Darwin is a pretty amazing place to raise kids. The lifestyle, all the possible outdoor adventures and there are many free things to do with kids in Darwin. I have grown up in Darwin, so when I decided to start thinking about having my own family (all those years ago now….) I actually decided Darwin would be a good place to raise a family rather than a big city down south. We know our neighbours and I love how they all ride their bikes together in our court. So Darwin Family Life has rounded up our Top 10 FREE things to do with kids in Darwin.
Top 10 FREE things to do with kids in Darwin
We are truly lucky how family orientated Darwin is and have so many things to do with kids in Darwin available. Besides our round up below there are also lots of family friendly events happening which you can find on our calendar of events here
Howard Springs Nature Park
Howards Springs Nature Park is one of my fav spots to take my kids swimming. Perfect for toddlers and young kids as the man made rock pools are shallow and only about knee height on an adult.
Address: 465 Howard Springs Rd, Howard Springs
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
The Museum and Art Gallery of the NT (MAGNT) is a great place to take the kids for a couple of hours. One of the huge benefits is that it is indoors and air con! Which in some of our weather can be a complete blessing! My kids love watching the turtles and fish in the section outside, to the left of the front entrance in the Monsoon Gardens. Every Thursday morning at 10am there is also FREE turtle feeding! My kids love visiting the regular exhibits like Sweetheart (pictured above), the sea life area and the boats displayed. Plus viewing any new or visiting exhibitions.
The MAGNT Discovery Centre is a fun and creative space for kids and families. Drop in daily from 1.30-4pm for free activities; pull up a comfy bean bag and explore the children’s book and puzzle library or just enjoy a bit of quiet time out with your youngsters.
Open: Daily 10am to 4pm, Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Good Friday
Address: 19 Conacher St, The Gardens
Fish Feeding at Cullen Bay
If you are looking for something to do with the kids, midweek or even on the weekends, head down to Cullen Bay, to the Boatshed Cafe. You can grab a bite to eat or a coffee and while you are there the kids can feed the fish for free off the boardwalk. The cafe supplies free bread and my kids love watching all the different fish gobble up the bread. Just another idea of things to do with kids in Darwin.
Open: Cafe open daily 7:30am to 3pm
Address: 56 Marina Blvd, Larrakeyah
Waterparks, Recreation Lagoon and waterplay
We are very lucky to have not one but TWO absolutely FREE waterparks to enjoy! The Recreation and waterparks are located in Leanyer and Palmerston. The Leanyer recreation park is currently under construction with new waterslides being constructed. The shallow swimming area is another spot to enjoy plus the new and improved dry playground has been finished! The skatepark ramps is also a fun activity my kids enjoy with their scooters or bikes.
The Palmerston water park has six-lane racer water slides which is 14m high and 100m long! The park also has wet play area, sprays and shallow wading pools for families and toddlers to enjoy. There is a wet play area for older kids with water cannons and bucket. There is BBQ’s and shaded picnic areas for families and the skate park area as well.
The Darwin Waterfront has a FREE recreation lagoon and beach area for families to enjoy. The lagoon is regularly replenished with fresh sea water, which is filtered through fine mesh screens that maintain the high water quality and help stop marine stingers coming in. In the Wet Season, a stinger net also helps protect the lagoon on the beach side.
There is a small waterplay fountain area also at The Quarter at Casuarina Square (247 Trower Road). Which is perfect for young kids and toddlers to enjoy! Pack a spare change of clothes or bathers. The push buttons operate the water spray and ball fountain.
Address: Leanyer Recreation Park, 215 Vanderlin Dr, Leanyer. Open: 9am to 8pm Wed – Sun (dry playground and areas open Monday and Tuesdays)
Address: Palmerston Waterpark, Roystonea Ave, Palmerston. Open: Daily 9am to 6pm except Good Friday and Christmas Day)
Address: Darwin Waterfront Recreation Lagoon, Kitchener Dr, Darwin City
George Brown Botanic Gardens
Our Botanical gardens are a truly beautiful place. Just two kilometres north of Darwin city and open 7am to 7pm daily. Entry is via Geranium Street or Gardens Road car parks. The Botanic Gardens boast many pathways and lovely shady areas to explore and have an adventure. Why not pack a picnic lunch or check out Eva’s Cafe.
The kids playground area has some great things to keep the kids busy. The massive treehouse to climb up or the rope swing plus all the lovely shady areas to explore.
Why you are at the Gardens, make sure you check out the fantastic crocodile statue and the dinosaurs up in the top gardens area!
Address: Gilruth Ave & Gardens Rd, The Gardens
Playgrounds and Indoor playcentres
We have some fantastic playgrounds around Darwin and the rural areas. Our top two favourites would have to be Anula Regional Playground and Bicentennial Park on the Esplanade in the city. These are both great for all ages – from toddlers to older kids! The massive 10m slide at Bicentennial park still scares me sometimes when the kids climb up there! There has been a few occasions I have had to climb up and rescue a child (in a dress was interesting one time lol). Check out all the other playgrounds featured here
Another great Indoor FREE playground is at Jape. The Village Central Markets and Indoor Playground is located in the Japehomaker village complex, it is FREE, air conditioned and indoors. Perfect for all year round use.
Address: Jape 365 – 366 Bagot Road, Millner, Open: Wednesday to Sunday 9am to 2pm
Berry Springs Nature Park
Berry Springs Nature park is a short drive, approximately 30 minutes from Darwin. It is one of the most beautiful parks to cool off and relax in close to Darwin. There is large grassy, shaded park areas to enjoy a BBQ or picnic with your family. Enjoy the clear swimming pools and a small waterfall, surrounded by trees and aquatic life. I like taking noodles along for the kids to swimming as some of the swimming areas are quite deep. There is toilet facilities available.
Please Note that Berry Springs swimming areas close during the wet season. Always check this website to see if a park/swimming area is open or closed.
Open: Daily 8am to 6pm.
Address: Berry Springs Nature Reserve, Berry Springs
Fannie Bay Gaol
If you are feeling like a bit of a history, why not take the kids to the Fannie Bay Gaol. The gaol operated as Her Majesty’s Gaol and Labour Prison, for almost 100 years, and is listed as a historic site. The gallows remain on public view, and visitors can push the lever that operated the trap. The prison was damaged, along with much of Darwin, by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Fannie Bay Gaol has now been turned into a Museum, open to the public and free to visit.
Address: Corner East Point Rd &, Ross Smith Ave, Fannie Bay
While we may not be able to swim freely in our ocean because of crocodiles and stingers during certain times of the year. I still love taking my kids to the beach, to explore and play. To build sandcastles and explore rock cliffs. Our two favourite beaches are Casuarina Beach aka Casuarina Coastal reserve for the rock cliff areas and the beach near Cullen Bay as it also has a large grassed area for the kids to kick a ball and have a picnic on.
Address: Casuarina Coastal Reserve, 445 Trower Rd, Brinkin
Address: Cullen Bay beach, 51 Marina Blvd, Larrakeyah
We have some great markets in Darwin that are very unique and nowhere else has markets like us. There is the famous Mindil beach markets that run during the Dry season which is great to take visitors along to, and enjoy sitting on the beach with some delicious market food. Or you can venture to one of our smaller local markets that are on all year round. My favourite family friendly market would have to be Nightcliff markets. They are on every Sunday in the Nightcliff shops area, open from 6am to 2pm. The best thing about Nightcliff markets is often the live music by many local artists and the small kids playground in the centre. Visitng Nightcliff markets can be a fairly relaxing way to spend Sunday. Check out some of our other great markets here.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our Top 10 FREE things to do with kids in Darwin and gives you many ideas of places to explore and enjoy with your family!