Discovering new adventures with your loved ones is always a delightful experience. In Sydney, there are several places you can explore.
The areas within a three-hour journey of the city provide a treasure trove of exciting possibilities, from pristine beaches and breathtaking national parks to charming country towns and rural landscapes.
In this article, we’ll unveil day trips from Sydney for families, showcasing remarkable destinations that combine natural beauty, cultural immersion and good old Aussie character.
So if you have some time on your visit to the Emerald City, why not take the opportunity to embark on a day trip?
As you will discover, there are lots of destinations near Sydney where unforgettable moments await.
Hiring a Car in Sydney
You can’t make any day trips from Sydney by car if you don’t have one! So if you plan to enjoy a family holiday there, it is worth hiring a car. Thankfully this is easy to do in the city as most major car rental companies have offices there – including Hertz, Avis, Budget and Thrifty.
The airport is the most accessible place to hire a car as you will find all the major players located there. However, throughout the city, they also have offices. Some even have a presence in hotels as well.
You can search available options here with our trusted partners Discover Cars.
Most companies offer vehicles, from saloons and hatchback cars to SUVs and minivans. Which type you get is up to you and should depend on where you intend to go on your short road trips from Sydney.
Note if you are coming from overseas, you will need a valid driver’s license from your home country in English or an International Driving Permit (IDP) if required. It’s essential to review the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, including insurance coverage, fuel policy, mileage limits, and any additional fees. You are advised to get fully comprehensive insurance to ensure you are covered should an accident occur.
Day Trips From Sydney
Once you have hired a vehicle, here are some of the best day trips from Sydney to consider with the family in tow.
The Royal National Park (M1 and Princes Hwy)
- Distance: 35 km
- Driving Time: 50 Minutes
One of the shorter day trips you can do from Sydney on this list is the one to the Royal National Park.
As one of the oldest national parks in the world, it is a sprawling and ruggedly beautiful natural oasis that lies only 50 minutes from the city.
Kickstart your time there by exploring the park’s extensive network of walking trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes. Be sure to visit iconic sites such as the Figure Eight Pools or the Wedding Cake Rock, known for their unique rock formations and coastal views.
The park is also home to diverse wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for native birds, wallabies and even the odd whale, which occasionally can be seen during migration seasons.
Bowral (Via Hume Motorway/M31)
- Distance: 120 km
- Driving Time: 2 hours
A family day trip from Sydney to Bowral will take you on an enchanting journey through the picturesque landscapes of the Southern Highlands.
Bowral is a delightful country town that offers a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Once there, you’ll find a place within the idyllic surroundings of rolling green hills, lush gardens and blooming flowers.
Bowral is also a hub of artistic and cultural experiences. Prepare to be seduced by its charming boutiques, antique shops and art galleries while strolling through the town’s main streets.
If you are a cricket fan, you’ll want to check out The Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame. It offers a fascinating historical insight into the game through its memorabilia displays.
Foodies are in for a culinary adventure, as the town boasts a range of cosy cafes, gourmet restaurants and local wineries championing the best local produce.
For those who love flowers, the vibrant floral displays and peaceful picnic spots at Corbett Gardens are sure to impress.
Berrima (Via Hume Motorway/M31)
- Distance: 160 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Berrima is a charming village in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales that transports visitors back in time with its well-preserved colonial architecture and tranquil atmosphere.
Featuring streets lined with sandstone buildings, one of the first places you should visit is the Berrima Courthouse Museum. There you can learn about the area’s fascinating penal history. Kids will also love the interactive exhibits and the chance to dress in traditional courtroom attire.
Similarly, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Berrima Gaol. A former prison that now offers guided tours, allowing you to delve into its intriguing past.
For those wanting to stretch their legs in nature, the Berrima Reserve is a lovely spot. It accommodates a picturesque park with walking trails, picnic areas, and a serene river.
To satisfy your taste buds, Berrima offers a variety of family-friendly dining options, including charming cafes and traditional country pubs. Most of which offer delicious homemade treats and local delicacies.
Palm Beach (Via Barrenjoey Rd)
- Distance: 45 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour
If you are a fan of the popular Australian soap opera Home and Away, you’ll want to drive from Sydney to Palm Beach.
Home of the fictional Summer Bay, this delightful coastal town is known for its golden sands, crystal-clear waters and iconic heritage.
The patrolled beach is excellent for swimming, building sandcastles, sunbathing and playing beach games. It is also a notable spot for water activities, with several operators renting kayaks, paddleboards and fishing equipment.
For those wanting adventure, climb the Barrenjoey Headland to visit the historic Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The short hike offers panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding coastline, providing a perfect photo opportunity for the whole family.
When you are hungry, several local cafes and restaurants in the area serve delicious meals, which you can enjoy with stunning ocean views.
Be sure to take the kids to Governor Philip Park as well. You’ll find a well-equipped playground there that will amuse them all day!
Thirlmere (Via Hume Motorway/M31)
- Distance: 110 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
One of the best Sydney day trips for those with children is the one to Thirlmere.
The quaint village resides in New South Wales’s beautiful countryside, offering a delightful escape into a world of heritage and outdoor adventure.
One of the main drawcards there is the New South Wales Rail Museum, a paradise for train enthusiasts of all ages. Kids will love to explore its impressive collection of locomotives and carriages and even hop aboard a historic steam train for a memorable ride through the picturesque countryside.
Another family-friendly attraction is the Trainworks Museum, where kids can engage in interactive exhibits, learn about the history of trains and even enjoy a ride on a miniature railway.
Nature lovers will want to visit Thirlmere Lakes National Park. It is home to five tranquil lakes and is an excellent spot for walking, bird watching and family picnics/barbecues.
Blue Mountains (Via M4)
- Distance: 60 km
- Driving Time: 1 hour
A family-friendly day trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains is a must.
The Blue Mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed area renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and stunning vistas. If you can only complete one of these family-friendly day trips from Sydney, make it this one.
Your first port of call on arrival should be the magnificent Three Sisters rock formation in Katoomba. Take the panoramic views from Echo Point lookout and learn about the Aboriginal legends surrounding this majestic landmark.
Next, venture into the heart of the Blue Mountains National Park, where you’ll find numerous family-friendly walking trails suitable for all ages and fitness levels. You will discover hidden waterfalls and ancient rainforests on them while encountering unique wildlife.
For an unforgettable experience, hop aboard the Scenic Railway at Scenic World, the steepest passenger railway in the world. You can also enjoy thrilling rides on the Skyway and Cableway, offering unparalleled views of the vast valleys and towering cliffs.
Port Stephens (Via M1)
- Distance: 208 km
- Driving Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Port Stephens is a stunning coastal region with an exciting blend of activities and natural beauty. Situated just two and a half hours north of Sydney, it boasts gorgeous azure waters, immaculate beaches and abundant marine life.
The region is famous for the imposing Stockton Sand Dunes, a vast expanse of golden sand that stretches for miles. On them, you can enjoy an adrenaline-fueled sandboarding experience or take a leisurely camel ride along the dunes for a unique perspective.
Afterwards, head to Nelson Bay in the heart of Port Stephens for a dolphin-watching cruise. Witnessing these playful creatures in their natural habitat is mesmerizing!
The gentle waters of Port Stephens provide an ideal playground for kayaking, jet skiing or parasailing. Alternatively, animal lovers should check out the Australian Reptile Park in nearby Somersby, where you can get up close and personal with snakes, kangaroos and koalas.
Hunter Valley (M1)
- Distance: 245 km
- Driving Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region, located approximately two hours north of Sydney, and it is home to vineyards, cellar doors and breathtaking scenery.
Contrary to what you might think, you will find many family-friendly wineries there, providing you with the opportunity to enjoy a stroll through the vineyards, participate in grape stomping activities and indulge in wine tastings (non-alcoholic options available for children). Some wineries also offer playgrounds, picnic areas and beautiful gardens for families to relax and enjoy a meal together.
Elsewhere, the Hunter Valley Gardens is a stunning 60-acre garden with themed sections, including a storybook, fairytale and sensory garden. If you visit it, your kids will love the playgrounds and garden train rides.
A visit to the Hunter Valley Zoo is a must for animal lovers. You’ll have the opportunity to meet native Australian wildlife and exotic species and even interact with some of them through the zoo’s hands-on experiences.
Top Tips For Planning a Road Trip from Sydney
- If you don’t want to drive to Bowral, take a train there from Sydney. The scenery along the way is fantastic.
- When travelling to the Blue Mountains, consider spending a night in nearby Katoomba or Leura. Doing this will allow you to take in crystal-clear views of the cosmos at the park after dark.
- Filming for Home and Away usually takes place on Mondays and Tuesdays in Palm Beach. So if you time your visit for then, you have a good chance of appearing in the background on the show!
© Family Road Trip