Visit Canberra: Best Weekend Ever
Canberra is full of surprises for families. Here is a taste of what's on offer in our nation's capital.
If you think you have discovered all that our nation's capital has to offer, it is time to look again. We've mapped out your ultimate family weekend escape to Canberra and it is full of surprises for young and old.
Kick your day off with coffee from the world's best barista
Parents of small children will want to start their day with a hot, strong, delicious coffee. Get yourself to The Cupping Room because they don't just serve you coffee, they heal you with coffee, with coffee scented hands in a coffee coloured wonderland run by the greatest coffee man in the world. No, seriously. Owner, Sasa Sestic was crowned the 2015 World Barista Champion. For real.
National Arboretum Canberra
Now that you're ready to face the world, gather your tribe and head up to the National Arboretum. Fun fact: arboretum means 'tree museum' which is basically a forest filled with dozens of native and rare, exotic tree species.
Not only will you get the best bird's eye view of Canberra but the Arboretum has one of the coolest playgrounds you'll ever see. Kids enter a magical world where they're tiny elves, clambering through giant acorns, making music in banksia pods and sliding down spiders webs. It's otherworldly. Just make sure you rug up because when you're playing among the clouds, you'll cop a breeze that comes straight off the Snowies. Brrr.
When you come down off the mountain, you need to head to Questacon because no child can come to Canberra without free-falling down a six-metre slide, rocking out in a simulated earthquake or playing air hockey with a robot. There's so much hands-on fun they won't even realise they're learning anything. There's even a special area for the tiniest baby scientists, so everyone can get involved.
Lunch at Brodburger
Canberra has some of the best fine dining restaurants in the country but let's be honest, your kids don't care about that. They want burgers. Well, they're in for a treat because we've also got the best burgers in the country. It's a fact. Brodburger used to be a quirky food truck in a carpark but they eventually had to make themselves a permanent fixture because Canberrans demanded it. It's now co-located with the Canberra Glassworks on Kingston, just a few metres from the Old Bus Depot Markets (Sundays only). Try a beef burger with brie cheese. Please. The portions are massive, so tiny tummies might only need half.
Cockington Green Gardens
After lunch, head north to Canberra's cutest attraction by far, Cockington Green Gardens; a whimsical village of miniature houses, castles, landmarks and cities that kids will adore.
If you have a choo-choo fanatic in the family, make sure you pay extra to catch the mini steam train that circles the international display.
Warning: this can be a stressful afternoon if you own a toddler who's likely to ignore the "do not touch the display" signs and go all Godzilla through the teeny English Village and swing from the top of the miniature Macchu Pichu. Even if it's really, ridiculously funny.
National Dinosaur Museum
If you have spare time, you might want to cross the road and check out the National Dinosaur Museum. It's a quaint little place with lots to delight the true dino-fanatic. Make sure you take a guided tour to get the most out of the experience. Big and little kids will love the huge dinosaurs grazing in the front garden.
Dinner on Lonsdale Street
Take the family to Lonsdale Street in Braddon for dinner at The Hamlet, where you'll wander through an urban village of street food stalls and food trucks. It's cheap, it's cheerful and no one will notice and/or care if your kids drop their dinner under the picnic tables. Everyone's a winner! Repeat after me: "One chanchito please Mr Papa". You'll thank me later.
Breakfast at Kingston Foreshore
Canberra has finally learnt to make use of its waterfront and the recently developed Kingston Foreshore has plenty to offer, from hipster crates and mason jars to wingback chairs and crystal glasses. Wander along the lake and you'll find the perfect spot to fill your bellies for the big day ahead.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Although the city has loads to offer, embrace being in the 'bush capital' and head down to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to get up close and personal with some bush babies. Kangaroos might not seem that exciting to you anymore, but kids love to see them jumping along. You could take a hike through the nature reserve and play a game of 'spot the koala'. You might even catch a glimpse of a platypus, which is officially Australia's cutest animal. According to me.
Tidbinbilla is a 40-minute drive south of Canberra so pack a picnic and take the whole morning to enjoy. Insider tip: Leave the apples at home unless you're fully prepared to battle an emu. Those big-beaked freaks go nuts for apples and if they see one, they'll run straight at you to get it. It's all fun and games until somebody wets their pants.
Head back to the city to finish up your weekend
If you have little ones, you could take them to the interactive PlayUp space at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. Older kids will love Kspace at the National Museum of Australia where kids design a time travelling robot and blast to a mystery location in Australia's past. The Australian War Memorial has a great, hands-on display for kids and the Canberra Museum and Gallery has a special activity table and reading nook for little people. The whole family could take a Segway tour around the lake or risk getting wet and hire some stand-up paddle boards. Grab a freakshake from Patissez Cafe, ride the iconic Civic Merry-Go-Round or play mini golf at Yarralumla Play Station.
Download the VisitCanberra app and build your own video itinerary for your next visit. You'll end up needing more hours in your day.