Are you heading to Canberra for Kanga Cup? Or planning a stopover on the way to the snow? Need a little help planning kid-friendly activities in our nation’s capital?

We asked the locals what families should do in Canberra. The best part? Most of the activities on this list are FREE. 

The Mitchell Family take us on adventures around Canberra with Families of Australia web series.

The Mitchell family are our resident Canberra experts, featuring on our Families of Australia web series. So what did the Mitchells have to say when we quizzed them on their top picks in Canberra?

The Arboretum

This unique attraction could be described as a museum of trees, but its calling card is its awesome playground.

“The play equipment is broken into different age groups from toddlers to teens,” said the Mitchells. “There’s a café and a coffee shop, but you can bring a picnic too. Fly a kite, take a walk, look at the Bonsai, check out the forests and the sculptures and buy nice things in the gift shop.”

Acorn playground

Acorn playground © National Arboretum/L. Muldoon

The National Museum of Australia

The Mitchells love the National Museum because it is suitable for all ages.

“It has fantastic seasonal exhibits so there is always something new to see.”

The Museum tells stories about the land, people and history of Australia, and the onsite K-Space is a virtual adventure designed for children.

The funky area outside the Museum is good for exploring

The funky area outside the Museum is good for exploring © Shutterstock/Philip Minnis

The National Gallery

“We love the National Gallery because there is so much to see and do.”

“You can go back again and again and still feel you haven’t seen everything. It also has a lovely café and gift shop. Don’t miss the James Turrell Sky Space at dawn or dusk – it is magical.”

Make sure you check out NGA Play, a dedicated kids’ space with activities related to current exhibitions. Next door to the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery is well worth a peek.

There are more sculptures like these funky pears inside the gallery

There are more sculptures like these funky pears inside the gallery © Shutterstock/TonyNg

The War Memorial

The War Memorial exhibits tell an interactive and informative story of Australia’s military history, from the ANZACs to Afghanistan. Read up on everything you need to see with this War Memorial guide.

Wall of Remembrance

Wall of Remembrance © Bound Round

Bus Depot Markets and local cafes

The Bus Depot Markets are a lovely Sunday morning outing, and the Mitchells recommend you stop in at Brodburger for lunch afterwards. The Kingston foreshore and suburb of Manuka are perfect for a brunch or a coffee.

“Braddon is a great place to wander around with lots of quirky little clothing stores, homewares and vintage fashion houses.”

According to the Mitchells, you should definitely stop at Fruggi for a delicious dessert.

“You cannot go wrong with the Salted Caramel ice cream!”

Bus Depot craft section on Sundays

Bus Depot craft section on Sundays © Shutterstock/TonyNg

Mountain Madness

The Mitchells recommend Mt. Ainslie for awesome views of the whole city, and Mt. Stromlo and Mt. Majura for their network of mountain biking trails.

Eager walkers can climb to the top of Mt. Ainslie for a panoramic view

Eager walkers can climb to the top of Mt. Ainslie for a panoramic view © Visit Canberra

Family Travel tip: Questacon

Ok, this one is NOT free. But you can’t do Canberra with kids and miss Questacon. This is Australia’s best interactive science and technology museum. Budding scientists will love the ever-changing array of intriguing experiments, fascinating demonstrations and interesting displays. For those aged six and under, Mini Q is a custom-built area designed for little people to explore science in their own way.

Questacon

Expect hands-on science at Questacon. Picture: Supplied

For more inspiration, read about the ideal 48 Hours in Canberra.