A Darling Destination

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These school holidays our family took a quick getaway to Darling Harbour. For a small area it sure packs a punch when it comes to attractions. Plus, the best part is almost all the venues are accepting Stay, Dine & Discover and Parent vouchers.

Darling Harbour is an urban playground for both adults and kids right in the heart of Sydney. Whether you want to eat, play or stay, it has something for everyone.

The big name tickets for tourists are the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo and Madame Tussauds, but even using your vouchers visiting them all adds up to a pretty penny. If you do check them out – and they are worth a visit at least once – make sure you buy your passes in a multi-pass for the best price. Online bookings will also give you a bigger discount.

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If you want to take in some culture, Australia has a rich maritime history which you can learn all about at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Exhibits and interactive displays tell the stories of our nation on the water, from the early dugout canoes built by First Nations people to the marine craft of today. There are even real vessels floating next door that you can board and tour.

If the kids find the museum a little too boring, then there’s plenty of other options to keep them happy. A Ferris wheel, laser tag, kingpin bowling, jet boat rides and don’t forget Darling Harbour is home to the ICC Exhibition Centre. Check out their calendar of events to see what’s on during your stay.

But what I like best about Darling Harbour is that there is plenty to see and do with the whole family even if you are on a budget.

Tumbalong Park is in the middle of the Darling Harbour precinct and is a huge grassy area with a stage centre front. With regular free performances and DJ’s, it’s a good spot to chill out or even get your boogie on if you don’t mind an audience. And best of all, BYO alcohol is allowed during daylight hours.

Alongside it is Darling Harbour Children’s Playground. This huge wonderland for kids features a large playground with a ton of water and adventure play equipment for children of all ages. Pack some swimmers and sunscreen for the kids and a good book for yourself and it’s a perfect day for all.

You’ll also find outdoor ping pong tables, fitness equipment and an amazing array of ornamental water features and public art located in the precinct. And once you’ve worked up an appetite, be sure to grab yourself a Tiger Pie from the iconic Harry’s Café de Wheels located in the playground.

On our visit we had a groovy time at the Darling Harbour Rollerama. With a beginner’s rink for young children and wobbly skaters, plus a main rink for those who are ready to roll, it’s a lot of fun to take a spin under the big disco ball. While skates are available to hire, you’ll have to bring your own spandex.

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One of my favourite spots in Darling Harbour is the Chinese Garden of Friendship. The Garden is modelled after ancient private gardens in China from the 5th century and is a masterpiece of traditional Chinese culture infused with Australian characteristics. Even when it’s busy, wandering around the serene pathways while taking in exotic plants, blooming flowers and a lake of shimmering Koi will leave you with a sense of tranquility which is sorely needed after the hustle and bustle of Darling Harbour. For a family of 4, entry is $20 so it won’t break your wallet either.

And if you are visiting on a weekend, find yourself a comfy spot along the harbour or at one of the many waterfront bars or restaurants and watch the Sydney sky above Darling Harbour come to life with an awesome fireworks display. They run every Saturday night all year round.

If you are after a quick getaway to use up all your NSW vouchers in one go, Darling Harbour is the perfect destination.

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