I’m one of those strange people that LOVE school holidays! And our bucket list is always way longer than we have time to get through. Which is great news for you as we have plenty of school holidays inspiration to share, if you are spending some or all of the next two weeks with your young kids. And the best bit is that most are FREE!
Now while I can’t absolutely guarantee each of our top 20 picks will put a BIG smile on your kids faces, they’ve definitely done that for my two kids and lots of other ParraParents.
Our April School Holidays Guide shares our 20 top things to do that are free, cheap or a bit different with your young kids (under 10yrs). Think of it like a table of contents for our website, which is bursting with hundreds of fabulous things to do with your family. Plus at the bottom you will find a growing What’s On Calendar of local free/ cheap school holidays activities.
20 Top Picks – Free, Cheap and Something a Bit Different
Here are our 20 top things to do these April School Holidays with young kids. Most are free or very cheap outings and should keep the kids happily entertained for a good while.
1Get Up Close to Native Animals
Taking kids to see animals is almost always guaranteed to put a smile on their face. And we’re fortunate to have a number of spots to get up close with native animals in Western Sydney. Our top three picks these April school holidays are:
- Featherdale Wildlife Park in Doonside (just north of Blacktown) has a kids free entry deal for April and you can use your Dine & Discover NSW voucher making it free for the whole family. Featherdale is home to one of the world’s largest collection of Australian wildlife, with over 2,000 Australian native animals from more than 260 different species.
- Central Gardens in Merrylands has a free native animal enclosure with wallabies, emus, kookaburras and plenty more. There is also 2 shaded playgrounds, a waterfall, lots of picnic tables and bbqs, plus plenty of grass to play on.
- Auburn Botanic Gardens in Auburn also has a native animal exhibit and is free for Cumberland Council residents or $5 for non-residents (though this normally only gets charged on weekends).
Plus, a visit to Blackbutt Reserve near Newcastle is worth the drive. It has a great free native animal exhibit plus two fun playgrounds.
2Ride along the NEW Escarpment Boardwalk in Parramatta
You can now ride and walk from Parramatta Park to Melrose Park on a continuous cycleway/ footpath along the north side of Parramatta River. And if your kids get tired, you can always catch the Rivercat back.
The new escarpment boardwalk is opposite Parramatta Wharf and goes for about 350m before linking up with the River Walk.
3Go Construction Crazy at the Diesel, Dirt & Turf Expo
Have construction vehicle loving kids? Then going to the FREE Diesel Dirt & Turf Expo is THE outing for you! We’ve been going since it first ran in 2016 and my kids still haven’t tired of it. While an industry expo, it’s a family friendly event with lots of kids to do, including getting up close to all their favourite construction vehicles as well as watching some in action.
It’s on from 9th to 11th April at Sydney Dragway in Eastern Creek. Read more about visiting with kids here.
4Get Yours Skates on at Prince Alfred Square
From 11am daily, you can let the good times roll at the roller rink at Prince Alfred Square for Parramatta Nights. It’s just $5 (plus booking fee) for 30mins of roller skating. And we’ve heard that if it’s not busy, you can keep rolling. There are also some amusement rides at Prince Alfred Square and it’s only a short walk to all the cafes along Church Street. Plus Riverside Theatres, River Foreshore Playground, Bankwest Stadium playground and the new Parramatta River Escarpment Boardwalk are only a 5-10min walk away.
5Play Test the New Playground at Wangal Reserve
Autumn is a great time for hours of fun playground playing. And our favourite new ‘autumn’ playground is Wangal Reserve in Mortlake overlooking Parramatta River. It’s a nature play based playground, with water channels, sand pit, wooden play equipment, balancing logs and stepping stones.
Other new playgrounds to visit these school holidays are Max Ruddock Reserve in Winston Hills, John Wearn Reserve in Carlingford and Gallery Gardens in Old Toongabbie. Each of these are also nearby close to kids friendly bushwalks.
6Use Your Dine & Discover Vouchers and Support a Local Business
The school holidays is always a great time to visit local cafes for a family friendly meal, in between park plays and outings. But more so these holidays with local businesses still recovering from the covid pandemic and many being impacted by the construction of the Parramatta light rail. And there’s the added incentive of using the four (4) Dine & Discover NSW vouchers the NSW Government is giving all NSW residents 18yrs+.
Some of our favourite family friendly cafes have already signed up, including Courtyard Dining & Espresso, Queens Cup Cafe and Bells Road Social. You can search by suburb or business name via this list of participating NSW businesses. The vouchers can be used 7 days a week, including public holidays and are valid to 30th June 2021.
7Watch a Movie Under the Stars
It’s the season for open-air cinemas with a number of local outdoor movie screenings of family movies taking place throughout the school holidays. There’s a mix of ones at local parks and pop-up drive ins, all playing different movies.
- Parramatta Nights Open-Air Cinema at Prince Alfred Square on Thursdays to Sundays from 1st to 18th April – $10 adults, $7.50 kids (3-13yrs) + booking fee
- Bankwest Stadium Drive-In from 31st March 31 to 29th April – $45 per car
- Drive-in Cinema at Macquarie University from 15th to 18th April – $30 per car
- Gallery Gardens Outdoor Cinema on 15th April – $5 per person + booking fee
- Dundas Park Outdoor Cinema on 16th April – $5 per person + booking fee
- John Wearn Reserve Outdoor Cinema on 17th April – $5 per person + booking fee
- Dine + Drive In With Zootopia at Lidcombe Shopping Centre on 17th April – $25 per car
8Splash and Swim at the Upgraded Wenty Pools
After being closed for two years for a major upgrade, Wentworthville Memorial Swimming Centre is now open for families to enjoy! All pools are heated to 28 degrees, including the new water playground. There’s a fenced playground, BBQ and spots to spread out your towels and enjoy a picnic.
9Visit Bilpin for Apple Picking, Pie and Autumn Leaves
Just over a year after being severely impacted by bushfires, Bilpin was cut off due to the heavy rain that rose the Hawkesbury River to cover North Richmond and Windsor Bridges. But Bells Line Road is open again and the community is warmly inviting us to come back for a visit to pick apples, buy locally made apple pies and cider as well as explore the magical Wildwood gardens with beautiful autumn colours.
10Bushwalk 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.
11Donate Pre-Loved Toys and Books
Have an autumn clean out of previously loved toys and books that your kids have outgrown and donate them for other families to enjoy. Big W is trialling a Toys for Joy program with Save the Children and you can drop off pre-loved toys at Big W Winston Hills (and we’ve seen Merrylands has one as well).
And if you’ve got more books than bookshelf space, then visit a local street library where you can swap, take or donate books 24/7.
With 25 playgrounds along Parramatta River, there are plenty of great spots where the kids can play while you enjoy some water views. Or go one step better and combine a play along the river with a cafe brunch or treat by the river.
And to add to the fun, you can explore Parramatta River by car ferry (from Putney to 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 Wangal Reserve, Bayview Park or 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 or nuts? These April school holidays there are:
- Tomatoes and Eggplants to pick daily at Canoeland Orchard from 9:30am to 3pm, with a free tractor ride at 10am on weekdays. Entry is free for kids during the week and adults are $5.
- Strawberries can be picked at Berrylicious Strawberries in Thirlmere, near Picton. Check their Facebook page for session times and to book.
- Apples are available for picking in Bilpin. There are a number of pick your own farms, such as TNT Produce (drop-in, $2 entry fee, daily except Tuesdays and Thursdays) Bilpin Fruit Bowl (drop-in, entry fee, weekends); Shields Orchard (bookings required, open daily except Tuesdays); Pine Crest Orchard (drop-in, no entry fee, weekends).
- Chestnuts and Walnuts can be picked (up off the ground – they fall off the tree when ripe) at two places in Mount Wilson, about 45mins further on from Bilpin. Kookootonga Nut Farm (7 days 9am to 4pm) and Nutwood Farm (weekends, 9am to 4pm). NOTE: due to a landslide on Bells Line Road (past Bilpin), you will need to travel via Mount Victoria.
14Get Crafty at a Local Shopping Centre
Free kids activities are BACK at local shopping centres. Some require you to pre-book, but most, like the ones at North Rocks Shopping Centre, are drop-in. We still need to add them into our What’s On Calendar, but in the meantime you can get more info via these links.
15Ride 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’s over 20 to race along these school holidays.
Enjoy the magic of the theatre these school holidays at our local, fab Riverside Theatres. There’s three live shows and a family backstage tour. Ticket prices vary from $10 to $35, depending on show and age. But you can use your Dine & Discover vouchers as well as the Creative Kids voucher. And afterwards you can head to Prince Alfred Square for roller skating and amusement rides.
17Eat and Play at Liverpool Catholic Club
There are over 40 clubs across Western Sydney that have fun kids play areas, making them a good school holidays outing. And seeing you can book online now at most Clubs, your table is guaranteed (make sure to ask for near the play area). Our favourites are Liverpool Catholic Club, Hotel Pennant Hills, Greystanes Hotel, Crown on McCredie and West Pennant Hills Sports Club.
18Take a Day Trip to the Central Coast
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 the Central Coast to check out the fab new regional playground at Leagues Club Park. And if it’s a nice day, pack your swimmers and beach toys and head to one of the many lovely family friendly beaches – like Umina Beach, Macmasters Beach, Avoca Beach and Pearl Beach. All have cafes, playgrounds and toilets. Make sure to check out the great Playing in Puddles blog for heaps of tips and recommendations on enjoying the Central Coast with kids.
And here are three other mini trip suggestions for the these school holidays. Head to:
- Oatley Park to play at the fun playground, splash at the swimming baths, have a picnic lunch in the ‘castle’ and go for a bushwalk by Georges River.
- Wollongong to visit the Early Start Discovery Space. 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.
- Newcastle to visit Blackbutt Reserve, Newcastle Museum or play at Merewether Beach.
19Enjoy Sculptures at Scenic World
We love a great art in a gorgeous location. And it’s hard to bit the beautiful Blue Mountains. Sculpture at Scenic World returns in 2021 and runs from 1st April to 2nd May. It transforms the natural Jurassic rainforest with world-class sculptures. We absolutely LOVED our visit in 2019! And look forward to visiting again these April school holidays.
Now visiting Scenic World is not a cheap outing, which is way we like going when the sculpture exhibit is on to get extra value for money. Plus you can save by using your Dine & Discover voucher.
20Let the Good Times Roll at Sydney Olympic Park
There’s always a lot of fun to be had at Sydney Olympic Park, with five playgrounds spread across four park areas as well as all the bike paths, lake, Armory Wharf and Sydney Showgrounds. Plus, there’s a number of activities on during the school holidays, including ‘Roll’ is an interactive artwork designed for the grassy hill in Jacaranda Square. Until 18th April, you can grab some balls and roll them down the network of brightly-coloured plastic pipes. Pick up a copy of the helpful Autumn Park Explorer Guide or download one here.
Calendar of School Holiday Events
The events listed in our April school holidays calendar are mostly free, cheap or good value for money. And we still have a TONNE to enter! In the meantime, visit the events section of our Facebook page for a more complete list.