Northern Beaches Musts
From cliff-top walks to horticulture for the whole family, there’s no end to adventure on the Northern Beaches. We polled our community of mums for a list of 10 local experiences every kid should enjoy by 10 years old.
- Make the most of Manly: Your littlies will be thrilled to make a day of it in Manly. Start at the top: begin at Lagoon Park playground in Queenscliff, a local favourite that includes swings, a climbing net, boat-themed climbing areas and plenty of shade. Continue by bike or scooter down the promenade, stopping at each play area along Manly Beach. You’ll find many challenging activities that slightly older kids will love. Take a dip on Manly Beach or complete the walk to Shelly Beach to snorkel in crystal clear water. If you’re sun-soaked, take in lunch and grab an ice cream on The Corso before searching out sea creatures at the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary aquarium.
- Be a pirate for a day: Encourage your pint-sized swashbucklers to take a ferry trip for the fun of it. Jump aboard in Manly for a spectacular 30-minute trip to Circular Quay and from May to November, look out for whales. Grab a quick lunch at the Quay before returning. Or for an extra thrill, head over to Luna Park at Milsons Point. When moving by ferry in Sydney, it’s definitely about the journey.
- Choose your own ocean adventure: To make sure your kids don’t take the magnificent Northern Beaches for granted, help them embrace all the ocean has to offer. Splash in a stunning seawater pool (Freshwater, Curl Curl and Dee Why are favourites), learn to surf at Manly or join the local Nippers. If it’s Dee Why for a dip, make a day of it. Let the kids pick a cafe for breakfast on The Strand, visit one of the two nearby playgrounds and stop for a spot of outdoor table tennis. You can even return for sunset: The Strand Park comes alive with picnickers, musicians and young ones high on summer nights.
- Clamber to a cliff top: It’s more modest than Bondi to Coogee, but the coastal walk from Dee Why to Curl Curl makes for a beautiful stroll complete with views of Long Reef. The meandering rocky pathways will bring out your kids’ adventurous spirit, though this path isn’t one for prams, very young ones or kids who tend to run ahead (parts run close to the cliff’s edge). Continue to South Curl Curl for a bite at the cafe in the surf lifesaving club. New owners Belaroma Coffee have vastly improved the quality of food and service. Younger kids may prefer the easy 1km walk from South Curly to Freshwater, the majority of which runs along a pram-friendly boardwalk.
- Become a wildlife warrior: For a hidden gem in Dee Why, visit Stony Range Regional Botanic Garden, near the Pittwater/Warringah road intersection. You’ll find spectacular nature walks, waterfalls, native beehives and spots to picnic. It’s a little piece of suburban paradise and it’s free.
- Keep calm and yoga on: Encourage inner calm for the whole family with a kids or family yoga class. There are many to choose from – some with ocean views – up and down the beaches. Kids yoga practice is age appropriate, with visualisations and exercises tailored to their experience and interests. If you enjoy yoga, your little one will relish the opportunity to share your Zen.
- Hunt for treasure and meet a critter: Once the kids have visited New Leaf Nursery at Ingleside, they’ll beg to return. Here, the whole family can learn about raising a vegie garden, composting, caring for pets and more. Regular attractions include a ‘golf ball’ treasure hunt and a ‘kid zoo’ with chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. School holiday classes cover everything from twig craft to chicken coop construction.
- Get in on the lakeside action: The new 8km trail around Narrabeen Lagoon is a Northern Beaches treasure. Walk, scoot or bike your way around and the kids will be in seventh heaven. Along the waterfront, there is ample duck-feeding opportunity. It’s also a perfect place to help your little one try a spot of fishing.
- Fly like a fox: The clues are in the name – Flying Fox Cafe at Winnererremy Bay Park in Mona Vale means joy for young and old. The outstanding playground includes a spider web climbing frame and predictably, a flying fox. There’s an abundance of outdoor seating for latte-quaffing parents. Kids can bike, scoot or run around the surrounding parklands and there is an inviting, sheltered beach nearby.
- Become a lighthouse explorer: No Northern Beaches list would be complete without mention of a jaunt to its most northern point: Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach. Little ones will love navigating the 1km walking track to the lighthouse and the sweeping views on arrival. On a Sunday, take a guided tour of the lighthouse itself. Parents will be partial to a post-lighthouse lunch at The Boathouse.