Summer is almost 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 2018/2019 summer activities and events, many of them free and low-cost so it won’t bust your budget.
100 FUN FAMILY THINGS TO DO THIS SUMMER IN NEWCASTLE & SURROUNDS (Updated with 2018-19 Events)
- Go for a play at the new adventure playground at Richley Reserve at Blackbutt.
- Visit Newcastle Museum. There are so many things to do in this fantastic family-friendly museum. There are so many things to do in this fantastic family-friendly museum with free admission.
- 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.
- Stay up late and spot planets and constellations using ABC Beginner’s Guide to the Night Sky.
- Spot fighter jets at Williamtown.
- 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.
- Watch a magnificent summer sunset.
- Go for a swim at the Bogey Hole.
- Walk along Warners Bay Foreshore and discover the sculpture walk.
- Jump on public transit and go for a ride on a bus, train or ferry (or tram in 2019).
- Visit family-friendly Grannies Pool at Blacksmiths. It’s access has been upgraded so easier to get to with prams and wheelchairs.
- Visit a farmers market and buy food directly from local farmers and artisans. Suggestions: Newcastle Farmers Market, Lake Macquarie Farmers Market.
- Visit a Street Library in Newcastle & the Hunter and borrow or donate a book.
- Make a time capsule to open in a year.
- Hike along the Yuerlarbah Walk at Glenrock Lagoon.
- Splash around at an aquatic playground. Suggestions: Lambton Pool or Maitland Pool.
- Drive up to the top of Mount Sugarloaf and see the view.
- Take your dog or borrow one and visit a dog park or dog beach.
- 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.
- 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 Art Space at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery and Free Art Sunday at Maitland Regional Art Gallery
- 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.
- Walk up to Nobbys Headland. It’s currently open every Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
- Enjoy a fireworks display. Events include NYE and Australia Day fireworks.
- Roll down a hill. Suggestions: King Edward Park or Mount Sugarloaf
- Go camping with your family. Suggestions: In a campground, in your backyard or even your living room.
- Visit Redhead Beach and spot the iconic Redhead Shark Tower. Stop off at the nearby surf-themed Webb Park playground.
- Watch a movie under the stars. Suggestion: Newcastle Permanent Cinema Under the Stars in Singleton on Friday 5 January, Nelson Bay on Friday 11 January, Newcastle on Saturday 12 January, Speers Point on Saturday 16 February and Maitland on Friday 18 January.
- Visit the Tree of Knowledge in Wickham, one of the oldest and most historic trees in Newcastle.
- Go out for a meal where kids eat free. Check the Kids Eat Free (or Cheap) guide on Newy with Kids.
- Build a sand castle or sand city at the beach.
- Walk along Newcastle Harbour from Nobbys to Wickham. Optional stop for ice-cream at Queens Wharf.
- Go hunting for street art. There’s murals all over the Newcastle region including Newcastle CBD, Mayfield, Wickham and Belmont.
- Go for a hike, visit the animals, feed the emus and enjoy a reptile show (on daily during school holidays) at Blackbutt Reserve.
- Enjoy Bathers Way from Nobbys Headland to Merewether Baths.
- Walk or cycle along the foreshore of Lake Macquarie. Suggestions: Warners Bay to Speers Point or Eleebana to Valentine.
- Go for a ride on a train. Suggestions: Edgeworth Trains, Walka Works Trains or just the State Rail trains on the Sydney or Hunter Line.
- Have a play at Toronto Foreshore Playground followed by a walk to the boat marina.
- Visit Fort Scratchley and do a tunnel tour.
- Get back to nature with a day out at Kooragang Wetlands at Ash Island.
- Lie down, relax and have a cloud watching session.
- Go for a swim at the ocean baths at Newcastle or Merewether. (Make sure you check the cleaning schedule though!)
- Learn about Newcastle’s steelmaking history at Newcastle Museum. Make sure you catch the BHP steelmaking light and sound show.
- Do the Awabaakal walk from Dudley to Redhead Walk and enjoy panoramic views of the coast.
- Take the ferry to Stockton and back (or vice-versa if you live on the Stockton side).
- Get your kids to join the Summer Reading Club at their local library.
- Enjoy the views from The Obelisk in The Hill in Newcastle.
- 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.
- Walk or cycle through Fernleigh Tunnel on the Fernleigh Track.
- Stay up late and star gaze.
- Visit Blue Gum Hills State Park in Minmi and learn about the park’s mining heritage. Check out the maze and mining themed playground.
- Go snorkelling at rock pools: Suggestion: Nobbys Beach, Little Beach at Nelson Bay.
- Visit Stockton Beach. It’s the largest moving coastal sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere. Also, try sandboarding there.
- Relax in a rotunda. Suggestions: Lambton Park, King Edward Park, Centennial Park, Dangar Park in Mayfield and Maitland Park.
- Play hide and seek in a local park.
- Get your photo taken in front of a Mister Trevor Dickinson Suggestions: Newcastle Museum, Mayfield Pool, Newcastle Beach Tunnel or Merewether Beach Tunnel.
- Wander through the Sculpture Park at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery in Booragul.
- Enjoy some outdoor music at Music in the Podium in Warners Bay (every Friday until March 29, 2019) or Friday Chill (starts January 11, 2019) in Pacific Park in Newcastle.
- Walk along Green Point Reserve between Belmont and Valentine.
- Try to spot koalas at Tilligerry Habitat at Tanilba Bay.
- Wander through the Garside Gardens, the sunken garden at King Edward Park.
- Visit the historic village of Catherine Hill Bay.
- Visit the family-friendly Blacksmiths Beach.
- Roll down a hill. Suggestions: King Edward Park, Foreshore Park or Mount Sugarloaf.
- Explore the caves at Caves Beach at low tide and in calm sea conditions.
- Do a self-guided tour of Maitland Gaol. (Snitch’s Gaol Exploration is suitable for primary school children).
- Walk or run a 5K ParkRun.
- Play Frisbee Golf at Jesmond Park or at Styles Point Reserve in Rathmines.
- Do a torchlight tour of your backyard at night and see what you can find.
- 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!)
- Visit the historic village of Morpeth and enjoy a picnic at Morpeth Common.
- Spot a rainbow. Hint: You can always find them in fountains especially Civic Park in Newcastle.
- Get your hands on a large box and let your kids’ imagination go wild.
- Go dipnetting at Hunter Wetlands Centre.
- Celebrate Australia Day with events around the region.
- Fly on a flying fox at Wickham Park, Speers Point Park, Webb Park in Redhead or Fingal Bay Playground
- Go for a walk along Anzac Memorial Walk for great views of Newcastle’s coast and city.
- Visit a marina and play “I wish that was my boat”. Suggestions: Wickham, Nelson Bay and Belmont.
- Get some friends together and play cricket in the park.
- Have a water balloon fight.
- Go geocaching. What’s geocaching? It’s a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.
- Go boating on Lake Macquarie whether it’s a tinnie, a ferry or your own toy boat.
- Visit the cannons at Gregson Park in Hamilton.
- Visit the Canoe Pool and see if you can find remnants of the concrete Map of The World.
- Walk up to 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.
- Watch surfers ride the waves at Newcastle Beach, Merewether Beach and Redhead Beach.
- Visit Rathmines Park, former home to the RAAF Catalina Flying Boat Base. Now home to an amazing plane-themed playground.
- Play barefoot bowls at a local bowling club.
- Visit a local skate park and skate, scoot and bike or just watch the local talent.
- Get friends and family together and have a BBQ at a local park.
- Explore rock pools at the beach at low tide. Suggestion Merewether, Caves Beach.
- Walk through the boardwalk above the mangroves in Carrington.
- Spot a coal train or cruise ship leaving or entering Newcastle Port, the largest bulk shipping port on the Australian east coast.
- Explore Shipwreck Walk, a walk along the Stockton Breakwater which incorporates the wrecks and hulks of several iron and steel ships within the structure.
- Go to a headland and watch for dolphins. Suggestions: Fort Scratchley, Nobbys Headland, Redhead or Dudley Bluff.
- Check out the historic headstones at Cathedral Park adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral.
- Visit the Fairy Garden in Broadmeadow.
- Visit Watagans National Park, an hour from Newcastle.
- Visit Little Beach in Port Stephens, a top summer spot for families.
- Visit the Hunter Region Botanical Gardens at Heatherbrae.
- 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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