Port Macquarie is a great family holiday destination – there’s lot’s to do, it’s really child-friendly and it makes for the perfect long weekend away! Here’s 10 things to do when you get to Port Macquarie:
Hit the beach
Port Macquarie is known for its beautiful beaches and there are so many of them – 8 or 9 in total! In walking distance from Town is the aptly named Town Beach, and a short drive away you’ll find Flynns Beach, which is just as beautiful. Both have lifeguards, a little shade, and ice creams nearby – TICK, TICK, TICK. Shelley Beach is also a fave.
Walk The Breakwall
We consider this a must-see! It’s a flat, easy walk along the Hastings River from town to the Town Beach and all the way along are huge rocks which have been painted by locals, visitors.. anyone.. as a sort of “I woz ‘ere ‘09”. Apparently, it began as an art competition in 1995 to cover unsightly graffiti and it’s now become an outdoor gallery of sorts that anyone can add their own touch to. Along the Breakwall is a skate park for the bigger kids and a playground for the little ones, and many benches to stop and enjoy the view.
Go Strawberry Picking
Ricardos Tomato and Strawberry farm is a 10-minute drive from Port Macquarie and is a really fun place to visit with kids. It only takes a few minutes to pick a kilo of strawberries so you don’t need to be there for long, or you can spend lots of time there doing the 11am tour, eating at the café and sampling all their lovely local jams, relishes and pasta sauces.
Visit Timbertown Heritage Park
Based in Wauchope, about 25 minutes from Port Macquarie, this place is like taking a step back in time! Learn about the gold rush, ride on steam trains, walk through a town from the 1800s during the Eureka gold rush and much more. The entry fee includes a steam train ride, heritage rides and demonstrations. Read more here.
Check Out the Billabong Zoo
Located approximately 10 mins from Port, the multiple award-winning Billabong Zoo gives you the chance to get up-close and personal with Australian and exotic animals. You can pat, stroke, feed, hold, hear and see over 80 species of mammals, reptiles and birds. They care for over 200 animals in their 10-acre Koala and Wildlife Park. Definitely make time for the Crocodile Show – it is lots of fun! Learn more here.
Drive to Laurieton
Laurieton is a 30-minute drive from Port Macquarie and has some lovely gentle beaches for young kids and a great village vibe. It’s generally not as busy as Port Macquarie which can make if a nice change if you visit Port in peak tourist season.
Visit the Koala Hospital
The Koala Hospital is open daily from 8am to 4.30pm and is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with koalas who are recovering from being ill, car accidents or the recent bushfires. Guided tour are run each day from 3pm by volunteers. It’s free to enter but donations are greatly appreciated so they can continue their important rescue and rehabilitation work for koalas in need. We love visiting this place!! Learn more here.
Rainy day fun
Ten Pin Bowling
Wave Bowl is open 7 days a week. Find out more about them here.
Planet X is an indoor roller skating or blading centre, which we don’t have near Ryde! Entry cost includes skate or blade hire and some snacks available on site as well as arcade games, laser tag and inflatables. Check the website for when the disco lights are on – depending on whether or not you want that feature! Learn more here.
Indoor play centres:
There are a couple to select from based on the age of your children:
- Jumbo Playland – these guys claim to be the biggest and best indoor soft play centre in town, offering swings, slides, games and a giant maze suitable for 0-10 year olds. It’s a pleasure park of fun, and what’s more, there’s coffee for the adults and it’s fully air-conditioned. Learn more: http://www.jumbosplayland.com.au
- Kids Crazy Maze – this is a smaller indoor play area with a cafe on-site, play area for babies & toddlers plus a main section for kids aged 3-8. Learn more: https://www.crazymaze.org.au
- Centre of Gravity Indoor Rock Climbing – this is a fabulous place for all ages and a mountaineer’s heaven. It has a range of challenges for children from 3 years and older. Once you have enjoyed a climb you can try their Dark Zone – a laser tag centre in a double-storey maze with fog, music and lights. Learn more: https://www.centreofgravity.com.au
There’s loads of great accommodation in Port Macquarie, and with Airbnb options available too, the range has opened up even wider. On our trip, we stayed at the Rydges because that’s where our travel companions booked. It’s nice and central, has a great little pool and is located right on the water. We figured seeing as we were on the water, we may as well get a balcony room and we weren’t unhappy with our decision!
We had many children in tow on our trip so our version of eating out tended to be more like eating fish and chips on the beach, but this Concrete Playground article covers the dining and drinking options at port pretty much PERFECTLY.
However, we do have a few tips to offer! Check out:
- Blue Cow Gelato – this gelato is delicious! They do some non-dairy & vegan options too (expect a line in peak season although it moves quickly). With ice-cream in hand, walk along the water’s edge around to the Town Green, where you’ll find a great little kids playground.
- Settlers Inn Hotel is a great family dining option as they have a FENCED outdoor kids play area with dining tables nearby! We found the food really nice (not just burgers & steak!). They also have a little movie room too- nice!
- We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at Inside Out at Lighthouse cafe – it’s a charming little café situated just up from Lighthouse, about a 10-minute drive from town. Great coffee, dedicated kiddies play area inside the café and they sell lots of cute bric-a-brac that us mums love to buy. It’s a great stopping point for those doing the Lighthouse Walk.
The drive to Port Macquarie takes about 4-5 hour, depending on how many stops you make. Don’t let that scare you because with a sing-along, an iPad movie and a nap you can actually power through it without too much drama.
Hot tip: bring a potty in the car for any toilet training toddler – in case you weren’t close to a toilet. Also bring water to rinse, wipes to clean out and a plastic bag.
Driving holidays are very appealing these days for many reasons, and Port Macquarie definitely fits the bill for a relaxing long weekend away. Have you been? What are your hot tips?