This article is sponsored by VisitCanberra.
Canberra’s stately political identity, spectacular city design and seriously good gastronomic reputation is all complimented by a fun twist – a huge variety of thrilling, joyful and relaxing family-friendly things to do, see and taste all year ‘round.
But there’s loads happening in this summer in Canberra’s revolving calendar of events over the next few months. One notable highlight is the cricket – the nation’s capital is playing special host to the Domain Test Match this summer, the first international Test cricket match ever to be played at Canberra’s historic Manuka Oval.
Taking place from February 1 – 5 at Manuka Oval, Australia will face off against Sri Lanka in the historic event. Also taking place this summer is The Big Bash League, held February 9, where Sydney Thunder will face off against Hobart Hurricane in an exciting match. The cricket is a great summer’s day out for the whole family, with plenty of food and drink available while you take in the ambience of the sport while spending quality time together.
When you’re ready to cool down from the historic cricketing event, why not check out some of Canberra’s best water-based family attractions? Big Splash Waterpark is a fabulous day out for kids and adults, with nine water slides, a kiddies pool, a play pool, a 50-metre pool, Splash Island and pool inflatables to keep you cool all day. Float on rubber tubes in Canberra's only water park cinema while the kids enjoy the play area, all under the watchful eye of the lifeguards on duty.
Or visit the historic Manuka Pool, an Art Deco delight dating back to 1930. The 30-metre main pool is set upon two hectares of grassland that also hosts a shaded toddlers pool and the SS Red Duck pirate ship playground. It’s art meets leisure, a perfect summation of the city itself.
Take in spectacular views across Canberra at Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, both located about 45 minutes from the centre of the city. A must-do is a ride down the exhilarating Alpine Slide at Corin Forest that descends 1.2 kilometres through the lush foliage. Take a day trip to Square Rock, Gibraltar Falls and Tidbinbilla with barbecues, a cafe and picnic tables available for your use.
Kids and adults can brush up on those alpine skills at Vertikal Indoor Snow Sports, where you can ski and board no matter what the season and weather. You can learn from scratch or refine your technique, all within a safe and controlled yet super fun winter environment.
Explore Canberra on two wheels as a family with Canberra Urban Adventures, who’ll take you around the cycle paths of Lake Burley Griffin on an easy breezy electric bike. There are loads of weird and wacky facts to learn about the city with the added bonus of tricking the kids into a bit of exercise too. Take it all in from the water on a kayak sunset tour, where the family can glide into the heart of Canberra on a safe, cruisey pedal kayak for unique water views of the nation’s iconic buildings and grand vistas.
Take a break from the action and explore the tranquil collection of Australian plants at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Set within a spectacular bushland setting and with a revolving calendar of events, school holiday programs, exhibitions, guided walks, tours and even a day spa, it’s a great way for the family to relax and connect with nature.
Or head indoors for loads of interesting family-friendly activities at Questacon. This Gold Australian Tourism award-winning tourist attraction is a thrilling adventure at every turn, from a free-fall down a six-metre slide, the opportunity to freeze your own shadow, experience an earthquake and challenge a robot to a game of air hockey. Questacon’s eight interactive exhibitions feature more than 200 hands-on experiences, designed for visitors of all ages to touch, play and explore.
One not to be missed is the newly-released exhibition The Moon, which celebrates the 50 year anniversary of those first historic steps. Be mesmerised by detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, find your favourite crater (there are over 30,000!) or plot where the Apollo missions landed.
Or take the kids to the money factory; the Royal Australian Mint is an incredibly interesting insight into the way currency is created and retained throughout Australian history. Kids can make their own coins and watch as robots create tomorrow’s coins. The Mint conducts fascinating 30 minute guided tours seven days a week at 10am and 2pm weekdays, and 11am, 1pm and 2pm weekends and public holidays.
Listening pods, a fuzzy felt wall and a Kindness Café are all part of a new exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MoAD). The exhibition is a fun experience with a conscience – aiming to maximise the voices of children to have an opinion and be heard. PlayUP – The Right to Have an Opinion and Be Heard brings children and adults together through the lens of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Set on the iconic shores of Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin, the National Museum of Australia brings the stories of the nation alive again. Take a guided tour through the museum for insider tips and wander solo through the many exhibitions. Kids can enjoy Kspace, the museum’s interactive kids adventure game, where kids design a time travelling robot and enter a Time Pod blasting them back to a mystery location in Australia's history.
When it’s time to satisfy that sweet spot, there are loads of delicious options in Canberra. Head for a unique ice cream at Mr Fruggi Dessert Laboratory with zany flavours such as roasted pumpkin, durian, soursop, jackfruit, tim tam, salted butter caramel, and even peanut butter and bacon. Or, a must-do for any sweet tooth is the Unicorn Waffle at Space Kitchen, a fairy tale-like dessert of colour and taste perfect for young and old.
If the appetite is bigger than treats, stop for lunch at Grease Monkey, who serve up mouth-watering burgers and fried chicken out of a spacious old mechanic's garage, an ideal atmosphere for a family affair. Catch serve some of Canberra’s yummiest fresh-off-the-boat fish and chips, with family packs or ‘little nippers’ options ideal for the whole family.
When it’s time to wind down and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet, catch a flick together at ARC Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, an iconic Art Deco structure. There are School Holidays movie programs for kids and other special events including the monthly Vinyl Lounge and Ghost Tour. Head along to the Lion King on January 12 or take a dog day afternoon with Isle of Dogs on 10 January, plus loads more.
No matter what you choose to do, the whole family will love experiencing all the interesting, exciting and unique things Canberra has to offer throughout this summer of fun. For more information, visit the website and start planning your holiday to the nation’s vibrant capital.
And don’t miss the Domain Test Match, February 1 – 5, at Manuka Oval when Australia takes on Sri Lanka. The cricket is a great summer’s day out for the whole family. Buy your tickets today at www.ticketek.com
This article is sponsored by VisitCanberra