A family day out at Port Stephens

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There’s so many great spots in Port Stephens but Fingal Bay and Little Beach are some of my favourites for a family day out.

A Family Day Out at Port Stephens

Is there some kind of strange energy emanating from Port Stephens? For me, there’s a point on the drive up to Port Stephens where I click over into holiday mode. I have no idea what causes this shift but somewhere on Nelson Bay Road, I’m suddenly relaxed and mellow. (Now if only I could bottle that PS holiday feeling for stressful times, I’d be sorted!).

We’re taking advantage of this beautiful autumn weather and drive up to Nelson Bay for the day. First item on our trip is a viewpoint. We stop off at Gan Gan Lookout for a panoramic view of Port Stephens and surrounds. At 160 metres, this is Port Stephen’s highest and most accessible lookout so it’s ideal for families. There are actually two vantage points, one south and one to the north. To reach the lookout, drive up to Lily Hill Road and follow the signs. Up at the top, stroller-friendly paths lead to viewing platforms and spectacular vistas. While I’m up here, I make a mental note to visit more often. I love visiting here especially at this time of year. The holiday crowds have disappeared yet it’s still warm enough to swim and laze on the beach.

The view up here

On the subject of beaches, Port Stephens is blessed. There are 26 beaches and bays ideal for a swim or surf. We head to the family-friendly Little Beach, just around from Nelson Bay. This peaceful harbour beach is perfect for littlies who will love playing in the sand or splashing in the calm water.

Gentle waves at Little Beach

If they tire of the beach, there’s a playground at the beach to keep them busy for ages with swings, musical equipment and the popular play house.

Playground at Little Beach

After a couple hours of swimming, relaxing and waving to passengers on the dolphin watch cruises, we pack up the sun shelter and assorted beach paraphernalia and head to Fingal Bay. Hands down, Fingal Bay is my favourite beach with its long sweep of beach and views out to the spit. Alas, there’s a strong nor’easter blowing resulting in this usually popular beach being virtually deserted.

Beautiful Fingal Bay

My plans for a walk along the beach are scotched. However, we console ourselves with the playground at Fingal Bay. There’s plenty for kids of all ages with a flying saucer swing, climbing equipment and a flying fox which my daughter won’t get off. Bring scooters or bikes as there’s a path around the playground.

There’s even exercise equipment for parents so you can work out while your kids play.

All this activity works up an appetite and we stop for a late lunch at Long Boat Café at the Fingal Bay Surf Life Saving Club. With a location near the park, the café earns its family-friendly credentials with friendly staff, kids menus and highchairs. It’s a great spot for parents of older kids as you can watch kids playing in the park while you enjoy your meal.

After a delicious lunch and one last look at Fingal Bay, we pile in the car and drive home with a holiday feeling that lasts long after we reach Newcastle city limits.

Where’s your favourite spot in Port Stephens?

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