The Central Mums Useful Lists are a quick reference to some of the most helpful, fun and important places in Central Coast. Our lists are continually updated and cover the best places for kids and parents across Central Coast.
Do you have post-summer holiday blues? The Easter break is still months away so the best thing to do is to plan a family weekend away before school goes back and summer is over. Here are the best places to visit within a three hour drive from the Central Coast, with several suggestions from Central Mums discussion group members:
1) Palm Beach and The Basin
Although technically part of Sydney, Palm Beach feels like a boutique coastal village and it’s just a short ferry ride from there to The Basin, a camping ground in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park which has access to a sheltered beach and a lagoon to swim in. It has gas barbecues, showers and toilets, so you don’t have to completely “rough it”.
Driving distance: Approximately an hour and a half. You can also get to Palm Beach by catching the ferry across from Ettalong. To get to the Basin you need to take the ferry from Palm Beach, take your own boat or hire a water taxi.
Activities: There’s plenty of things to do to fill up a weekend here. Besides swimming at the beach or the ocean pool at the southern end of Palm beach, kids can play at the playground at Governor Phillip Park at Barrenjoey Point, go on a whale watching boat tour, and walk up the Barrenjoey Headland’s lighthouse to see the amazing views. At the Basin there are stand up paddleboarding safaris or you can go snorkelling, or just float on an inflatable lounge in the shallow areas of the lagoon.
Accommodation: In Palm Beach there are hotels such as Barrenjoey House, Iluka apartments and the Metro Mirage in Newport. At The Basin all you need to do is call the national parks service and book a site.
Forster and Tuncurry are twin seaside towns separated by Wallis Lake on the mid NSW north coast, and they get really busy during the holiday periods because they are very well set up for families.
Driving distance: Just under three hours.
Activities: Definitely a place to do all things related to boating and fishing on the lake, plus there are lots of beaches and the ocean baths at Forster. At One Mile Beach you’ll find lots of kids sliding and boarding down the dunes and you can go horseback riding on the sand at Nine Mile Beach. There are lots of choices when eating out with kids and the Stocklands shopping centre is really well equipped. Big Buzz Fun Park is also a fun place for families to visit with waterslides, toboggans, go carts, laser tag and a pool, just 20 minutes away from town.
Accommodation: Pacific Palms and Tuncurry Lakes resorts, and Big 4 Great Lakes Park and North Coast Holiday Park Forster Beach for camping and cabins.
“We just got back from Forster. We camped at Tuncurry Beach and there was lots to do for the kids.” - Central Mums member
3) Port Stephens
Known for it’s quiet beaches and relaxed lifestyle, Port Stephens is definitely a destination preferred by families rather than backpackers, which means it’s always peaceful.
Driving distance: An hour and 15 minutes.
Activities: Lots of water activities at the beaches such as jet-skiing and snorkelling, and you can go on dolphin watching boat cruises and even swim with the dolphins on certain tours. You can hike up Mount Tomaree, go four-wheel driving over the sand dunes at nearby Stockton Beach, take a camel ride or catch the ferry across to the nearby Tea Gardens. There are also plenty of playgrounds in the area, and even a toboggan park and ten pin bowling to keep kids entertained on cold days.
Accommodation: Oaks Pacific Blue, Mantra Aqua, The Anchorage or Shoal Bay Holiday Park for cabins and caravans.
“The variety of beaches and different amusements make it great for lots of different types of families. You just can't beat floating in the calm waters in summer - just the best!” - Central Mums member.
4) Hunter Valley
The Hunter Valley is a mix of vineyards and national parklands, which means there is a huge range of things to do outdoors with kids.
Driving distance: One and a half hours to the valley and approximately two and a half hours to the Barrington Tops national park.
Activities: Kayaking, canoeing, bushwalking, horse riding, fishing and hot air balloons. There’s also putt-putt and the Hunter Valley Zoo and Gardens for younger children.
Accommodation: The Sebel Kirkton Park, Cypress Lakes Resort, Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens and Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. For families who love camping, there is The Steps campground or Gloucester Holiday Park, both at Barrington Tops.
“Perfect if your family is outdoorsy! Loved swimming in the river and exploring the bush at Barrington Tops!’ - Central Mums member.
Head south to Kiama, where there are just as many beautiful beaches as there are north, as well as the famous blowhole.
Driving distance: Just under three hours.
Activities: Of course kids will want to see the big and little blowholes (yes there are two), but did you know you can see the big blowhole in action at night? The viewing platform is floodlit up until 1am if you want to go after dark, or you can see it from above in daylight at Kiama lighthouse. You can also swim in the rock pools by Robertson Basin, explore the cave near Cathedral Rocks at low tide, and drive to Jervis Bay or Jamberoo Action Park. If you have a mid-week getaway you can shop at the quaint Farmers’ Market at Black Beach on the foreshore of Robertson Basin, which is open every Wednesday.
Accommodation: The Sebel Kiama, Big 4 Easts Beach Holiday Park and Kiama Harbour cabins.