Ultimate Guide to School Holiday Staycations in Sydney for Families

Finding things to occupy the kids during the school holidays can be a daunting task, especially when you’re striving to keep everyone entertained without breaking the bank. Luckily, Sydney offers plenty of fun staycation options that promise fun and relaxation close to home.

Saving money on petrol or flights means more money to spend on activities. Whether you’re after adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, there’s something for everyone right here in Sydney’s city and suburbs.

To help you plan a budget friendly school holidays staycation in Sydney, we have rounded up the best deals we could find for this school holiday period.

This page contains affiliate links. You can find our full disclosure policy here.

Get in quick as these offers are usually pretty popular. Please note these details are correct at the time of publication, but availability may change, so head to the hotel’s website to confirm.

A staycation can be just as memorable and rejuvenating as travelling far and wide; you just need to choose a deal and start planning your days out.

There are a number of spots that stand out as great choices for family getaways in Sydney. By combining a comfortable hotel that the kids will love, with free and almost free things to do you can have a fun holiday for a lot less than you might think. 

Darling Harbour

A couple of days in Darling Harbour is the perfect way to play tourist at home. With a range of free family fun on your doorstep, you can avoid transport and parking woes and walk everywhere. 

  • The (new) Darling Harbour playground – no cost fun that is bound to keep younger kids entertained for hours.
  • The Chinese Garden – there are usually has some free kids’ activities on offer and if not the kids will enjoy spotting the koi fish.
  • Australian Maritime Museum – along with boarding the various boats and even a submarine, the museum staff offer fun activities for young and older kids.
  • Merlin attractions; Sealife Sydney, Wildlife Sydney and Madame Tussauds – You can grab a value ticket that includes two or all three options or just stick to your favourite. Buying your tickets online is worth it to avoid queues on arrival. 
  • Monkey Baa Theatre Company – in Darling Quarter this group has school holiday performances especially for kids and families.
Darling Harbour free fireworks show
Fireworks in Darling Harbour on Saturday nights

There are several family friendly hotels in Darling Harbour, but it can be hard to get a school holiday deal here. So far we have only uncovered one….

Oaks Sydney Goldsbrough Suites

Oaks have three properties in Sydney, but their Goldsborough Apartments are the closest to Darling Harbour. The apartments are a generous size and the complex has an indoor swimming pool, perfect for winter. 

This winter they have a stay two nights and get 30% off deal that you can find directly on their website.

Sydney City

There are loads of free activities in the city centre to keep the kids busy and staying at a city hotel means you can easily go back to your room after a morning of adventure and rest/refuel before heading out again in the afternoon.

  • A wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens is a great way to burn off steam – there are paid activities on offer but my grandkids love my impromptu treasure hunts where we try to find as many statues as we can (did you know there are more than —-!)
  • For some educational fun, all of Sydney’s Museums of History are now free. Head to Hyde Park Barracks for some colonial fun, The Justice and Police Museum to see how punishment was handed down in the “olden” days or Susannah Place Museum for a look at life in the Rocks across several decades. 
  • Place tourist at home by walking across the harbour bridge and heading up to the top of the Eastern Pylon. And if you are not on a budget Bridgelimb Sydney has some fabulous school holiday deals.
  • Jump on the Captain Cook HOHO ferry for a day on the harbour. 
  • Finally Luna Park has had a big refresh and is a fun day out for older kids. 
Captain Cook Rocket
Captain Cook Hop on Hop off

Winter School Holiday offers in the city include:

Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay

Book our M Passport package for a wonderful escape. An ideal harbour family playcation with breakfast, toys menu on request and a late checkout.The M Passport Package Includes:

The Sydney Harbour Marriott is minutes away from Circular Quay
  • Buffet breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children, under 12 daily at Silvester’s restaurant
  • $50 Food & Beverage credit per night
  • Late check-out 12noon
  • Kids activity pack and welcome amenity

From $329 per night Book directly here – Book Now 

Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park

The Sheraton Retreat package is perfect for the whole family. Keep the kids entertained at the indoor rooftop heated pool, while you enjoy the sunshine from a lounger on the terrace. Planning to stay over the weekend?

Sheraton Hyde Park

Signature High Tea Buffet is offered every Saturday, 11:30am to 3:30pm for adults and little ladies & gents too.

Book one of our generously proportioned hotel rooms and enjoy a perfect Sydney Family Staycation including –

  • Daily buffet Breakfast for two
  • 2 Welcome drink vouchers per stay
  • Self-parking for one car

From $309 per night. Book directly.

Cockatoo Island

Have you always wanted to take the kids camping, but it just seems too hard? Cockatoo Island waterfront campground has done all the hard work. Book one of their packages from BYO tent to a two bedroom deluxe waterfront spot and spend a night under the stars on the harbour. 

The campground has a camp kitchen, firepit and even a camp cinema. You can BYO food or purchase one of their BBQ packs if you prefer. 

Cockatoo Island campsite

Spend some time exploring the historic site, or just relax and toast some marshmallows. 

They are offering a special deal for winter stays with a second basic camping pack for half price, which gives you double the tents for a fraction of the usual rate. They will also throw in discount vouchers to redeem at the onsite cafes – Cockatoo Overboard and Marina Café & Bar.

Conditions: This offer only applies to campground stays occurring between Saturday 1 June and Saturday 31 August 2024. To take advantage of this deal, select the Adventure Plus rate when reserving the Basic Camping Package.


If you have not been to Parramatta for a while, you might be surprised to find it makes a great family staycation spot. 

lake parramatta
Lake Parramatta
  • Riverside Theatre – A great range of family friendly entertainment especially during the school holiday periods. 
  • Lake Parramatta Bushland – enjoy a family bushwalk or explore the indigenous foods garden
  • Parramatta Park Playgrounds – There are a couple of excellent playgrounds in Parramatta Park and it’s also a great place to work on their road awareness skills while cycling around the park. 
  • Old Government House – step back in time with a visit to this beautifully preserved property or check out some of Parramatta’s other historic sites like Elizabeth Farm, which often runs school holiday activity programs. 
  • Shopping! – Teens will enjoy the huge range of shops at Parramatta Westfield
  • Eat Street – family friendly dining with loads of choice all the way along Eat Street and the riverfront. 

Check out our detailed guide of things to do in Parramatta for ideas.

School Holiday Packages at Novotel Sydney Parramatta

Check in to the Novotel Sydney Parramatta with one of several packages to entice the whole family, including an in-room glamping set-up, kids’ high tea, and their Play Time In Parramatta special offer, where kids always eat free at the buffet breakfast.

Novotel Sydney Parramatta

It’s Par-Tea Time

  • Overnight Accommodation
  • In Room High Tea (selection of hot chocolate or milkshakes per stay) 
  • Glamping pack (kids’ tepee and activity packs) 
  • Buffet Breakfast 

Stay from $289 

Novotel Parramatta
Novotel Parramatta

Playtime in Parramatta 

  • A delicious high tea
  • Tea and coffee selection 
  • Glass or sparkling or fresh juice on arrival 
  • Price: $59 per adult, $29 per adult (aged 12 and below) 

Available on weekends only from 11am to 2pm

Olympic Park

While it may not immediately spring to mind when you think staycation, Olympic Park has lots to offer. With its fabulous sporting facilities that include the Swimming Centre, Archery fields, disc golf, gymnastic sessions for beginners and more, you won’t find it hard to keep the kids busy here.

You could also: 

  • Attend a sporting match 
  • Book tickets to Disney on Ice 
  • Explore the adjoining parklands
  • Use the first class sporting facilities

Novotel Olympic Park & Pullman Olympic Park

Both hotels with offers this school holidays:

  • Overnight accommodation in Superior twin room 2 adults and 2 kids
  • Breakfast for the family (max 2 adults and 2 kids)
  • Welcome gift for kids
  • Complimentary tickets to the Aquatic Centre (max 2 adults and 2 kids)
  • Access to Novotel’s Kids Zone
  • Discounted parking rate of $25 per night per car
Enjoy a Disney themed High Tea at Novotel Sydney Olympic Park

Get the full details and pricing for Novotel from $339 or the Pullman from $439

We hope this has given you some ideas for the range of staycation destinations in Sydney for families and can solve your family holiday woes. ALl that’s left is to pack your enthusiasm and get ready to discover the gems hiding in your own backyard.

Need more ideas – Check out our full School Holiday Guide for fun things to do.

Have questions about things to see and do in Sydney?
Head over and join our Facebook Group and we will be happy to help