Where the Cool Kids Hang

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The Blue Mountains may be known as Sydney’s backyard playground, but for kids, it’s next level!

By Julie Miller

What will keep the kids happy in the Summer school holidays? Roller coasters? Adventure activities? Space to run around? Ice cream?

Wait up – no need to order passports or book expensive flights – up here in the Blue is where all the cool kids roam! From our craggy clifftops to tumbling waterfalls, from village playgrounds to the dazzling universe beyond, the Blue Mountains are chockers with activities suitable for families, with plenty of action, adventure and treats to keep energetic, nature-loving children happy and engaged.

Twinkle Twinkle

Head underground at Jenolan Caves, where crystalline stalactites and stalagmites dazzle with their ethereal beauty. Then, look up – there’s a whole universe out there, best seen through the telescopes of Blue Mountains Stargazing, with the clear, dark skies above the Blue Mountains an astronomical wonderland.

The Blue Mountain’s famed gardens are not just for grown-ups – kids also love to let loose in the picturesque Everglades, the rambling Campbell’s Rhododendron Garden or Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mt Tomah, which often holds special events for children as well as school holiday activities.

Pony-mad kids will love the guided trail rides through the bush at Centennial Glen Stables; or hire an e-bike from Blue Mountains Adventure Company to explore the lookouts without the puff.

Cool off with a dip in one of the Blue Mountains’ aquatic centres; at Katoomba, for instance, there are heated indoor and outdoor pools, as well as the three-storey indoor play centre, Kids Kingdom. And if the weather isn’t co-operating for outdoor exploration, head to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, where the interactive ‘Into the Blue’ exhibition explores the majesty of the World Heritage region in sensory detail. 

Sweat it out!

Looking for a family activity that’s good for the body and mind, and is also different enough to banish holiday moans of “I’m bored”? Blue Mountains Sauna welcomes children, with a steam in a traditional Finnish sauna a fun way to introduce families to a culture that’s part of a daily routine in many European countries. Not only does sweating it out in 90-degree heat benefit the body, it’s also a great opportunity for tech-free time and connecting with other family members on a deeper level. Follow your steam with a bracing plunge in an ice bath, the ultimate adrenaline kick that brave kids relish! By enjoying this experience with the whole family, the next generation will be sure to normalise and embrace the simple, overwhelming healthy, time-tested practise of sauna! bmsauna.com.au

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All aboard!

Take a journey into the past on the revamped Zig Zag Railway, back on track and full steam ahead after extensive restoration work following back-to-back fires in 2013 and 2020. Just 15 minutes from the Blue Mountains, this historic railway dating to 1869 chugs and chuffs through the incredible pagoda scenery near Lithgow, hugging the cliffs, crossing hair-raising historic bridges and steaming through 10 tunnels as the train zig-zigs down the mountain from Clarence Station to Bottom Points and back again. See zigzagrailway.com.au

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Australia’s largest outdoor dinosaur experience

Travel millions of years back in time for the must-do prehistoric adventure, Dinosaur Valley at Scenic World. And, this year, the herd is double in size than last summer so there are even more dinosaurs and new activities to discover.

Catch the world’s steepest train into the incredible, ancient rainforest of the Jamison Valley. Roam the elevated boardwalk beneath the canopy, listen out for the roars, and spot the dinosaurs in the natural habitat. When you’ve finished in the valley, catch the steepest aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere up the escarpment and continue your hunt for more dinosaurs.  

Surrounded by kilometres of rainforest, Dinosaur Valley is a one-of-a-kind way for the whole family to explore the natural wonders of the Blue Mountains. Get in quick before tickets go extinct! Buy online ahead of time to get the best prices.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Save 10% off your Junior Ranger Kit when you pre-purchase it online with your Dinosaur Valley Unlimited Discovery Pass. Tickets at scenicworld.com.au/dinosaur-valley

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Mountains of fun for the whole family

Create your own adventure with an Explore More Pass - a Blue Mountains Explorer Bus and Scenic World Ultimate Discovery Pass combo ticket, the cheapest online combination ticket of its kind!

Catch the train to Katoomba or Leura - or park near any of the Explorer Bus stops - and jump on one of the big, red double-decker buses. Hop on and off as you like on the same day - and create your own adventure as you explore the townships of Katoomba and Leura and see the sites dotted along the escarpment at your own pace.

The bus stops at Scenic World at 17 minutes past each hour and kids ride the Explorer Bus for free. Available to purchase at scenicworld.com.au.

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Little people, big appetites

A plethora of family-friendly restaurants make dining out in the Blue a real treat, with favourites such as The Bunker (at Leura and Springwood) offering not only a dedicated kids’ menu, but colouring in and puzzles to keep active minds busy. The Bootlegger Bar also offers a Kidlets menu; while the family-friendly café Chapter & Leaves in Faulconbridge hosts school holiday craft workshops as well as having a dedicated indoor play area. Meanwhile, kids rule at Bilpin’s Hillbilly Cider, with pizza-making classes and art classes held during school holidays adding to the already family-friendly ambience.

The Mountains’ favourite family-friendly resort

With its own ice-skating rink, pony rides, an adventure park, outdoor maze, indoor and outdoor pools and the famous Fairmont Express train that tootles around the resort grounds, there’s no more family-friendly accommodation in the Mountains than the Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains.

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The massive KidsZone games room will keep children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers, amused for hours. Whatever the weather, they’ll be occupied with arcade games, soft play area, merry-go-round and even a cool mirror maze, which is all complementary for hotel guests.

Children can enjoy a range of organised activities during Summer school holidays, from face painting to hair-braiding, cupcake decorating, and even skate camps at the Blue Mountains ice-skating rink; while in the auditorium, little ones can enjoy their favourite movies on the big screen, with sessions also available on weekends.

There’s plenty of choice at mealtimes for families, with woodfired pizza and pasta on the menu at Azzuro Trattoria, your favourite steakhouse cuts basted with aromatics at Embers Grill and a dedicated kids’ menu at the Leura Golf Club bistro.

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