Not so long ago, I used to dread the school holidays as our regular weekday activities stop, playgrounds can become overcrowded and nearly all weekday activities for under 5s go on holidays to. I now actually look forward to them with a great deal of excitement….though they require a bit more prep then a normal school term weekday. I think it has to do with my little ones being slightly older and the fact that we only really have one weekday that we don’t need to be somewhere at a certain time, which doesn’t leave much time to go exploring or to just to go with the flow.
Here is my go to list of things to do in the spring school holidays with kids under 5.
1Park and Playgrounds
If the sun is out, you will almost certainly find us at a park or playground – playing, exploring, scootering or bushwalking. Our choice of playgrounds shifts slightly though during school holidays as some get super busy and a bit overwhelming for my Mr 3 and Mr 2. I therefore aim for playgrounds that are more suited for under 5s, which generally means fenced playgrounds but not always. I have also found that playgrounds only really get busy in the school holidays from about 10:30am onwards…..guessing because school kids (and their parents) understandably like to sleep in while they can.
Keeping this in mind, and fingers crossed the weather is warm, here are our favourite spring school holiday parks and playgrounds:
- Cabarita Park, Cabarita
- Central Gardens, Merrylands
- Auburn Botanic Gardens, Auburn
- Caber Park, Winston Hills
- Dundas Park, Dundas Valley
- Upjohn Park, Rydalmere
- Lake Parramatta Reserve, North Parramatta
- Hunts Creek Reserve, Carlingford
- Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park
- Blackman Park, West Lane Cove
- Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills
- Wollundry Park, Pennant Hills
- Caroline Chisholm Park, Winston Hills
- Berry Island Reserve, Wollstonecraft
- Beecroft Train Park, Beecroft
- Phoenix Park, Rhodes
- John Wearn, Carlingford
- Heatley Reserve, East Ryde
- Lidcombe Shopping Centre outdoor play area
- Stockland Baulkham Hills Mall outdoor play area next to Little Rock Cafe
Here are some playgrounds and play areas we generally avoid during the school holidays as they can get particularly busy:
- Blaxland Riverside, Sydney Olympic Park
- Yamble Reserve, Ryde
- Domain Creek Playground, Parramatta Park
- Most shopping centre indoor play areas
- Indoor purpose built play centres – even though they usually have a designated under 5s area, we find them way to busy and noisy (and pricey) to go to.
2Indoor Soft Play
If it is wet outside, or we just want a non park day but still want some running around, then Sportsbliss is where you will find us. It is the only indoor soft play centre we know of that still caters for under 6’s during the school holidays.
It may seem counter intuitive, but I have actually found that some attractions are less busy during school holidays – I think it has to do with the fact that there aren’t big school groups visiting – and they are generally no more busy then on the weekend. So we take advantage of this, and the fact that we have annual passes to a number of attractions, and usually visit these places more during the school holidays. Again, I think going first thing in the morning also means we miss any big crowds.
4Public Transport and Other Adventures
We usually drive to most places, so I like to mix it up a bit and add to the fun by catching a train or ferry to one of the parks, playgrounds or attractions in this article – though I do find it so much quicker driving into the city, for example, during school holidays.
Here are some of our other favourite school holiday adventures:
- A trip to Cockatoo Island by ferry and a wander around. There is a kiosk perfectly positioned near the wharf with bean bags, plus a host of other things to explore and play with on the island, including a big chess board, old cranes and a long tunnel.
- A scooter, bike ride or walk across the new Bennelong Bridge connecting Wentworth Point to Rhodes.
- If the weather really heats up, then we will head to one of the three awesome water playgrounds in the Parramatta region – Dundas Park, James Ruse Reserve and Granville Park – or to Clifton Gardens Reserve in Mosman.
- We still love going to the library to grab some books or toys.
5New Things or Places We May Try These School Holidays
I am always surprised with how long my ‘things still to explore’ list is, particularly considering that on average we have probably tried out about 8 new parks, playgrounds or other activities every month for the last two years since moving to the Parramatta area. Here are a few that we are hoping to do these school holidays:
- Cumberland State Forest have a school holiday program that is suitable for kids 3yrs to 10yrs. We are booked in for one called Timberific Toys and it only costs $5.50 per child. There are only a few spots left for these school holidays, so you will need to get in quick.
- Boing Central – we go to their toddler playgroup every few weeks during school term. They have a dedicated under 5s area so may see what it is like during the holidays.
- Coal Loader, Waverton
- Halvorsen Park Playground, Ermington – opening 23rd September
- Ironbark Ridge Reserve, Beaumont Hills
- Nurragingy Reserve, Doonside
- Bicentennial Park, West Pymble
- Australian Reptile Park, Somersby
- Train trip to Woy Woy Fishermans Wharf
6Other Activities Your Family May be Interested in
Our kids all have different interests and temperaments. My two cheeky monkeys like being outside exploring and aren’t big on crowds, which is reflected in our go to list of things to do these school holidays above. So here are a few other activities that are happening these school holidays that are suited for kids under 5 which your family may be interested in:
- Spot On Festival at Riverside Theatre;
- Kidtopia at Parramatta Park from 7th to 9th October. While it is targeted at kids 5-12, they promise there is something for everyone. There will be a Littletopia area, including games, play areas, face painting, fun activities and special appearances by BBC’s Hey Duggee and Go Jetters. They will also have a small number of rides for under 5s, plus the petting zoo and roaming circus performers are suitable for little ones 3 and up. Music acts for all ages include The Vegetable Plot, Battlebird and NIDA will also be running a special one-off masterclass for kids aged 2-5.
- Most shopping centres are putting on kids activities during the school holidays and some of these would be suitable for little ones. Examples include, the free reptile shows at Winston Hills Mall, lego building at Carlingford Court and daily craft at Lidcombe Shopping Centre. For a full list, check out our what’s on during the school holidays guide.
Phew, that is a long list and will give us plenty to do these school holidays and the longer summer ones!
Do you have some favourites not on my list? I would love for you to share them in the comments below.