Family holiday destinations in Australia
These are the spots to take the kids this year for the perfect school holiday escape.
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If your kids (or you) are likely to go stir-crazy staying at home the duration of the school holidays, or if you feel a family getaway is on the cards, these are the domestic locations that offer family-friendly activities to please all. Plus, our favourite sites to find a deal on your next holiday.
Our favourite family holiday spots in Australia (and why you should go)
1. The Great Barrier Reef and Far North Queensland
A visit to the Cairns and Tropical North Queensland is a fundamental part of any Aussie childhood. From snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef to a day trip through the Daintree, it's an eye-opening experience that offers endless fun. It's warm year-round, so is perfect for any of the school breaks.
- Best for: Families who like to enjoy sun, sand and surf
- Where to stay: Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort in Port Douglas, or Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort, which has a splash park for kids.
- What to do: Full day Great Barrier Reef cruise with snorkelling, Aboriginal culture tour and crocodile and wildlife tour.
2. The Gold Coast, QLD
It's not called paradise without good reason. The sun and surf at the Gold Coast's Surfers Paradise could be classified as "pristine". It has plenty of theme parks in one space, with Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, Sea World, Movie World and Wet'n'Wild available to keep kids entertained all holiday long.
- Best for for: Thrills, spills and general adventure
- Where to stay: Sea World Resort in Main Beach, Q1 Resort and Spa in Surfers Paradise or BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park in Helensvale.
- What to do: Whale watching cruise,the SkyPoint Observation Deck and high ropes course in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
3. Coffs Harbour, NSW
Coffs Harbour is right up there with other coastal holiday escapes for families from Sydney or Brisbane searching for a fun road trip. Naturally, you can fly into Coffs as well. The kids can encounter sea lions and dolphins at the marine park and spend their days playing along the beach.
- Best for: Relaxing beachside holidays
- Where to stay: BreakFree Aanuka Beach, Ambiance Holiday Apartments or Beach Haven Executive Apartments
- What to do: Stand-up paddle board Aboriginal culture tour, high ropes course with flying foxes
4. Kangaroo Island, SA
Kangaroo Island is a short flight from Adelaide or a short and scenic ferry from Cape Jervis. You'll find everything paradise is expected to inhabit, from resplendent vistas, native wildlife and powder soft sands. Exploration by quad bike or boat is a must, as is marine-life watching.
- Best for: Younger families and wildlife encounters
- Where to stay: Mercure Kangaroo Island Lodge,Aurora Ozone Hotel or Kangaroo Island Cabins
- What to do: Wildlife discovery tours or visit Flinders Chase National Park.
Tip: If travelling as a whole family, it may be cheaper to fly into Adelaide and transfer to Kangaroo Island by ferry.
5. Canberra, ACT
Canberra offers a laid back, quiet city break with more than a dash of culture and education attached. Visit the War Memorial, Parliament House, National Gallery and Questacon, and then take a foodie break at the Old Bus Depot markets while you wait for your Brodburgers to fry. Canberra is also a good gateway to get to ski resorts like Thredbo and Perisher during the winter months.
- Best for: Educational escapes
- Where to stay: Pinnacle Apartments, Novotel Canberra or Mercure Canberra
- What to do: Hot air balloon ride over the city and visit the city's many museums and galleries.
6. Rottnest Island, WA
If you're heading to Western Australia, or planning to explore your own backyard, a definite contender for family-friendly adventure is Rottnest Island. Teeming with marine life and water activities, kids can splash around at on one of 65 pristine beaches if the weather is warm enough, or hop in a kayak and paddle about from sun up to sun down.
- Best for: Water babies
- Where to stay: Karma Rottnest, Arundels Boutique Accommodation or Hotel Rottnest.
- What to do: Bike and snorkel gear hire which includes a ferry ticket.
7. Kakadu National Park, NT
Head inland for a historical and cultural adventure through Kakadu National Park. Start in Darwin and make your way down to explore the unique landscape. It's hot all year round in the Top End, so to cool down, make a well-deserved pit stop at Leanyer Water Park.
- Best for: Land lubbers, outback encounters
- Where to stay: Kakadu Lodge or Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, both in Jabiru
- What to do: Yellow Water boat cruise and explore the park's waterfalls like Jim Jim, which has a 2-km return walk and a family-friendly pool (seaonal).
8. Sydney, NSW
Head to the big city over the school holidays and visit Australia's most popular icons. There are always child-friendly activities in Sydney throughout the school holiday periods, be it the Easter Show or Cool Yule during winter.
- Best for: City escapes
- Where to stay: Swissotel Sydney, Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central or Holiday Inn Old Sydney
- What to do: Day trip to the Blue Mountains, Taronga Zoo with Sky Safari cable car and visit museums and galleries like the Powerhouse Museum and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
9. Hobart, TAS
Rent a car or campervan and drive around Tassie. Hobart is the ideal starting point, as the city offers a more vibrant atmosphere than Launceston and features the Salamanca Markets and spooky ghost tours. Venture further to see Port Arthur and hike through the lush bushland of Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park and Tahune Forest.
- Best for: Seeing a lot over a short period of time
- Where to stay: Quest Savoy, Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel or Grand Chancellor Hobart.
- What to do: Kayak tour, Tahune Adventures with Airwalk and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary feeding animal feeding tour
10. Mount Hotham, VIC
Family snow and ski holidays are best had at one of Australia's most popular ski resorts. On top of Jindabyne, Perisher and Thredbo, Mount Hotham is a child-friendly resort ideal for anyone coming in from Melbourne. Family activities occur all year round, with the DP Tube Park being a hot favourite with the kids during Easter.
- Best for: Snow bunnies
- Where to stay: Absolutt, Mountain Dreaming Apartments or Rundells Alpine Lodge.
- What to do: Go skiing, tobogganning or enjoy other snow sports, and check out our family snow and ski holidays in Australia section below.
Ski holiday destinations for families
You don't have to travel halfway across the world for a snow and ski holiday. Australia offers numerous ski resorts, the most popular being Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass, Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek.
Snow season in Australia is fairly short, beginning around early June and closing off late September/early October. Book your holiday early and you can cash in on early bird ski lift and hire discounts. If you're looking for deals on packages and stays, check out our ski deals roundup.
Top six ski resorts
Beach holiday destinations for families
Sand is practically synonymous with summer, so you shouldn't overlook a family getaway to one of Australia's many enviable beaches.
The east coast of the country offers more than its fair share, with stretches of sand from the Gold Coast and Cairns in Queensland to the Central Coast and Bondi Beach in New South Wales.
Head to the other side of the country for Rottnest Island and Eighty Mile Beach in WA, or travel south for Glenelg in South Australia and the Bay of Fires in Tasmania.
As you can tell from our top holiday destinations list above, Australians are spoiled for choice when it comes to beach breaks. Now it's up to you to decide which one you'll visit during the school holidays.
Where to find a deal on family holidays online
1. Best for cheap local breaks: Groupon
A name that should be on every budget savvy parents' radar, Groupon is a daily deals website that sells it all - from household goods to holidays - and all at a bargain price.
Holiday packages come and go on the site - so keep your eyes peeled because big discounts for large parties are plentiful.
- New deals every day
- Local escapes from coastal beach breaks to snow trips available
- Instant online bookings for select holidays
2. Best all-rounder: Flight Centre
Practically a household name, Flight Centre is one of Australia's biggest travel agencies. What we love about it is that he has a special "family holidays" section online with discounted breaks during those peak school holiday periods.
- Packages are broken into September, December, April and June/July to cover all major school holiday dates
- Hotels are specially chosen with families in mind with many featuring connecting rooms and self-contained apartments
- Features cruise holiday breaks
3. Best for beach escapes: MyQueensland
100% Australian owned and based, TravelOnline understands Australians and their family's needs with holiday packages to suit every budget and family size. Many of its holiday packages include resort beach-blessed locations in or near Australia, such as Hamilton Island, Fiji, Bali and Vanuatu.
- Holidays often include "kids stay, play and eat for free" discounts in hotels as well as discounted child airfares
- Flights, accommodation and transfers are generally included in packages
- Family friendly accommodation often includes kids' clubs to keep little ones busy and amused all holiday long
Road trip ideas for families
Thinking of changing up the usual fly-and-stay holiday this year and taking the family for an adventure? We've put together some of our favourite road trip itineraries with details on where to stay and what to see along the way.
- New South Wales road trips
- Queensland road trips
- South Australia road trips
- Tasmania road trips
- Victoria road trips
- Western Australia road trips
- Australia road trips (Our favourite itinerary for each state)
Latest deals on family holidays
Flights within Australia from $34 each way
Available on flights from June - August 2021. Sample fare is Melbourne-Sydney with Jetstar. Destinations include Canberra, Cairns, Brisbane, Adelaide, Launceston, Newcastle and more.
Domestic flights from $55 return
Available on flights from June - August 2021 to Adelaide, Canberra, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Perth and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Melbourne with Jetstar.
Up to 50% off Australia-wide flights
Available on flights until September 2021 with Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar. Destinations include Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane and more.
Get $24 off car hires with code
Available on rentals until 31 October 2021 when you spend a minimum of $240. Destinations include Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast and more. T&Cs apply.
Queensland flights from $44 each way
Available on Jetstar flights from July 2021 - March 2022. Destinations include Cairns, Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Townsville, Sunshine Coast and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Gold Coast.
Up to 15% off domestic flights with code
Available on Australia flights until May 2022 when you book 7 days in advance. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and more. T&Cs apply.
Get $10 off Vivid Sydney experiences
Available from 6-28 August 2021 on activities including cruises, skywalks and more. Minimum spend of $300 required.
Vivid Sydney helicopter flight experience from $400
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 25-minute flight.
Up to 15% off Apollo Motorhomes rentals with code
Available on one-way rentals to Northern Territory from 12 July - 17 December 2021. Pick up locations include Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Broome, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. T&Cs apply.
Australia flights from $54 return
Available on flights from June - September 2021 to Gold Coast, Cairns, Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth, Alice Springs, Uluru and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Melbourne with Jetstar.
$39: Vivid Sydney Harbour Lights cruise
Available from 6-28 August 2021 for a 1-hour Sydney cruise with Captain Cook.
Australia-wide flights from $79 each way
Available on flights from 13 July 2021 - 31 March 2022 to Melbourne, Launceston, Gold Coast, Canberra, Darwin, Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Hobart, Adelaide and more. Sample fare is Ballina-Sydney. T&Cs apply.
Up to 10% rentals
Available on select rental dates in Australia. Offer exclusive to members only. T&Cs apply.
Extra 5% off adventures with code
Available on AAT Kings Guided Holiday or Inspiring Journeys tours from 1 June 2021 - 31 March 2022. Destinations include Hobart, Launceston, Uluru, Queenstown, Rotorua and more. T&Cs apply.
Up to 10% off 3-day rentals
Available on rentals until 11 December 2021 across Australia and New Zealand. T&Cs apply.
Up to 15% off hotels with code
Available on stays until 30 June 2022 when you spend a minimum of $150. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and more. T&Cs apply.
Get $15 off Australia activities with code
Available on all experiences until 31 December 2021 across Australia when you spend a minimum of $100. Activities include hot air balloon flights, skydives and attraction passes. Destinations include Sydney, Whitsunday, Cairns, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and more. Exclusive for new members. T&Cs apply.
Up to 20% off Australia and New Zealand rentals
Available on 2+ days rentals until 11 December 2021 when you book 21 days in advance. Destinations include Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Auckland and more. T&Cs apply.
Australia and New Zealand stays from $105 per night
Plus members get 10% off on stays until December 2021. Destinations include Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Uluru, Gold Coast, Queenstown, Wellington and more.
Up to 15% off 3+ night getaways
Available on select stay dates in 2021 across Australia, including Gold Coast and Brisbane.
Up to 30% off last minute getaways
Available on stays until 30 June 2021 across Australia, including Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and more.
Up to 15% off stays in Australia and New Zealand
Available on select stay dates in 2021 when you stay a minimum of 2 nights. Destinations include Gold Coast, Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Wellington and more.
Up to 50% off: Flights from $70 each way
Available on flights from June - September 2021. Sample fare is Melbourne-Adelaide. T&Cs apply.
Up to 53% off Australia getaways
Available on stays from June - July 2021 in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Gold Coast and more. T&Cs apply.
Up to 10% off Jucy rentals
Available on rentals from June - October 2021 across Australia. T&Cs apply.
Extra 10% off Sydney activities
Available until 31 August 2021, including during Vivid Sydney Festival, on activities such as hot air balloon flights, whale watching cruises, Sydney Opera House tours, attraction passes and more. T&Cs apply.
Australia-wide flights from $55 return
Available on flights until December 2021 to Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Hobart, Adelaide, Launceston and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Melbourne with Jetstar.
Up to 50% off Australia experiences
Available on select travel dates for activities including skydiving, hot air balloon flights, quad biking, scuba diving, whale watching, bridge climbing, high tea and more. Destinations include Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne and more.
Australia hotels from $52 per night
Available on stays until December 2021. Destinations include Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and more. Sample stay is at Darlinghurst area in Sydney.
Rex Airlines sale: Flights between Sydney and Melbourne from $39
Available on select flight dates until December 2021.
Up to 15% off Australia campervan hires
Available on rentals from May - December 2021. Destinations include Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. T&Cs apply.
Get 5% off campervan hires with code
Available on rentals until 31 March 2022 across Australia with Cheapa Campa, Star RV and Hippie Camper. Must book 180+ days in advance. T&Cs apply.
Up to 45% off activities and getaways
Available on select travel dates to destinations including Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne and more.
Up to 61% off Australia getaways
Available on select travel dates in 2021. Destinations include Canberra, Sydney, Hunter Valley, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Darwin, Adelaide, Perth and more.
Up to 50% off worldwide activities
Available on select travel dates until 2022 in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA, Paris, Japan and more. Activities include hop-on, hop-off bus tours, attraction passes, bike hires, sightseeing cruise and more.
Up to 15% off + $99 deposits on Australia adventures
Available on select travel dates until 2022. Destinations include Melbourne, Perth, Rottnest Island, Cairns, Darwin, Sydney, Byron Bay, Uluru, Canberra, Jindabyne and more.
Go Karting activities from $55
Available on select dates until December 2021. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Brisbane.
Up to 10% off flights
Available on select travel dates until December 2022. Must be booked 7 days prior to departure. Destinations include Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Broome, Darwin and more. T&Cs apply.
Get $50 off jumps with code
Available on 15,000ft tandem skydives from Tuesdays to Thursdays until 24 June 2021. Destinations include Cairns, Perth, Noosa, Melbourne, Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley and more. T&Cs apply.
Earn double points on stays
Available on stays until 30 September 2021 in Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Cairns, Brisbane, Broome, Sydney, Adelaide and more.
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