It’s the region next door and makes for a great quick getaway. Located just an hour down the road from Newcastle or even closer if you’re in Lake Macquarie, the Central Coast is a great year-round holiday destination for those with kids. There are plenty of fun kid-friendly attractions and activities to keep the whole family happy. Swim at beaches, visit a lighthouse or waterfall, see reptiles and Australian native animals or head for a family stroll along the coastal walk.
Here is a guide to visiting Central Coast with things to do with kids including attractions, kid-friendly places to eat and family accommodation.
Pelican Feed (Currently cancelled due to COVID-19)
Time your return to watch the daily pelican feeding. The Pelican Feed takes place at 3:30pm on The Entrance waterfront and is one of the Central Coast’s most popular tourist attractions. The event started 20 years ago when the local fish shop fed scraps to the resident penguins. Now, it’s a much loved activity that happens every day thanks for sponsors and volunteers who feed fresh fish to the pelican colony.
It’s not just the pelicans that make The Entrance fun. There are lots of fun things for your family to enjoy. In addition to fun playground, they can ride on the Historical Carousel. Pack your kids’ swimmers when it’s warm to enjoy Vera’s Water Garden, an outdoor water fountain area.
Coast to Lake Walk
Feel like a walk? Do the Coast to Lake Walk – either in parts or in its entirety. It’s a self-guided 7.6 kilometre walk from Memorial Park in The Entrance round Blue Bay and Toowoon Bay before cutting back across the peninsula to The Entrance.
Visit the Beaches
The Central Coast has loads of beaches. Head to one of the 16 beaches for a swim, surf, fish or snorkel. Some favourites include Umina Beach, Ettalong Beach, Towooon Bay, MacMasters Beach, Copacabana Beach, Terrigal and Avoca Beach. Between two headlands, Avoca Beach is a popular spot for local families. Famed as a surfing beach, it also features a shallow rock pool area that’s safe for little ones to splash around in. Head to the fenced Avoca Beach Playground. It’s great for toddlers. Another family-favourite is Toowoon Bay. This 700-metre-long curved beach is ideal for those with kids. It’s also a top spot for snorkelling, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. Also recommended is Umina which has two patrolled beaches along a 2.8 kilometre stretch.
Norah Head Lighthouse
Erected in 1903, Norah Head lighthouse towers over the Central Coast coastline. Visit for a guided tour and climb the 96 steps to the lantern room for a spectacular view. Tours run for 15 – 30 minutes and cover information about the Lighthouse Keepers’ duties, the history of the lighthouse, local shipwrecks, anecdotal stories and Aboriginal culture. The day tours are suitable for the entire family with kids under 6 admitted free. Tours run both in the day between 10am and 3:30pm on weekends as well as night tours. If you would rather skip the tour, walk around it to appreciate the lighthouse grounds. Follow the walking track which goes around the side of the lighthouse. It leads down to stairs down to Lighthouse Beach. You can stay at the Lighthouse in one of the lighthouse keeper’s quarters, a 3-bedroom stone cottage with views out to sea.
- Norah Head Lighthouse
- 40 Bush Street, Norah Head, NSW
- 0452 564 102
- Norah Head Lighthouse Website
Australian Reptile Park
You know you’re close to the Australian Reptile Park when you see the park mascot Ploddy the dinosaur visible on the mountain top near the Gosford exit heading north on the M1. This regional zoo features exotic reptiles from around the world as well as Australian native animals. All of your favourites are here including koalas, kangaroos, dingoes, wallabies, wombats, quokkas and lots of reptiles. You’ll find lots of snakes, iguanas, lizards and alligators. You’ll also learn about their lifesaving snake and spider venom collection work in the Funnel-Web spider Milking and Venom presentations. There are also daily presentations like Reptile Shows and Animal feedings as well as educational talks. Be sure to visit Elvis the Crocodile when he’s being fed. He’s been named Australia’s crankiest crocodile and lost his two front teeth during an attack on park staff and their lawnmowers in 2011. There are friendlier creatures at the Australian Reptile Park though. You can hand-feed kangaroos in the free-range kangaroo section or feed lorikeets or see Hugo, a giant Galapagos tortoise. The Australian Reptile Park features flat and wide paths, there’s plenty of space to push prams and strollers around and there’s also a large children’s playground for kids to let off steam.
Insider Tip: If you get hungry while you’re there, visit the Café to buy fast food and drinks. You can also bring your own food for a picnic as there’s free BBQs and picnic area to sit down and enjoy some food.
- Australian Reptile Park
- Pacific Highway, Somersby, NSW
- (02) 4340 1022
- Australian Reptile Park Website
Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park
Not as well known as the Australian Reptile Park but the Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park is worth a visit. The Walkabout Park is a working wildlife sanctuary that was established to protect animals that come into care, breed endangered animals for release back into the wild. There are numerous animals for you to meet including kangaroos, dingoes, koalas, wallabies, emus and kookaburras. There is also a petting zoo where you can feed goats, alpacas and their farmyard friends. Throughout the day, there are daily ranger-led activities including meeting Waffles the Pig and Tonka the Teenage Wombat, patting a python and experiencing an encounter with an echidna. Walkabout Park is on Darkinjung and Guringai land in a rich Aboriginal landscape. Each day, rangers lead a Bush Tucker Walkabout so that participants can learn about traditional harvesting. You can also explore indigenous culture in the park by following the Aboriginal Sites Walk. Along the way, you’ll see sandstone engravings or “petroglyphs”, standing or sentry stones, stone arrangements, ochre painting and hand-stencils, axe grinding grooves, cave shelters and dwellings, and middens.
- Australian Walkabout Wildlife Park
- 1 Darkinjung Road cnr Peats Ridge Road, Calga, NSW
- (02) 4375 1100
- Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park Website
TreeTop Adventure Park and NetWorld
Get your adventure on at TreeTops. Although there are TreeTop Adventure Parks around NSW, the TreeTops Central Coast facility offers the most variety with four separate activities to try. At the At TreeTop Adventure Park, you can challenge yourself up high in the trees as it features flying foxes, cargo nets, Tarzan swings, tightropes, suspended rafts, trapezes, twisted ladders and more! If you feel like climbing, try the TreeTop Vertical Challenges and climb up a massive Eucalypt tree. For more of an adrenaline rush, try the TreeTop Crazy Rider which combines rollercoaster with ziplines. Hold on your stomach as you swoop, twist, turn and zig-zag through the trees. For something calmer, choose Networld. In this adventure, you can bounce around with gigantic inflatable balls high up in the treetops through a series of interconnected spaces. Read the Newy with Kids review of Networld.
- Ourimbah State Forest, Wyong Creek, NSW
- 0455 334 945
- TreeTops Website
Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures
Enjoy some family adventures at Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures situated on the Central Coast’s hinterland. There are tons of things to do including horse riding, quad biking, kayaking, mountain biking, abseiling, laser skirmish and even axe-throwing. Feeel like staying longer? There are self-contained cabins and a camping ground.
- Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures
- 69 Cooks Road, Glenworth Valley NSW
- 02 4375 1222
- Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures Website
Wyong Milk Factory
There’s more than just food to enjoy at the Wyong Milk Factory, Yes, you can taste local produce including cheese from Little Creek Cheese and chocolate at Luka Chocolates but there’s lots more. Enjoy a meal at the family tavern while kids burn off steam at the onsite playground. Your kids will love jumping on the community playground as it includes swings, cubby houses and a pirate boat to play in. Having problems getting your kids to leave? Bribe them with a visit to Udderly Sweet Lollies & Gelato. This place is packed with candy, gelato and milkshakes. Use that sugar rush and hire a kayak or rowboat and head upstream along the Wyong River for a great end to your visit to the Wyong Milk Factory.
- Wyong Milk Factory
- 141 Alison Road, Wyong NSW
- 0458 728 561
- Wyong Milk Factory Website
Amazement Farm & Fun Park
Check out Amazement Farm & Fun Park for some retro family fun. Challenge yourselves in one of the hedge mazes or see friendly farm animals. Get up close to friendly critters during the petting shows. You can meet bunnies, goats, donkeys and even have a pony ride. As well as a kids playground area, there are giant board games you can play.
- Amazement Fun & Farm Park
- 170 Yarramalong Road, Wyong Creek NSW
- 02 4353 9900
- Amazement Farm & Fun Park Website
The nearest waterfall in the region is Somersby Falls in Brisbane Water National Park. Just follow the Somersby Falls walking track This 500m return scenic walk through rainforest provides you with views of both the top and bottom waterfalls. Just keep an eye on your kids as the walk can be steep and slippery in spots. The walk leaves from the Somersby Falls picnic area which is a top spot for lunch. Bring a picnic or bring some snags to cook up on the free barbecues.
Open 9 am to 5 pm or 8 pm during light saving; free to visit and $8 parking.
Somersby Falls Rd, Somersby
- Somersby Falls
- Somersby Falls Road, Somersby NSW
- 02 4320 4200
- National Parks Website (Somersby Falls)
Places to Eat
There are loads of family-friendly places to eat with kids on the Central Coast. Check out the cafes at The Entrance, Terrigal and in Umina.
If you’re at The Entrance, order some takeaway and lets the kids eat and then play at the nearby playground or Vera’s Water Garden. Breakers Country Club at Wamberal features a play area and great views as well.
Kincumber Hotel is a favourite with Central Coast families as it features an outdoor play area and sandpit and a delicious kids menu.
Enjoy a meal at the Wyong Milk Factory Cafe while kids burn off steam at the onsite playground. Your kids will love jumping on the community playground as it includes swings, cubby houses and a pirate boat to play in.
If you’re looking for a play area with your meal, head to Gosford RSL. It features a kids play area which means you can finish your meal in peace.
Crowne Plaza Terrigal
The Crowne Plaza Terrigal is a top spot to enjoy a few nights away. It’s a great base to explore the best of the Central Coast. Located beachfront at Terrigal, not only can you enjoy nearby beach, but kids can also splash around in an outdoor heated pool. Visit during school holidays and there’s extra perks. Kids can choose from a variety of school holiday sessions. This also extends to the evening. Kids can enjoy a supervised Kids Zone session with a karaoke disco, arts and crafts and games in the evening while parents enjoy dinner in peace.
Mantra Ettalong Beach
Another accommodation option is also located beachside at Ettalong. The Mantra Ettalong Beach is located in the beautiful beachside town of Ettalong. Enjoy a large resort-style pool and spa or head across the street to the beach. Families will love the set up of the Mantra Ettalong Beach. All rooms have a private balcony as well as Foxtel, kitchenette and laundry facilities. These are great options when you’re travelling with young kids. Feel hungry? Just head down to Ocean View Road for a great range of dining options.
NRMA Ocean Beach Resort
Enjoy a fun family getaway at NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Resort. It’s full of fun activities to kids occupied. Located directly on Umina Beach, you can swim at the beach or at the resort style on-site pool. There’s a variety of accommodation available including Safari Tents for those who want to try glamping.
The Central Coast is a one to 1.5 hour drive from Newcastle region via M1 or A43 Pacific Highway depending on how far south you want to go.
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Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.