A few years ago we started a family tradition of having BBQ dinners at local parks nearly weekly during daylight saving. Mostly because I wanted a change of scenery from eating dinner at home every night with little ones. And summer nights are gorgeous to enjoy outdoors! Plus, it’s much easier to cook dinner when the kids are happily playing… and this seemed to make the ‘witching hour’ disappear! Now, our BBQ park dinners have become great after school play dates.
There are a LOT of local parks with free BBQs, which you turn on simply by pressing a button. To help you choose, here are our 20 favourite parks for BBQ dinners. The list is a mixture of parks with great warm weather playgrounds, gorgeous views along Parramatta River and ones with great picnic facilities. And you can also see our favourites on a Google Map.
Keep in mind that some BBQs are cleaner and better maintained than others. But I have a trick to help with that – alfoil! I just cook on a large piece of alfoil, which saves needing to clean before and after. WINNING!
We’ve never had a problem with BBQs not working at a park. But in case you turn up ready to cook dinner and find the BBQ not working, I’ve included details of where you will find another BBQ in a park nearby. And if you aren’t sure what to cook and pack, see my list at the bottom of this article.
Keep in mind that some parks are closed to vehicle access at sunset. And remember to pack MOZZIE REPELLENT!
List of Top 20 Parks for Summer BBQ Dinners
The order of parks is based on a combination of what BBQ facilities are available (toilets and taps are important), how close the BBQs are to the playground (closer the better), how good the play equipment is for a hot summer evening (water play is great) and how nice the spot is.
1Dundas Park, Dundas Valley
Dundas Park is definitely our number 1 favourite BBQ dinner park! There’s both a water playground and other play equipment right next in front of the BBQ, under shade cloths. Plus, there is a large oval to fly a kite or kick a ball around and a path around the park great for riding on. And if you happen to not want to cook dinner on the BBQ, we often get pizza’s from Vulcano Pizzeria a short walk away.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, 3 small picnic shelters, large grassed area, toilets about 50m away, tap in oval next to playground steps, garbage bins near BBQ and street parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-8yrs
- Address: Yates Ave, Dundas Valley
- More about Dundas Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Sir Thomas Mitchell Reserve
2Livvi’s Place The Hills, Kellyville
There is something very stress relieving about being at a fenced playground with young kids! And when you add in a water playground, shade and BBQs it is a WINNER! The BBQs and picnic tables at Livvi’s Place the Hills are in the middle of the playground, near the water play area. There is a variety of play equipment for kids of all abilities. And additional shade sails were installed earlier this year.
3James Ruse Reserve, Parramatta
James Ruse Reserve has a large, shaded water playground that operates from 9am to 8pm, September to May. There is also a skate park and playground (not shaded) with swings, slides, rockers and rope climbing tower.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, small picnic shelters, picnic tables, large grassed area, temporary toilets, tap next to toilets, garbage bins near BBQ and metered off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 1-10yrs
- Address: 45 Hassall St, Parramatta
- More about James Ruse Reserve
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Rosella Park in Harris Park or Ollie Webb Reserve in Parramatta.
4Kissing Point Park, Putney
This is a gorgeous spot along Parramatta River and great for watching the sun set. Kissing Point Park is right near the Kissing Point ferry wharf and this is one of our favourite spots for a BBQ dinner in summer and where you will regularly find us.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, two small picnic shelters, picnic tables, large grassed area, toilets, tap, garbage bins near playground and off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-8yrs
- Address: Waterview Street, Putney
- More about Kissing Point Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Putney Park in Putney or Anderson Park in Ryde.
5Lake Parramatta Reserve, North Parramatta
There’s so much to do at this natural oasis, just north of Parramatta. Lake Parramatta Reserve is popular for bushwalking, playing, picnicking and now water activities – swimming, canoeing and paddle boating. There are two sets of BBQs – one up near the toilets and playground and the other is near the swimming area with covered picnic tables overlooking the water. Note: the gates close at 7:30pm during daylight saving.
- Facilities: Multiple BBQs, large and small picnic shelters, picnic tables, large grassed area, toilets with baby change table, tap at toilet, garbage bins near picnic tables and off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 3-8yrs
- Address: 28 Bourke Street, North Parramatta
- More about Lake Parramatta Reserve
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: there are multiple BBQs at the reserve or head to Arthur Phillip Park.
6Putney Park, Putney
Putney Park is a fantastic park, found along Parramatta River in Putney. There is a great, free water play area suitable for young children. Unlike the other water playgrounds, this is more like toddler pools. There are no water fountains and tipping buckets, just two shallow pools connected by a pebble creek bed. There are also two other playgrounds in the park and two VERY large slides. Note: the vehicle gates close at sunset during daylight saving.
7Strathfield Park, Strathfield
Strathfield Park is our favourite ‘local’ playground, with all its fun play spaces and facilities. The challenge is getting the kids to sit still long enough to eat their dinner! Keep in mind that there are two big sections to the playground, on either side of the park, and both have BBQs.
- Facilities: a few dual accessible BBQs, picnic shelters, picnic tables, toilets in the middle of the park, water refill stations, garbage bins near playground and street parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-12yrs
- Address: Chalmers and Homebush Roads, Strathfield
- More about Strathfield Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Freshwater Park.
8Memorial Park, Meadowbank
A popular park for social gatherings, Memorial Park is a short walk from Meadowbank Wharf and train station. It has views of Parramatta River, playground, war memorial, picnic areas and bushland. The playground consists of slides, climbing steps, a water pump with creek bed, swings, rope tunnel and more.
9Blaxland Riverside Park, Newington
Blaxland Riverside Park is a large and awesome park, best suited for kids 4yrs+. It has a fantastic water playground section as well, though there is no shade and it only runs from 10am to 4pm. Keep in mind it’s very popular so parking can be difficult but easier in the evening. There are BBQs along Parramatta River near the Armoury Wharf Cafe or at the back of the playground, near the secondary car park (first carpark, on your left, when you enter).
- Facilities: Multiple BBQs, large picnic shelters, picnic tables, large grassed area, toilets, tap, garbage bins near BBQs and off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 4-14yrs
- Address: Jamieson Street, Silverwater
- More about Blaxland Riverside Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: there are multiple BBQs at the park or head to Wentworth Common.
10Boronia Park, Epping
Boronia Park ticks almost all the boxes for a great park with young kids! Fab shaded playground with equipment for a range of ages, toilets, BBQs, picnic tables, bike/ scooter track, bush setting, gardens and exercise equipment. Just needs a water pump or water play area.
11Cabarita Park, Cabarita
Cabarita Park is a great place to visit with young kids! The park has 2 playgrounds and a swimming centre that faces Parramatta River. Plus the closest, swimmable ‘beach’ to Parramatta. We even saw a pod of dolphins one summer, which is a great sign that the water quality is good. The beach is about 200m long and full of shells and our favourite spot is at the opposite end to the ferry wharf. There are a few dual BBQs in the park, all overlooking the water.
- Facilities: Multiple BBQs, large picnic shelters, picnic tables, grassed area, toilets, water re-fill stations, garbage bins near BBQs and off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-10yrs
- Address: Cabarita Park, Cabarita Road, Cabarita
- More about Cabarita Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Prince Edward Park.
12Upjohn Park, Rydalmere
Almost fully surrounded by houses, it would be easy to live right near this park and not know it exists….well unless you looked at Google Earth or your kids play sport there. The playground gets natural shade in the afternoon and there is a bike/ scooter track, plus exercise equipment and creek to explore.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, covered picnic tables, grassed area, toilets, bubbler near playground, garbage bins near picnic tables and off-street parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-6yrs
- Address: Kirby Street, Rydalmere
- More about Upjohn Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Sturt Park, Dundas Park, Eric Primrose Reserve.
13Crestwood Reserve, Baulkham Hills
This large park has two playgrounds, sports fields, community centre (with playgroup), bbqs, tennis courts and a new fab learn to ride track at the southern end.
14Lions Parks, West Ryde
This great playground on Victoria Road is easy to miss as you drive by seeing as it is hidden behind a line of trees. My boys love the sand pit and scooter track, particularly coming around the bend and down the little hill. There is a shade cloth over the sand pit and natural shade across the playground in the afternoon. The BBQs are right near the playground and the toilets are on the other side.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, picnic tables, grassed area, toilets, bubbler, garbage bins at opposite end of the park to the BBQs and off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 1.5-8yrs
- Address: 1141 Victoria Rd, West Ryde (car entry on Shaftsbury Rd)
- More about Lions Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Darvall Park.
15Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, picnic shelters, grassed area, toilets, garbage bins near picnic tables and free 2hr parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-12yrs
- Address: Parramatta Park, entry via Pitt Street
- More about Domain Creek Playground
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: There are lots of BBQs through Parramatta Park. Otherwise there are some next to the fenced playground at Ollie Webb Reserve.
16George Kendall Riverside Reserve, Ermington
George Kendall Riverside Reserve has the newest playground on this list and also the most number of BBQs. The new playground is shaded and has a great multi-purpose sports courts next door so good for kids of a range of ages. Plus the reserve is along Parramatta River so a nice spot to go for a walk after dinner.
17Banjo Paterson Park, Gladesville
Banjo Paterson Park is a gorgeous, hidden away spot along Parramatta River. The park got a new themed adventure playground towards the end of 2016 and there are bbqs and picnic tables nearby.
18Phoenix Park, Rhodes
The colourful and artist inspired Phoenix Park features a wonderful medium sized playground as well as bbq and picnic spaces, iconic artwork and walkways, which are fantastic for kids on scooters and bikes. And it is walking distance to Rhodes train station. Plus the surrounding buildings provide a good amount of shade in the afternoon.
19Anderson Park, Ryde
Located in a lovely spot along Parramatta River, Anderson Park has a shaded, medium sized playground. There is a boat themed climbing play gym, swings, small rope climbing tower, rockers and twisters. The park is within easy walking distance of Meadowbank ferry wharf, near Ryde Bridge and Ryde wharf. It is along the Parramatta River Walkway so you can go for a ride or walk along the foreshore.
20ELS Hall Park, North Ryde
This large new nature inspired playground has a great mix of play equipment for a range of ages, including a water pump and channels. Plus both natural and sail shade. It’s next to the YMCA Ryde. And it’s near the old playground that you will find the BBQs and picnic shelter.
- Facilities: dual BBQ, picnic shelter, toilets, water refill station, garbage bins near playground, grassed area, and on-site parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-10yrs
- Address: Kent Road, North Ryde
- More about ELS Hall Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Yamble Reserve or Blenheim Park.
21Paperbark Playground, Parramatta Park
We would love to add Paperbark Playground to our top 20 list. But can’t while there are only port-a-loos, that unfortunately don’t get cleaned very often. There are BBQs and picnic tables right near the playground.
22Ollie Webb Reserve, Parramatta
With it’s fun fenced playground, you would think Ollie Webb Reserve would make our top 20 list. But we just find is SUPER packed in the afternoon and so avoid it now. But there are BBQs just outside and toilets.
23Northbridge Baths, Northbridge
We have enjoyed a few BBQ lunches at the gorgeous, tranquil Northbridge Baths. But it’s not one I would visit for dinner unless you lived closer, with Sydney traffic being what it is.
24Eric Primrose Reserve, Rydalmere
The dual BBQs and picnic shelters at Eric Primrose Reserve are near Rydalmere ferry wharf. And are a great spot to watch the sun setting over Parramatta River. While there are now toilets nearby, they close at 6pm. So still not the best for a BBQ dinner during daylight saving.
There are so many other parks that just missed the cut. I have edited and re-edited the list as we eat our way through the local parks with BBQs. Let us know if one of your favourites is missing or see a fuller list of parks with BBQs.
Google Map of Parks for Summer BBQ Dinners
Here is a map with our top 20 parks for BBQ dinners (blue), along with the alternative BBQs in nearby parks (grey).
What’s Cooking on the BBQ?
I don’t cook anything fancy and basically stick to the same meal each week – to keep it simple with little ones. But there is lots of yummy food you can cook on a BBQ if you have the time and energy. My summer BBQ park dinner usually consists of sausages or chicken skewers, salad, friend onions and BBQ potato cubes/ chips. And after a bit of trial and error, here is what I pack each week into a grocery cooler bag to make the BBQ dinners super easy.
- Piece of alfoil (or 2) that will cover the bbq – saves on having to clean the BBQ before and after
- Spray oil
- Paper towels
- Plastic bags for rubbish and dirty plates
- Reuseable plastic plates
- Container for left over food
- Frozen ice blocks to keep the meat cold
- Mozzie repellent!
And my trick for making yummy, crunchy BBQ potato cubes/ chips is to microwave them until they are almost cooked, add some seasoning and a bit of oil at home. Then crisp them up on the BBQ.