Lions, penguins and giraffes are among many friendly faces waiting to greet young visitors these school holidays.

But while some of our favourite zoos, aquariums and museums are reopening, restrictions remain in place. These include admitting fewer patrons, requiring customers to book ahead and enforcing social distancing to keep families safe.

Here’s how to enjoy 10 activities that will get you out and about over the chilly season.


For smiles as wide as the entrance gates, book a family visit to Luna Park when the attraction opens on July 3, with attractions including the Ferris Wheel, Dodgem Cars and Volare. Tickets allow guests unlimited access to rides on a specific date and time, and include a $10 food and beverage voucher, plus one sideshow game. Bookings essential.


Your child’s dreams of being a zookeeper can come true – at least for a day – at Sydney Zoo. The attraction will run a Zookeeper for a Day program these school holidays, allowing children aged 7-13 to shadow zookeepers, get up close to a variety of animals and learn about what’s involved in taking care of them. The program costs $129 per child and will run from 8.30am-3pm. Bookings essential.


Take a trip to Hunter Valley Gardens these school holidays. The beautifully manicured gardens range from Indian to Italian-themed, and also include a storybook garden complete with life-sized fairytale characters. The attraction will ramp up from July 4-19, with a virtual family treasure hunt and a selection of prizes for both children and adults. Bookings essential.


Warm your heart and hands interacting with your favourite animal in a personal encounter at Featherdale Wildlife Park. The sessions are held in a cool, private room, giving you a chance to hold some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife. Share the experience with a family member, with prices starting at $20 per person for two people. Bookings essential.


Flex your muscles alongside DC superheroes in an interactive new experience at Madame Tussauds Sydney. In this star-studded adventure, join Superman as he lifts a helicopter into the sky, then match top speed alongside The Flash. Ticket prices are $36.80; free for children under 3. Bookings essential.


At the Powerhouse Museum, explore the large-scale features of the universe, from the sun to black holes and galaxies. Visit the Art Gallery of NSW to see a series of shadows, body doubles and mirrors at the Shadow Catchers exhibition, or tour the Hyde Park Barracks Museum to capture an insight into just what life was like for convicts. Bookings essential.;;


At Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness, choose from tennis, soccer and netball. At Sydney Olympic Park, the options are more exotic, with archery and gymnastics on offer. At Sports Kickstart, there are introductory soccer courses and skill-building workshops. Bookings essential.;;


At Calmsley Hill City Farm visitors can cuddle their favourite animals, feed lambs, ponies, horses, sheep and goats, milk the cows or ride a tractor around the property – and you won’t need to book. Bring your own picnic lunch or use the property’s free electric BBQs to cook up a feast while enjoying the grounds.


Beach weather won’t make a comeback for a few months, but indoor heated pools will be back for the school holidays, with COVID restrictions. You’ll need to book a spot for either laps or a play swim with the kids. Springwood Aquatic & Fitness Centre is the clear stand-out with an interactive water playground. Other top picks include Cook and Phillip Park Aquatic Centre, Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, Sutherland Leisure Centre, Lane Cove Aquatic Centre and Ripples Leisure Centre in St Marys.;;


Home to both the world’s deadliest spiders and snakes, the Australian Reptile Park is crawling with all sorts of venomous and ravenous creatures great and small. Watch the milking of terrestrial snakes and funnel-web spiders, and also go behind the scenes to meet mammals and birds up close. Ticket prices are from $39 adult and $21 child; family passes from $75.


From baking cookies to watercolour painting, here’s a list of classes that combine learning with fun.

Mini masterchefs

Learning to bake the perfect loaf of bread will leave you feeling warm. From July 6, Brasserie Bread in Banksmeadow is offering Zoom baking classes for $25, and will have children whipping up a batch of chocolate cookies. Classes at Sydney Cooking School at Neutral Bay include dishes such as banana coconut bread, sushi and pasta. Ticket price is from $75 per child.;

Unleash your creativity

Let your imagination go wild with a choice of eight online writing workshops, led by Vogel Award-winning author Bernard Cohen. With classes priced from $80, choose from tales of heroes, animal tales, spy stories, suspense, magic beasts and more. If you prefer crafting with your hands, try a ClassBento virtual workshop and learn how to make a keyring for a school bag or keychain. All materials are delivered to your home in a DIY craft box.;

Crack the code

Kids can learn coding basics, develop apps and design games from the comfort of their home these school holidays. Run by Junior Engineers, the two-day or three-day online coding workshops will run until July 17. For ages 7 and up. Prices start from $36 per child.

Brush up

Painting has maintained its appeal over centuries, and allows children to get messy, unleash their creativity and even take home their masterpiece. Whether they’re into owls, cute llamas or mandalas, there’s sure to be a class that appeals at Bondi Paint Club, with prices starting from $40. All materials are provided. Runs from July 1-14.

Chuck a wheelie

Winter is the perfect time to introduce littlies to the world of clay. The Art Est Art School in Leichhardt is hosting clay handbuilding workshops for children aged 5-7, while older kids can learn how to make pots using a pottery wheel. Use your Creative Kids voucher and save $100. Prices start from $80 per child.

Get crafty

There’s something oh-so cosy about DIY crafts. Kids Circle in Lindfield is hosting a range of special holiday activities, including scarf and puppet-making, painting, making your own artist book or whirly spinner, and decorating a wooden frame. Each workshop runs on various dates and is priced from $50 per child. For ages 5 and up.