It is believed that the name ‘Canberra’ comes from the Ngunnawal word for ‘meeting place.’ The description is indeed a great one. In Canberra, art, history, sport, food and nature combine to welcome uni students, public servants, families and tourists alike. Forget what you remember of your Year 6 excursion, because Canberra is well on its way to becoming a foodie’s and culture vulture’s seventh heaven.
Did you know Canberra has more restaurants and cafes per capita than any other Aussie city? Or that it is home to a museum of trees? Swap parliament for parks, playgrounds and cycle paths aplenty as you discover the weekend markets, museum collections, animal encounters and foodie hubs that make the city special. You might even have to take a vote if you want to fit something in for everyone on a family weekend to Canberra.
Canberra is 3 hours’ drive from Sydney, and 7 hours from Melbourne, via many a roadside fruit stall. In fact, it makes a great pit stop en route to the snowfields if you are a family of skiers. It is worth driving, as having a car is handy in Canberra as long as you can brave the sometimes-baffling roundabouts. However, without a vehicle of your own, you can make use of the ACTION public bus service as well.
Go wild alongside the animals at the National Zoo and Aquarium. Walk past the tigers, meerkats, snakes and more on a self-guided trip. You can also join a special animal encounter including a big cat encounter or a savannah safari.
For a different wildlife experience, head out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. This is a lovely way to spend a late afternoon or picnic lunch running around with tiny tots. Spot a platypus in the ponds or wallabies wandering by. Many of the trails are suitable for wheelchairs or Trail Riders. Tidbinbilla is about 45 minutes from central Canberra.
Try on this miniature attraction for size – it will be a perfect fit for your littlies! Cockington Green Gardens is located in Nicholls, just outside Canberra. The displays feature tiny versions of international locations and monuments, complete with little figurines. You can also jump aboard a miniature steam train for a ride. You must make a booking in advance.
Canberra is one of those rare destinations that you genuinely could visit at any time of the year, although try to time your visit for one of the city’s frequent festivals or special exhibitions. Expect to rug up in winter as it is known to receive the odd (rare) spot of snow. You’ll need a parka to combat the slicing winds atop Telstra Tower. Things heat up big time in summer, too. In both those seasons, make the most of the many indoor attractions. We love Canberra in autumn. The tree-lined streets and parks look their best as the foliage turns a brilliant red.
Whether you’re a Canberra local or just a frequent visitor, you’ve likely heard of Brodburger. Its reputation precedes its burgers, which are flame grilled, scrumptious and come in all shapes and sizes (including vegan and vegetarian). Add a side of onion rings, a milkshake and a run-around on their playground and you’re set! Brodburger has a venue in Kingston, near the Glassworks and in Capital Brewing Co. in Fyshwick.
Follow up your burger with something sweet from Frugii. Ever heard of a ‘dessert laboratory’? Sounds pretty cool, right? Open seven days a week in Braddon, this sugar heaven produces a weird and wacky and frequently changing menu of ice cream, gelato and sorbet, as well as cheesecakes and pastries. Try more unusual ice cream flavours such as ‘Vegemite on Sourdough,’ ‘Beetroot and paprika,’ or ‘Butter Chicken.’ Grease Monkey and Milky Lane are two more great Braddon picks.
In this story, we hear straight from kids and teens in Canberra about more top picks of places to eat.
Enlighten Festival – March
From the light installations and Night Noodle Markets to the Lights!Canberra!Action! film festival and the hot-air balloon Spectacular, everyone in the family will be glowing after these festivities.
Floriade – September/October
You’ll have a bloomin’ good time thanks to live music concerts, food tents, NightFest events after dark and over 1 million flowers on display. Read more about Floriade Festival in a previous year.
Summernats – January
More than 2500 of the craziest modified cars descend on Exhibition Park for this automotive lifestyle festival.
National Folk Festival – Easter long weekend
Thanks to music, dance, poetry and markets, you won’t leave this festival with the blues – unless a tune gets stuck in your head!
Canberra Nara Candle Festival – October
Learn calligraphy, make a lantern and listen to Japanese music before lighting a candle in solidarity with Canberra’s sister city, Nara.
Join WILDFest 2019 for an exclusive pop-up sleep-out experience designed especially for families in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Canberra.
From Shrek animations to deep-sea dinosaurs, awesome exhibitions are popping up in museums and galleries around Australia this summer.
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