Heading to Canberra with the family in tow? We've found the top things to do with kids in the nation's capital, from visiting Questacon (of course) to finding a unique slide.
Find the best playgrounds
The capital puts serious thought into its outdoor playground spaces, with the Pod Playground at the National Arboretum (pictured top) topping every family’s must-go list. But the lakeside Boundless Playground at Kings Park also gets top marks for younger kids and children with disabilities, thanks to its inclusive design.
Spend the night at the zoo
Ever wondered if bears snore? Find out at Jamala Wildlife Lodge in the National Zoo & Aquarium, where families with kids aged six and over can spend the night separated from Malayan sun bears by only a glass wall in luxury Jungle Bungalows. (Families with over-14s can stay in rooms adjacent to tigers and cheetahs, while adults can snooze with the lions). Not close enough? If the kids are over 12, book the Ultimate ZooVenture Tour to hand-feed your wild roommates. Littler kids? There are also regular family events that allow children aged four and five to spend the night.
Experience a special event at Questacon
It’s every kid’s favourite emporium of wonder – pressing buttons, yanking levers, splashing, mixing and making. So what does Questacon do when all that hands-on activity isn’t possible? It takes you to Mars via an exhibition that inspires the imagination. Kids can hop in an earthquake simulator to see what a quake feels like on the Red Planet and explore Mars via a seven-metre globe made using images from reconnaissance missions. Meanwhile, mini-David Attenboroughs will love the beehive installation that allows kids to see what goes on inside the honeycomb walls.
Head out on the lake
There are few better ways to explore Canberra’s picturesque centrepiece, Lake Burley Griffin, than by skippering your own GoBoat for an afternoon – no boating licence required. Pre-order yummy cheese and charcuterie platters from Bean & Table or fish and chips from Snapper when you book.
Race down an alpine slide
Canberra’s closest winter wonderland, Corin Forest, is 45 minutes by car from town and still attracts a crowd when the ski season is done. The main drawcard? The exhilarating 1.2-kilometre Alpine Slide that races riders through the eucalypts at breakneck speed.
See an epic exhibit
Hey kids, heard about the Space Race? Until mid-March, you can explore the Out of This World exhibit at the National Archives of Australia, which recalls the futuristic fashion, architecture and pop culture of the historic Space Race era that saw the United States and the Soviet Union go head to head for global dominance between the 1950s and 1970s. Younger kids can have their own fun with a free activity book. The permanent Connections gallery is also worth a detour, including a letter written to former Prime Minister John Curtin from a concerned citizen advising him to keep a potato in his pants pocket to ward off illness.
See a different side of Parliament House
Think kids and Australian Parliament House in the same sentence and you’ll probably recall that school excursion to see our country’s seat of power. But these days there’s much more to capture the attention of young ones than just watching the action from the visitors’ galleries. Case in point: book in for the free Yeribee tour to explore the rich contributions Indigenous Australians have made to Australia, see significant artworks and The Barunga Statement, a painted declaration calling for the federal government to recognise the rights of our First Peoples. A high point – literally – of the tour? A trip to the roof (pictured above) to take in what might be Canberra’s best view.
Image credit: Jo Bakas
In partnership with Questacon; Australian Parliament House; National Gallery of Australia; Australian War Memorial; National Museum Australia