Ultimate guide to things to do in Darwin with kids

Make Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, your launch pad to the terrific Top End. Expect plenty of tropical sunshine, the best of Australia’s national parks, fascinating Indigenous culture, and a wealth of history. And the odd croc, of course!

In fact, where better to start your Darwin adventure than face to face with one of these prehistoric beasts? Enjoy a close encounter with the crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove, or in the wild on a jaw dropping Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River.

Crocodiles Darwin with kids
Crocodiles in Darwin. Picture: Shutterstock

Head to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to see stunning works of Indigenous art. Learn about Darwin’s WWII history and the bombing of Darwin at the Darwin Military Museum. Visit the Darwin Waterfront Precinct to peruse shops, cafes and restaurants and to watch the extraordinary sunsets over Darwin Harbour.

Darwin Harbour
Darwin Waterfront Wharf, Kitchener Bay, Northern Territory, Australia

Read more: Northern Territory adventures you need to try with kids

For a rich immersion in unparalleled landscapes, explore the Litchfield National Park, the Tiwi Islands and, of course, UNESCO’s World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. The latter is Australia’s largest land-based National Park. It is packed with stunning rocky ridges, lush flood plains, tranquil billabongs and croc-filled estuaries, as well as some of the best-preserved examples of ancient Indigenous rock art in the country. 

Kakadu is indeed home to some of the world’s oldest traces of culture and community, with Aboriginal rock paintings dating back to up to 20,000 years.  

Top 10 things to do in Darwin

  1. Get face to fang with a saltwater croc at Crocosaurus Cove.
  2. Float, surf or frolic in the Darwin Wave lagoon.
  3. Explore Indigenous art and artefacts at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
  4. Feed the fish at Aquascene on the Harbour foreshore.
  5. Take a trip to breathtaking Kakadu National Park.
  6. Go croc spotting on the Yellow Water Billabong.
  7. Enjoy all the fun activities of The Darwin Waterfront Precinct.
  8. Take a cruise for one of Darwin’s famous orange sunsets.
  9.  Stock up on tropical treats at Parap Markets.
  10. Swim in the natural waterholes at Berry Springs Nature Park.

Things to do in Darwin with...

Learning is hands-on at this awesome kid-friendly art and museum complex. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught

Best time to visit Darwin

In Darwin and Kakadu, there are six different seasons, based on Aboriginal knowledge of changes in the weather, which plants are flowering and what food is abundant. It is hot during the daytime all year around with a daily average of 32 degrees Celsius in December, the hottest month.

The dry season from April to October is the best time for travel to Darwin. The weather is beautiful and the skies are blue. The tropical summer (or wet season) runs from November to March, bringing regular downpours, high humidity, spectacular flooding and electrifying afternoon storms. On the plus side, the wet season brings the landscape and waterfalls to spectacular, lush green life.  It is also the cheapest time to visit Darwin. Hotels can be half the price at this time of year and there are hardly any crowds, so it’s an ideal time to visit if you’re are on a tighter budget.

Darwin Mindil Beach Markets

Darwin’s family-friendly places to eat

The food scene in Darwin is thriving. With incredible fresh produce and influences from a variety of cuisines, there’s no shortage of excellent restaurants, al fresco cafes, markets and food festivals.

From fresh Italian pasta and authentic Thai to fresh seafood and native delights including kangaroo, buffalo and crocodile, you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s a great selection of eateries at Stokes Hill Wharf and the Darwin Waterfront Precinct – which is a great place to enjoy a bite to eat as you watch one of Darwin’s epic sunsets.

Darwin’s open-air food markets are a dining must for foodie families. At Mindil Beach markets, dine on a selection of tasty treats from a large selection of food trucks and stalls along with street performers to entertain the kids. Try chomping on sme crocodile if you’re game! And be sure to head to Parap Village Market on Saturday mornings for a bowl of its legendry laksa. The selection of yummy treats and cool crafts available rivals that of Mindil, but the setting is completely different.

Located metres from the water, The Precinct is one of Darwin’s hottest places to eat. The wide-ranging menu features plenty of seafood, meats and vegetarian options, with small and big plates available – so there’s something to suit everyone and every appetite. The menu changes seasonally, so whatever you order, you can be sure it’s fresh and usually sourced from a local provider. For parents who are into craft beers, The Precinct has 46 taps to choose from. The all-weather outdoor deck is The Precinct’s newest addition, offering diners a lovely al-fresco space to enjoy their food along with Wave Lagoon views. 

free NT family activities
The NT has a fabulous selection of pools. Picture: Supplied.

Free fun in Darwin for families

  • Active families can enjoy a host of free activities in and around Darwin. There are plenty of safe walking and bike paths lined with playgrounds and picnic areas. The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens is a tropical paradise where you can explore or picnic under a canopy of tall palms. There’s also a fantastic playground with a plant maze, sand castle fort and a bamboo ambush trail for games of hide and seek.
  • Take a dip in the pristine waters at Berry Springs Nature Park, around a 40 minute drive from the city. Meander the Mindil Markets to enjoy free street performances including circus acts and musicians that are sure to entertain the kids. And it doesn’t cost a cent to enjoy one of Darwin’s epic sunsets; Mindil Beach, Cullen Bay and East Point Reserve are the top spots for the best views. Cullen Bay is only 10 or 15 minutes’ walk from the centre of town, with plenty of space to set up a picnic. And don’t forget that entry to the NT Museum and Art Gallery is totally free!

What’s on?

The best Darwin annual events for families

April – Territory Taste Festival

Enjoy two days of cooking demonstrations and master classes combined with family-focused entertainment and activities on the Darwin Waterfront.

June – Darwin Triple Crown V8 Supercars

Rev up and for the Darwin round of the V8 Supercar Championship.

July – Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta

Watch on as inventive Territorians build and race boats from recycled cans and milk cartons.

Darwin Festival Northern Territory

August – The Darwin Festival

An 18-day celebration of music, theatre, visual art, dance, cabaret and more.

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