In need of some school holiday inspiration for what to do with little or bigger kids that you can just drop into and won’t break the budget? Here is our bumper April School Holidays Guide, with 20 top things to do that are free, cheap or a bit different. Plus at the bottom you will find a growing What’s On Calendar of local free/ cheap drop-in school holidays events.
20 Top Picks – Free, Cheap and Something a Bit Different
1Race Down a BIG Playground Slide
Chances are by now you have heard of the giant 30m slide at the new Altrove Hilltop Park in Schofields. But have you visited? It got the thumbs up from us – my Mr 3 and I keep going up and down! Keep in mind that you have to walk up 50 stairs to have a go and there are only a few other pieces of play equipment. Plus there has been a string of accidents on the slide.
And if a 30m slide is too long or you are wanting to try some other big slides, here is a list of 19 other ones in and around the Parramatta area worth checking out these school holidays.
2Run Away to the Circus
Roll up, roll up the circus is in town! There is a FREE circus day at Auburn Park, thanks to Cumberland Council, on Tuesday 17th April from 10am to 2pm. And you can also catch a circus steam train and enjoy a whole lot more circus fun at the NSW Rail Museum on Friday 20th to 22nd April.
3Become a Bush Detective, Build Bridges or Discover Aboriginal Culture
If you have primary school aged kids, you definitely need to book in to one of the great activities being run by the Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre. And they are only $5 each to attend! The Aboriginal cultural activity on 18th April at John Curtin Reserve sounds particularly interesting and afterwards the kids can play at the playground or you go on a bushwalk together on the Moxham Loop Track.
4Journey Under the Sea
Head to Winston Hills Mall for some under the sea fun! In the first week of the school holidays, there will be an interactive exhibit where kids can hold live sea creatures, examine specimen samples and discover a large variety of marine artefacts and shells. And in the second week, there will be two under the sea daily shows (11am and 1:30pm).
Experience a local show like no other! From traditional favourites like wood chopping, art and crafts exhibits to racing pigs, the Isuzu D-Max precision driving team and flyball dog demonstrations, plus a fireworks display at the end of each day. The Hawkesbury Show is three days of fun and excitement for all the family. Tickets are $23 for adults, $13 for kids when you buy online, plus children under 5yrs are free.
Head down to Centenary Square from 10am to 1pm on 16th to 27th April (excluding ANZAC Day) and create a poppy to add to the river of poppies on the Royal Memorial Gates.
7Explore Parramatta River by Car Ferry (Putney Punt) or Rivercat
With 25 playgrounds along Parramatta River, there are plenty of great spots where the kids can play while you enjoy some water views. And to add to the fun, you can explore Parramatta River by car ferry (from Putney or Mortlake) or Rivercat. The Putney Punt has become a favourite outing for us recently, and we love taking an afternoon trip across to Mortlake where we then go and play at a nearby playground, like at Cabarita Park. Keep in mind that the car ferry only runs from about 7am-9:30am and 3pm-6:30pm on weekdays.
Did you know that you only need to travel about 60mins north or north west to reach farms that let you pick your own fruit? These April school holidays there are:
- Tomatoes to pick daily at Canoeland Orchard from 9:30am to 3pm, with a free tractor ride at 10am. Entry is free for kids under 15 on weekdays during the school holidays and adults are $5.
- Pink Lady and Granny Smith Apples are available for picking in Bilpin. There are a number of pick your own farms, such as Pine Crest Orchard and Bilpin Fruit Bowl, but they are only open on weekends.
Active Parramatta van is back and operating their super popular FREE pop-up sessions at five local parks these April school holidays. They have games and activities suitable for all ages from toddler to adult and you just drop-in, no bookings required. Note: the van is unable to operate in extreme heat or wet/rainy conditions. You will find the van at:
- Hillcrest Avenue Reserve, Winston Hills (Monday16th 2:30-4pm)
- Willsford Homes Playground, Northmead (Tuesday 17th 9:30am-11am & Thursday 19th 2:30pm – 4pm)
- Upjohn Park, Rydalmere (Tuesday 16th 2:30pm-4pm & Friday 20th 9:30am-11am)
- Frank Hayes Playground, Wentworthville (Wednesday 18th 2:30pm-4pm)
- Larry Bolitho Reserve, Carlingford (Friday 20th 2:30pm-4pm)
10Step Back in Time at the Australiana Pioneer Village
Open every Tuesday and Wednesday during school holidays, the Australiana Pioneer Village will absorb you into the atmosphere and activities of life over 100 years ago. The theme these holidays is colonial and kids can step back in time to the 1800s to see what it was like being a kid then. Entry is only $5 for adults and $3 for school aged kids and there are plenty of places to picnic.
11Ride on a Dinky Track
Did you know that the purpose built bike and scooter tracks, which mimic roads with road markings, street signs, round abouts and zebra crossings, are called dinky tracks? There is a brand new one at Ryde Park, plus another 15 in the area to ride on these school holidays.
12Make Burgers, Decorate Donuts, Play Sports and Get Crafty at Local Shopping Centres
There is a lot of free fun to be found at over 10 local shopping centres. From burger master class and donut decorating at Westfield Parramatta to craft workshops at Lidcombe Centre and sports circuits at Seven Hills Plaza. See the growing lists here.
13Bushwalk to a Local Waterfall
The cooler autumn weather is a great time to go bushwalking. And it’s a wonderful free activity to do with your kids. We are fortunate to have plenty of lovely kid-friendly bushwalks nearby, including two with pretty waterfalls – Balaka Falls in Hunts Creek Reserve at Carlingford and Terrys Creek walk in Epping. Keep in mind that they are best visited after rain. And if you would like to bushwalk with other families, join the Parramatta Little Bushwalkers and Nature Play group, which has a number of meet-ups these April school holidays.
14Splash and Slide at Aquatopia
Make the most of the warm autumn weather and enjoy the water slides at Aquatopia these school holidays. The large, affordable water park is at Prairiewood Leisure Centre and they have a FANTASTIC end of season offer – family passes are now only $30, regardless of how many children in a family. Aquatopia is open 11am to 4pm daily (except ANZAC Day) and we STRONGLY recommend booking online to guarantee entry and avoid long queues. Note: you will need to show your Medicare card as proof of family members.
If you are after a more traditional swimming pool, then our local Epping Aquatic Centre is open mornings (6am-10am) and afternoons (3.30pm-7.30pm) on weekdays and 8am-4pm on weekends. And our indoor favourite pools are Hornsby Aquatic Centre and Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
15Drop by the Free Kids in the Park Fun Hub at Bicentennial Park
Kids in the Park is an exciting school holiday program at Sydney Olympic Park, which has been running for almost 15 years and has continued to get bigger and better every year! And this April school holidays they are introducing the new Kids in the Park fun hub, with free craft, music, performances and a trail of 30 amazing things to explore at Bicentennial Park. Plus you can find out more about the other wonderful Kids in the Park activities happening during the school holidays. Here are a few other free, drop in ones – A Birdy Journey, Riverside Birdlife and ArtExpress Workshops.
16Eat, Play and be Entertained at the NBC Sports Club
NBC Sports Club is one of many local clubs with a great play area. And these April school holidays they are providing some cool free entertainment for families, with a school holidays fun day, disco and karaoke. Plus their Kids Backyard is open daily from 11am to 9pm. We also recommend checking out the new play area at the Wentworth Hotel.
17See Native Animals for Free (or Cheaply)
Central Gardens in Merrylands has a free native animal enclosure with wallabies, emus, kookaburras and plenty more. And if you are lucky, you can spot a koala in a tree in the koala sanctuary near the smaller playground. There is also another large shaded playground, a waterfall, lots of picnic tables and bbqs, plus plenty of grass to play on.
You can also see native animals at the beautiful Auburn Botanic Gardens – free for Cumberland Council residents or $4 for non-residents.
18Escape the City and Go on a Mini Road Trip
A little road trip can be an adventure in itself, made all the more fun when arriving at a great family-friendly destination. Our top road trip suggestion these April school holidays is to head to Sculpture at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, which celebrates its seventh exhibition transforming the natural Jurassic rainforest with world-class sculptures. Held from 13th April until 13th May, the exhibition offers exciting opportunities for art lovers, children and families to engage with art in a spectacular setting.
And here are three other mini trip suggestions for the these school holidays. Head to:
- Brooklyn to catch a ferry over to Dangar Island, cruise on the Hawkesbury River Mail Boat, play in the fenced playground, swim, bushwalk and just enjoy the Hawkesbury River (review by Sydney Mums Group).
- Wyong to attempt the mazes at the Amazement Farm and Fun Park (review). Then visit the great Wyong Milk Factory for a bite to eat, shop and another play at the fenced playground. Or head to the Entrance and feed the pelicans and splash in the water playground.
- Wollongong to visit the Early Start Discovery Space (review). There are 14 interactive zones, including a construction site and grocery store to a dinosaur dig, reading pod and water play area. And they have a special school holiday program activities as well.
19Pop into Parramatta Library for Toys and Books
Kids missing the story time sessions? Bring them into Parramatta Library in the morning on Tuesday to Friday for holiday play, and then borrow a bunch of books for afternoon reading. Or head to one of the local toy libraries to borrow some ‘new’ toys for the holidays.
20Enjoy and Experience Art at Biennale Sydney on Cockatoo Island
Jump on the Parramatta Rivercat to Cockatoo Island and explore Biennale Sydney. Every two years, the Harbour Trust welcomes Australia’s largest contemporary visual arts event, showcasing innovative and thought-provoking works from around the world.
- Take a free 45-minute drop-in tour through the highlights of the 21st Biennale on Cockatoo at 11.30am and 1.30pm on weekdays and 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm on weekends.
- Get creative at free, drop in art-making workshops for kids aged 5 to 12 from Tuesday 17th April – Saturday 21st April, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm
- Attend the family day on Sunday 29th April with music, performance, talks, workshops and activities for all ages.
Calendar of School Holiday Events
The events listed in our April school holidays calendar are mostly free or cheap and don’t required pre-booking. And we still have a TONNE to enter! In the meantime, visit the events section of our Facebook page for a more complete list.