredible beaches, family friendly parks and gorgeous nature reserves, so there are plenty of family things to do in Newcastle. 

During the warmer months, things to do Newcastle offers include swimming and building sandcastles or relaxing in the calmer waters of one of the many ocean baths.  There are also plenty of rock pools for exploring marine life, or the kids can learn to catch a wave with one of the local surf schools.

There are plenty of fun places to go in Newcastle for kids who love animals too – with many nature reserves in the region.  Head to Blackbutt Reserve to see native Australian animals or the Hunter Wetlands to explore the wetland ecosystems.  And, of course, during whale watching seasons, you can take a CoastXP boat tour to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals as they make their annual migration.

There are Newcastle kids activities where they can learn while they play too, at places such as the Newcastle Museum – which has fantastic interactive exhibits.  Older children may be interested in the Dark Stories true crime walking tour or learning about Australia’s military history at Fort Scratchely and the Memorial Walk.

If you’re planning a visit and wondering what to do in Newcastle with kids, then you need to read this guide.  In this Newcastle– things to do guide, I’ll cover all the fun things to do in Newcastle for kids, as well as essential information such as location, opening hours, and entry prices.

As well as providing tips for things for kids to do in Newcastle, this guide will cover practical information such as getting around and suggestions for the best accommodation in Newcastle for families.

Talk to other families about their tips on visiting Newcastle and join our Thrifty Family Travel Facebook Group or get inspired via our Instagram.

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

Things to do Newcastle Map

Before we start on all the top things to do in Newcastle to help you plan your itinerary, check out the map below. This map shows the location of everything we’ve covered in this Newcastle to do guide.

I recommend you first list your must-do attractions in Newcastle and then use this map to plan your day to day itinerary so you’re not travelling back and forth all over town.

Zoom in and out for a better view.


Best things to do in Newcastle with kids

Below, we cover the best things to do with kids in Newcastle. 

Newcastle Beaches

Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do at Newcastle with kids is to visit one (or several) of the gorgeous beaches in the region.  Newcastle has many pristine beaches, each offering something a little different whether you’re a family looking for surf, gentle waves or a more tranquil experience. Plus, a day at the beach is one of the best free things to do in Newcastle with kids!

Below, we briefly overview some of Newcastle’s more popular beaches.

Nobby’s Beach

One of the most popular and iconic Newcastle Beaches is Nobby’s Beach.  As well as providing great views of the Newcastle skyline, this is a stunning beach perfect for swimming, sunbathing and taking a stroll along the shoreline.

Before cooling off for a swim, take the kids for a stroll along the break wall, a lengthy stone pier that extends into the ocean.  It’s the perfect spot for watching the waves crash all around you.

For great views across Newcastle, head up to Nobby’s Headland – along the way, you can tune into the Macquarie Pier audio tour and travel into the past, learning about dinosaurs to the modern day.  Ten interpretive signs with various information complement the audio tour so you can read as well as listen to the stories.

If you happen to visit Nobby’s Beach on a Sunday, make sure to take the kids to see the lighthouse. Built in 1857, the lighthouse originally burnt China Tea Oil to guide ships to safety and still acts as a beacon today.  The lighthouse is open Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm (with free entry) and is just a 10 minute walk from the Nobby’s Beach car park gate. It is all paved, so it is suitable for strollers.

Down the other end of the beach are some great rock pools (called the Soldiers Pools), perfect for snorkelling and fossicking for marine life.  

When hunger strikes, head to Swell – an awesome little kiosk selling great fish and chips as well as coffee, burgers and cold drinks.  There are a few undercover picnic areas to eat or BYO a rug to enjoy lunch on the grass.

A visit to Nobby’s beach is ideal whether you’re looking for things to do in Newcastle with toddlers or things to do in Newcastle with teenagers – there is something here for kids of all ages.  

Newcastle Beach

For families with older children, head to the beach.  Newcastle Beach is considered one of Australia’s best surf locations. With its central location, it is a great beach to visit for families staying in the centre of town.

To the left of Newcastle Beach is the Newcastle Ocean Baths (closed for renovations at the time of publishing), which is one of the great places in Newcastle for families.  There is also the Newcastle Canoe Pool (open), a massive lagoon style pool that is a shallow sandy pool ideal for toddlers.  

For food, there is The Kiosk – an excellent cafe selling all kinds of easy meals like toasties, burgers, fish and chips, coffee and cold drinks.

Bar Beach

With its crescent shaped shoreline and clear waters, Bar Beach is another one of the best places to visit in Newcastle.  This is a great spot for swimming with the kids thanks to its gradual entry into the water, gentle waves and protected swimming areas.  Behind the beach is a grassy park offering loads of shady areas and a great playground for the kids.

Bar Beach is also home to a second Swell Kiosk – the first being at Nobby’s Beach.

Merewether Beach

Image credit thanks to Destination NSW

Famous for its international surf competitions, the surf loving family will want to head to Merewether Beach –   But even if you’re not into surfing, this is a great beach for the family for swimming and relaxing.

For families who prefer no surf, head to the Mereweather Ocean Baths, an enclosed swimming area filled by the Pacific tides and perfect for children to swim safely.  Not only is this ocean bath one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, but it also offers fantastic views out to the ocean and it’s FREE!

Granny’s Pool

Another one of the fun Newcastle places to visit with the kids is Granny’s Pool.  This small, rocky enclave provides a great sheltered spot for swimming.  As well as swimming, during low tide, it’s an excellent spot for exploring the marine life that calls the rocky outcrops home.

Caves Beach

Image credit thanks to Destination NSW

An excellent beach to take the kids to is Caves Beach – although not necessarily for the beach itself, but rather its series of sea caves carved into the sandstone cliffs.  On the far right side of the beach, these caves have been formed through erosion over thousands of years and during low tide, exploring these caves is certainly one of the fun things to do Newcastle offers.  

Another highlight of Caves Beach is Caves Beach Rock Pool – a natural freshwater sea pool perfect for those swimmers who prefer calmer waters.  

The beach itself is expansive and tends to be less crowded than other Newcastle Beaches.  It’s another great spot for surfing, swimming and beachcombing.

Bathers Way

Bathers Way is a scenic coastal walk that spans approximately 6 km along the stunning coastline from Nobby’s Beach to Merewether Ocean Baths. This picturesque pathway winds along the shores, providing breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, sandy beaches and iconic landmarks.  The walk covers all the best things to see in Newcastle City Centre.

The Bathers Way walk is not just about the scenery; it also provides opportunities to learn about Newcastle’s rich history and culture. Along the route, you’ll encounter informative plaques, public artworks, and historical landmarks that share stories of the area’s indigenous heritage, maritime history, and local culture.

While families might not want to tackle the entire walk at once, the walk is divided into sections, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. 

The wide shared pathway is suitable for walking, biking, and rollerblading and there are plenty of spots to rest along the way.

Fort Scratchley

Fort Scratchley is a historic coastal defence battery built in the 1880s to defend the city against potential attacks from enemy ships. The fort is made up of several buildings, such as a guardhouse, barracks, soldiers’ mess, servants’ quarters, the commandant cottage as well as underground tunnels.

Visitors can take a self guided tour of the other above ground defence structures.  To explore the underground tunnels, you must pay for a 60 minute guided tour. The guided tours are one of the more informative kids activities Newcastle offers as they provide an insight into the fort’s history, including how the fort fired at a Japanese submarine in 1942, making it the only Australian fort to ever fire at an enemy during wartime. 

Some of the buildings on the site feature a collection of artifacts, photographs, and displays related to the fort’s history from pre-Fort use by the Awabakal people, its purpose as the first coal mine in Australia, pre-WW1 relevance, Novocastrian involvement in WW1 and the site’s role in protecting Australia’s coastline during WW11.

It’s a good idea to plan your visit to Fort Scracthely to be there at 1 pm, as the field gun is fired each day at 1 p.m. (except for Tuesdays).

Location: Nobby’s Road, Newcastle East

Opening Hours: Wednesday to Monday from 10 am to 4 pm | Guided tours 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 1.10 pm 1:40 pm, 2.30 pm.

Price: Free for above ground tour | Guided tours: $14 per adult, $7.50 per child (4-14), $36.50 family pass (2A+2C) and under 4s are free

Convict Lumber Yard

The Convict Lumberyard is another historical site in Newcastle that played an important role in the early settlement and development of the city.  During the early 1880s, convicts worked at the site in various timber-related activities, and it was a place to store locally sourced materials such as coal and limestone.

From 1989 to 1992, the site was subject to an extensive archaeological dig, resulting in the discovery of hundreds of artefacts from the convict settlement period.  At a deeper level, ancient aboriginal artifacts were also found.

Around the site is a range of information boards detailing aspects of convict life and indigenous history, making it a Newcastle must see for families wanting to learn more about the origins of the city of Newcastle.

Location: 98 Scott Street, Enterprise Park, Newcastle

Opening Hours: Always

Price: Free

Dark Stories True Crime Walking Tour

Consider a Dark Stories True Crime Walking tour if you’re looking for cool things to do in Newcastle or one of the more unique things to do in Newcastle for teens.  This 90 minute tour will take you around the city while telling you stories about famous crimes that unfolded right where you stand.

The tour retraces the steps of the city’s most ruthless men, passing iconic landmarks such as the Convict Lumberyard, the original Newcastle gaol site, the cathedral, as well as the best scenic views that Newcastle has to offer. 

We took the tour on a cold, windy night and found learning about the city’s more sinister side fascinating.  While we didn’t have any children with us, there was a group of young girls on the tour to celebrate one of their 10th  birthdays, and while I think some things went over their heads, they seemed to enjoy exploring the cemetery at night.

I’d recommend the Dark Stories True Crim Walking Tour as one of the fun things to do in Newcastle at night for families with older teenage kids.

Location: 104 Scott Street – next to Convict Lumberyard

Tour Times: Nights vary – so check the link below

Price: $34 per adult | $16 per child – Click here to book tickets online

Ferry to Stockton

If you’re looking for some ideas for family days out Newcastle offers – then take the kids on the ferry from Queen’s Wharf to Stockton.  

Once in Stockton, it’s just a short walk to Stockton Beach.  Here, you’ll find an expansive beach perfect for swimming, beachcombing and long walks.  Be sure to take the kids for a stroll out to the breakwater on the Stockton Shipwreck Walk; from here, you can see remnants of shipwrecks.

While a great place to swim, Stockton is known for its iconic sand dunes  – the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.  These sand dunes can be explored on foot, by quad bike or by 4WD for an exhilarating adventure.  This is a great spot for sandboarding!  Click here to join a sand dune tour.

Ferries run every 20 minutes or so, and the journey takes just 5 minutes.  

Location: Queens Wharf is on Wharfs Road

Opening Hours: Ferries run daily from early to late

Price: With an Opal or contactless card, fares start at $2.24 per adult and $1.12 per child.

Honeysuckle Foreshore

When hunger strikes, the waterfront precinct of Honeysuckle is a great place to head. Situated along the picturesque harbour, the area has transformed from its industrial roots to a bustling hub of dining, entertainment, culture and recreation.

The promenade is lined with numerous family friendly cafes and restaurants, making it one of the perfect places to go Newcastle has for a bite to eat.

Location: Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle

Opening Hours: Times vary between individual operators

Newcastle Museum

If you’re after fun free things to do in Newcastle city centre with kids – then a few hours at the Newcastle Museum is a must!  It’s the perfect attraction for the kids to learn about the region’s history as they play.

The Newcastle Museum is not overly big, making it perfect for little ones.  There is a range of interactive exhibits the kids will enjoy and multi media activities to keep them engaged.  

Some of the highlights here for kids include the Supernova science exhibit, which has plenty of buttons to press, ropes to haul, balls to throw and even a car to lift!  This is ideal for families with kids of all ages, whether you’re looking for things to do in Newcastle for toddlers or even teenagers.  Even the adults had plenty of fun here when we visited!

Fire and Earth is another great exhibition for the entire family.  This is a short 6 minute show about steel production featuring special effects using water vapour, sound and holographs.  Be aware the loud sounds can be a little scary for little ones or those sensitive to sound.

The Newcastle Museum is definitely one of the top 10 things to do in Newcastle with kids.  I’d allow at least an hour here for the science exhibit alone!

Location: 6 Workshop Way, Newcastle

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm | Daily during NSW School Holidays

Price: Free

CoastXP Whale Watching Cruise


If you happen to be visiting Newcastle from June to November, then one of the best things to do in Newcastle for kids is to take them on a whale watching cruise they’ll never forget.

CoastXP offers an incredible experience where, on board a custom built boat, you’ll have the opportunity to spot whales up close as they make their annual migration along the east coast.

As well as witnessing these fascinating marine animals, during this 2 hour tour, you’ll also get to see the stunning Newcastle coastline and possibly encounter dolphins and seals along the way.

Having a small boat means you can get up close to the whales as well as have an excellent view of them.  However, being a smaller boat means you’ll certainly feel the boat’s movement- so beware of this if you have any kids prone to sea sickness or afraid of the movement.

Location: Harbour Square Boat Dock, Honeysuckle Marina, Newcastle

Tour Times: Daily at 9 am from June to November

Price: $125 per adult | $99 per child (3-12) | Children under 3 are not permitted – Click here to book tickets online

CoastXP Adventure Tour

If it’s not whale watching season when you visit Newcastle – never fear – you can still take a tour out with CoastXP.  These 2.5 hour tours take you along the Hunter Coast in their custom built boats.  Along your journey, you’ll see Caves Beach, Catherine Hill Bay,  rugged cliffs and marine life, including dolphins and seabirds.

This is the perfect opportunity to get a different perspective of the city’s coastline and learn about the city’s history and landmarks from the guides.

These cruises are another one of the awesome things to do in Newcastle with the kids.

Location: Harbour Square Boat Dock, Honeysuckle Marina, Newcastle

Opening Hours: Daily at 9 am from November to May

Price: $125 per adult | $99 per child (3-12) | Children under 3 are not permitted – Click here to book tickets online

Olive Tree Markets

The Olive Tree Market is a vibrant and popular market known for showcasing a diverse range of locally-made and artisanal products, including arts, crafts, food, fashion, and more. Items for sale include handmade jewellery, clothing, ceramics, artworks, home goods, and gourmet foods.

These lively markets are one of the perfect family things to do Newcastle offers – the kids will love sampling delicious street food while enjoying the local entertainment and live music.

Location: King Street, Newcastle

Opening Hours: First Saturday of each month from 9 am to 2 pm

Price: Entry is free

Newcastle Memorial Walk

The Memorial Walk was constructed as a commemorative tribute to the ANZAC soldiers who served and sacrificed their lives during World War I. This 450m scenic coastal walk is not only a tribute to Australia’s military history but also a breathtaking vantage point that offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the city’s coastline.

The walkway is a feat of engineering and design, stretching along the cliffs that overlook the ocean. It features a series of elegantly crafted steel posts that represent the slouch hats worn by ANZAC soldiers. These posts are inscribed with the names of individual soldiers and the battles in which they participated.

At the end of the Memorial Walk, you’ll find the “Seascape” sculpture, which represents a wave and pays tribute to the maritime history of Newcastle. 

The walk is pram and wheelchair accessible from the Strzelecki Lookout section, enabling you to travel to the viewing platform before looping back.

Location: 24 Memorial Drive, The Hill

Opening Hours: Always

Price: Free

Bogey Hole

Image credit thanks to Time Out

Bogey Hole is one of the popular Newcastle attractions for kids – particularly on a hot day.  The kids are going to absolutely love swimming at this place!

The Bogey Hole was constructed by convicts in 1819. The pool was originally intended for personal use by Lieutenant-Colonel James Thomas Morrisett, who was then the Commandant of Newcastle. The pool is carved into the rock shelf and filled by ocean waves during high tide. 

While the location is just stunning, it can also be a little slippery due to its rock terrain – so it’s best for families with older children and ensure appropriate footwear is worn by everyone.

Location: King Edward Park – York Drive, Newcastle

Opening Hours: Always

Price: Free

Glenrock State Conservation Area 

Image credit thanks to Time Out

Glenrock State Conservation Area is a protected natural area known for its diverse landscapes, which include coastal cliffs, beaches, forests, and creeks.  The park offers a variety of recreational activities, such as hiking and biking, as well as being the perfect place for spotting wildlife and enjoying a picnic with the kids.

The park offers several family friendly trails, such as the Burwood Trail, which is only 1.5km return.  For a longer walk, take the Yuelarbah Trail, which is a 6.8km return and takes around 2-3 hours.  This walk takes you past waterfalls, wet gullies and coast rainforests and provides great views across Glenrock Lagoon from Leichardt’s lookout.

Location: Yuelarbah Track, Highfields 

Opening Hours: Always

Price: Free

The Fairy Garden

Things to do in Newcastle with children don’t get much better than the Fairy Garden – particularly if you’re visiting with little ones!

There’s such a lovely story behind the Fairy Garden.  This gorgeous little place was created in the 1970s by Merv Moyle, who transformed a neglected piece of public land into a magical space for children to play.

Whimsical figurines and statues adorn the space – the perfect area for young kids to host tea parties or just muck about. Little ones can also mail a letter to the fairy queen; provided they leave a self addressed stamped envelope, they can even expect a reply! 

Merv maintained the garden until he passed in 2018, when he was 94.  Today, his daughters and local volunteers lovingly looked after the garden.

Location: End of Australia Road, Broadmeadow

Opening Hours: Always

Price: Free

Treetops Adventure Newcastle

Image credit thanks to Eluminate Media

If you’re after super fun holiday activities Newcastle offers, visiting the Treetops Adventure is a must!  

Treetops Adventure features 20 zip lines and over 90 aerial challenges. There are also 8 unique tree rope courses to cater to all age groups. The Junior Courses are ideal for kids starting at just 3 years of age, with courses just 1-4 metres off the ground.  The courses get increasingly challenging from there.

Each session runs for 2.5 hours and is sure to be a highlight of your family trip to Newcastle.

Whether you’re after things to do in Newcastle for teenagers or younger ones – a few hours at the Treetops Adventure is something the entire family will love.

Location: Blue Gum Hills, Treetops Rd, Minmi 

Opening Hours: Weekdays 10 am to 5 pm | Weekends 9 am to 5 pm

Price: Juniors (3-7) $32 | Child (8-15) $49 | Adult $59 | Family Pass (2A+2C) $206

Blackbutt Reserve

Blackbutt Reserve is a popular nature reserve and wildlife park just a few kilometres from the Newcastle city centre.  The park has plenty to do, including wildlife exhibits, walking trails and picnic facilities, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a full family day out in Newcastle. 

One of the highlights of the reserve is the free wildlife exhibits.  Here you can see kangaroos, wallabies, emus, wombats, koalas, reptiles, birds, and more. The kids can even feed emus too – just purchase some food at the kiosk on site.  There are also guided walks and animal encounters which have a charge.

For families with kids that need to burn off some energy – there are a range of walking trails through the reserve. The trails range in length and lead through varying forest types and along creeks.  Plus, there are two excellent playgrounds for the kids to enjoy.

Blackbutt Reserve features picnic areas with barbecue spots, shelters, and tables.  There is also a kiosk on site selling coffee, cold drinks and ice creams.

Location: Carnley Ave, Kotara 

Opening Hours: Reserve daily from 7 am to 7 pm | Wildlife Exhibits daily from 10 am to 4.30 pm

Price: Free, but parking is $4 per hour or $13 for the day

Hunter Wetlands Centre

The Hunter Wetlands Centre makes for another one of the great family days out in Newcastle.  Here, you’ll find an extensive area of wetlands just a short distance from Newcastle’s city centre.  The wetlands encompass a range of ecosystems, including ponds, swamps, marshes, and reed beds. These diverse habitats support a rich variety of plant and animal life.

The centre is an important stopover for many migratory birds travelling along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, making the wetlands a haven for birdwatchers.  Here, you can see native and migratory birds in their natural habitats.  

For reptile lovers, there’s the Animal House – home to display tanks of turtles, snakes and even a crocodile! Or, for a gold coin donation, you can take a bucket and net down to the jetty and discover what critters live in and around the ponds. If you are around at 10.30 am, you can go and see the noisy Magpie Geese being fed.

The Wetlands are the perfect place for a stroll, with various boardwalks and trails. The Sensory Trail tends to be popular for families – with informative signs that explain what plants to touch and smell.  Or hire a few canoes for $10 per paddler ($3 for a non paddler) and explore the wetlands from the water.

Around the centre, you’ll find nature play activity stations, where the kids can engage in various interactive activities.  There is also a fabulous playground and nearby, you’ll also find BBQ and picnic facilities, so it’s the perfect spot for lunch.  Alternatively, a cafe on site sells a range of meals and snacks.

Free guided walking tours of 30 – 40 minutes are also available on Tuesdays at 10 am and Saturdays at 10.30 am.

Location: 1 Wetlands Pl, Shortland

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am to 4 pm

Price: $7.50 per adult | $5 per child (4-15) | Kids under 4 free | $20 Family Pass (2A+2C)

Kooragang Wetlands Rehabilitation Project

Within the Hunter Wetlands National Park, you’ll find the Kooragang Wetlands.  The area is a place to see the restoration of fisheries, shorebird, frog and rainforest habitats and is open to the public.

Families visiting Kooragang can enjoy the location by walking or cycling along the various trails and boardwalks throughout the wetlands.  Along the way, stop to see mud crabs, hear the birds and see what other wildlife you can spot.

For those with an interest in WWII, don’t miss seeing the Ash Island Radar Station built in 1942.

Kooragang is also ideal for picnics or fishing by the river.

Location: Schoolhouse Rd, Kooragang

Opening Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 8.30 am to 12 pm

Price: Free

Hunter Region Botanical Gardens

The Hunter Region Botanic Gardens is a beautiful and expansive botanical garden known for its diverse collection of plants, stunning landscapes, and educational opportunities.

Theme gardens include natives (grevillea, acacia, hakeas, ferns) and exotics (orchids, bromeliads and an amazing succulent and cacti garden).  The gardens also protect 100 hectares of land in the Tomago sand beds catchment area, including two wetland habitats.

More than 3,000 living specimens are in a natural bush setting with 8 km of easy tracks and trails. The Botanic Walk is ideal for families as it includes various activities specifically for children.

When it’s time for a rest, the children’s play area is the perfect place to stop.  You’ll find a cubby house with outdoor toys and picnic tables here.

The gardens also have a visitor centre with a cafe and gift shop. 

Location: 2100 Pacific Hwy, Heatherbrae

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am to 4 pm

Price:  $5 per person | $10 per family

Oakvale Wildlife Park 

Image credit thanks to Destination Port Stephens

Oakvale Wildlife Park is one of the perfect things to do around Newcastle for animal loving families.  Just a short drive from Newcastle in Salt Ash, the park is home to over 80 species of animals, including kangaroos, koalas, emus, farm animals, reptiles and more.

Here, kids will get a hands on experience, interacting with a range of native and exotic animals in a natural and family friendly setting.  A highlight for most families is the bottle feeding sessions with baby farm animals, milking cows, patting cute, fluffy animals and feeding kangaroos.  And everyone loves a good tractor ride.

In addition to the range of animals, the park also has play areas for kids, including a large playground and splash pad for cooling off during the warmer months.  Picnic areas with barbecue families are also available.

Location: 3 Oakvale Drive Salt Ash

Opening Hours: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

Price: $36 per adult | $23 per child (3-15) | Children 2 and under are free – Click here to book tickets online.

Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters

Image credit thanks to Destination NSW

Unlike the usual aquarium viewing through glass, at Irukandji, families can meet the wildlife, pet them, feed them and even share the water with them. The kids will love wading into the shallow water of the lagoons in bare feet, surrounded by many curious and friendly sharks and rays. 

Wearing your own clothes, visitors stay dry (mostly), with only the feet and legs becoming wet. However, upgrades are available, such as wearing socks for those feeling nervous with the marine life around their feet or even a wetsuit for those wanting to wade deeper into the lagoons.  You can also upgrade to a snorkel (swimming with the marine life) or encounter package.

Throughout the day, there are educational animal talks where you can learn more about the animals and the ocean systems.

A few hours at this aquarium is one of the super fun things to do in Newcastle with family, and it’s recommended that you allow at least 2 hours to make the most of your visit.

Location: 2 Jessie Rd, Anna Bay

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

Price: $38 per adult | $31 per student | $22 per child (3-16) | Children under 3 are free | $115 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Click here to book tickets online

Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary

Image credit thanks to Destination NSW

The Koala Sanctuary is another one of the places near Newcastle that the kids will enjoy.  This sanctuary provides first class care to sick, injured and orphaned koalas in their natural habitat.  The sanctuary supports the koala’s long-term rehabilitation and preservation in the Port Stephens region, as well as provides families with the opportunity to see koalas up close.

The sanctuary has a range of elevated pathways and viewing platforms, so visitors can easily see the koalas as they sleep high above in the trees.  There is also a koala hospital, which you can pass by and see the koalas being cared for through the viewing windows.

For an extra special experience, you can even stay overnight at the Koala Sanctuary in one of their glamping tents.

Location: 562 Gan Gan Rd, One Mile

Opening Hours: Daily from 9 am to 4 pm

Price: $28 per adult | $15 per child (4-13) | Children 3 and under are free | $72 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Click here to book tickets online

Port Stephens Dolphin Watching Cruise

Image credit thanks to Destination NSW

The 90 minute Port Stephens Dolphin Watching Cruise is fantastic for families looking for things to do near Newcastle.  Not only will you get the chance to see playful and curious Bottlenose dolphins and hear informative commentary along the way – but the kids (Mum and Dad too) can get wet with boom net rides!

Even if you decide not to get in the water, this is a fabulous way to see the scenic harbour with spectacular views of the Tomaree and Yacaaba headlands.

Location: d’Albora Marina, Nelson Bay

Tour Times: Daily at 10.30 am and 1.30 pm – extra 3.30 pm cruise during school holidays except in Winter

Price: $40 per adult | $25 per child (4-14) | $7.50 per infant (0-3) | $105 Family Pass (2A+2C) – Click here to book tickets online

Hunter Valley Day Trip

While an hour’s drive from Newcastle, if you haven’t been to the Hunter Valley before – it’s well recommended to make a day trip to the stunning region if you have the time. With its picturesque vineyards, world-class wineries, and beautiful landscapes, the region is Australia’s most renowned wine region and one of the best days out near Newcastle.

While the region is generally visited for its wine – this doesn’t mean it’s not family friendly.  We’ve visited many wine regions across Australia, and you’ll be surprised at how family friendly they are.  For the ultimate family day out in the Hunter Valley, you may be best to drive yourself and make a DIY tour.  

Family friendly attractions in the Hunter Valley include the Hunter Valley Gardens, the Hunter Valley Zoo, Hunter Valley Aqua Golf and Putt Putt and of course, the kids will love sampling all the local produce just as much as the parents will. 

If you want to partake in wine tasting and not have to worry about the driving, some tours are more than happy to take the kids too.  We recently took a day trip with Hunter Valley Amazing Wine Tours, which is open for all ages.

Lucky for us, during our day trip, we were the only ones on the bus – so it was a private tour without the private tour price!  During the day, we stopped at four different wineries, one distillery, a cheese shop, a chocolate shop and the Hunter Valley Gardens for lunch.

While it is a long day, and I suspect young ones may become bored – if you do decide to go, I’d recommend taking a fully charged iPad (and headphones) with all their favourite shows and maybe a ball to kick around outside some of the wineries – there’s plenty of grassy space to do so.

Getting from Newcastle Airport to Newcastle

Image credit thanks to Destination NSW

The Newcastle Airport is around 30kms from the city centre and takes around 30 minutes via car.

Below we cover the various ways to reach the city centre from the airport.

Public Bus

Public bus is the cheapest way to get from Newcastle Airport to the city centre.  However, this is not always the most convenient way, particularly with a few small children in tow and a bunch of suitcases.  In most cases, your journey will require transfers and possibly a bit of a walk too.  Plus, the buses don’t leave all that frequently, so you may find yourself waiting around for a bit.

If you plan to take the bus, you will find the public bus stop at the airport, just a short walk outside the departure terminal.

It’s recommended you use the NSW trip planner to plan out your trip and to check the fares.  However, below is a brief guide on getting the bus from the airport into the city centre.

  • B130 will take you to the Newcastle Interchange, from where you can transfer to the light rail or another bus to take you into the city centre.  
  • B131 will take you to Wickham Park, where you can change to a local bus that will take you right into the centre of the city centre.  Alternatively, you can take the bus to the Newcastle Interchange, from where you can transfer to the light rail if necessary.  
  • B136 will take you to Stockton Wharf, from which you can take a ferry across to Queens Wharf, from which you can take another bus or walk to your accommodation, depending on where it’s located.

The bus fare one way is from (depending on the time of day) around $3.53 for an adult or $1.76 for a child.  The light rail fare one way is from (depending on the time of day) around $.24 for an adult or $.12 for a child. 

You can just use a contactless card or device to tap on and off to pay for the ticket.  However, keep in mind you will need a separate card for each person.  If you don’t have a card for each family member, you will need to purchase a paper ticket, which will cost more.


A taxi rank is located just outside the terminal at the departure end of the airport.  You can expect to pay around $60 to $75 from the airport to the city centre.


Generally, a cheaper option than a taxi is to take a rideshare such as Uber or DiDi.  You can expect to pay around $45 to $60 one way via rideshare.

If you take a rideshare, you will need to make your way to the designated pick up area for rideshare services, which is outside the far end of the arrivals terminal.

Getting Around Newcastle

Image credit thanks to Destination NSW

There are many attractions within the Newcastle city centre which you could easily walk, provided you’re also staying in the city centre.  However, there are many attractions further away which you will need to rely on public transport or your own car to reach.  

Plus, staying in the city centre can be expensive, so it is often cheaper to stay on the outskirts and travel to the city centre as needed.

Below, we provide a brief overview of how to get around Newcastle.

Public Transport

Buses are a convenient way of getting around Newcastle, with various routes to get you to various attractions and sights.  Buses tend to come frequently every 10 minutes or so, depending on the route and the time of day.

A light rail operates from Newcastle Interchange in Wickham to Newcastle Beach in the east end of Newcastle – there are 6 stops.  The service operates daily from 5 am to 1 am, with most trams coming every 15 minutes or even faster during the day, Monday to Friday.

A ferry runs from the Newcastle city centre, at Queens Wharf, across to Stockton. Ferries run every 20 minutes or so, and the journey takes just 5 minutes.  

A train runs from the outer suburbs through Broadmeadow and into the city centre.

How to pay?

You can just use your card or device to tap on and off when using public transport.  However, each family member must have their own card – which is not always possible when travelling with kids.

If you need a card for your kids, you’ll need an Opal card, which you preload with cash.  Opal cards can be purchased at various newsagents, post offices, convenience stores and supermarkets.  You can also top up at these places or at top up machines, which are generally located at train stations.

Opal cards are free, but you must buy one with at least $10 loaded onto it for adults and $5 for kids.

Also, keep in mind that with a card or device, you’ll be charged an adult rate – so you’re better off getting an Opal card, at least for the kids.

How much?

When using an Opal Card or contactless card, fares start at $2.65 per adult and $1.32 per child. The good news is that once you spend $16.80 in a day, your remaining trips are free.  

Weekends and public holidays are even better, as after you’ve spent $8.40, your remaining trips are free!  

You’ll also get a $2 discount for transfers (catching another mode of public transport within 60 minutes). 

Children pay half the price of an adult fare and their travel caps are also half that of the abovementioned caps. Children under 3 travel for free.

Planning your trip

The best way to plan how to get around Newcastle by public transport is with Google Maps or the NSW Trip Planner.  While Google Maps is fine, I prefer to use the NSW Trip Planner initially as it will show you the cost of your trip and that way, you can decide if it’s just as cheap to take a rideshare.

If you decide to go ahead with public transport, I then prefer to use Google Maps, as it makes it very easy to determine not only the best method of public transport for your journey but also exactly where you need to be and at what time you need to be there.  

Rideshare and Taxis

While you may think public transportation in Newcastle would be the cheapest option for a family, rideshare is often more affordable or, if not cheaper, just a few dollars more.

Considering the convenience of rideshare, it is generally my preferred method of getting around Newcastle without a car when travelling as a family.

For each journey you plan on taking across the city, make a quick comparison between Uber and the NSW Trip Planner apps and compare the difference in prices.  

Taxis are another option, but rideshare apps are super convenient and generally much cheaper.

Renting a Car

For those families wishing to visit attractions outside the city centre, consider hiring a car and driving in Newcastle.  You can pick up a hire car at the airport on arrival.

Best family hotels – Newcastle

Looking for the best hotels in Newcastle for families?  Below, we’ve covered our top three picks for families that won’t completely blow the budget. 

We’ve chosen these hotels as they offer great value for money and are in excellent locations for sightseeing around Newcastle.

Click here for our more detailed guide on Newcastle family hotels.

Noah’s on the Beach


Looking for hotels near Newcastle Beach? You won’t get closer than Noah’s on the Beach, which is across the road (or 200 metres) from the beach. 

This 4 star hotel offers free on site parking, a bar, an all day restaurant and luggage storage. Laundry is available for an additional fee, as is WiFi. 

Light and airy family rooms sleep up to 4 in 1 large double bed and 2 single beds. Each ensuite room has a TV, tea and coffee making facilities, soft chairs and a minibar. It is worth paying a little extra for a room with a sea view and a balcony with seating. 

If you are looking for nice hotels in Newcastle to use as a base for sightseeing, Noah’s on the Beach is a great choice for its central location, upscale facilities and fantastic sea views. 

Click here for more information and to check the price.

The Landing


If you’re after one of the family friendly places to stay in Newcastle city centre, I recommend The Landing. This 4 star apartment is on a quiet side street in the CBD with city views and just 600 metres on foot from Newcastle Beach. You’re also just 280m from the Queens Wharf light rail station, and restaurants and parks are within a few hundred metres. 

The apartment offers free on site parking and sleeps up to 4 people in 2 bedrooms. Each bedroom has a double bed plus an ensuite with a bath and shower.  Apartments feature an open plan living area with a dining table, sofas, a TV, a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities.  There is also a spacious balcony with seating. 

Guests in this residential building can also use a communal rooftop patio, which offers fantastic views of Newcastle city centre.

If you are looking for where to stay in Newcastle that offers home from home facilities in a central location, The Landing is an excellent choice. 

Click here for more information and to check the price.

Nouveau On Young


If you want to avoid cramped hotels in Newcastle centre, one of the most spacious aparthotels Newcastle has to offer is Nouveau On Young. We recently stayed here with family and found it a great spacious apartment.

The Nouveau On Young apartments are close to the Entertainment Centre (7 minutes on foot) and the Knights’s home ground – McDonald Jones Stadium (20 minutes). However, it is 4.3 km from the nearest beach and a 20-minute train ride from the city centre. On the plus side, Broadmeadow rail station is only 130 metres from the apartment. 

The aparthotel offers free WiFi and fee paying parking, although there is plenty of free street parking (we never had an issue parking just outside the apartments. 

Each 2 bedroom apartment can sleep up to 4 people in 1 large double and 2 single beds. A fifth person can use the sofa bed for no extra charge.  The open plan living room has sofas, a TV, a fully equipped kitchen and a separate laundry. There is a family bathroom and an ensuite with a shower, plus each apartment has a balcony (although ours didn’t have any seating). 

If you’re just looking for the good cheap places to stay Newcastle has for larger families and have your own transport, then Nouveau On Young is highly recommended. 

Click here for more information and to check the price.


I hope you enjoyed this guide on all the best things to do in Newcastle with kids.  We also have guides on the best places to visit in NSW with kids, things to do in Sydney with kids and a guide on the best Sydney family hotels. 


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