School holidays are just around the corner and it’s a time that can make any parent a little nervous about what lies ahead. Keeping the kids entertained for two weeks can be a big ask, as well as being tough on the wallet. Never fear, help is here! They say variety is the spice of life and if you scratch the surface of your city, you’ll find there’s endless ways to surprise your kids these holidays. Here are 10 ways to have a cheap and cheerful break with your children.

Explore the underwater world

The Sydney Aquarium - School holidaysIf there’s one guaranteed way to get kids excited about being out of the house, it’s by showing them the magic of the underwater world. Australia’s aquariums are brimming with awe-inspiring animals and will leave the little ones wanting more. Most aquariums also include interactive areas where kids can get hands on with the marine life. Sydney Aquarium and SEA LIFE in Melbourne have special school holiday programmes too.

Visit a modern museum

Just because the kids are out of school, doesn’t mean their brains should go on holidays too! Get them excited about art and culture and visit a modern museum. Contemporary art has a way of connecting with kids. Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane all have their own contemporary art museums, specialising in interactive exhibitions and school holiday programs.

Fun at the farmer’s markets

Eveleigh Farmers - School holidaysThe sights, the sounds, the smells – a visit to the farmer’s markets is truly a sensory experience for kids these days! Find out where your nearest farmer’s markets are and take a drive with the kids. The fresh produce, delicious freebies and colourful characters will have them smiling for days.

Get on your bike

Dust off your bikes, load up the car and spend a day on two wheels these school holidays. A good, old fashioned bike ride is a great way to expend a little energy. Jump online and find some nearby trails, then set off for the day. If you’re feeling particularly brave, try tandem riding with one of your kids – laughs are guaranteed.

Become a pro photographer

Sydney city - School holidaysUncover your inner photographer by booking in a walking photo tour. These are available in every capital city and run by industry professionals – it’s a great way to work on your snapping skills. You take your own camera and the instructors show you how to get the most out of your photography, while also taking you to hidden hot spots in your city, for the picture perfect photo.

Bush walking in a National Park

If your kids are a little too comfortable shackled up to the game controller all school holidays, the best way to deliver some vitamin D and stretch their legs is with a good long bush walk. Do some online research and find the best walking trails in your nearest national park. Jump in the car – don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks and water – then head off. Once you’re there let mother nature take over, the kids will be blown away by the beauty hidden in their own backyard.

Play a round of Putt-Putt

Putt putt - School holidaysHit a hole in one these school holidays with a round of mini golf. Putt-Putt is the perfect game for kids, it’s quick, cheap and relatively easy. Challenge your little ones to a round of putt putt and whoever loses has to shout ice cream after the game! Chances are they’ll master it quicker than you, so get that wallet ready!

Visit the animals at the Zoo

It’s a classic school holiday move, but there’s a reason kids love the zoo. It’s not often that children get to see the mystery of the wilderness right up close, so a day at the zoo is a must. During school holidays, Australia’s major zoos like Taronga Zoo and Melbourne Zoo also run educational talks. It’s a great way for kids to learn about preservation in a fun and unique environment.

Young kids do Yoga

Family yoga - School holidaysWho wants to nama-ste inside when you can head out into the big wide world and get your yoga on! Yoga for young kids is becoming increasingly popular with classes available in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. It’s a great way to keep them active while also ensuring they’re having fun on their holidays.

Cook up a storm in the kitchen

Last but not least, turn your child into a mini master chef! Pick a recipe together then jump in the car, head to the supermarket and grab your ingredients. You can then spend the day mastering this new dish with the kids. You’ll all feel a sense of achievement when it’s ready to be devoured, plus you’ve taught them a brand new skill! That’s win-win!  

Other budget-friendly tips

  • Plan school holiday activities one month in advance and draft up a budget accordingly.
  • Always pack lunch and fill up water bottles before heading out on a day trip. This is a great way to save money and avoid unhealthy fast food options.
  • Sign up to daily deals sites like Scoopon to stay updated on local bargains and discounts on activities, accommodation and restaurants.
  • Buddy up with another family for a road trip getaway so parents can share the costs and the kids have more friends to play with.
    Jennifer Liu

    Jennifer Liu is a writer and digital content specialist for First. You can contact Jennifer here.