Parents’ insider guide to family travel: Australia’s Four Seasons Sydney

Parents’ insider guide to family travel: Australia’s Four Seasons Sydney

By on July 23rd, 2013

Taking the kids to Sydney, Australia? Our insider guide for parents reveals how to make it the best, most fun-filled family vacation ever.

Sydney is one of the prettiest cities in the world. Most of the Australian metropolis revolves around the harbor with, of course, the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The city also has so many nice beaches, it’s hard to choose which one.

I took my seven year old to Four Seasons Hotel Sydney recently and we had a brilliant time. The hotel is situated right on Sydney Harbour, so you can see the famous icons from your hotel room. With large spacious rooms, deep inviting bathtubs, a pool and Jacuzzi, we had a wonderful time exploring the city with Four Seasons as our base.

I have to say that a weekend is not enough to discover all Sydney has to offer; this is barely enough to discover the city and Harbour. I think at least a week is needed in Sydney to visit the all the museums, beaches, the zoo and so on.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Why go?

A gorgeous city with many beaches. Favorites are the well-known Bondi Beach or Manly Beach; some of the lesser known: Balmoral, Clovelly and Nielson Park.

Superb food and coffee. Even if you travel to Sydney in the winter and cannot go to the beaches or out on the Harbour, there is a fantastic café culture all over the city. Order a delicious meal and a coffee or hot chocolate, and take in the scene.

The harbor: Spend the day on Sydney Harbour and then make time for a walk around The Opera House and over the Harbour Bridge. This is something you’ll never forget—for those more daring, climb up to the top of the Harbour Bridge at sunset for a real treat.

The zoo: Taronga Zoo is situated on the Harbour; accessed by ferry, it’s a fun family day out.

The ‘hoods: The many neighborhoods surrounding Sydney all have a unique feel. My favorites: Newtown, Balmain, Watsons Bay and Paddington.

Sydney Harbour

What the kids will love:

Taronga Zoo: there are so many animals, including baby chimps and elephants, pygmy hippos, koalas and komodo dragons. The seal and bird shows are also worth seeing. Make a day of it by catching the ferry across Sydney Harbour and packing a picnic lunch.

Darling Quarter: The Darling Quarter Kids Playground is one of the most spectacular ever built in Australia, with an array of fun activities that promote learning and imagination for all ages. Water games, climbing ropes, swings, slides and a flying fox will keep the kids entertained for hours. And, it’s free.

Powerhouse Museum: This former power station opened as a fun and funky museum in 1988. It’s the largest in Australia, with a collection of 385,000 objects, 22 permanent and five temporary display spaces, and 250-plus interactive exhibits. Alongside the usual performance paraphernalia, you’ll find interactive exhibits like the Captain Feathersword’s life-size ship and a virtual version of the Big Red Car.

The park: Luna Park has been around for years, but is a fun day out. With the iconic clown face at the entrance, the rickety wooden rides and the bright decor, it gives the park a strong sense of nostalgia. The park also boasts some of the city’s best harbor views.

Four Seasons pool: Spend time in Sydney’s largest heated, outdoor hotel pool and Jacuzzi at Four Seasons. I could not get my daughter out of the pool for ages, even though it was raining most of the time!


What you will love:

The views: the Harbour, beaches and city skyline are all remarkable. Find a café by the water and watch the people pass you by.

The hotel pool and Jacuzzi: Order a snack or drink from the menu in summer time.

The beaches: Manly and Bondi are large surf beaches; otherwise; Neilson Park, Balmoral or Parsley Bay for quieter harbor beaches.

Art: The Museum of Contemporary Art  has a remarkable collection and is nextdoor to Four Seasons.

Shopping: In the city center, historic city arcades are surrounded by slick new fashion centers, including Westfield Sydney. Make sure you also pop into the beautifully restored Queen Victoria Building and the Strand Arcade.

Find inspiration in the creative inner city hubs of Surry Hills and Paddington; Balmain offers a unique mix of fashion, homewares and café culture. Browse Sydney’s many outdoor markets any time of the year. Paddington Market is probably Sydney’s most popular; other weekend markets are in Balmain, Rozelle and The Rocks, right next to the hotel.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Look for:

Make sure to ask concierge for the exclusive children’s passport to Sydney and have their photo taken to put in the front. This kept my seven year old entertained all through our leisurely buffet breakfast in The Woods restaurant. The passport is full of activities that talk about the many icons of Sydney.

Eat this:

Dine in—The Woods restaurant at Four Seasons has an extensive dinner menu and is very child-friendly. With Executive Chef Hamish Ingham, the menu centers around fresh, quality produce cooked over a range of naturally flavored Australian woods in the centrally located, wood-fired oven and grill. Everything we ordered was delicious. My favorite dish was the Crisp Skin Wild Fish Fillet with mushroom, onion and potato gnocchi. Even the sourdough bread and butter was wonderful—it filled up my daughter, so all she could eat was her desert, which happened to be a bowl of doughnuts and hot chocolate sauce.

We ordered lunch from in-room dining and both our meals were tasty. My daughter had the free-range chicken sandwich and I ordered the burger. We enjoyed eating in the room and looking out the window at the Harbour Bridge and the cruise ships docks in Sydney Harbour that day.

Dine out—Jamie Oliver’s Italian in Sydney is well worth a visit. Get there early, though, to avoid the long wait for a table. Everything we ordered on the menu was fantastic and the kids’ menu is $9.50, including salad and unlimited cordial. Plus, you can order crowd pleasers, such as Spaghetti Bolognese, fish fingers or mac
‘n cheese.

A trip to Gelato Messina is a must—voted the country’s best gelato. We recommend the salted caramel and white chocolate chip or milk chocolate with chocolate peanut fudge.

5 family to-dos:

1. Surfing lessons. Head to Manly or Bondi Beach for surf school. You can make the lessons private or join a small group and hit the waves as a family. You will learn surf etiquette, the basic rules, how to stand up on the board, and, of course, how to actually stay up.

2. Icons of Sydney: Try this package at Four Seasons. We did, and my daughter loved the included Sydney Monopoly game. It took us hours to play, and she won in the end. We then visited many of the icons and she loved seeing them in person.

3. Andrew Boy Charlton Aquatic Center: A recreation facility for aquatics, relaxation and breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour. Enjoy lunch at the poolside café or a takeaway coffee to drink by the pool.

4. Art Gallery of NSW: For a day of art performances, workshops and tours. Every Sunday, you can see art through the looking glasses of drama, storytelling, music and mime, during the Gallery Kids free performances.

5. Kids at the House: The Utzon-designed marvel isn’t just for adult culture vultures. The Sydney Opera House has an awesome kids program too, so it’s worth checking out what children’s shows are on while in town. And for a little history lesson in architecture and performance, take the Kids Tour, a junior version of the Opera House Essential Tour.


Kid fun by age group. Best for…

*Babies: The hotel pool and Jacuzzi. Exploring Sydney on foot with the stroller. Taronga Zoo. The Andrew Boy Charlton Aquatic Center. A day at the beach, especially Balmoral, Clovelly and Nielson Park. Luna Park.

*Toddlers: The Darling Quarter Kids Playground. Blowing off steam at Luna Park. Beach day: Balmoral, Clovelly and Nielson Park. The Andrew Boy Charlton Aquatic Center. A gelato treat. Watch the animals at Taronga Zoo.

*Kids 5-10: The Sydney Opera House kids’ tour. Taronga Zoo. The Andrew Boy Charlton Aquatic Center, followed by a trip to the gelato café. Sunday at the art gallery. Family surf lessons. Swim in the hotel pool. Beach day: Balmoral, Clovelly and Nielson Park.

*Tweens & teens: Hang out with a hot cocoa in one of Sydney Harbour’s groovy cafés and people watch. A city tour. For music buffs, the Sydney Opera House kids’ tour. The hotel’s pool and Jacuzzi. Beach day: Balmoral, Clovelly and Nielson Park. Sunday at the art gallery. Family surf lessons. Shopping in the city center.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Read more on Sydney in Four Seasons Magazine


Read our “Concierge Recommendations” for Sydney in Four Seasons Magazine and Four Seasons Sydney: Within Walking Distance.

Post Author
Mandi Gunsberger

Mandi Gunsberger is CEO and managing editor of babyology, a lifestyle website with up-to-the-minute information on fabulously designed baby items, the best basics, books and family travel from around the globe.

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