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Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra!

Are you craving some family fun bonding time? Parent’s Guide Illawarra short cut’s you to the top ten things for kids to do in Wollongong and the Illawarra (we snuck Jamberoo Action Park in there, too!). We have a range of indoor and outdoor fun activities to give you some ideas. Ditch the screens and devices and get amongst our top Illawarra family-friendly attractions.

For more of Wollongong’s family fun places to go, read 26 Fun Places to take Kids across the Illawarra

UOW’s Science Space

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Science Space

UOW is reaching out and creating learning spaces that are hands-on and fun. Here at Science Space, children learn by doing and experimenting. It is fantastic for primary-aged children. It has a planetarium, and this is a great experience. The staff take you to space to explore planets and moons. Science shows are on during the day. These include experiments using liquid nitrogen, discovering the wonder of bubbles, and more. There is a cafe outside and a lovely outside area. The staff are helpful and enjoy teaching young people the wonders of science. The installations here are fun and interactive; my children love it here. The yearly memberships are very affordable if you are going to visit two or three times a year.

Treetops Adventure Nowra

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Treetops Adventure Nowra

Situated close to the beautiful Shoalhaven River, this is a Treetops Adventure Nowra not to be missed. The staff are helpful and encouraging to children and climbers of all ages and levels. The views are stunning, and the park has courses for all ability levels, from beginner to expert. Enjoy the zipline through the treetops or a climb to test your fear of heights. Or stick to something in your comfort zone. Whatever you decide, you are sure to have a fantastic day here.

Illawarra Performing Arts Centre

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – IPAC

The Illawarra Performing Arts Centre (IPAC) have amazing shows year-round for all age groups. It is always an exceptional experience when I take my kids to a live performance, and the IPAC is the perfect venue. Every seat feels close to the stage, and the atmosphere is beautiful.
Most recently, we took our kids to watch “Just Live On Stage”, based on the books by Andy Griffiths and Andy Denton. It was fantastic and the perfect length for my kids. I can’t wait to take the kids to another performance at the IPAC.

Wollongong Botanic Garden

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Wollongong Botanic Garden

Go exploring! What’s your favourite zone? The rainforest? Desert? Rose garden? Japanese tea house and bridge? Bring frozen peas to feed the ducks, water dragons and eels (no bread, as it makes the animals sick). Have a picnic in the Japanese tea house. There is a fantastic, enclosed park with a maze and sandpits for all abilities. Wollongong Botanic Garden is beautiful and has so much to explore. They also have a coffee van near the playground at the Murphys Avenue entrance daily from 9 am-2 pm. You can even buy some native plants at the native plant sale. See their website for details here!  For younger children; the gardens host a monthly storytime on a Friday for $5 per child plus a booking fee. Click here to book!

UOW’s Early Start Discovery Space

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – UOW Early Start Discovery Space

A hands-on science museum, and my family’s absolute favourite. The Early Start Discovery Space blows my mind every time I go there. It is phenomenal and the staff are very welcoming. When I was pregnant or had babies, I loved taking my kids there. I could find a quiet space and watch my kids play for hours. Now, many years later, my children still love it and get lost in play and learning. Inside is full of hands-on play-based educational activities aimed at up to 12-year-olds. These include a Lego room, construction site, cargo ship, archaeological zone, and more. I loved it especially because I had a membership. It felt like a free weekly outing that was stress-free and kept everyone happy. Membership also means you have access to parking. This is underneath the Discovery Space. It makes loading and unloading the children and supplies easy.

Without a membership, there is still free parking. This is in the university carpooling car park, a short walk from the Discovery Space. There are lockers inside to store everything you need for a day out. It felt like a free weekly outing where I could relax guilt-free, and the children were happy to play and explore. In the enclosed outside area there is a cafe, creek and play equipment. What’s not to love?

HARS Aviation Museum

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – HARS Aviation Museum

Do you and your children love planes? Gets up close and personal with some at this fantastic Aviation Museum at Albion Park. A guide will walk you through operational hangars, and take you up close to historic planes. Explore some of the planes and learn about how they work. HARS Aviation Museum is a must for any plane enthusiast, young or old!

Jamberoo Action Park

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Jamberoo Action Park

Get set for an action-packed day out! What an adventure Jamberoo Action Park is. It has something for everyone, from thrill-seekers to the more timid. Waterslides galore, taboggans, a chair lift, and a beach with a wave machine. Grab your season passes so you can make it a weekly event! There are heaps of picnic tables, areas to sit and eat, or cafes onsite. Click here to learn more.

The Nan Tien Temple

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Nan Tien Temple

Entry to the Nan Tien Temple grounds is free. A slow walk around the grounds is a serene experience. You can look at the buildings, including the Great Compassion Shrine and the lotus pond. The temple also has a vegetarian restaurant where you can buy an inexpensive lunch. It is a beautiful, peaceful experience to visit. A health and wellbeing market is on the first Saturday of every month. Activities at the market include free tai chi, mindfulness, meditation, and live music.

Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures

Visiting the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures is a beautiful, fun and peaceful experience. There is something so wonderful about being among the treetops. You might even spot a tawny frogmouth if you look carefully. The bush walk there is on a solid path, but there are some steep parts. This walk is accessible to all and has ramps for easy access. At the entry point, there is an excellent cafe with tables, or pack a picnic and have lunch together along the way. The view from the top of the tower is extraordinary. And for the adventurous, they have a zipline to travel between the trees

Bush Walks

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Maddens Falls, Darkes Forrest.

Being in the bush can be very therapeutic. Why not explore some of these local spots? Please encourage your children to stop and look around them. Pack a scavenger hunt for different leaves or creatures. Take a camera and get them to look for things that interest them and capture their attention. Point out the light in the trees or how the water rushes over the rocks in a rock pool. Please encourage your children to pay attention to their surroundings. They might find an echidna or notice a kookaburra in a tree. Doing this connects them to nature and refreshes their energy. Below are a few my children and I frequent to inspire you.

Cascade Falls This gorgeous walk is at the bottom of Macquarie Pass. If you’re quiet, you might see an echidna. There are shallow rock pools to play in along the way. A short 2-km walk though steep in places. It is easy for children ages four and over to explore, with a beautiful waterfall at the end. There’s also plenty of space for a picnic before or after the walk.

Kelly Falls walk and picnic area. This beautiful walk is right near the Helensburgh turn-off along the Princes Highway. Bring hats, sunscreen, drinking water, and clothes that can get wet or dirty. This walk is steep in places but a delight to do.

For more inspiration for bush walks in the Illawarra see the links below or read our 8 of the best, family-friendly bushwalks in the Illawarra here

Beaches & Rockpools

Top 10 things to do with kids in Wollongong & the Illawarra – Parents Guide Illawarra – Coalcliff Ocean pool

Find a beach and explore the rock pools. Paddle your toes in the waves or build a sandcastle. Most beaches have a full-sized pool for doing laps, swimming, or playing in. They are not patrolled, though, so you must always watch your children. With so many beaches to explore, you could visit a new one every day. Check tide levels, and you could explore the same one at different times for a new experience.

Make it a healing experience: Take your shoes off, feel the sand on your feet and hands, and touch the water. Look at the crab holes in the sand, watch for dolphins or whales, and look at the ships. Find a jetty where boats come in and look for stingrays or pelicans. Get there for sunrise, watch in wonder the colours in the clouds and sky, and feel the sun’s warmth on your skin. Be present and mindful, slow down and allow your nervous system to reset. Many beaches even let you bring your fur baby.

After more family-friendly beach inspiration? Read our Best Beaches & Swimming Spots Wollongong, Illawarra and South Coast here

Finally, make the most of family life in our stunning Illawarra – Subscribe to the ultimate guide to family living weekly email by Parents Guide. Say NO to bored kids and get inspired! Click and sign up for our Parents Newsletter here. Get all the local inspiration!

Check out these articles below for more ideas on things to do and places to see in Wollongong or the Illawarra (and surrounds):

About the Author: Lisa Hagan
Lisa grew up in Thirroul and is a mum of four children. A student to life, Lisa loves learning and searching for the most fun things to do with her kids. She loves exploring the Illawarra and its surroundings. Searching for fun and educational activities is her favourite for her kids whom she homeschools. 

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