Top Ryde City has been around since I was born. However, back in the day, it didn’t look anything like it does now and it used to be called Top Ryde Shopping Centre.
Back then, it was a simple shopping centre that had a Woolworths, a Franklins, two fruit shops, some take away shops and a handful of clothing stores. The highlight was having Bowl Australia on Level 3!
Well, it has changed quite drastically since then. Whilst some people aren’t happy that it caters for kids, others, like me and a lot of other parents, are super happy.
The Levels At A Quick Glance
The configuration of Top Ryde can be confusing if you have never been. Ground floor isn’t the bottom floor so if you’ve driven to Top Ryde, you might get confused in the lifts. There are 2 lower levels below ground.
- Lower Ground 2 (LG2) contains Woolworths, Aldi, Kmart, a few cafes and stores
- Lower Ground 1 (LG1) contains Big W, the food court and some other cafes and stores. It also contains 2 temporary play areas near the food court. These have been set up as they build a new awesome play area on Level 1.
- Ground Floor (G) contains some clothing stores, hairdressers, the post office and cafes. Outside of Ground Floor there are 2 distinct areas. La Strada is the outdoors shopping area, which contains banks, a few clothing stores and many restaurants. If you follow La Strada towards Pope Street, you’ll find the Piazza, which is full of restaurants, a large TV screen, a small play area with animal statues and water fountains. You can also access the Library from the Piazza area.
- Level 1 (L1) contains Coles, The Reject Shop, some other restaurants, many cafes and shops, the medical centre and a free, new play area. You also will find the escalators to Events cinemas on L1.
- Level 2 (L2) contains the entrance to Monkey Mania and HobbySew. You can also access Events Cinemas via stairs just outside the doors to the car park when travelling on the escalators or catch the same lift that goes to Monkey Mania.
- Level3 (L3) contains the entrance to Fitness First and Good Games.
Kid Friendly Top Ryde City
Top Ryde City is extremely child friendly. There are free play areas, multiple parents rooms, the supermarkets have dual seating trolleys, water play, restaurants and cafes that cater for families, the Library and more.
This is where he main action is for kids at Top Ryde City Shopping Centre. The main play area opened in August 2017 and there are three sections within it. One with touch screens and books, opposite is an area for little ones with low level climbing pods and building blocks and then at the back is the climbing play gym with slides.
Unfortunately the climbing play structure can be difficult for preschoolers to manage on their own. It is better matched to the abilities of primary school kids but doesn’t hold their interest for as long.
A special soft play space for babies and toddlers is re-opening on Monday 2nd July 2018 after an upgrade. It is behind the escalator, near the parents room and Toymate.
On ground floor, outside in the Piazza, you’ll find a faux grass patch which has 3 animal statues and a tunnel. Kids love running around this area, climbing and sometimes fighting over the animals.
Close by, there is a small print on the floor that reminds me of hopscotch intended for primary school aged kids.
You’ll also find a water play area. Whether it was intended as a water feature or not, on warm days you’ll see kids running through it!
There’s also a large TV screen outside. Every now and then, the Library rhyme time sessions are held outside in this section too.
On Friday evenings, they often have live music in the area and giant games, like connect four and jenga.
For the sake of memories, these are the pictures of the old play areas on Level 1.
Top Ryde Library can be found in the Piazza at Top Ryde City. The entrance is near Guzman Y Gomez. Simply enter the doors and either walk up the stairs or take the lift to level 1.
The children’s section contains many books, dog seats (at least I think they are dogs) and other seats that can be configured to look like a caterpillar, a star lit sky, a touch screen computer the children can “draw” on. You’ll find Rhyme time for 0-2 year olds from Wednesday – Friday and Story Time for 2+ on Tuesdays. There’s after school play sessions for primary school kids as well as a relaxed story time for all ages on Saturdays which is followed by Lego fun. For more information about the library, read our review of Ryde Library
There is an abundance of Parents Rooms at Top Ryde City, the best and newest one being on LG2 near Kmart. All Parents rooms contain change tables, a microwave, some form of play stations, TV with ABC for Kids, feeding rooms with chairs, a bathroom with both a small toilet and a large one.
- Lower Ground 2 parent’s room can be found near Kmart. It is the newest and best one they have. Be warned that there isn’t much reception down there.
- Lower Ground 1 parent’s room can be found near Michael Hill Jewellers.
- Ground floor has 2 parent’s rooms. One can be found close to the Post Office. The other is between Guzman Y Gomez and the library.
- Level 1 parent’s room can be found behind the escalators, near ToyMate. Please note that there are new bathrooms near the restaurants on the other side of the floor but none contain a parent’s room.
- On the weekends, recently I have seen those “Go Ponies” animals you can ride just outside the play areas on L1. I believe it is $10 and they only take cash. I’ve also seen child sized electric cars that the kids can drive around a track inside on Ground floor but I have never stopped to look at the costs.
- Monkey Mania can also be found at Top Ryde. I rarely go as there are enough free activities to keep my children entertained for their age group.
$6 entry on Tuesdays for children under 5 for members. Visit their site for more information about pricing.
- Events cinemas are a great option for the older kids who have the attention span for it. I’ve not tried it yet. Every day until the 5th of April 2017, the movie tickets are $10 only for cinebuzz members. It’s free to join.
- You can hire shopping cars on LG1 at the customer service area which near the food court. These cost $5 per hour for single ones or you can get the double for $7.50 per hour. Be warned, you’ll have trouble with the double when you realise you need to use the lift to get to other floors.
- Hobbysew (found in the carpark on L2) holds sewing classes for kids aged 10 and over.
- Good Games (Level 3) hosts many events for the game board enthusiasts. Some are paid whilst others free. You can join their facebook group or find out about the events on their website
“Stress Free Grocery Shopping”
When it comes to groceries, you’ll find that both Woolworths and Coles have trolleys that allow for 2 toddlers or preschoolers to sit side by side. Woolworths provide free fruit for the kids to eat. What a great treat! They also have some free nutritional advice.
If visiting Coles, you’ll find a red button near the milk up the back, below a picture of cows. When pressed, it makes a loud moo sound. I use this button when my kids are becoming restless. At times, when you enter Coles, you might see small trolleys like they have at Bunnings. There aren’t many. You need to leave your license with the person up the front and then they’ll let you take the small trolley which you can steer via a flag post handle.
Level 1 also has some buy 1 get 1 free deals at their smaller vendors. I highly recommend you visit this link and check out the deals.
If you forgot your busy bags, the kids are losing it or you have no idea how to keep them entertained for the rest of the day, it goes without saying Kmart is where you need to go. They have so many craft packs at affordable prices. You can find Kmart on Lower Ground 2 (LG2) near Aldi. If you need a change room, use their family change room as they have a play station.
There are SO many cafes at Top Ryde, it is awesome!
- On Level 1 you’ll find The Shed. This has become our favourite for two reasons. The coffee has been consistently great and the babycino’s are free and come with a marshmallow. It actually works out cheapest for us and we end up with the best coffee. Total win. They also have amazing breakfasts. Can’t fault it.
- Near the play areas you’ll find the Leaf Cafe. Whilst they don’t have free babycinos, the coffees are decent and if they aren’t too busy, they’ll bring the coffee out to the tables near the play areas.
- On ground floor you’ll find cafe Albero. We used to come here a lot until I found out about the free babycinos at The Shed. At one stage the babycinos used to have magnificent designs. Sometimes you’ll get a cat or a bunny, other times Peppa Pig. Lately it is a bit hit and miss and for the cost of the babycino, you’d want to be sure that there is some epic design on it. They do have mini cupcakes that are a great small treat for the little ones too
- People Cafe on Lower Ground 1 just outside of Big W also have mini cupcakes.
- If your children are into kid sized milkshakes, then cafe albero is the cheapest in Top Ryde Cty at $3.50. The most expensive we’ve found for the kid sized milkshakes (and they really are kid sized) is Oliver Brown at $5.50. We tend to stick with babycinos if we ever end up there. They do have a great view off the balcony of the big screen TV outside.
Child Friendly Restaurants
We have been to a few.
- Bondi Pizza is great. I’m yet to meet a child that doesn’t love pizza. The kid’s menu doubles as a colouring in sheet. The children receive these as well as crayons. A great dinner option.
- Coco Cubano also have children’s menus and crayons however you need to ask for it. The food options are a bit more expensive for what you get but if you are after a light tapas style dinner and some Sangria, it is a great place to be.
- Rashays is very child friendly. They have balloons for the kids as well as a colour book which contains stickers. The food has been a bit hit and miss for me but the Rashakes (milkshakes) are AWESOME. You can sign up to be a member ( there is a fee but was waived when we joined). On Sundays, kids eat free if you are a member. There is a 10% surcharge though so basically you end up not paying the surcharge roughly.
- Hurricanes Grill also provide crayons and menus the kids can draw on. A bit pricier than the others but worth it when your ribs and steak cravings come to haunt you!
- Bar Angolo has some very decent Italian food and pizzas. They also serve gelatos! Yum.
- Outback Jacks has a small play room and also provides some colouring in but I confess, I haven’t been in a while as we find the food at the other places agrees with us more.
How to Get To Top Ryde
Whilst there aren’t any trains in Top Ryde itself, you can catch the M52 if coming from Parramatta. If you’ve caught the train to West Ryde, you can catch the M52 from Victoria Rd near the station. Other buses that pass by are the 515, 518, 500, X00, 501 (and possibly more).
The car park can be confusing if you have never been. If it is your first time, make a note of the colour of the floor you’ve park on and where you enter. If your children are insistent on using the “rainbow escalator” park on the Purple “Mezza” floor. Depending on where you entered, you’ll either need to go down a floor for the Mezza or up many many many floors if you came from the lower entrance. If you came from the top, go down one extra level and you’ll find a lot of spots and the most convenient parking for the restaurants, Coles and the Level 1 medical centre and play areas. (shhhh keep it to yourselves)
Just pop Top Ryde City in your Google Maps GPS and you’re off.
Other Shopping Centres with Free Play Areas
For other ideas on where to go shopping with kids, read our list of 22 shopping centres with free play areas.