100 Fun Family Activities to do This Summer in Newcastle & Surrounds

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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 2019/2020 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 2019-20 Events)

  1. Go for a play at a new playground like Elbook Reserve and Coldstream Crescent playgrounds in Rankin Park, Cressington Way in Wallsend and the Laneway Park in Adamstown.
  2. Visit Newcastle Museum. There are so many things to do in this fantastic family-friendly museum with free admission.
  3. Visit a local pool and take on the Aquatic Challenger inflatable obstacle course different pools like at Speers Point Swim Centre, Swansea Swim Centre and Lambton Pool.
  4. Stay up late and spot planets and constellations using ABC Beginner’s Guide to the Night Sky.
  5. Spot fighter jets at Williamtown.
  6. Get your photo taken with the Brett Whitely egg sculpture in front of Newcastle Art Gallery. From the right angle, the egg and nest sits right on your head.
  7. Watch a magnificent summer sunset.
  8. Go for a swim at the Bogey Hole.
  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. Visit family-friendly Grannies Pool at Blacksmiths. Its access has been upgraded so easier to get to with prams and wheelchairs.
  12. Visit a farmers market and buy food directly from local farmers and artisans. Suggestions: Newcastle Farmers Market, Lake Macquarie Farmers Market.
  13. Visit a Street Library in Newcastle & the Hunter and borrow or donate a book.
  14. Make a time capsule to open in a year.
  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 your dog or borrow one and visit a dog park or dog beach.
  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 ARTCART 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. Take your family to the movies to see a new-release family movie. Suggestions: Reading Cinemas Charlestown, Event Cinemas Glendale and smaller theatres like Lake Cinema in Boolaroo or The Regal Cinema in Birmingham Gardens.
  22. Walk up to Nobbys Headland. It’s currently open every Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 4pm.
  23. Enjoy a fireworks display. Events include NYE and Australia Day fireworks.
  24. Roll down a hill. Suggestions: King Edward Park or Mount Sugarloaf
  25. Go camping with your family. Suggestions: In a campground, in your backyard or even your living room.
  26. Visit Redhead Beach and spot the iconic Redhead Shark Tower. Stop off at the nearby surf-themed Webb Park playground.
  27. Watch a movie under the stars. Suggestion: Newcastle Permanent Cinema Under the Stars in Maitland on Friday 15 November, Speers Point on Friday 17 January and Newcastle on Saturday 8 February.
  28. Enjoy Dive in Cinema at East Maitland Aquatic Centre on Friday evenings in January (Jan 10, 17 & 24). Fun includes a silent disco, food trucks and lawn games.
  29. Go out for a meal where kids eat free. Check the Kids Eat Free (or Cheap) guide on Newy with Kids.
  30. Build a sandcastle or sand city at the beach.
  31. Walk along Newcastle Harbour from Nobbys to Wickham. Optional stop for ice-cream at Queens Wharf.
  32. Go hunting for street art. There’s murals all over the Newcastle region including Newcastle CBD, Mayfield, Wickham and Belmont.
  33. Go for a hike, visit the animals, feed the emus and enjoy a reptile show (on daily during school holidays) at Blackbutt Reserve.
  34. Enjoy Bathers Way from Nobbys Headland to Merewether Baths.
  35. Walk or cycle along the foreshore of Lake Macquarie. Suggestions: Warners Bay to Speers Point or Eleebana to Valentine.
  36. Go for a ride on a train. Suggestions: Edgeworth TrainsWalka Works Trains or just the State Rail trains on the Sydney or Hunter Line.
  37. Have a play at Toronto Foreshore Playground followed by a walk to the boat marina.
  38. Visit Fort Scratchley and do a tunnel tour.
  39. Get back to nature with a day out at  Kooragang Wetlands at Ash Island.
  40. Lie down, relax and have a cloud watching session.
  41. Go for a swim at the ocean baths at Newcastle or Merewether. (Make sure you check the cleaning schedule though!)
  42. Learn about Newcastle’s steelmaking history at Newcastle Museum. Make sure you catch the BHP steelmaking light and sound show.
  43. Do the Awabakal walk from Dudley to Redhead Walk and enjoy panoramic views of the coast.
  44. Take the ferry to Stockton and back (or vice-versa if you live on the Stockton side).
  45. Get your kids to join the Summer Reading Club at their local library.
  46. Enjoy the views from The Obelisk in The Hill in Newcastle.
  47. 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.
  48. Walk or cycle through Fernleigh Tunnel on the Fernleigh Track.
  49. Stay up late and stargaze.
  50. Visit Blue Gum Hills State Park in Minmi and learn about the park’s mining heritage. Check out the maze and mining themed playground.
  51. Go snorkelling at rock pools: Suggestion: Nobbys Beach, Little Beach at Nelson Bay.
  52. Visit Stockton Beach. It’s the largest moving coastal sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere. Also, try sandboarding there.
  53. Relax in a rotunda. Suggestions: Lambton Park, King Edward Park, Centennial Park, Dangar Park in Mayfield and Maitland Park.
  54. Play hide and seek in a local park.
  55. Get your photo taken in front of a Mister Trevor Dickinson Suggestions: Newcastle Museum, Mayfield Pool, Newcastle Beach Tunnel or Merewether Beach Tunnel.
  56. Wander through the Sculpture Park at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery in Booragul.
  57. Enjoy some outdoor music at Music in the Podium in Warners Bay (every Friday until March 27, 2020) or Friday Chill (starts January 10, 2020) in Pacific Park in Newcastle.
  58. Walk along Green Point Reserve between Belmont and Valentine.
  59. Try to spot koalas at Tilligerry Habitat at Tanilba Bay.
  60. Wander through the Garside Gardens, the sunken garden at King Edward Park.
  61. Visit the historic village of Catherine Hill Bay.
  62. Visit the family-friendly Blacksmiths Beach.
  63. Roll down a hill. Suggestions: King Edward Park, Foreshore Park or Mount Sugarloaf.
  64. Explore the caves at Caves Beach at low tide and in calm sea conditions.
  65. Do a self-guided tour of Maitland Gaol. (Snitch’s Gaol Exploration is suitable for primary school children).
  66. Walk or run a 5K ParkRun.
  67. Play Frisbee Golf at Jesmond Park or at Styles Point Reserve in Rathmines.
  68. Do a torchlight tour of your backyard at night and see what you can find.
  69. 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!)
  70. Visit the historic village of Morpeth and enjoy a picnic at Morpeth Common.
  71. Spot a rainbow. Hint: You can always find them in fountains especially Civic Park in Newcastle.
  72. Get your hands on a large box and let your kids’ imagination go wild.
  73. Go dipnetting at Hunter Wetlands Centre.
  74. Celebrate Australia Day with events around the region.
  75. Fly on a flying fox at Wickham Park, Speers Point Park, Webb Park in Redhead or Fingal Bay Playground
  76. Go for a walk along Anzac Memorial Walk for great views of Newcastle’s coast and city.
  77. Swim in Lake Macquarie at Belmont Baths.
  78. Get some friends together and play cricket in the park.
  79. Have a water balloon fight.
  80. Go geocaching. What’s geocaching? It’s a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.
  81. Go boating on Lake Macquarie whether it’s a tinnie, a ferry or your own toy boat.
  82. Visit the cannons at Gregson Park in Hamilton.
  83. Visit the Canoe Pool and see if you can find remnants of the concrete Map of The World.
  84. 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.
  85. Watch surfers ride the waves at Newcastle Beach, Merewether Beach and Redhead Beach.
  86. Visit Rathmines Park, former home to the RAAF Catalina Flying Boat Base. Now home to an amazing plane-themed playground.
  87. Play barefoot bowls at a local bowling club.
  88. Visit a local skate park and skate, scoot and bike or just watch the local talent.
  89. Get friends and family together and have a barbecue at a local park.
  90. Explore rock pools at the beach at low tide. Suggestion Merewether, Cowrie Hole in Newcastle and Caves Beach.
  91. Walk through the boardwalk above the mangroves in Carrington.
  92. Spot a coal train or cruise ship leaving or entering Newcastle Port, the largest bulk shipping port on the Australian east coast.
  93. Explore Shipwreck Walk, a walk along the Stockton Breakwater which incorporates the wrecks and hulks of several iron and steel ships within the structure.
  94. Go to a headland and watch for dolphins. Suggestions: Fort Scratchley, Nobbys Headland, Redhead or Dudley Bluff.
  95. Check out the historic headstones at Cathedral Park adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral.
  96. Visit the Fairy Garden in Broadmeadow.
  97. Visit Watagans National Park, an hour from Newcastle.
  98. Visit Little Beach in Port Stephens, a top summer spot for families.
  99. Visit the Hunter Region Botanical Gardens at Heatherbrae.
  100. Try orienteering at a permanent course at Blue Gum Hills Regional Park in Minmi. 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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Any other suggestions?

Guide to locations on photo collage (left to right)
1 – Nobbys Beach
2 – Newcastle Museum
3 – Nobbys Lighthouse
4 – Wickham Community Garden – next to Wickham Park.
5 & 6- Newcastle Museum
7 – Connolly Park in Carrington
8 – Blue Gum Hills State Park in Minmi
9 – Newcastle beach next to Canoe Pool
10 – Empire Park in Bar Beach near Tennis courts
11 – Walka Water Works
12 – Wallsend Brickworks park
13 – Fairy Garden at Broadmeadow
14 – Lambton pool
15 – Mural at side of Newcastle Museum nearest to pedestrian rail crossing
16 Blackbutt Reserve playground – Carnley Avenue entrance
17 – Gregson Park in Hamilton
18 – top left – Caves Beach, top right Islington Park bottom left Koalas at Blackbutt, bottom right Jesmond Park Frisbee
19 – top left – Rathmines Park, top right Hunter Wetlands Centre playground bottom left Civic Park in Newcastle, playground at Blackbutt, Carnley Avenue
20 – Koorangang Island (Ash Island) Reserve
21 – Edgeworth Trains
22 – Maitland Pool.
23 – Newcastle Foreshore near Scratchleys.

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