I used to seriously dread school holidays with my little ones. When all your regular activities stop and a lot of playgrounds are overrun by ‘big’ kids (sound familiar?). But now we struggle to get through our to-do list each holidays! So I hope this spring school holidays guide will take away some of your dread and make it easier to pick some great things to do with your kids!
Our spring school holidays guide features 20 top picks – a mix of events and outings in Western Sydney that are free, cheap and interesting things to do with your toddlers, preschoolers and young primary school kids. There is also a list of some out of area programs worth checking out. And to finish off, there is our mega School Holidays What’s On Calendar – an easy to use listing of over 300 local events and activities!
Top 20 Picks – Free, Cheap and Something a Bit Different
Here are our top 20 things to do these spring school holidays with your your toddlers, preschoolers and young primary school kids. Most are free and something fun to do together.
Picking your own fruit is such a great outing for families. Fresh air, fresh fruit and fresh views on how our food grows. There are three different pick your own fruit farm experiences these school holidays.
- A visit to Berrylicious Strawberries in Thirlmere is an extra special treat. Plus a great way to support strawberry farmers locally. There will be a pick your own day in the 2nd week of the school holidays – date dependent on fruit and weather. Make sure to follow their Facebook page for the announcement and to book online. This farm is just over an hour drive away from Parramatta CBD.
- For a closer farm experience, we highly recommend a trip to Canoelands Orchard. There are farm animals, tractor ride, small kids play area, kiosk and tomatoes still to pick (if you are quick). They are open every day and about 45mins drive away.
- If oranges are more your thing, then catch the Sackville car ferry over to Anderson Farm and pick yourself the last of the oranges. They are open Saturday to Monday and about 50mins from Parramatta CBD.
- Location: Thirlmere, Canoelands or Sackville.
- More Info
2Wander Through Wistaria Gardens
Right next to Parramatta Park, the gorgeous Wistaria Gardens are a must visit in spring! It has a wonderful ‘secret garden’ feel about it and is rather magical to visit with kids. There are beautiful displays of wisteria and cherry blossoms to enjoy, even though sadly the has been no spring planting this year. Make sure to wander around the banks of the river to see the sleeping fruit bats and across to Domain Creek playground for a play. Plus at the main entrance to Parramatta Park, the rose garden is in bloom.
And for a different kind of fun garden experience, head to a Flower Power for their free kids gardening classes at 11am.
- Location: Next to Parramatta Park, Cumberland Hospital in Westmead
- More Info
3Spark Your Imagination, Laugh and Dance at the Spot On Children’s Festival
Embark on fun new adventures at Parramatta’s very own wonderful kids arts festival at Riverside Theatres. From 9th to 13th October, families will be treated to a great mix of live shows, drama workshops, movies and free daily activities at the Spot On Children’s Festival! We LOVE that there is a FREE opening party on 9th October. And you can still WIN tickets.
- Location: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta
- More Info
Like playing at a brand new, sparkly playground? Well there has been almost 10 new local playgrounds open in the last two months. Plus a few fab ones nearby that are worth the drive! So if you haven’t gotten a chance to play test them yet, the school holidays is a good time. Each playground has different play equipment and some are more likely to be busier during the holidays than others, like the new ones at ELS Hall Park and Bankstown City Gardens.
5Eat Your Way through Parramatta Lanes
Expanding to 14 lanes this year, Parramatta Lanes will have an epic assortment of flavours, with more than 50 curated eats and bars on offer. From 9th to 12th October, families can enjoy our very own local food playground! Plus there will be roof-top roller skating, live soul and blues bands, hip-hop DJ’s and art installations. Our recommendation, if going with little ones, is to go early to eat (it starts at 5pm) and then wander around afterwards and grab some yummy dessert! And we are SUPER excited that this year Parramatta Lanes is going green! All bars will provide clean, reusable cups, and there will be Sydney Water refill stations.
- Location: Parramatta CBD
- More Info
6Splash at a Local Water Playground
While it may not be hot enough for us parents to want to go in the water just yet, chances are the kids will be happy to go for a splash on a sunny spring day. This is where a water playground is a great! You can sit by and watch your kids (of any swimming ability) run through the fountains, tipping buckets, water jets and other interactive water features. And as they are splash areas, they present almost no drowning risk for little ones.
- Location: Blacktown, Doonside, Dundas Valley, Erskine Park, Jordon Springs, Kellyville, Liverpool, Merrylands, Newington, Parramatta, Putney, Werrington, Windsor.
- More Info
Painted rocks is a fantastic family-friendly activity where you can get creative, spread kindness and get outdoors. It is simply a game of hide and seek….with painted rocks! Anyone can paint, at any age and skill level – it’s not an art competition, though we have some very talented local parents! Once you have painted some rocks, you get to have fun hiding them for others to find. Plus you can go hunting for painted rocks at anytime. Just join Parramatta Rocks to get started and find out where some little treasures are hiding.
- Location: at any public space possible treasures await to be found (or hidden)!
- More Info
Leaping off high towers into buckets of water while juggling cannon balls, Cedric Irving needs to be seen to be believed! This is a spectacularly hilarious and high energy show… As his finale, this circus strong man turns himself into a giant human balloon! And before/ afterwards you can head across the road to the fenced playground for little ones or grab a bite to eat at the yummy Cafe Els.
And there are PLENTY more fun FREE activities taking at local shopping centres these school holidays.
- Location: Winston Hills Mall
- More Info
9Build Sand Castles at the Beach
A warm spring day is a lovely time to pack up the sand toys and find a nice spot to build sand castles by the water. And you don’t need to go far to find a nice patch of sand to play on, with a number of sandy spots along Parramatta River. Our top picks are Kissing Point Park in Putney, Dunlop Reserve at Birkenhead Point, Meadowbank Wharf and Cabarita Beach. Keep in mind that you can only swim at one of these spots currently – Cabarita Beach.
And if you are after a beach to swim at, there are 17 beaches within 35kms of Parramatta CBD. Our top picks are Northbridge Baths, Greenwich Baths, Yarramundi Reserve, Clifton Gardens and Balmoral Beach.
10Play and Eat at a Local Club
There are lots of clubs and hotels around with great, free play areas and a yummy bistro. It’s a nice way to catch up with other families – you can sit back and chat, while the kids happily play. Plus a number of clubs are putting on school holiday activities – like Castle Hill RSL, Merrylands RSL and Baulkham Hills Sports Club.
- Location: over 35 Clubs and Hotels in the greater Parramatta area – even split between play areas that are indoor and outdoor
- More Info
11Get into Nature and Go on a Bushwalk at Moxham Park
Exploring in the bush is a wonderful free activity for the whole family. And spring is a really nice time to be outdoors, with the warm weather and flowers blooming. We are fortunate to have plenty of kid friendly bushwalks and lots of bush parks in and around Parramatta to play in. Our top picks these school holidays are:
- Moxham Park from NBC Sports Club to John Curtin Reserve
- Terrys Creek from Epping to Eastwood
- North Rocks Dam, Lake Parramatta
- Hunts Creek Reserve
And if you would like some company on your bushwalks, then we highly recommend joining the Parramatta Little Bushwalker Facebook group.
Throw the the bikes or scooters in the car and head over to one of the many local dinky tracks. These are the replica mini road networks made especially made for kids to learn to ride and pretend to be out on the road. The one at Strathfield Park is one of our favourites as it is naturally shaded and large.
- Location: 21 in the greater Parramatta region, and a few more across Sydney
- More Info
13Set Back in Time at the Australiana Pioneer Village
Families can step back in time these school holidays by visiting the Australiana Pioneer Village. You will absorb you into the atmosphere and activities of life over 100 years ago. They are open every Tuesday and Wednesday during school holidays and the theme these spring school holidays is fairies and pirates. Entry is only $5 for adults and $3 for school aged kids and there are plenty of have a picnic.
- Location: Wilberforce, just a bit north of Windsor
- More Info
The Active Parramatta van is back and operating their popular FREE pop-up sessions at six local parks these spring school holidays. They have games and activities suitable for all ages from toddlers to adults 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 in Winston Hills on Tuesday 2nd October from 9:30am to 11am
- West Epping Park in Epping on Tuesday 2nd October from 2:30pm to 4pm
- Dundas Park in Dundas Valley on Wednesday 3rd October from 12pm to 1pm
- Reynolds Park in Toongabbie on Wednesday 3rd October from 3pm to 4pm
- Jubilee Park in Parramatta on Friday 5th October from 9:30am to 11am
- Ollie Webb Reserve in Parramatta on Friday 5th October from 2:30pm to 4pm
15Pop into Parramatta Library for Holiday Play
Kids missing their usual storytime sessions at the library? Then bring them into Parramatta Library in the morning for free holiday play. There’s toys for them to play with and then you borrow a bunch of books for afternoon reading. The library is also right near Westfields, the kid friendly Lil Miss Collins cafe and Jubilee Park. Plus, visiting any local book or toy library is a good little outing. West Ryde Library and the library at Top Ryde are particularly fun. Here is a list and map of 35+ local libraries!
16Go on a Ferry Adventure to Cabarita
The spring school holidays is a lovely time to go on a ferry adventure or three! And we are fortunate to have many great ferry stops along Parramatta River, with lots of wonderful parks, playgrounds, swimming spots and picnic facilities nearby. Plus there is also the Putney car ferry to enjoy! NOTE: Rydalmere Wharf is closing for an upgrade from 3rd October.
One of our favourites is heading to Cabarita. Once you get off the ferry, you are welcomed by Cabarita Beach and Park. The large park has a lot to offer families – great shaded playground, outdoor swimming centre with views of Parramatta River, yummy kiosk and plenty of bbqs and picnic shelters. Plus there is a beach, with lots of shells and some shade, where you can watch the ferries go by. This is the furthermost west spot along Parramatta River that has been deemed safe to swim at. And if you are lucky, see some dolphins!
- Location: Parramatta River
- More Info
17Get Up Close to Some Furry, Feathery Friends
Animals are usually a crowd pleaser. And there are a few local places you can visit for FREE, where your little ones can get up close to some animals – Central Gardens in Merrylands, Auburn Botanic Gardens, Kellyville Pets and Winston Hills Mall. Or you could take a little trip to the awesome, free animal enclosure at Blackbutt Reserve near Newcastle.
18Chill Out Watching a Movie
Some school holiday days just call for chilling out in front of a big screen movie! Event Cinemas at Parramatta, Top Ryde, Macquarie Centre and Castle Hill each have a school holiday program, with free activities.
19Share in the Fun of a School Playground
Just cause schools out doesn’t mean you can’t still have some fun there! Over 180 schools across NSW are inviting families to enjoy their playgrounds, ovals and sports courts from 8am to 5pm from 1st to 12th October, as part of the NSW Department of Education Share Our Space program. And going off reports from previous holidays, the playgrounds are nice and quiet – perfect for escaping the crowds at more popular playgrounds.
Local schools you can play at include Rydalmere Public School, Melrose Park Public School, Rydalmere East Public School, Darcy Road Public School Official, Wentworth Point Public School, Granville Boys High School, Merrylands High School and Granville South Public School.
20Go on a Day Road Trip to the Beautiful Somersby Falls and Delicious Chocolate Factory at Gosford
Going on 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 spring school holidays is to Gosford to enjoy Somersby Falls and visit the new Chocolate and Nougat Factory. Depending on traffic, you can get there in under an hour from Parramatta. There’s parking, picnic tables and toilets at Somersby Falls. And it’s an easy walk to the top of the falls. The bottom section is doable with little ones but a bit more tricky and lots of stairs.
Other mini road trip suggestions for these school holidays are:
- Wollongong and the Early Start Discovery Space (review). There are 14 interactive zones, including a construction site, grocery store, dinosaur dig, reading pod and water play area. And they have a jam-packed school holiday program as well
- Umina Beach to swim at the beach, play at the fabulous playground, grab a book from the street library and enjoy lunch at the yummy cafe.
- Hunter Valley Gardens to explore the gardens and discover the mega dragons plus rides.
- Brooklyn to enjoy some fish and chips overlooking the Hawkesbury River, splash at the Brooklyn Baths and play at the fenced playground.
Interesting Out of Area School Holiday Programs
While not really out of area, the Cumberland Council school holiday program is only for Cumberland Council residents. Other out of area school holidays programs worth travelling for are:
- Dinosaur Festival at the Australian Museum
- Cumberland State Forest
- Royal Botanic Gardens
- Australian Botanic Gardens
- Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse, Sydney Observatory and Museums Discovery Centre)
- Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
Calendar of Spring School Holiday Events
The events listed in our spring school holidays calendar are mostly free or cheap and usually don’t required pre-booking. And remember, this list of school holiday events will most likely continue to grow – so check back regularly!