Hobart

Ultimate guide to things to do in Hobart with kids

Located on the Derwent River in Tasmania, the state’s historic and scenic state capital, Hobart, is a perfect place to immerse the kids in culture, history and the great outdoors with a few surprises along the way.

Hobart is situated at the foothills of the Wellington Ranges, giving easy access to Mount Wellington for spectacular views of the city. You can drive to the top and mountain bike your way down the winding 21-kilometre trail to the bottom. Or perhaps you’d rather take a hike in Mt Field National Park or roar down the wild Huon River rapids on a jet boat.

Much of the city of Hobart was built in the 1800s, and besides the many stunning heritage buildings, you will find great galleries, fantastic cafes, superb markets and plenty of wilderness to explore.

Picture: The spectacular view from the top of Mount Wellington / Shutterstock

Salamanca Place is one of Tasmania’s most visited attractions and you’ll find cool cafes and kid-friendly restaurants plus galleries and craft shops and a colourful Saturday market with great food and entertainment for the whole family.

The Museum of Old and New (MONA) is Hobart’s biggest drawcard. The unique gallery is packed with a private collection of quirky exhibits that will keep every member of the family entertained. There’s also the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and The Maritime Museum of Tasmania, dedicated to the history of Tasmania’s history at sea and ships. And keen cricketers will want to head to the Tasmanian Cricket Museum at Blundstone Arena.

Top things to do in Hobart

You’ll find plenty to see and do see in Hobart for all ages. Here are ten of the best.

  1. Explore the intriguing collection at Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). 
  2. Stroll along Hobart’s historic waterfront.
  3. Enjoy a picnic in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
  4. Meet a Tasmanian Devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.
  5. Shop at Salamanca Markets.
  6. Get hands on at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG).
  7. Head on safari at ZooDoo Zoo.
  8. Sail in to the Maritime Museum of Tasmania.
  9. Cycle down Mount Wellington.
  10. Zip along the Huon river’s white-water rapids on a jet boat.

Things to do in Hobart with…

You’ll find more than 100 playgrounds and parks in greater Hobart, guaranteeing plenty of fun for little visitors.  Fans of Thomas the Tank Engine will love train-themed Caldew Park, which is also popular for its pretty bush setting, shaded areas and fenced playground. While wee buccaneers will want to swashbuckle their way to Princes Park, a pirate-boat themed play area and sloping gardens at the top of the Salamanca strip.  

Long Beach Playground is another firm favourite for the pre-school set with its rambling network of platforms, steps, slides and ramps on the Lower Sandy Bay Foreshore. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is another great place to stretch little legs. There is plenty of grass to run about on, meandering pathways, grand arches, Japanese gardens, herb and vegetable gardens, and loads of activities and programmes for kids throughout the year.

Kids will love the friendly animals at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, a sanctuary dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned animals just 30 minutes north of Hobart. Bonorong operate Tasmania’s only 24-hour wildlife rescue service and visitors can pat and feed the park’s free-roaming kangaroos and wallabies as well as spy a variety of native animal species including koalas, wombats, quolls, and Tasmanian devils.

Or for a uniquely interactive animal experience, visit the cool Zoodoo Zoo, 20 minutes form Hobart, in Richmond. Here you can ride the safari bus and get up close and personal with the wide variety of exotic and native animals that call it home.

While you are in Richmond, the kids will also enjoy visiting the Old Hobart Town Historical Model Village, a scale model of Hobart in the 1820s, getting lost at the Richmond Maze and Tea Rooms, and satisfying their sweet tooth at Sweets & Treats, an old style lolly store.

The Museum of Old and New Arts (MONA) opened in 2011 by David Walsh, is Australia’s largest private museum and one of the most controversial collections of modern art and antiquities in the country. While some of the content is adult themed, there’s a map to advise where parental discretion is needed and its awesome interactive displays like the bouncy musical trampoline and bizarre poo machine are always a hit with kids. 

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is a combined museum, art gallery and herbarium preserving Tasmania’s natural and cultural heritage. While it is Australia’s second-oldest museum, the museum is now a modern interactive space where families can enjoy a dedicated programme with hands-on resources including learning tools designed to help with exploring the museum.

 Junior train spotters will love the Tasmanian Transport Museum and its collection of antique steam and traction engines.  And sporting fans will love the Tasmanian Cricket Museum at Blundstone Arena.

Get on you bikes and head to Hobart. Keen cyclers and active adventurers will love the epic Mt. Wellington Descent, a family friendly cycling route that will see you descend 21 winding kilometres from the top of Mount Wellington. The view from the top of distant mountain ranges and the city below are nothing short of spectacular. Less adventurous families might prefer to grab a cycle map of Hobart and hire an electric bike to make traversing Hobart’s hills a breeze.

For thrills on the water, why not enjoy the ride of your life on Australia’s only white-water rapids jet boat on the Huon river, just 30 minutes from Hobart. And those who’d rather chills than thrills can enjoy a spooky journey through the historic city’s oldest landmarks while hearing legends of ghosts and ghouls on a ghost tour.

Hobart Kayak Tour

Best time to visit Hobart as a family

Summer is the most popular time to visit Hobart, the capital of Australia’s most southern state. Noted as the second-driest capital city in Australia in terms of rainfall behind only Adelaide, temperatures hover around an average 21 degrees Celsius during December and January making it pleasant but not too hot for exploring. During this period, the city hosts many of its festivals and events such as the annual Taste Festival, so you make need to book accommodation in advance

Don’t overlook the other seasons. From autumn to spring you can find some great deals on accommodation and activities and there’s still plenty to attract families. No other state displays colours in autumn like Tasmania. Winter is cold and a little wet, however you get to play in the snow in some parts. And in Spring, gardens and parks blossom their welcome to the onset of the warmer weather.

The thermal pool is a perfect compliment to chilly Hobart. Picture: Supplied.

Family-friendly places to eat in Hobart

There is plenty of good, quality food to be found in Hobart. Flanked by the Southern Ocean and fertile farming lands, cafes and restaurants offer fresh seasonal food in creative ways.

Hobart has become a mecca for many chefs with new and exciting restaurants and cafes popping up throughout the city. Along the waterfront, you’ll find the best and freshest seafood, while at any market you’ll find delicious produce from farmers and producers as well as talented chefs.  

There are some great family friendly pubs too serving up extensive, healthy kids menus with a side of fun. The Carlyle Hotel is a particular favourite with its large indoor play area, and the Salty Dog at Kingston Beach has a great outdoor sandpit to keep the kids entertained.  Another little secret is Pigeon Hole, a cosy brunch cafe in West Hobart favouring where the cook is the grower too, tantalising palates with a seasonal menu.

Catch a glimpse as this famous yacht race starts. Credit: Shutterstock

Things to do for free in Hobart

  • Admission is free for anyone under 18 years of age at The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) where you can take a day discovering the museum, gift shop and library. Wander through Salamanca Markets, take the drive to the summit of Mt Wellington, stroll along Hobart’s historic and pretty waterfront, where million dollar yachts glisten. At the end of December, Constitution Dock is the spot to find all the yachts who have competed in, and finished, the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and the scene is abuzz.
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens is not only a fabulous place for a picnic but also an educational experience. Learn about the Huon Pine and debate if the cork oak really can save the planet. Take a walk in Mt Field National Park where you can see Russell Falls and the Glow Worm Grotto and explore the Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park.

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