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Home | Sightseeing | Things to do in Sydney with kids when it rains

Things to do in Sydney with kids when it rains

If you are looking for things to do in Sydney with kids when it rains we have you covered, literally, with this list of indoor activities for kids of all ages that the whole family will love.

If it’s wet outside, some of Sydney’s most iconic activities like walking over the Harbour Bridge, hanging out on the steps of the Opera House or taking an iconic ride on a Sydney Ferry might not be quite as enjoyable. Save those adventures for a sunny day and take the kids to one of these rainy day indoor activities instead. These ideas work equally well when the sun is to hot to be enjoyable!

Contrary to what the travel brochures depict it does sometimes rain in Sydney, in fact, this week it has been wet and miserable almost every day.  Several readers reached out on Facebook for wet weather ideas, so we asked our friends over at Coasting Australia, family bloggers who are familiar with Sydney, to share their families favourite wet weather activities to help out.

Museums and Galleries

Sydney is bursting at the seams with world-class museums and galleries which are not to be missed. Some of them are especially well suited to families with activities for kids of all ages.

Top tip – Head up to the balcony of the coffee shop for some great views over the city.

The Powerhouse Museum

Powerhouse Museum Sydney

The Powerhouse Museum is another family favourite; there is enough hands-on entertainment to keep the kids amused all day.

Under-five years
For younger kids (and grown-up fans like me!) the permanent Wiggles exhibition is a must-see. You can ride in the Big Red Car, see loads of Wiggles memorabilia and try lots of musical inspired activities.

Older kids
The other galleries give kids of all ages the chance to get interactive with everything science, doing experiments, exploring outer space and working in a digital lab space.

Where: 500 Harris St, Ultimo
Transport: 501 bus stops directly outside the Museum or walk from Central Station via the Goods Line
Cost: Free for under 16 years  Adults $15

Top tip: The 501 bus stops directly outside the museum if you don’t fancy the walk from Darling Harbour in the rain.

Australian National Maritime Museum

A visit to the Australian National Maritime Museum gives you full access not only to the museum itself but also to ten different vessels moored in the harbour. You can board the HMS Endeavour and experience what it was like for Captain Cook when he first circumnavigated the Australian coast, explore navy boats and even a submarine on the HMAS Onslow.

Under five years
There is an interactive play area for under 5s as well as interactive kids’ activity trails throughout the exhibition spaces.

Older kids
Using the free app (apple or android), kids can “collect” objects along trails helping to keep them engaged

Where: 2 Murray St, Sydney
Transport: 501 bus stops directly outside the Museum or walk from Central via the Goods Line
Cost: Parts of the museum, including the under 5s play zone, are free.  Ticket prices for visiting exhibitions vary however a Big Ticket covering all exhibitions and access to the vessels moored outside are adult: $32 kids  (4-15): $20 or family: $79 (2 adults and three kids under 15)

Tip: Download the free app 

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney

The MCA in the Rocks is a beautiful gallery, which often hosts special children’s exhibitions and workshops. While you’re there head up to the roof for a coffee and babycino and magnificent views over the Opera House.

Where: Circular Quay waterfront
Transport: located opposite Circular Quay station and wharf
Cost: Most exhibitions are free
Opening Hours
: Open seven days, 10 am-5 pm (9 pm Thursdays)

Top tip: Check out the early learning program for upcoming events.

Museums in Sydney for Older Kids

The Justice and Police Museum

Only open weekends this museum is a bit of a hidden gem. They have a range of activities for kids of all ages including “Cops and Robbers” where kids solve a crime, “Bushrangers Behind Bars” there are various activity cards and a chance to dress up for your mug shot.

Where: Corner Albert and Phillip Streets, Circular Quay
Transport: located opposite Circular Quay station and wharf
Cost: $12 adults $8 kids over 5 
Opening Hours: Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 5 pm and NSW school holidays

Tip: older kids will enjoy “working” the charge desk.

The Art Gallery of NSW

Art Gallery of NSW

The Art Gallery of NSW has some incredible artworks on display and hosts the annual HSC Art Express which features the best of the NSW High School Students artworks.  The gallery does not offer much for younger kids outside the NSW School Holiday periods although the rosella’s at the cafe are usually a hit!

Where: Corner Albert and Phillip Streets, Circular Quay
Transport: located opposite Circular Quay station and wharf
Cost: $12 adults $8 kids over 5 
Opening Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (9 pm on Wednesdays)

Tip: The gallery has an extensive children’s program with monthly events.

Museum of Magic

If your children are older and love magic, then a visit to the Museum of Magic in Kings Cross sounds incredible (our boys are only 3 and 4 years old so too young to go yet). There are hidden passageways, chambers and magician’s library (Harry Potter fans anywhere?) and even a secret door to get in from the street to add to the adventure and mystery!

Tip: Check out Sydneysider Helen from Destination Differentville‘s recent visit for an idea of what to expect.

The Rocks Discovery Museum

This small but exciting collection is enhanced by a treasure hunt worksheet for kids.  They also run school holiday activities. Outside of holidays, a visit will keep you busy for about 30 minutes.

Rocks Discovery Museum Sydney
Items found in The Rocks Sydney

Where:  Kendall Ln, The Rocks NSW
Transport: a short walk from Circular Quay
Cost: Free
Opening Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (7 days)

Tip: The museum is not pram or wheel friendly.

Hyde Park Barracks

For a bit of a colonial history lesson, it’s hard to beat the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. It is currently under renovation and due to reopen in December 2019.

Wildlife Undercover 

where to see animals in Sydney

When it’s wet outside, what better place to be than under the sea? The Sealife Sydney Aquarium is a great place to spend the day as a family – you can meet sharks dugongs, rays, sawfish and even ride through the snow on the Penguin Exhibition Ride (take a jumper – it gets chilly!)

Right next door is WILD LIFE Sydney where you can meet koalas, kangaroos, Tassie Devils and more. You can even have breakfast with the Koalas.

In the same building, you will also find Madame Tussauds Sydney where you can come face to face with your favourite superstars and take a selfie with a sports legend.

What’s great is that you can buy an attraction pass that gives you entry to Sealife, WILDLIFE, Madame Tussauds and also the Sydney Tower Eye (save the last attraction for a clear day though so you’re not looking over clouds from Sydney’s highest tower!)

Rainy day activities for younger kids

Indoor Play Centres 

If you’ve got younger kids, then a visit to an indoor play centre is a perfect wet weather activity.  There are plenty around the Sydney suburbs, but there are a couple of standouts.  In the north Wannabees Indoor Play Centre in Hornsby is fantastic – the kids can experience life as a radio DJ, appear in their own movie, get on stage in the daily show or just explore the many themed rooms in the centre like the vet, fire station and hospital. It’s the best indoor play centre we’ve found in Australia yet! It’s also handily located in the giant Westfield Hornsby shopping centre, so you can also get some retail therapy, try one of the restaurants or the food court and visit the cinema or arcade. For an extra fee, you can also leave the kids at Wannabees while you head for a shop/lunch/wine!

In the east, we love Nubo at Alexandria (also at Chatswood) with its pastel and pale shades; it stands out as being a calmer centre and perfect for younger children.

Kid-Friendly dining with play areas

There are four incredible family-friendly pubs you might want to consider if you want a family lunch. Sydney city is decidedly lacking in pubs with play areas. The best on offer would be the bars surrounding the Darling Harbour playground (which is no good in wet weather) or a short trip out to the beach (also not ideal when it’s too wet to hit the sand) where the Coogee Bay Hotel has one of the best kids’ areas in the country.

The following areas all have amazing kids’ indoor play areas where you can sit and enjoy food and drinks while the kids burn off their energy.

Rainy Day Sydney Indoor Activities 

If your kids are active and need to burn, some energy take a trip to Alexandria where you can find Sky Zone – an indoor trampoline park with more than 100 interconnected trampolines. Just down the road in Newtown you can also find an awesome mini golf centre – Holey Moley – where the kids can enjoy the putt-putt and the parents can enjoy a cocktail!

Sydney Opera House offers live family entertainment too – with over 40 shows a week you’re sure to find something to entertain – and what better way to spend a rainy day in Sydney than inside it’s most famous building!

Rainy Day Activities Sydney – Swimming

The Sydney Aquatic Centre has a brilliant family-friendly water play area, Splasher’s Water Playground – which is heated so great for colder days in Sydney.

The Australian Museum

The Australian Museum is currently closed for renovation.

Australian museums for kids

Our favourite museum in Sydney is the Australia Museum (the oldest museum in Australia), which is just a short walk from Hyde Park. The museum offers loads of programs for babies right up to teens.

Under-five years 
For the under 5s there is an incredible Kidspace play area with water and sand play, soft play and lots to explore. There is also a weekly term-time playgroup for preschoolers, which includes hands-on activities and learning opportunities led by Aboriginal educators.

Primary Kids 
During school holidays they have full activity programs on offer too. We absolutely loved the Search and Discovery Centre where we got to search for, and rescue stick insect eggs, see live spiders, and use magnifying glasses to learn about lots of different animals.

Where: 1 William St, Sydney
Transport: 5 minutes walk from Museum Station
Cost: Free for under 16 years  Adults $15
When: Open 9:30 am to 5:00 pm every day except Christmas day

Want more?  Check out our list of Things to do in Sydney with kids bucket list (for when it’s not raining)

Do you have specific questions about your circumstances? Head over to Facebook and join our Sydney Expert Facebook Group where you can ask questions and find friendly locals and other travellers happy to share their advice!

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