There are those that still consider Canberra nothing more than a roundabout-wrapped bubble for politicians and public servants, but they’d be wrong. The National Capital has evolved into one of the most liveable, and loveable, cities in Australia, complete with edgy hotels and a groundbreaking food scene. And there are so many things to do in Canberra with kids, its hard to know where to start.
Think fun, hands-on museums and galleries, mind-bending centres of space and science, adrenalin-packed adventure centres, sprawling parks, playgrounds and phenomenal family-friendly food.
In fact, Canberra with kids is so totally cool that we’ve returned frequently over the last decade, braving every one of its 406 roundabouts, to scoot, cycle, Segway and stroll through its every popular nook and secret cranny.
So, after many years of staying, playing and eating our way through the Capital, I’m sharing this mammoth round up of 57 of the best things to do in Canberra with kids, as road tested by mine!
The best things to do in Canberra with kids
Iconic Canberra Attractions
The National Capital is home to a number of important Australian landmarks, from the historically significant to political powerhouses and technological treasures.
1. Lake Burley Griffin
The sprawling parks and gardens surrounding Lake Burley Griffin – the mammoth man-made centrepiece of the Capital – provide the perfect playground for families seeking a little fresh air and fun in the Canberra sun. Explore some of the many attractions, cafes, parks and play spaces as you walk, scoot, or hire a bike or Segway to cruise around the flat paths that encircle the lake’s 40-kilometre shoreline. For those who’d rather get out on the water than around it, there are rowing, sailing, kayaking and motor boats for hire.
Hours: All hours
2. Parliament House
On our most recent visit, we only did a lap around the outside of Parliament House as the kids were bickering with such skill that it already felt like parliament was sitting … in the back seat of our car. So, we decided to ditch further parliamentary explorations in case Raffles and Sugarpuff were mistaken for members of cabinet. But visitors are welcome to wander the stunning public areas at Parliament House at their leisure or take a guided tour, view historic artefacts and check out the rather impressive collection of Australian art.
Location: Parliament Dr, Canberra
Hours: 7 days. 9-5
3. Aboriginal Tent Embassy
Not on everyone’s bucket list of things to do in Canberra with kids but, for us, one of the most important places to visit in Canberra is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The historically significant site is located opposite Old Government House, and we recommend dropping by to leave a donation and open a dialogue with your kids. First erected in 1972 to represent the political rights of Aboriginal Australians, a visit provides an excellent opportunity to teach kids of all ages about representation and the political rights of Indigenous Australians.
Location: King George Terrace, Old Parliament House Lawn, Parkes
4. Reconciliation Place
Established on the traditional land of the Ngunnawal people within Canberra’s Parliamentary Zone, Canberra’s Reconciliation Place is a lasting symbol of the shared journey of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and reaffirms reconciliation is, and must be, a national priority. A visit should be top of your list of things to do in Canberra with kids. My own love meandering down it’s pretty pathways to explore the many public artworks representing Indigenous culture and addressing reconciliation. Many are breathtaking in their beauty while the power of others is in their stark reality. Every instillation is fascinating, and each helps to teach kids about Australia’s past, and that connection is the only path forward.
Location: Reconciliation Place, Parkes
Hours: All hours
5. Telstra Tower
Telstra Tower is Canberra’s iconic working telecommunication tower that rises 195 metres above the summit of Black Mountain. This “Tower of Power” is well worth a visit to soak up the outstanding 360-degree night and day views of Canberra and its most iconic buildings from the observation deck and outdoor viewing platforms. Enjoy a caffeine break with a view at Telstra Tower ‘s Panorama kiosk and let the kids explore the Heritage Museum to learn a little of the history of Australian telecommunications.
Location: Black Mountain Dr, Acton
Canberra’s Best Museums, Monuments and Galleries
Canberra plays host to Australia’s best museums, archives and galleries crammed with cultural treasures and constantly evolving exhibits telling the Australian story from our prehistoric past to the modern multicultural society of today.
6. National Museum of Australia
The National Museum of Australia is an accessible, architectural blast, with dozens of Instagrammable nooks and crannies to explore outside and one of the most fun things to do in Canberra with kids. But the real fun is inside where the diverse stories of Australia and its people are told. One of the best things to do in Canberra with kids, you’ll find loads of hands on activities and play spaces, plus a variety of fascinating permanent and temporary exhibitions. But if you ask my two, Kspace is where it’s all happening as they can design their own time-travelling robot that will take them on adventures through Australia’s past. Free general admission sweetens the deal!
Location: Lawson Crescent, Acton
Hours: 9am– 5pm
7. The Museum of Australian Democracy
The Museum of Australian Democracy in Old Parliament House is a wonderful, accessible, space that celebrates the stories and spirit of Australian Democracy. There’s an excellent family space called PlayUP –The Right to Have an Opinion and Be Heard, where kids can learn that their voice and opinion are important too as they explore the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child through fun stories, craft and activities and discover that their voice and opinion are important too.
Location: King George Terrace, Parkes
Hours: Daily 9am–5pm
8. National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is a surprising favourite with our kids. Housing an excellent collection of portraits, there is plenty of artistic diversity and opportunity aplenty to open dialogue with the kids about the people who have and are making Australia the country it is today. During school holidays, the National Portrait Gallery offers conceptual and artistic activities that my little art lovers are particularly fond of, as well as kid-friendly guidebooks and hosted tours for children. Be sure to download Headhunt before you visit, the Gallery’s interactive app for families.
Location: King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Hours: Monday – Sunday. 10am-5pm
9. Questacon – National Science and Technology Centre
It has long been one of the most popular things to do in Canberra with kids and for very good reason. My kids are obsessed with Questacon’s 200 plus hands-on experiences allowing kids to touch, play and explore a variety of science topics, returning every time we visit the Capital. Raff generally runs straight into the waiting arms of computer-controlled humanoid robot, RoboQ and gets free-falling down a six-metre slide, while Sugarpuff loves freezing her own shadow, experiencing earthquakes and watching the live science shows. Littlies will love Mini Q where they can play and learn in age appropriate ways. Questacon is accessible and offers a quiet space for those on the Autism spectrum.
Location: King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Hours: 7 days. 9am–5pm
10. Australian War Memorial
A must visit, the Australian War Memorial is both monument and museum, and provides an important opportunity to understand Australia’s experience of war and its impact on our society. Learning of the sacrifices that people have made for our freedom, the shrine can be a little confronting for children, but the kid-friendly Discovery Zone offers fun, age appropriate learning through dress ups and hands on activities. My two especially love getting kitted up in WW1 clobber and leaping into the trenches. The Australian War Memorial is accessible, and entry is free.
Location: Treloar Cres, Campbell
Open: Monday to Friday 10am–5pm
11. Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
One of only three active NASA tracking stations in the world, kids love exploring Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, a satellite communication station that is part of the Deep Space Network of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Along with enormous satellite antenna dishes at the wheelchair, pram and stroller accessible complex, there’s an exhibit looking at Australia’s role in space exploration, authentic space suits, a piece of 3.8 billion-year-old Moon rock, recent images from across the Solar System, spacecraft models and the Moon Rock café, an indoor/outdoor café with a playground serving down to earth dishes.
Location: 421 Discovery Dr, Paddys River
Hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-5pm
12. National Gallery of Australia
My arty farty twosome love the National Gallery of Australia and its thousands upon thousands of Australian and international works on show, dedicated kids’ gallery, the NGA Play zone, and an epic outdoor sculpture garden they love to revisit every time we come to Canberra. The permanent collections are free to view, including the phenomenal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art collection, which comprises over 7,500 works of art.
Location: Parkes Place East, Parkes
Hours: 7 days. 10.00am-5pm
13. Royal Australian Mint
On a weekday you can join a free guided tour of the Royal Australian Mint that explains the history and process of making coins and observe coin production on the factory floor. Kids will be especially impressed with Titan – the Southern Hemisphere’s strongest robot – who can lift up to 1000kg and is known to bust out a pretty good move! The The Royal Australian Mint is accessible to all and entry is free.
Location: Denison Street, Deakin
Hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am–5pm. Weekends and public holidays 10.00 am to 4.00 pm (coin production not in operation on weekends).
14. National Library of Australia
Much more than just a library, The National Library of Australia is a haven for book loving clans! The library is home to more than 9 million items, including fascinating collections of rare book materials, early European literature, materials relating to Australia and the Australian people and world-class Asian and Pacific collections. There are also exhibition galleries exploring everything from art and photography to literature and history.
Location: Parkes Place West, Parkes
Hours: Monday to Thursday 10am–8pm, Friday to Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 1.30-5pm
15. National Dinosaur Museum
The National Dinosaur Museum houses Australia’s largest permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric fossil material along with a dozen animatronic dinosaurs, huge bones, skulls and full-size reconstructions of Australian dinosaurs, including Muttaburrasaurus. Educational and interactive, Raff was left in awe at the millions of years old fossils, while my bedazzled darling daughter was swept up in the sparkle of the giant amethyst crystals in the Amethyst Cove exhibit. Especially great for younger kids are the giant replicas in the Dinosaur Garden which will have your BYO beasties’ roaring with approval.
Location: 6 Gold Creek Rd, Nicholls
Hours: 7 days. 10-5pm
16. Canberra Glassworks
The utterly unique Canberra Glassworks, located in Canberra’s Kingston Powerhouse, is Australia’s only centre dedicated to contemporary glass art and craft, and something special for families visiting Canberra. Kids can watch live glassblowing as artists create glass art in the ‘hot shop’ and can also participate in hands-on experience classes to create their own glass tiles during the school holidays.
Location: 11 Wentworth Ave, Kingston
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday. 10am-4pm
17. Cockington Green Gardens
Explore the world in miniature at the very clever Cockington Green Gardens. Throughout the beautifully landscaped gardens, kids will be captivated by an enchanting world of tiny people and tiny structures as they visit highly detailed miniature versions of everything from grand European Castles to Indian Forts and Egyptian pyramids. As they travel through 30 different countries, they’ll even spot barge boats plying a canal, trains passing through tiny tunnels and a pint-sized game of English village cricket. There are a number of mechanised exhibits that the kids can control at the touch of a button, a turf maze and a miniature steam-train that does laps of the gardens to add to the enchantment for little ones.
Location: 11 Gold Creek Rd, Nicholls
Hours: 7 days. 9.30-5pm
18. 3infun Attraction Pass
Here’s a hot tip for families wanting to explore more than one of Canberra’s amazing attractions. Enjoy three times the fun at your favourite family museums and attractions with a 3infun pass to Cockington Green Gardens, the Australian Institute of Sport and Questacon that helps you save more than 25% off the normal ticket price plus offers a free return visit to your favourite.
Action-packed Canberra with kids
Whatever the weather or the season its easy to stay active in Canberra with plenty of action packed experiences and attractions, indoors and out.
19. Vertikal Indoor Snow Sports
There’s no need for something as trivial as snow to ski in Canberra! Austrian Ski coach, Paolo Bellini will have you skiing or snowboarding on the rolling mats at Vertikal Indoor Snow Sports in no time, while sharing tips and techniques to improve your ski skills. And the kids assure me it’s almost as much fun as the real thing. The cute alpine-style chalet is a gorgeous set up accessorised with old school skis, suspended chairlifts, and roaring fires, and serves up a wicked après ski hot chocolate, as well as schnapps and mulled wine for mum (Yes, she tried both. And no, don’t tell!)
Location: Unit 2, Building 3/1 Dairy Rd, Fyshwick
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 8am–8pm. Sunday 8am–6pm
20. Australian Institute of Sport
Let your kids discover their inner Olympian at Australia’s elite sport centre, the Australian Institute of Sport, home to Australia’s leading sporting champs. At this high-performance sports training institute, kids can get behind the scenes on a guided tour and see athletes in training. Raff particularly enjoyed testing his athletic skills in Sportex, an interactive sports experience, where he slam-dunked basketball, performance rowing, virtual downhill skiing, football penalty shoot-outs and wheelchair racing.
Location: Leverrier St, Bruce
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30am-5:00pm. Weekends and public holidays 10am-4pm.
21. Jet Flight Simulator Canberra
Jet Flight Simulator is the place for mini Mavericks (and their adults) to learn to fly, and hopefully land, a 737-800 in a simulation cockpit. Under the attentive instruction of an actual pilot, participants are taken through a pre-flight briefing that covers all the standard safety and flying procedures – complete with instruction on the necessity of engine throttles, flaps, elevator, ailerons and rudders – before they take to the skies for a thrilling half hour of flying the world’s most popular commercial jet, elevator, ailerons and rudder. While Raff was pretty fly for a little guy, we won’t talk about his landing skills. Or lack thereof.
Location: 4/4 Montford Cres, Lyneham
22. Power Kart Raceway
Let the kids unleash their inner hoon at Power Kart Raceway as they race world class electric go-karts through the chicanes, zip around hairpin bends and zoom down the straights of Power Kart’s purpose built F1 style indoor circuit. Kids (and their adults) receive a full safety briefing, and there are safety helmets provided and soft barriers around the track, just in case. For those not ready to race there’s also glow-in-the-dark mini golf, ice skating, arcade games and a café for refuelling. It’s the most fun you can have indoors!
Location: 125 Canberra Ave, Griffith
Hours: Monday- Thursday 12–8pm, Friday 12-9pm. Saturday 9am-10pm. Sunday 9am–6pm
23. GoBoat Canberra
A GoBoat has to be the funnest way to explore Lake Burleigh Griffin. The electric boats can seat up to eight people and come with a built-in table, so you can pack a picnic to enjoy on the water. With boats available to rent from one to three hours, you can go explore the sights from the Lake’s Central Basin to all the way around to spot Government House at Yarralumla. Super fun, and so easy to skipper that even the kids can do it. Just don’t get too close to the Captain James Cook Memorial between 11am and 2pm unless you want a drenching! The fountain shoots (recycled) water a mighty 152-metres into the sky.
Location: 8 Trevillian Quay, Kingston
Hours: Friday-Monday 11am-5pm
24. K7 Adventures
For those adventurous families curious to try rock climbing, abseiling, caving or bush walking, K7 Adventures offer a variety of safe, guided half day, easy day or full day programs across the Canberra region. For rock climbers, there’s the challenging Booroomba Rock at Blue Gum Creek in Namadgi National Park and the single pitch Gibralter Rocks in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, to beginner’s rock climbing and abseiling at White Rocks, a quality limstone cliff, there is something for every ability.
Hours: Monday – Friday – 9am-5pm. Weekends 9am-4pm
25. Corin Forest Mountain Resort
Do you wanna build a snowman? Well rug up and get yourself to Corin Forest Mountain Resort for some seriously cool snow fun. Just 45 minutes from Canberra, you’ll find a dedicated snow play area with tobogganing and plenty of space to build the aforementioned snowman, plus there’s a ski school and beginners’ slopes! It’s the ideal place to get the kids started on the snow, without the huge expense. When the snow is gone, visit Corin Forest for trail walks and the epic Alpine Slide, a rollicking ride that will see your kids racing 1.2 kilometres downhill through the Mountain Ash forest.
Location: 268 Corin Dam Rd, Paddys River
Hours: 8am – 5pm. Bookings essential
26. Flip Out Mitchell
Weather sucks and kids bouncing off the walls? Then let them bounce off the walls at Canberra’s best indoor trampoline park My kids have never met a trampoline they didn’t like and could happily spend hours bouncing in, up, down and around interconnected trampolines, soft pits and ball courts at Flip Out Mitchell.
Location: 4/45 Dacre St, Mitchell
Hours: Monday to Thursday – 9am-8pm. Friday and Saturday – 9am-9pm. Sunday – 9am-7pm.
27. Mr Spokes Bike Hire
Explore the beautiful foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin on wheels with Mr Spokes Bike Hire. Along with two-wheel bikes of all sizes, they offer four-wheel pedal cars for families, which we hire to leisurely pedal our way around the picturesque lake, past the Captain Cook Memorial Jet, stopping to let the kids run amok at the playgrounds along the way.
Location: Barrine Drive, Acton
Hours: Open 7 days during school holidays. Wednesday- Monday (closed Tuesday) at other times. Opening times vary by season.
28. The Paddle Hub
What better way to explore beautiful Lake Burley Griffin than on a stand up paddle board or in a kayak. The Paddle Hub offers rentals of boards, plus single and double kayaks at pretty Yarralumla Bay. Minimum age is eight, accompanied by an adult, for individual hire, though kids aged between five and seven can join mum or dad in a double kayak.
Location: 35 Alexandrina Dr, Yarralumla
Hours: The Paddle Hub operates between October to April. Check their website for times.
Canberra’s best parks and playgrounds
Canberra sure knows how to playground, with some of the biggest and best kids play spaces about. My own kids have slid, swung, spun and scampered through many of them over the years, with the following their top picks.
29. The POD at The National Arboretum
The title of capital’s coolest playground has to be awarded to The POD at the National Arboretum, a 250-hectare site dedicated to tree conservation. On visit after visit to the capital, they always request a stop at the magical play space. where kids go nuts amongst the playground’s giant banksia pods and stilted acorn cubbies. Connected by tubes, climbing nets, slides and rope tunnels, my little monkeys scamper about for hours. While the kids play, parents can soak up the incredible views across the newly planted forests of threatened, rare, and symbolic trees from The Arboretum’s innovative Village Centre, complete with café so parents can also grab a coffee while the kids play!
Location: Forest Dr, Molonglo Valley
30. Lennox Gardens
This gorgeous space on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin may not host a playground but it is home to two beautifully landscaped gardens celebrating China and Japan that kids will enjoy exploring. Along with the sculpture-filled, Qing Dynasty-inspired Imperial Chinese Garden, the Canberra Nara Peace Park, with its traditional torii gate and blossoming cherry trees, is the host of the enchanting Canberra Nara Candle Festival each spring.
Location: Flynn Dr, Yarralumla
Hours: 7 days. 24 hours
31. Boundless Playground
Boundless Playground is another winner. Located on the eastern side of the lake near at The Centenary of Canberra National Playground, about a five-minute walk from the National Carillon, a colossal bell tower that chimes every 15 minutes, this free, state-of-the-art play space is inclusive of children of all ages and abilities. A huge fenced-in play area boasts giant slides and swings, water play and forts, and the welcoming playground has been designed to cater to all kids, including those with mobility, vision and hearing impairments.
Location: Kings Park, Wendouree Drive, Parkes
32. Weston Park Adventure Playground
Lovely Weston Park is a 40-hectare park on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in the southern suburb of Yarralumla and its playground is one of the best for littlies in Canberra. There are swings, web climbing frames, sandpits, tactile water play and a picnic area with public barbecues by the shore. And across the road you’ll find the Yarralumla Play Station adventure park with its Miniature Railway and petting zoo.
Location: Weston Park Rd, Yarralumla
33. Tidbinbilla Nature Discovery Playground
After you’ve finished spotting brolgas, platypus, koala and wallabies, hit the trails or join a ranger guided tour to uncover some of the area’s Indigenous rock art or take the kids to Tidbinbilla Nature Discovery Playground. Taking its inspiration from its natural surrounds, the all ages playground boasts a flying fox, dual slides, climbing web frames, water pumps and bird’s nest swing for young children and kids with limited mobility. Parents can join the Eastern Grey Kangaroos who also like to supervise the kids as they play and explore in the safe, interactive play space.
Location: Paddys River
Hours: 7 days. 7.30am–6pm
34. Stromlo Forest Park
Active families can take a hike on a bike around Stromlo Forest Park, the ultimate active outdoor circuit and venue of the 2009 World Mountain Bike Championships. With a variety of trails and tracks for all levels, there’s cycling, mountain biking, running, walking and horse-riding. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch for the family to muster up the energy to make a day of active fun.
Location: Opperman Ave, Stromlo
Hours: 7 days. 6am-9pm
Canberra shopping and markets with kids
Canberra is becoming quite a fashion and shopping destination, with the CBD is home to excellent shops and retailers and funky Braddon bursting with cool fashion finds. But beyond fashion, there are plenty of unique stores full of quirks and hidden treats that call us back time and again.
35. Quizzic Alley
Accio wizarding wares! Quizzic Alley, is an absolutely genius Harry Potter themed store, and an essential thing to do in Canberra with kids. With the biggest range of official Harry Potter merchandise in Australia, the kids will find everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans to broomsticks secreted throughout its myriad nooks and crannies. Quizzic Alley certainly cast a spell on Potterheads Raff and Sugarpuff, who stocked up on puzzles, charms and chocolate frogs, sipped on a delicious QBrew and took the Weasley’s Ford Anglia for a spin. There’s even Potions Classes for little witches and wizards, by appointment during the holidays.
Location: 5 Pyrie St, Fyshwick
Hours: Wednesday to Friday 10am-5.30pm. Weekends 10am-4pm.
36. Dirty Jane’s Canberra
Get your credit cards at the ready because Dirty Jane’s vintage and antiques emporium is packed to overflowing with a tonne of irresistibly cool and quirky collectibles that are you’re going to want to follow you home. You’ll find everything from handmade jewellery through to vintage furniture and artworks that make my repurposed, restored and upcycled soul sing! There’s also a working blacksmith’s shop, a barnyard and a rather excellent café, if you can tear yourself away from all the goodies on sale.
Location: Collie St, Fyshwick
Hours: 7 days. 10am-5pm
37. Old Bus Depot Markets
The Old Bus Depot Markets, Canberra’s award-winning Sunday market is set within a fabulous old industrial building on the Kingston foreshore, and is all about showcasing the creativity of local artisans, designers and craftspeople. Whether you’re seeking bespoke jelerry, hand-crafted homewares or unique clothing, you’ll find it here. Happily, those seeking to fill their bellies instead of dress them (ie: me) can also taste their way through a world of irresistible delights at the atmospheric Sunday market.
Location: 21 Wentworth Ave, Kingston
Hours: Sundays 10am-4pm
38. Enigma Chocolates
Love chocolate? Then get yourself down to Canberra’s award-winning Enigma Fine Chocolates. Stat. Using only the highest quality chocolate sourced from all over the world, you’ll find artisan chocolate truffles, bars and more. The fruit sampler packs are a revelation of all-natural fruit flavours including yuzu, strawberry, passionfruit and raspberry. The kids though are all about the chewy real mango pieces dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with pepperberry and the 100’s & 1000’s smattered milk chocolate zoopops. Be sure to grab a takeaway hot chocolate too, a delicious brew adapted from the traditional mayan and aztec styles.
Location: Unit 65/30 Lonsdale St, Braddon ACT
Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 10am- 4.30pm
Best places to eat in Canberra with kids
Canberra ‘s culinary scene has got foodies in a flap. Edgy restaurants and bars, pop-up eateries and kale-infused cafés serve up variety of dining styles, cuisines and experience. And surrounded by cool-climate vineyards, bespoke microbreweries and truffle farms, they have access to some of the best produce in the country.
39. Morks Restaurant
Thai but not as we know it! Morks Restaurant, located in a lovely spot on the foreshore in Kingston, has been awarded a Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat in 2019 and 2020 for their tasty take on modern Thai cuisine. A clever menu of intriguing Thai inspired treats takes us on a fantastic culinary adventure that is somehow familiar but utterly unlike anything we’ve had before. Stand out dishes include a fragrant duck fried rice, dreamy sweet potato dumplings, all luscious and gooey, and the extraordinary angel prawns, cooked on a kaffir lime custard and topped with a mild red curry paste. Colour us wowed!
Location: 18-19 Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore
Hours: Lunch: Tuesday to Sunday 12pm-3pm. Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 5.30-late
40. Grease Monkey
I was convinced that nothing could convert me from being a hard core thin and crispy pizza base lover… until I headed to too cool for school Grease Monkey and discovered their Detroit style slabs of thick based pizza perfection. Their 8 Mile – topped with bacon, prawns, jalapenos, basil, cheese blend and a vodka sauce – was the stuff of pizza fantasy and I had to beat the family off to get more slices. Then there’s their juicy burgers, succulent fried chicken, addictive truffle mac and cheese bites, and jalapeño poppers that had the boys swooning. We can’t wait to get back for more.
Location: 9 Lonsdale St, Braddon
Hours: 7 days. 11am–10pm
41. Frugii Dessert Laboratory
A restaurant serving only dessert! Where have you been all my life, Frugii Dessert Laboratory? Serving a selection of fine chilled cakes, chocolates and ice treats, along with what might just be Australia’s best ice cream (In this humble reviewer’s opinion) in a handful of regular flavours like chocolate and salted caramel along with more outrageous numbers like “Vegemite on Sourdough”. On our visit we devoured creamy black truffle ice cream along with a refreshingly fragrant lemongrass ice cream. Each as swoon inducing as the other. But it was a truly magical lemon meringue choux that left Raff and I so devoted to this emporium of dessert, that we returned to Canberra the following week solely to taste more.
Location: Unit 57/28-30 Lonsdale St, Braddon
Hours: 7 days. 12-11pm
42. Muse – Food, Wine, Books
Muse at East Hotel is a unique dining venue for conversation and cuisine. Part book store, part restaurant and part wine bar, guests can browse their selection of new and second-hand books, savour a glass of wine and indulge in incredible food. Breakfast at Muse is an especially wonderful beast. Not only for the unique take on breakfast classics, like the pulled pork hock eggs benedict with sriracha hollandaise, and twice cooked cheese soufflé, but for the fantastic Bloody Marys they offer to wash it down with.
Location: 69 Canberra Ave, Kingston
Hours: Monday and Tuesday 6.30am-3pm. Wednesday-Friday 6.30am-10pm. Saturday 7am-10pm. Sunday 7am-noon
Fab family restaurant Agostinis, located in the lobby of East Hotel in Kingston, is family food heaven. The menu is seasonal. And while this mama is all about the Burrato Con Tartufo (Burrato cheese served with fresh local truffle and crimson grapes) and Frico (thin layers of Montasio cheese and potato oven roasted to create a crunchy, chewy pancake) on their winter menu, the kids were all over the pasta, made fresh daily, and fantastic pizzas served piping hot from the pizza oven (and available for takeaway). Oh, and did I mention the house made gelato? Delicioso!
Location: 69 Canberra Ave, Kingston
Hours: Monday and Wednesday 4-9.30pm. Tuesday & Thursday to Sunday 12-9.30pm
44. CBD Dumpling House
Did someone say dumplings? CBD Dumpling House has been a fave with my dumpling obsessed kids for a couple of years. A great place for a fast family feed, the city centre eatery offers a selection of popular Chinese staples as well as a choice of dumplings from Xiao Long Bao to pan fried dumplings.
Location: Canberra Centre, 148 Bunda St, Canberra
Hours: 7 days. 11:30am–3pm, 5–10pm
45. Yat Bun Tong Dumpling House Braddon
Because there’s no such things as too many dumplings, we recommend heading to Yat Bun Tong Dumpling House in Braddon. With pleasant service, the family friednly restaurant specialises in casual Asian dining, the Shanghai pan fried pork buns and assortment of dumplings, including a rather special cuttlefish and pork incarnation, all got the thumbs up from my wee dumpling aficionados. The combination fried rice, which was happily hoovered by all, also rates a mention.
Location: Unit 3/21 Lonsdale St, Braddon
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11am–3pm, 5–10pm
46. Ming’s Chinese and Malaysian Cuisine
There’s nothing my kids love more than authentic Chinese food, except perhaps authentic Malaysian food. Ming’s Chinese and Malaysian Cuisine offers both, and at a reasonable price. Generous serves of authentic clay pot cooking included a decent laksa and seafood stuffed Char Kway Tao, insanely good Malaysian-style curry, fluffy, nutty and spicy nasi lemak, plus crispy and light roti. Plus the great Asian drink selection included a delicious three layer milk tea that had my tastebuds singing!
Location: 7/11 Botany St, Phillip
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11.30am-2.30pm, 5-8.50pm, Sunday 11:30am–2:30pm, 5–9pm
From its humble beginnings in an old red gypsy caravan in Kingston to today’s buzzing restaurant at Canberra Glassworks (there’s also a branch in Fyshwick), Brodburger is something of a Canberra institution. A family favourite for its warm service as mucg for its flame grilled fish, chicken meat and veggie burgers. Raff rates the salmon burger while the stacked veggie burger gets my vote!
Location: Canberra Glassworks, 11 Wentworth Ave, Kingston
Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 11am–2.30pm, 5-9.30pm. Wednesday 11am-9pm. Sunday 11am-4pm
Instafamous Pâtissez is the birth place of the freak shake, great jars of milky deliciousness stacked high with marshmallows, caramel, pretzels and more. But there’s more than just mega milkshakes on their menu, with amazing fresh food including juicy burgers, a unique take on tacos, some pretty speccy desserts and a bespoke French Toast menu. Drool.
Location: 2/21 Bougainville St, Griffith
Hours: 7 days. 7am–2pm
49. Gelato Messina
You’ll find Gelato Messina stores scattered right across Australia, but we can never pass one by. With 40 freshly churned flavours on the menu at every store, we love the weekly specials like “Elvis, the Fat Years” – a sticky combo of peanut butter gelato, toasted brioche and banana, the fudgy chocolate goodness of the “Robert Brownie Jnr”, and “Afternoon Tea with the Queen” – scone gelato with whipped cream and strawberry preserve!
50. Milky Lane Canberra
The burgers at Milky Lane are some good shizzle, yo! Opened in December 2019, the newest addition to the coolest burger chain in Australia is serving up blinged-up burgers and shakes in its graffiti-strewn digs in Braddon, to a soundtrack of hip-hop. We love the locked and loaded Kevin Bacon, a double stack of char-grilled beef, maple-smoked bacon and American cheese with truffle aioli, barbecue sauce and caramelised onions. And the Chic-Kanye is stacked with southern fried chicken, slaw, maple-smoked bacon barbecue sauce, pineapple relish and sriracha. The burgers here are the bomb, but they’re big, so prepare for a little lay down after a marathon munch fest
Location: Unit 3/21 Lonsdale St, Braddon
Hours: Monday – Tuesday 12-8pm, Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday 12-9pm, Friday – Saturday 12- 10pm.
51. The Truffle Farm
From June through August, its truffle season in Canberra, with hundreds of individual truffle-themed events held across the state. One of the funnest things to do in Canberra with kids is head on a truffle hunt at The Truffle Farm. The kids will love joining the farm’s highly-trained truffle dogs as they do their thing amongst the trees! But the cuddles will have to wait until the job is done and the pups are off duty, but by then, if your kids are like mine, they’ll be too distracted by the fabulous flavours of a tasting of truffle-infused cheese, honey and more.
Location: 23 Mount Majura Rd, Majura
Hours: Seasonal bookings only. Check website for details
Canberra family accommodation
Canberra’s is home to some of the hippest digs in the land. Along with arty, chic five star hotels, there are incredible options for families, whatever your style or budget.
52. East Hotel
The family-owned and -focused East Hotel is one of those rare beasts that puts families first. We’ve stayed several times and the kids are always sorry to say goodbye to this luxe lovely. Spacious self-contained, apartment-style family suites include a separate “cubby” with bunk beds, games, beanbags, books and an Xbox for the kids. And tambourines… which are a noisy addition! There’s also fab, kid-friendly dining on site at Agostini’s and Muse. And free bike hire for all the family, when the desire to explore hits.
Location: 69 Canberra Ave, Kingston
53. Novotel Canberra
A warm welcome and a central location within a short walk to light rail, City Bus Interchange, restaurants and the Canberra city centre make the 4.5-star, family friendly Novotel Canberra hard to beat. Contemporary style rooms are comfortable and spacious, the staff are beyond helpful and children are made to feel very welcome with an assortment of little touches including a wee welcome gift for the kids. There’s also an indoor heated pool and spa, meaning the kids can splash and play, whatever the weather.
Location: 65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra
54. VIBE Hotel Canberra
We love the arty and architectural Vibe Hotel Canberra. With gorgeous big 1 and 2- bedroom apartment-style rooms – complete with kitchenettes – and a fab location less than 10 minutes from Canberra’s CBD and just 50 metres from Canberra Airport Terminal, there’s not much more a family could ask for! Or is there? How about super friendly and helpful service, free WiFi, secure parking, all day dining at gorgeous Helix Bar & Dining, and early departure breakfast boxes on request for those stopping over on the way to the snow or an early flight.
Location: 1 Rogan St, Canberra
55. Mantra on Northbourne Canberra
Great for families on a budget, Mantra on Northbourne Canberra’s self-contained apartments combine home comforts, including a full kitchen and laundry, with the convenience of inner-city living, right in the heart of funky Braddon. The 4.5-star hotel also offers all the features you can expect in a resort, including a gym, heated pool, sauna and safe undercover parking.
Location: 84 Northbourne Ave, Canberra
56. Canberra City YHA
Budget doesn’t have to be boring at Canberra City YHA. Located in the city centre, it’s a great base for exploring. The hostel offers excellent family rooms with free Wi-Fi and linens plus en suite facilities and TVs. There’s also an indoor pool, a hot tub and a sauna, fully-equipped kitchen, a rooftop barbecue with city views, plus an on-site café and bar, bike rentals and 24-hour reception.
Location: 7 Akuna St, Canberra
57. Ibis Styles Canberra
The 4-star Ibis Styles in the leafy suburb of Narrabunda is another brilliant option for families seeking comfort on a budget. Their spacious family rooms boast a queen, single and bunk bed, plus an en-suite bathroom, LCD TV with In-room Media Entertainment Console (includes Free Movies), wireless Internet, tea and coffee making facilities. And there’s a scrumptious buffet breakfast waiting at the onsite restaurant.
Location: 203 Goyder St, Narrabundah
This post was updated in July 2020