22 Jul 2020

Stay and play - things to do on the ultimate Darling Harbour family weekend

Need a staycation? We've done the work for you with this complete 48-hour weekend itinerary for things to do in sunny Sydney.
Stay and play - things to do on the ultimate Darling Harbour family weekend

When you live in one of the most popular destinations in the world, you don’t need to travel far for a holiday! If you’re keen to skip the plane journey and instead enjoy a Sydney staycation in Darling Harbour, we’ve got the perfect 48-hour plan for you.

Saturday Morning

Getting to Darling Harbour is super-duper easy, whether you prefer to walk, bike, drive, train, water taxi or ferry in. We reckon taking public transport is best, but there are heaps of secured car parks in the area too. Find out more about your transport options here.

Don’t worry about getting around once you’re here. Everything in Darling Harbour is never more than a short walk away.

To start your weekend, stroll over to Tumbalong Park or the Chinese Garden of Friendship. They’re just a 10-minute walk from the Harbourside Shopping Centre for a few coffee options. Or  take a mo’ to grab a coffee from award-winning Edition Coffee Roasters before you begin your journey. Take some time to admire the unique plants at the Garden, send the kids soaring on the Tumbalong jumbo swings - or both, you’ve got time!

Chinese Garden of Friendship
The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a tranquil retreat in the middle of the city, and one of the best things to do in Sydney.
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Edition Coffee Roasters
Delicious single origin coffee and Japanese inspired brunch in a rustic space.
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Harbourside Shopping Centre
Closed for redevelopment from January 2023
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Saturday Afternoon

After the Garden head down to Darling Square and pick from dozens of amazing new restaurants for lunch - our pick for a quick bite is the phenomenal chicken sandwich at Belles Hot Chicken. Afterwards we recommend heading back to the shopping centre to try your luck at Kingpin Bowling and M9 Laser Skirmish.

These are both located in the Harbourside Shopping Centre - which, by the way, also offers a great opportunity for some retail therapy before (or after) you show the kids who the real crack shot is. There’s a bit of everything, from homewares to jewellery to fantastic Aussie-designed fashion and the latest popular urban fashion. Go on, have a browse.

Saturday Evening

Time to end the day with a bang! Stick around at Harbourside Shopping Centre and spy out a restaurant that looks appealing. There’s Italian at Olivo, seafood at Blue Fish, Middle Eastern at Kazbah - just make sure you grab a seat with a view of the water and watch the twinkling lights of the city over the water.

To rest up after your big day, stay at Sofitel or Hyatt Regency. Sofitel is just around the corner from Harbourside, while Hyatt Regency is on the other side of the water. Both boast an incredible view over Darling Harbour. For other options, check out all the places to stay right in Darling Harbour.

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Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
French sophistication meets Aussie culture in this luxury Sydney hotel by Sofitel.
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Hyatt Regency Sydney
The iconic brand’s Sydney hotel is the city’s largest with stunning harbour views.
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Sunday Morning
We firmly believe that pancakes are an ‘anytime’ food. Pancakes on The Rocks seems to agree with us, being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But if you reckon pancakes are best enjoyed for breakfast, this is the place to carb-load for a busy Sunday. Find it on the corner of Harbourside Shopping Centre, next to the Pyrmont Bridge.

Once you and the kids are appropriately fueled, it’s time to let them loose on Darling Harbour again. Why not make today an educational day? Start by wandering to the Australian National Maritime Museum to see the latest exhibitions and find some great activities - you might inspire some creativity in the kids as well.
Pancakes on The Rocks - Darling Square
Pancakes are one of the most delicious all-time foods, no question. Taste Sydney’s best stacks and a full menu of breakfast, lunch & dinner classics at Pancakes on The Rocks.
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Sunday Afternoon
Once you’ve had your fill of art, head to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium or the Australian National Maritime Museum for turf, surf or ships. If you’re quick, you might even be able to hit more than one in the same arvo. The zoo and aquarium are right next to one another just over the water from Pancakes on The Rocks, while the Maritime Museum is just over the road.
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo
A trip to WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is one of the best things to do in Sydney for animal lovers and explorers. Get up close to fierce crocodiles, sleepy koalas and much more.
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SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
Get up close and personal with sharks, rays, dugongs and more at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
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Australian National Maritime Museum
Discover Australia’s fascinating maritime history and one of the world’s largest collections of floating museum vessels.
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Sunday Evening
Before you head back home, finish your awesome weekend with one last experience. From 6pm on Sunday, you can marvel at Luminous, the world’s largest interactive light installation. Sunday is one of the pre-programmed days, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. If you prefer to get hands-on (or let the kids get hands-on), head over on a Saturday or Friday instead when the power is handed over to the public via interactive consoles on the Village Greens.
Come to Darling Harbour and create your own unique light show, with the world’s largest interactive light display.
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No kids? Try these...
If you’re a single pringle ready to mingle or have managed to escape for a weekend with your partner, a staycation in Darling Harbour has some extra treats for you.
  • Head to Cafe Del Mar for a seriously classy dinner and drinks with panoramic harbour views from their terrace. 
  • Go clubbing at Home or Marquee (or both, you raucous devil).
  • Stay at The Darling for a rest in luxury or at one of the clutch of hotels at The Star for some dice-rolling, roulette-spinning fun.
  • Grab an intimate breakfast at Sofitel or evening drinks at one of their three (!!!) bars.
Once you’ve had your fill, it’s time to head home. We know, we’ll miss you too - but Darling Harbour isn’t going anywhere, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what this little slice of Sydney paradise has to offer! Hope to see you again soon.
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Cafe del Mar
Cafe Del Mar is a taste of Ibiza in Sydney, including a terrace where you can sip an Aperol Spritz while watching the sunset over the harbour.
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Home the Venue
At Home, you’ll find the biggest night in Sydney and some of the best DJs.
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The Darling
The Darling gets six stars out of five for opulent luxury and charming service.
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Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
French sophistication meets Aussie culture in this luxury Sydney hotel by Sofitel.
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