Ultimate guide to things to do in Port Macquarie with kids
Glorious beaches, lush hinterlands and abundant wildlife in and out of the water make Greater Port Macquarie a holiday haven for families. From high-speed boats to scenic river cruises, water parks to historic theme parks, rainforest picnics to close encounters with migrating whales, there’s something for every age and stage.
Take the eight-kilometre Coastal Walk that runs from Port Macquarie’s Town Green to Lighthouse Beach, learn to surf on one of the many surf beaches, get your thrills on a jet boat ride, take on the watery challenge of the epic inflatable over water obstacle course at Stoney Aqua Park, enjoy a game of Paintball at Skirmish Down in natural bushland or experience skydiving without jumping out of a plane at Extreme Velocity – a vertical wind tunnel.
If you prefer your adventures on the mild side, experience the life of early settlers at Timbertown or view archaeological remains from Port Macquarie’s past at the Glasshouse Arts, Conference and Entertainment Centre where you can hear stories of the area’s traditional owners and learn about the history and life in the early penal settlement of Port Macquarie. Nearby Sea Acres Rainforest Centre at Shelley Beach boasts a stroller friendly elevated rainforest boardwalk and fascinating Bush Tucker tours through the rainforest.
Animal lovers can get up close and personal with native and exotic animals at Billabong Zoo, visit Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital, spot hundreds of bird and reptile species at Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park’s wetlands or head out on a catamaran or Chinese junk to spot dolphins and whales.
Top things to do in Port Macquarie
With golden beaches, lush rainforests and abundant wildlife, there’s no shortage of family fun to be found in Port Macquarie. Here are ten of our favourite things to do.
- Soak up the dramatic views of the coastline on the Coastal Walk.
- Get up close and personal with the crew of critters at Billabong Zoo.
- Enjoy a sunset cruise on a Chinese Junk.
- Experience the life of early settlers at Timbertown.
- Get spooked by the haunting tales on a Port by Night walking tour.
- Splash into the epic Stoney Aqua Park.
- Ride a camel down Lighthouse Beach.
- Go fruit picking at Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries
- Get lost at Bago Maze & Winery.
- Visit the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
Things to do in Port Macquarie with…
Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, located around 4km south of Town Beach, boasts a pram and stroller friendly elevated rainforest boardwalk from which visitors can spot rainforest birds, feeding and nesting in the tree branches.
Livvi’s Place at Westport Reserve is a new and inclusive playground with a fun nautical theme. There’s a variety of equipment, including a climbing tower and a wheel chair accessible pirate ship. Afterwards enjoy a picnic or kick a ball around in the enormous reserve.
Calwalla Reserve Playground is another great spot for kids with great play equipment nestled in a natural bushland setting. Or run riot at Town Beach Park with a playground right alongside the beach. This 20-acre beach-adjacent park features a skate park, a playground, picnic tables & more.
On rainy days head to Jumbos Playland, an awesome indoor play centre with safe areas for younger kids to play.
At the award-winning Billabong Zoo, you’ll find a huge variety of Australian and exotic animals in a space that’s perfectly sized for little legs. The privately-owned zoo offers visitors plenty of opportunities to interact with its animals, from feeding the free-rooming kangaroos, patting dingos and taking a selfie with koala to meeting meerkats and monkeys. There’s also a variety of excellent, educational keeper talks where you can watch lions, cheetahs and snow leopards in action.
Lovers of cuddly koalas can also visit Port Macquarie’s Koala Hospital – the only one in NSW.
Spot as many of the 165 species of birds, numerous reptiles and flying foxes as you can in their natural habitat at Kooloonbung Creek Nature Park’s wetlands, located in the heart of Port Macquarie. Or for something truly out of the ordinary, saddle up for a camel ride along the golden sands of Lighthouse Beach.
Grab your boogie board to hit one of the numerous beaches in Port Macqaurie, including ever popular Fynn’s Beach which is also a great spot for kids learning to surf. If you prefer boarding on dry land, grab your skateboard and head to the skate park right alongside Port’s breakwall.
And for a ride without wheels or water, head to Bellrowan Valley Horse Riding for a unique riding experience suitable for all levels in the hinterland of Greater Port Macquarie.
History buffs can step back in time at the Timbertown Heritage park, with its working steam train, bullock displays and traditional craftsman. Or enjoy a picnic in the spacious gardens of Roto House, a beautiful example of Victorian architecture and craftsmanship, where you can see what life was like 100 years ago. Step even further back in time to learn about the ancient indigenous culture of the region on a guided Bush Tucker tour through the rainforest at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.
Learn to surf on any of the nine safe and picturesque surf beaches. Experience the ride of your life with Port Jet’s Ocean Blast or hire a JetSki to blast about the nine-hectare water park.
Take on the wet and completely wild challenge of an epic over water obstacle course at Stoney Aqua Park. Enjoy an action-packed day of entertainment at Skirmish Down Under, a paintball experience spread over 40 hectares of natural bushland. Climb the walls at indoor rock climbing and dark zone laser tag hot spot, Centre of Gravity. Or experience the sensation of skydiving without a plane at Extreme Velocity, Australia’s only outdoor vertical wind tunnel where you can float on a 240-kilometre per hour stream of air.
And for thrills after dark, don’t miss Port by Night, a unique but spooky walking tour that brings to life the stories behind the town’s remaining historic buildings.
Best time to visit Port Macquarie as a family
With all that sand and surf on offer, you’ll be pleased to hear that Port Macquarie lies in a temperate zone with water warm enough for swimming pretty much all year round. Generally free from extreme temperatures, Port Macquarie boasts sunny summers and mild winters.
Winter runs from June to August and temperatures are mild, falling at night so you’ll need to pack a jumper. Spring and Autumn are fantastic times to visit with warm days and milder nights. The hottest, and most popular, time to visit is from December to March, where you’ll enjoy an average maximum temperature of around 27 degrees Celcius. But do keep in mind that from mid-December to end of January the summer school holidays brings not only an influx of families, but an increase in pricing and the need to book early. It’s worth considering visiting outside of peak holiday seasons for more affordable accommodation.
Family-friendly places to eat in Port Macquarie
Finding good food for growing bodies is easy in Port Macquarie with a fantastic food scene that’s loved by locals and visitors alike.
Enjoy breakfast by the beach at one of the many excellent seaside cafes, grab takeaway fish and chips from Mike’s Seafoods to eat overlooking the ocean at the breakwall, or head out for sunset fish and chips on a Chinese Junk cruise.
Blue Water Bar and Restaurant is another gem for families with great priced food and a kids’ play area. Or take your pick of Port’s awesome pizza palaces including family faves, Pizza Obsession and Black Box Pizza.
And for a hands-on experience and farm fresh ingredients head to Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries to pick your own fresh fruit, or dine in the fantastic on-site café. Just quietly, the scones with home-made jam and cream are to die for.
Things to do for free in Port Macquarie
- It doesn’t cost a cent to explore Port Macquarie’s magnificent river systems and 17 uncrowded, golden beaches, including six patrolled options for younger kids and several which are dog friendly, if you happen to be travelling with four-legged family members. Flynn’s Beach and Lake Cathie are particularly popular with families.
- Take the Coastal Walk, for incredible scenic coastal views, all the way from Port Macquarie’s Town Green to beautiful Lighthouse Beach. If you time it right, you might even spot dolphins and migrating whales frolicking in the sea.
- Take a stroll along the southern breakwall of Port Macquarie’s Hastings River to see the painted rocks that began as an art competition and have grown into an ever-changing outdoor gallery. Or go on a koala hunt. Port Macquarie’s Koala Trail encompasses 57 hand-painted, metre-high koala sculptures dotted in around town from the seaside to the hinterland.
Need help getting the most out of outdoor adventure activities with kids? Follow these expert tips and head off on a nature-based experience.
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Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.