Looking for a great family vacation in NSW this winter? Pack your winter woolies and hit the road to find some of the best places in NSW for families, from legendary zoos and adventure playgrounds to miniature steam trains and spooky historic gaols. No need to hibernate this winter, there are plenty of family-friendly places to explore that both parents and kids can enjoy.
Family fun and things to do around Dubbo
With world-class NSW attractions for families, Dubbo is an ideal road trip destination for families and kids these winter school holidays. Five hours’ west of Sydney, Dubbo is a vibrant regional centre packed with kid-friendly activities. Spend a day at the award-winning Taronga Western Plains Zoo, where big cats and other animals roam freely in large, open spaces. Book in a Meet the Meercat, Elephant Keeper talks
Don’t miss the historic Old Dubbo Gaol, which once housed some of Australia’s most notorious criminals. If you dare, book a spine-tingling After Dark or Beyond the Grave tour for an atmospheric glimpse into 19th-century prison life. Or you could take a night sky tour of the universe at the Dubbo Observatory and see planets and stars up close through powerful telescopes.
Where to stay in Dubbo
Things to do in Cowra
Just over four hours’ southwest of Sydney, in the beautiful Lachlan Valley, Cowra is another great spot for a family winter getaway, packed with fascinating Indigenous, settler and wartime history. Over a thousand Japanese Prisoners-of-War staged a tragic mass breakout here during WWII in 1944. Find out more at the Prisoner of War Campsite and the Cowra War Cemeteries.
Created as a symbol of peace and hope, the Cowra Japanese Garden is a tranquil place of breathtaking beauty with waterfalls and streams filled with colourful Koi carp and manicured hedges and gardens. A must-do with kids, the new Nature Based Adventure Playground at Bellevue Hill Reserve is the perfect place to burn off some energy on flying foxes, slides, tunnels and climbing frames.
Take a stroll along the beautiful Lachlan River Walk, and see the renowned Indigenous Bridge Pylon Murals, painted by local artist Kym Freedman of the history of the local Wiradjuri people.
Train enthusiasts will love a guided tour of the Lachlan Valley Railway Heritage Centre with an authentic 1923 Locomotive Depot and Steam Roundhouse.
Where to stay in Cowra
Places to stay include the Econo Lodge Alabaster with warm, friendly service and well-appointed rooms just a short walk from the centre of town.
Things to do in Wollongong for families
If you’re after short family getaways in NSW, Wollongong is less than two hours’ south of Sydney on the beautiful south coast of NSW. Wollongong is also one the of the best holiday destinations for families with toddlers with plenty of playgrounds, beaches and fun activities to keep everyone entertained.
Kids will love the Stuart Park Playground, with giant slide tubes, flying foxes, cubby houses and beginner bike paths. Take a ride on the Illawarra Live Streamers miniature steam train across from the park. There’s another excellent all-abilities playground at the beautiful Botanic Gardens, along with walking trails and open spaces to explore. Thrillseekers can fly high above the treetops on Australia’s highest zipline at Illawarra Fly or explore the 1.5km treetop walkway through beautiful temperate rainforest.
The Early Start Discovery Space Centre is a dedicated children’s museum with interactive experiences and learn-through-play activities for children up to 10 years and their families. Wollongong also has a host of fantastic libraries offering cosy Storytime and Toddlertime sessions for rainy days.
Where to stay in Wollongong
Places to stay include the Comfort Inn Towradgi Beach, just five minutes from the CBD with a beer garden and children’s playground onsite, and modern, apartment-style accommodation at the Quality Suites Pioneer Sands, located on the northern side of Wollongong.
Make the most of a memorable winter’s family getaway with a Choice Hotels NSW family holiday deals, such as the ‘kids stay free’ offer. And when you book direct, you can also s