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Darling Harbour With Kids: Where to Eat, Stay and Play [2022]

ELISA ELWIN reveals the best things to do and family-friendly places to dine during a stay at Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour

Things to do in Darling Harbour with kids

An aerial view of Darling Harbour
An aerial view of Darling Harbour

There’s so much for families to do in Darling Harbour that you could spend days here, without venturing into the CBD. Get up close to marine species from around the globe at SEA LIFE aquarium or have your pic taken with cuddly Australian animals such as koalas and quokkas at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo before meeting a few famous faces at Madame Tussauds. You can also jump aboard tall ships, navy vessels, a cold war submarine and restored historic boats at the Australian National Maritime Museum. The Darling Quarter Playground is simply huge, with a giant slide, a 21-metre-long flying fox and water features among its attractions. Then, after dark, you can take in the city night scape from one of the rotating gondolas of the Darling Harbour Ferris Wheel (be sure to book ahead). If you’re planning on visiting two or more of Darling Harbour’s main attractions, you can get a significant discount off the regular price when you book The Ultimate Sydney Attraction Pass with Klook. 

Where to stay in Darling Harbour

A room with a view at Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour
A room with a view at Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour

Located right on the waterfront in the heart of the action, Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour has more than 500 rooms. Roughly half of them are interconnected, which makes it a popular choice for families, although you can opt for a twin double bedroom if you all want to be in the same space. For the best views, treat yourself to one (or two) of the Executive Rooms, which offer incredible views over the Harbour. As well as an outdoor pool, the hotel has a tennis court and a kids-only space where older children and teens can retreat for some parent-free time. Over 16s can take advantage of the on-site gym, while complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. The Convention light rail stop is right outside the hotel, so you can easily jump on board and head to Central Station. All TVs are connected to Foxtel, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained when it’s time to crash after a long day of exploration, and perhaps indulge in the in-room dining offered. It’s also a great place to catch the Saturday night fireworks display that ignites the waterfront district.

Family-friendly restaurants in Darling Harbour

Sea food Restaurant Cyren at Harbourside. Image: Anna Kucera
Sea food Restaurant Cyren at Harbourside. Image: Anna Kucera

Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour’s stylish restaurant, The Ternary, has stunning views of the city skyline. The harmonious indoor dining space connects to a sun-dappled terrace where you can feast on seasonal menus that include kid favourites. A buffet breakfast featuring hot and cold dishes is served until 10am, and includes barista-made coffee. Just steps from the hotel is the Harbourside shopping centre, where you’ll find a diverse choice of globally inspired eateries to suit all tastes and budgets. They include Harbour Bar and Kitchen steakhouse, modern Australian eatery Rashays, Pancakes on the Rocks Darling Harbour and seafood restaurant Cyren. Italian eatery Fratelli Fresh and Betty’s Burgers at the International Convention Centre are also worth checking out, as is Blackbird Café on the other side of the water at Cockle Bay Wharf, which serves modern Australian cuisine. For a sweet treat, head to Gelato Messina Darling Square, which claims to have the best gelato outside of Italy.

A family in front of the ferris wheel at Darling Harbour
A family in front of the ferris wheel at Darling Harbour

The writer was a guest of Accor

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