We are out of the house every day, rain or shine, for at least a few hours. It’s definitely easier to go on adventures when it isn’t raining, but with time and practice I now have a great list of rainy day adventures, which I am excited to share with you!
My criteria is simple, two to fours hours of happily entertained kids at a good price. Free is ideal, but I don’t mind spending around $10-15 per child. And bonus points if I can get a warm drink and bite to eat at the same time or nearby!
The list goes from high energy activities to quieter ones. And covers things around the City of Parramatta, plus further afield. I hope you find some ideas to stop you and the kids going stir crazy on a rainy day or week.
1Indoor Trampoline Centres
We love a good bounce in my family but are a bit limited for choice in the local area, with Boing Central closing and the FX Zone never opening in Rydalmere as planned.
Ultimate Sydney at Northmead is a trampoline and indoor play centre in one. And will easily have the kids exhausted by the end. The other trampoline centres nearby are Flip Out Blacktown and Castle Hill but we’re yet to try them.
2Indoor Heated Swimming Pools
There is something really nice about heading to a heated pool on a cold, wet day. We particularly like Hornsby Aquatic and Leisure Centre with its really warm water, underground parking, water fountains and tipping buckets. Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre is also a favourite with its slides, fountains and whirl pool. Just watch out for the BIG bucket, it may scare the little ones a bit. But there’s a warning bell so you can move out of the way. During the cooler months, Splasher’s water playground is open 10am-12pm and 3-7pm, and the warmer months (October to March) it’s open 10am-7pm.
For information on other swimming centres with indoor pools, check out our list of kid friendly local swimming pools.
3Indoor Play Centres
We spent MANY hours at soft play centres over the years. There are just two in the area – at Blacktown and Castle Hill. Both are only open as soft play centres Monday to Friday, during school hours.
- Kids Playland @ Castle Hill Indoor Sports Centre: costs between $5-$10 per child.
- Kids Zone Blacktown: costs $6-10 per child.
The more traditional purpose built indoor play centres, with large climbing structures, slides and a soft play area, plus a cafe, are growing on us – particularly as our kids get older (4-6yrs). We’ve really enjoyed playing at Chipmunks Prospect (only $5 entry on school days before 11am), Lollipops Playland Parramatta and Crocs Play Centre at Prospect and Castle Hill.
Other ‘play centres’, like Kidsday Premium Kids Cafe, ChouChou Bebe at Lidcombe Centre, Wannabees at Hornsby, the Early Start Discovery Space at Wollongong University and Twinkle Kids Cafe at Burwood, have learning and play spaces that are more focused on kids using their imagination, which we love.
Here are some of the other play centres nearby:
4Cafes, Clubs and Pubs with Play Areas
The rise of clubs and hotels with play areas is a fantastic thing for families. The fact that kids can happily play while parents enjoy a meal in peace = winning! And a lot of these clubs and hotels are great for mothers/dads group catch ups during the week.
Our local is Vikings Sports Club at Dundas Valley and it has a good kids play area for little ones. We also really like the play area at Hotel Seven Hills. And there are over 17 other clubs and hotels in and around the City of Parramatta that have indoor play areas.
While most playgroups require you to join up for a term, there are some around that are drop-in based. Also, as long as they aren’t full, the term based ones will usually let you trial the playgroup twice. We have developed a local playgroup guide to help you find one on a day that suits.
I still can’t get over how many shopping centres there are within a 10-20min drive. And most have free indoor play areas that should keep the kids entertained for at least 30mins. We usually have a play, shop, grab something to eat and then play again before heading home…. that easily covers a morning out.
Here are some of our favourites – Winston Hills Mall, Rhodes Waterside, Auburn Homemaker Centre and North Rocks Shopping Centre. We also can easily spend a morning at a local Bunnings store with their kids play area, cafe and kids trolleys for shopping.
7Museums and Other Indoor Attractions
Australian Museum is by far our favourite, with their kids space, hand-ons interactive displays and affordable entry. But it’s now CLOSED for renovations until mid-2020. Our next fav is Wild Life Sydney Zoo (but only when visiting with a Merlin annual pass), which has a storytime daily.
Then there is the Australian National Maritime Museum, Manly Aquarium and Sydney Aquarium. We have annual passes for all of them, which makes it a lot cheaper and easier to visit. And in some cases we wouldn’t visit if just buying a single ticket as they can be very expensive. A single visit to the Australian Museum though will only set you back $15 for an adult entry and kids are free. Plus, you can see the general exhibits and access the mini mariners area at the Maritime Museum for free.
Did you know that there are 35+ libraries in and around the City of Parramatta? Most libraries have a kids area where they can read books on kids lounges or chairs and some have a few toys to play with. If you time your visit to coincide with a weekly rhyme time (generally for 0-2yrs) or story time (for 2-5yrs), then you can usually turn it into at least an hour outing.
We particularly like Wenthworthville Library. They have great rhyme/ story times and a wonderful toy library. We also spend a fair amount of time at West Ryde Library, where they have microscopes, a large learning cub (with display drawers and ipads) and plenty of space for the kids to move around in. As well as Ermington Library and Dundas Library. You can see a list of reading programs at library’s in the area in our What’s On Calendar.
Rug up, put on rain coats and gumboots and have fun embracing the rain and splashing in some puddles. And we love visiting the local waterfalls and cascades once the rain has stopped and there isn’t a chance of flash flooding!
10Play Date at a Friends Place
Sometimes all you need is a drive and change of scenery to keep everyone happy. If you are after some ideas for activities once there, check out our at home activities section.