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Things to do on the Central Coast for a family getaway

Heading one hour south from Lake Macquarie takes you to the beautiful beaches of the Central Coast. This is a popular getaway for people travelling from Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and Sydney. With many stunning beaches to visit bordered by four pristine national parks, this is an area of outstanding beauty. You’ll also find thriving retail centres and an abundance of choices for places to eat and stay. There are loads to do with your family so let’s have a look at things to do on the Central Coast


5 of the best places to stay

There’s many places you can choose to stay or visit down south, so let’s have a look at places to visit on the Central Coast.


The Entrance

The Entrance is famous for its pelicans. Everyday visitors flock to the Pelican Feed on the waterfront. This has been going on for over 30 years. It was started by the local fish and chip shop that would feed the pelicans their scraps. The local council built a feeding platform in 1996 and a team of volunteers supported by local sponsors has made it possible for the pelicans to eat fresh fish daily. These might be Australia’s happiest pelicans! 

Along the waterway are lots of great places to eat and a retail centre. You’ll find playgrounds, Vera’s Water Garden, a water play park which is great for young ones and free BBQ and picnic areas. There’s an organic food market at Memorial Park every Saturday morning. A popular destination for families with many accommodation choices to suit every budget, from camping to luxury holiday homes. 



If you want somewhere that has more of a cosmopolitan vibe head down to Terrigal. Accommodation tends to be a little more expensive here but you’ll soon see why with everything you want just a stroll away. You’ll find loads of amazing cafes and restaurants along the Esplanade. You can even head up to a rooftop terrace bar for a cocktail and a bite to eat.  

The surf beach is popular with locals and tourists alike. Head to the southern end where you’ll find a small ocean rock pool perfect for families. It’s a patrolled beach between October and April, an ideal place for families to enjoy. For amazing views head up to The Skillion lookout, a steep cliff that faces the ocean. The walk up is easily accessible on the slope on the other side of the cliff. If you want to walk to the base, make sure it’s low tide and watch out for waves.



The long white sandy beach at Umina offers spectacular views over Broken Bay at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. See the Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach on the northern beaches of Sydney. So near, yet so far! There’s a great holiday park where you can camp or hire a cabin, as well as lots of other accommodation choices.  

Enjoy the busy shopping area with cafes and restaurants. As you follow along the main road you join up to Ettalong Beach. Kids will enjoy a play in the park which is close to the campground and caters for both younger and older kids. Umina borders Brisbane Waters National Park and is picture-perfect to a nature lover.


Avoca Beach

A popular place to stay, Avoca Beach is a real jewel in the crown of the Central Coast. With a 1.7 km sandy beach,  this beach is renowned as a perfect place to learn to surf. If you’re looking for tranquil waters, consider hiring a kayak or stand up paddleboard and heading out onto Avoca Lake. You can paddle across to the island for a fun, family adventure. 

The Ex-HMAS Adelaide was sunk here in 2011 to form an artificial reef. If you’re an experienced diver you can jump in and enjoy the marine life. There’s also cafes and restaurants that cater to all tastes. A quieter suburb than Terrigal, this is a great place to get away from it all. 


Bateau Bay

If your family loves bushwalking, whale watching or getting back to nature this is a great spot to go with some of the best fishing the central coast beaches offer. You can fish off the beach or along the rocks. Just make sure you follow the fishing guidelines, especially with regards to safety.  

Definitely take the time to do the coastal walk from Bateau Bay Beach picnic area through to Forresters Beach. As you wander along, look out for whales between May and November and keep your eye on the sky for birds such as Sea Eagles or pelicans. This is a quiet suburb where your family can enjoy some downtime.


Wherever you stay everything is in easy reach on the Central Coast.


Central Coast National Parks

Check out these four national parks or one of these amazing Central Coast attractions.


Brisbane Waters National Park

Surrounding a large portion of the Central Coast is a protected national park called Brisbane Waters. Complete with it’s own waterfalls, walks, lookouts, and picnic areas as well as an abundance of flora and fauna. Our indigenous people have had a long relationship with this area that can be witnessed when you’re there. Look out for rock engraving, paintings and middens.

Just some of the highlights at this park are the Somersby Falls Picnic Area. There is a waterfall, walking tracks and rainforest to marvel at. You’ll find picnic tables and free BBQs here as well.

If you’re into mountain biking head to Tommos Loop and Rocky Ponds 20 kms bushland ride. Make sure you take water and sunscreen and wear safety gear as parts of this can be pretty steep.

The Great North Walk that travels 250 km from Sydney to Newcastle passes through this park. Explore different parts you can walk depending on the age of your children and how far you plan to stroll. An absolutely beautiful walk to enjoy.

Girrakool Picnic Area offers you free BBQs and picnic tables. From there head on the Girrakool loop walk which takes you through the rainforest, past waterfalls and Aboriginal rock engravings.


Bouddi National Park

If you love beaches, coastal views and back to nature camping how about heading to Bouddi National Park. You can choose from Little Beach, Tallow Beach or Putty Beach campgrounds. Here are a couple of our highlights:

  • Bouddi Coastal Walk takes you from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach. It’s quite an easy walk along boardwalks and over beaches for 8.5 km. If you prefer a shorter walk you can break this up. The Gerrin Point lookout gives you the perfect spot to whale watch.
  • If you’re here in spring discover the Flannel Flower walk. At this time of year, these beautiful white flowers bloom. The walk goes between Tallow Beach and Lobster Beach for 3 km. You’ll get stunning ocean views and a great lookout on your way as you pass through the forest.
  • One of the more popular trails is the Maitland Bay walk. This 2 km round trip takes you through the rainforest to the beach. Here you can stop for a quick swim and if the tide is low you’ll find the PS Maitland shipwreck which sank here in 1898. There are some steep steps on the way back so you can take the flat walk back to Putty Beach if you prefer.


Popran National Park

Set in the hinterland of the central coast you can enjoy horse riding, cycling or walking through the Popran National Park. Head down to the Emerald Pool to enjoy a picnic while you’re here.

Wyrrabalong National Park

Close to The Entrance head over to Wyrrabalong for coastal walks, beautiful beaches, lookouts and picnic spots.  


Central Coast Attractions


Norah Head Lighthouse

Situated on the headland at Norah Head the lighthouse has been protecting passing ships for 117 years. If you’re looking for somewhere different to stay or you’d enjoy climbing the 96 steps to the top of the lighthouse for a tour this is something your family will enjoy.


Tree Top Adventure Park

If you love adventure and are not afraid of heights how about heading to Tree Tops Adventure Park. Situated in Ourimbah State Forest you can climb from the age of 3.  There is a kids course designed for children aged 3 to 9 years, a junior and young adult course for kids aged 10 years to 15 years and an adult course. Juniors must meet height and weight requirements and be accompanied by an adult. Fly through the air, climb the ropes and ladders, cross wobbly bridges and cargo nets on self-guided rope tours. Make sure you book before you go to avoid disappointment and wear appropriate clothing and footwear.


Australian Reptile Park

Located close to Gosford the Australian Reptile Park is a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. Visit the native animals such as koalas, wombats, kangaroos, emus and Tasmanian devils. Watch Elvis the crocodile being fed and wander through the reptile area to marvel at lizards and snakes. In Spider world you’ll see Sydney funnel webs, redbacks and so much more. There’s a great play park for the kids and picnic area where you can feed the kangaroos.


Captain Cook Lookout

If you want ocean views from Norah Head down to Sydney CBD head up to Captain Cook’s lookout close to Copacabana beach. This is a great whale watching spot with such a magnificent view of the ocean.

With so many amazing natural sights as well as family things to do on the Central Coast make sure you put it on your list to visit with your family this year. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re looking for more holiday ideas or day trips close to Lake Macquarie check out our Holidays section.

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