100+ Fun Family Activities to do This Summer in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter

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Summer is here and to celebrate, here’s a list of 100 ideas of fun things to do with your kids in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and the Hunter.  The list has been updated with 2020/2021 summer activities and events,  many of them free and low-cost so it won’t bust your budget.

100 things to do with your kids in the Newcastle region (Updated with 2020-21 Events)

  1. Go for a play at a new playground like Stevenson Park in Mayfield West, Carrington Street Reserve in Wallsend, Brickworks Park in Wallsend and  Bernie Goodwin Memorial Park in Morisset.
  2. Visit Newcastle Museum. There are so many things to do in this fantastic family-friendly museum with free admission.
  3. Wander through the wetlands. Belmont Wetlands State Park offers short, family-friendly walks through beautiful coastal bushland and wetlands.
  4. Cool off at Merewether Ocean Baths, one of the largest pools in the Southern Hemisphere.
  5. Pack up the kids and the car, grab some blankets and your favourite movie night snacks – and head to the Heddon Greta Drive In.
  6. Enjoy a family day out at  Hunter Region Botanical Gardens at Heatherbrae. There are lots of kid-friendly activities to enjoy here.
  7. Go for a swim at the Bogey Hole. This historic swimming hole was built by convicts.
  8. Get up close to animals at Hunter Valley Zoo, Oakvale Wildlife Park, Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters, Blackbutt Reserve or Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary.
  9. Walk along Warners Bay Foreshore and discover the sculpture walk.
  10. Jump on public transit and go for a ride on a bus, train or ferry or light rail.
  11. Try to spot koalas in the wild at Tilligerry Habitat in Port Stephens.
  12. Visit family-friendly Grannies Pool at Blacksmiths.
  13. Visit a Street Library in Newcastle & the Hunter and borrow or donate a book.
  14. Explore Wangi Point. Pristine bushland, beautiful water views and history: Wangi Point at Wangi Wangi in western Lake Macquarie has it all.
  15. Hike along the Yuerlarbah Walk at Glenrock Lagoon.
  16. Splash around at an aquatic playground. Suggestions: Lambton Pool or Maitland Pool.
  17. Drive up to the top of Mount Sugarloaf and see the view.
  18. Take a sightseeing tour on Newcastle’s Famous Tram.
  19. Visit a new park or playground that you haven’t visited before. There’s plenty listed in the Parks & Playground section of Newy with Kids.
  20. Enjoy free drop-in art activities. Visit Newcastle Art Gallery and enjoy free Art Cart drop-in art activities on weekend mornings or on Sunday mornings at Artspace at Museum of Art and Culture (MAC) in Lake Macquarie and Free Art Sunday at Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
  21. Try birdwatching with kids. Whether you head to the park, nature reserve or just hang out in your backyard, start observing birds.
  22. Ride on a steam train at Richmond Vale Railway Museum.
  23. A bush walk, lake views & mangroves. You’ll enjoy all this on the Galgabba Point Walk in Swansea.
  24. Discover nature, culture and history on the Belmont Lagoon Walk.
  25. Let little kids splash around on the splash pad at Charlestown Swim Centre.
  26. Go camping with your family. Suggestions: In a campground, in your backyard or even your living room. We’ve put together a list of 50+ campgrounds and holiday parks within a three hour drive .
  27. Enjoy a family day out at peaceful Walka Water Works.
  28. Visit Redhead Beach and spot the iconic Redhead Shark Tower. Stop off at the nearby surf-themed Webb Park playground.
  29. Soak in panoramic views of Glenrock and the southern coastline on the Hickson Street Track in Merewether.
  30. Enjoy New Year’s Day activations at Beresfield, Mayfield, Stockton and Wallsend pools on New Year’s Day (10 am to 4 pm), including inflatables, food trucks and roving entertainment.  
  31. Eat at Food Markets at Richley Reserve on New Year’s Day (10 am to 4 pm), including roving entertainment, children’s activities and a ‘sensory zone’ for people with disabilities and their families. 
  32. Enjoy summer on the lake. Keep the whole family entertained this summer with a bumper line-up of exciting and inspiring events and activities organised by Lake Macquarie City Council.
  33. Enjoy some activities on the river as part of Make it Maitland. From Wednesday 6 January until Sunday 31 January visit Morpeth and hire a kayak or stand up paddle board and explore the still waters of the Hunter River.
  34. Enjoy Dive in Cinema at East Maitland Aquatic Centre on Friday evenings from January 28 – 30.. Fun entertainment, food, volleyball and lawn games, as well as free swim time before the movie starts at 8.00pm.
  35. Looking for a short bush walk suitable for kids? Try the Kilaben Bay Nature Walk in Lake Macquarie? This family walk ends at the lake’s edge.
  36. Go out for a meal where kids eat free. Check the Kids Eat Free (or Cheap) guide on Newy with Kids.
  37. Explore Gap Creek Falls at Watagans National Park. If you have adventuresome kids, they will love the fun hike down to the waterfall.
  38. Build a sandcastle or sand city at the beach.
  39. If you’re looking for a flat, family-friendly coastal stroll, head down to Redhead to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the Ken and Audrey Owens walkway.
  40. Walk along Newcastle Harbour from Nobbys to Wickham. Optional stop for ice-cream at Queens Wharf.
  41. Go hunting for street art. There are murals all over the Newcastle region including Newcastle CBD, Mayfield, Wickham and Belmont. Follow the Big Picture Fest Trail to see lots of recent street art.
  42. Go for a hike, visit the animals and at Blackbutt Reserve.
  43. Enjoy Bathers Way from Nobbys Headland to Merewether Baths.
  44. Walk or cycle along the foreshore of Lake Macquarie. Suggestions: Warners Bay to Speers Point or Eleebana to Valentine.
  45. Visit Fort Scratchley and do a tunnel tour.
  46. Get back to nature with a day out at  Kooragang Wetlands at Ash Island.
  47. Go for a swim at the ocean baths at Newcastle or Merewether. (Make sure you check the cleaning schedule though!)
  48. Learn about Newcastle’s steelmaking history at Newcastle Museum. Make sure you catch the BHP steelmaking light and sound show.
  49. Do the Awabakal walk from Dudley to Redhead Walk and enjoy panoramic views of the coast.
  50. Take the ferry to Stockton and back (or vice-versa if you live on the Stockton side).
  51. Get your kids to join the Summer Reading Club at their local library.
  52. Enjoy the views from The Obelisk in The Hill in Newcastle.
  53. Visit The Station at the former Newcastle Train Station. It’s great for a catch up with plenty of space for kids to bike or scoot around.
  54. Walk or cycle through Fernleigh Tunnel on the Fernleigh Track.
  55. Visit Maitland Park. As well as a fun all-abilities playground, it has a scooter / bike track as well as being next door to Maitland Pool.
  56. Visit Blue Gum Hills State Park in Minmi and learn about the park’s mining heritage. Check out the maze and mining themed playground.
  57. Go snorkelling at rock pools: Suggestion: Nobbys Beach, Little Beach at Nelson Bay.
  58. Visit Stockton Beach. It’s the largest moving coastal sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere. Also, try sandboarding there.
  59. Relax in a rotunda. Suggestions: Lambton Park, King Edward Park, Centennial Park, Dangar Park in Mayfield and Maitland Park.
  60. Search for tree stump fossils at Swansea Headland Petrified Forest.
  61. Go mountain biking with your family. Here are some recommendations for some of the best family-friendly mountain bike tracks in the Newcastle & Hunter region.
  62. Play hide and seek in a local park.
  63. Get your photo taken in front of a Mister Trevor Dickinson mural. Suggestions: Newcastle Museum, Mayfield Pool, Newcastle Beach Tunnel or Merewether Beach Tunnel.
  64. Wander through the Sculpture Park at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery in Booragul.
  65. Walk along Green Point Reserve between Belmont and Valentine.
  66. Combine history & play on a family day out to Wallsend Brickworks Park, site of a historic brickmaking operation in Newcastle
  67. Get outside and listen to live music. There’s free outdoor community concerts during summer.
  68. Wander through the Garside Gardens, the sunken garden at King Edward Park.
  69. Visit the historic village of Catherine Hill Bay.
  70. Visit the family-friendly Blacksmiths Beach.
  71. Roll down a hill. Suggestions: King Edward Park, Foreshore Park or Mount Sugarloaf.
  72. Explore the caves at Caves Beach at low tide and in calm sea conditions.
  73. Do a self-guided tour of Maitland Gaol. (Snitch’s Gaol Exploration is suitable for primary school children).
  74. Walk or run a 5K ParkRun. ParkRun is expected to resume from December 19 under COVID-19 protocols.
  75. Play Frisbee Golf at Jesmond Park or at Styles Point Reserve in Rathmines.
  76. Do a torchlight tour of your backyard at night and see what you can find.
  77. Walk a section of the Great North Walk. The Yuerlabah Track starts at Queens Wharf in Newcastle and finishes at Teralba. (Smaller sections can be tackled!)
  78. Visit the historic village of Morpeth and enjoy a picnic at Morpeth Common.
  79. Spot fighter jets at Williamtown or visit Fighter World.
  80. Go dipnetting at Hunter Wetlands Centre.
  81. Celebrate Australia Day with events around the region.
  82. Fly on a flying fox at Wickham Park, Speers Point Park, Webb Park in Redhead, Maitland Park or Stockton Active Hub.
  83. Go for a walk along Anzac Memorial Walk for great views of Newcastle’s coast and city.
  84. Swim in Lake Macquarie at Belmont Baths.
  85. Go geocaching. What’s geocaching? It’s a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.
  86. Visit the Canoe Pool and see if you can find remnants of the concrete Map of The World.
  87. Walk up to the top of Tomaree Head Summit in Port Stephens. For those with young kids, drive to the top of Gan Gan Lookout at Nelson Bay for a panoramic view of Port Stephens and surrounds.
  88. Watch surfers ride the waves at Newcastle Beach, Merewether Beach and Redhead Beach.
  89. Visit Rathmines Park, former home to the RAAF Catalina Flying Boat Base. Now home to an amazing plane-themed playground.
  90. Visit a local skate park and skate, scoot and bike or just watch the local talent.
  91. Take a day trip (or longer) out to Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest.
  92. Bike or walk along the Wallsend to Glendale Tramway Track.
  93. Explore rock pools at the beach at low tide. Suggestion Merewether, Cowrie Hole in Newcastle and Caves Beach.
  94. Go out for a day trip around Raymond Terrace and Medowie. There are lots of hidden gems to discover like Medowie Macadamias, Finnan Park at Grahamstown Dam and King Street Confectionary.
  95. Spot a coal train or cruise ship leaving or entering Newcastle Port, the largest bulk shipping port on the Australian east coast.
  96. Explore Shipwreck Walk, a walk along the Stockton Breakwater which incorporates the wrecks and hulks of several iron and steel ships within the structure.
  97. Go to a headland and watch for dolphins. Suggestions: Fort Scratchley, Nobbys Headland, Redhead or Dudley Bluff.
  98. Check out the historic headstones at Cathedral Park adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral.
  99. Visit the Fairy Garden in Broadmeadow.
  100. Explore the Throsby Creek walking loop through Carrington & Maryville. Don’t miss the boardwalk above the mangroves in Carrington.
  101. Visit Little Beach in Port Stephens, a top summer spot for families.
  102. Take a drive to Singleton to visit the massive Rose Point Park Regional Playground. Fully-fenced and packed with play equipment for kids of all ages, it’s a worth a visit.
  103. Try orienteering at a permanent course at Blue Gum Hills Regional Park in Minmi or at Brickworks Park in Wallsend. Orienteering involves using a detailed map and usually a compass to navigate one’s way round a course with designated control points (check points), which are drawn on the map.

Always check opening days & hours before setting out to avoid disappointment.

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