If you’re looking for ideas for your next family holiday, we have you covered! Here are the top attractions and experiences as voted by families in the Out & About with Kids 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards
Best cruise line for families: Carnival Cruise Line
Each ship in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet offers an extensive array of activities, including dive-in movies, mini golf, and spectacular theatre shows the whole family can enjoy. The aqua park, where brave sailors can ride the fastest, steepest waterslides at sea, is a big hit with all ages. Daily fun at Camp Ocean kids’ club gives parents some off-duty days, all en route to some great destinations, including tropical cruises to the Great Barrier Reef and South Pacific.
Best international family attraction: Disneyland Resort, California
From tiny tots to passionate ‘Disney adults’, the timeless magic of Disneyland Resort in California enchants guests of all ages. Experience Walt Disney’s classic attractions at the original Disneyland Park, then dive into Disney California Adventure for larger-than-life Pixar and Marvel-themed lands. Staying at one of three Disney hotels is a great way to maximise your experience. Not only do kids love the themed rooms and amenities, but hotel guests unlock exclusive park perks. Stay tuned for the opening of brand-new Pixar Place Hotel in early 2024.
Best family attraction in Australia: Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Education and entertainment are guaranteed at the world-famous Australia Zoo. Kids aren’t the only ones having a great time: immersive natural environments create “5-star luxury accommodation” for thousands of animal residents to eat, sleep and play (many designed by the late Steve Irwin himself). Travel through the African savanna, tropical wetlands and the Indonesian jungles, where you can spot endangered Sumatran elephants. Don’t forget the Crocoseum for all the croc-feeding action.
Best animal attraction in Australia: Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Award-winning Australia Zoo takes animal encounters to the next level! If your kids have already cuddled a koala, the Irwins have plenty of exotic creatures lined up to meet. Hand-feed hungry echidnas or get up close and personal with a binturong, the Southeast Asian ‘bearcat’ that smells like popcorn. Wildlife warriors four and older can join the Zoo Keeper for a Day program on school holidays. Kids will meet fascinating critters and discover the Zoo team care for over 1000 animals of all shapes and sizes.
Best theme park in Australia: Sea World, Queensland
A theme park, oceanarium and eco-experience in one, Out & About with Kids readers love Sea World’s kid-friendly attractions. The New Atlantis precinct adds three new thrill rides to the park, with family favourites like penguins, polar bears, and dolphins still delighting visitors of all ages. Nickelodeon Land is always a hit with preschoolers – check the daily schedule for PAW Patrol character meet and greets.
Best museum or art gallery for families in Australia: Melbourne Museum, Victoria
The Melbourne Museum in Carlton Gardens is packed with exhibits to inspire curious minds. From toddlers to teens, there’s something for everyone, starting with the Children’s Gallery, where play-based learning will delight under-fives. Fossils, dinosaurs and bugs are all on permanent display, and the fun even continues outdoors! Part of the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, the Milarri Garden Trail teaches families all about indigenous flora and fauna. The Museum’s school holiday programs are worth a look, too.
Best educational attraction for families in Australia: Australian Museum, Sydney
Inside this heritage-listed building in the Sydney CBD lies the Australian Museum. It’s not just the oldest museum in the country, it’s also the best educational experience for kids, according to our readers. Be warned, the dinosaur exhibits are incredibly lifelike! Junior paleontologists will spot familiar characters like T-rex and Stegosaurus and some lesser-known creatures. Have you heard of the Muttaburrasaurus? How about the Bambiraptor? Discover them both opposite Hyde Park, along with native fauna and First Nations culture. General admission is free, but there is an extra charge for special exhibitions.
Best family event in Australia: Sydney Royal Easter Show
Celebrating its 200th anniversary in April, the Sydney Royal Easter Show delights thousands of young visitors each year. Over 12 fun-filled days at Sydney Olympic Park, there are animals to meet, sideshows to experience, and the ever-popular show bag pavilion. Agriculture, arts and crafts are all on display, but the nightly fireworks show is sure to be the highlight for children.
Best free family event, experience or attraction: Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is a city-wide celebration of art, innovation, music and technology. The annual 23-day festival includes light shows, performances and exhibitions, as enormous projections turn the Sydney Opera House into a colourful work of art. In Darling Harbour, the Vivid Light Walk enchants children with a trail of interactive light installations. Each year’s festival includes a unique program of family events from May to June – the theme for 2024 is “humanity”.
Best tour company for families: Intrepid Travel
If you’re keen on adventure, there’s plenty in store with Intrepid Travel’s family packages. Each small group tour brings together three to five like-minded families, ready to experience a memorable trip. Whether spotting elephants in the jungles of Borneo or exploring medinas in Morocco, little travellers are sure to make lifelong friends. Intrepid is also a certified B Corp; each trip helps support local communities and habitats.
Best Indigenous experience for families in Australia: Uluru, Northern Territory
A trip to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is more than just a holiday – it’s a journey into the spiritual heart of this ancient land. Guided by Traditional Owners, visitors can discover the Tjukurpa (creation stories) woven into the landscape. At the park’s Cultural Centre, kids will learn about Anangu culture, art and music. The Mala walk is not to be missed; see ancient campsites, rock art and ceremonial caves on this wheelchair-accessible two kilometre track.
Best airline for families: Qantas
Children are well catered for on Australia’s national airline. Complimentary kids’ kits, including a colourful activity book and an aircraft window-shaped etch-a-sketch, are handed out to little ones upon boarding. Seatback and hand-held entertainment options are ready to distract fussy toddlers with favourites like Baby Shark’s Big Adventure. On the ground, you’ll find fun Joey Club zones at many domestic Qantas lounges. Parents can enjoy the perks en route to 65 domestic destinations and 23 countries worldwide.
Best family travel influencer or blogger: Mumpack Travel
Evie Farrell quit her job, packed up her house and began travelling around Asia with her daughter Emmie in 2016. She says it was the best decision she ever made, and the pair developed a close bond during their time exploring the world together. In 2019, Murdoch Books released Evie’s memoir about their adventures, Backyard to Backpack: A solo mum, a six-year-old and a life-changing adventure. Evie loves helping other families – especially solo parents – travel with kids.