This is a guide to things to do in Perth with kids. Some are free, some are not. We did our best to fill it with fun activities for kids (and their parents).
The things to do we have described here are reasonably timeless. If you are wondering whats on in Perth right now, all of this still applies but you will not find information on one off events like concerts.
- 1 Day Trips From Perth
- 2 Best Parks In Perth
- 3 Places To Eat In Perth
- 4 The Best Hotel In Perth
- 5 Free Things To Do In Perth With Kids
Day Trips From Perth
There are plenty of fun attractions around Perth that are suitable for both young and older children. Many require a car to access although some are reachable via public transport or walking, depending on where you are staying of course.
All of these can be visited for the day although there is generally the option to stay overnight if desired.
Fremantle is Perth's historic port. 30 minutes drive from the city center its history is far closer to the surface than is the case in Perth itself. Central Fremantle is dotted with historically significant buildings, mostly constructed from local sandstone.
Fremantle Prison in particular is well worth a visit. Originally it was constructed by convicts to house convicts before being converted into a prison that remained open until 1991. The prison offers a range of excellent tours through the day and even night tours for the particularly brave.
Although it is rather less dramatic than the prison, the Fremantle Arts Center is also worth visiting. Originally the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, the buildings are beautiful if a little creepy. There is a wonderful shaded grassy area that is perfect for picnics or just having a bit of a run around.
The best Japanese ramen noodles we have found anywhere outside of Japan can be found just inside Fremantle markets on the cappuccino strip side from Dosukai Japanese Noodle
Just less than an hours drive south from the Perth CBD, Mandurah is popular for fishing, dolphin and whale watching, and similar outdoorsy activities on or around the ocean. The Mandurah foreshore is beautiful and is home to a range of restaurants as well as a park running along the water's edge.
If you want to extend your stay Mandurah accommodation is available, right on the foreshore.
Rottnest is a spectacularly beautiful island accessible by a ferry from Fremantle. We have visited the island separately and together several times but unfortunately we do not seem to have any good photos. We will have to visit again to take some.
Typical activities include swimming at one of the island's many beaches and bays as well as bicycling around the island. Bicycles are available for rent on Rottnest or you can bring your bicycle with you.
You can either visit for the day or make use of the range of Rottnest Island accommodation available. Note that accommodation on the island can be hard to come by during summer, especially during school holidays, so book well in advance.
If Rottnest Island is too crowded for you try Penguin Island. Less than an hour south of Perth by car it is smaller but equally beautiful. Not only is it far less crowded than Rottnest Island it is home to a colony of penguins, which explains the name.
Owing to its small size it is not possible to stay on Penguin Island. This one is day trip only.
As well as penguins, Penguin island is home to large numbers of sea birds and a colony of penguins. The penguins come and go meaning that free roaming penguins may not be present when you visit. There is however a penguin rescue center on the island that houses some penguins that cannot be returned to the wild for various reasons so there are always at least a few penguins around.
The island is reached by a short ferry ride. It used to be possible to walk to the island at low tide but this is no longer permitted.
Cervantes is a small coastal town that is home to some unusual rock formations known as The Pinnacles. These ancient rock formations have an alien almost lunar quality about them. With a bit of luck you may also see kangaroos and emus.
The area is extremely windy and occasionally plays host to windsurfing events. While it is great for wind surfing the wind can make beaches in the area pretty to look at but not much fun to sit on.
The town is 2.5 hours from the Perth CBD by car so it does stretch the definition of a day trip somewhat. There is Cervantes accommodation available if you want to stay overnight.
Particularly if you are not from Australia, Cervantes is an interesting place to visit because it allows you to get a taste of the harsh dry expanse that covers much of the Australian continent while only being a few hours from Perth city and Perth international airport.
Best Parks In Perth
At around 4 square kilometers King's Park is rather enormous by park standards, although much of it is conserved as native bush land. Overlooking the Perth city center there are spectacular views from King's Park of the city and the Swan River.
King's Park is home to several war memorials, and botanic gardens. Notable areas that may be of interest to kids are the DNA tower, a tall tower with double helix stairs, and Synergy Parkland, a large play area that includes a lake and island as well as climbing equipment. There are also three cafes in kings park near the main attractions. Typically sit down meals, take away food as well as coffee is available throughout the day.
Between King's Park and the Perth CBD you will find a well known workout spot, Jacob's ladder. This ginormous set of steps typically plays host to a bunch of very fit people who run up and down the stairs as a form of exercise. If you want a good workout a few laps up and down will do the trick.
Don't worry though, there are plenty of other less strenuous things to do in King's Park. We have written a whole guide to things to do in Kings Park.
John Oldham Park
Located between King's Park and the freeway this hidden gem of a Park is something even most Perth residents don't know about. Despite being in the city and immediately adjacent to the freeway it somehow manages to feel secluded and quiet.
There is a playground, a surprisingly pretty waterfall (no swimming) and best of all, an awesome super long slide. The slide is big enough for both children and adults and, despite its length, it is never more than shoulder high from the ground as it runs down the side of a hill.
There is parking available but it is not free. When we visited it was $3.80 per hour. Also, there are some lakes scattered around so keep an eye on your kids.
The Dr Seuss Park
Although its real name is Kadidjiny Park this park in Melville is more commonly known as Dr Seuss Park. No doubt this nickname is due to the rolling blue hills scattered with red and white poles.
There is a fenced area containing two slides and various sand pits filled with play equipment. With so many options available it was no trouble at all to fill an hour or two on a delightful sunny day.
Different age groups and ability levels have been well catered for. The best example is the larger of the two slides. You can reach the top by clambering up uneven rocks, via a staircase or by strolling up a gentle stair-free footpath. I didn't expect rock climbing to start so young with Zoe but she did amazingly well.
There is also an awesome set of climbing ropes that are low enough to the ground to be safe(er) for little ones. At almost 2 and a half years old Zoe underestimated gravity's pull and suddenly transitioned from clambering across the top of the ropes to dangling off them. Being so close to the ground she was able to simply put her feet down, no worse for wear apart from having received a bit of a fright.
There are also BBQs available. While we were playing in the park there were a few families cooking up a storm and making everyone hungry. Some people had clearly come prepared to spend a good part of the day playing, eating and relaxing among the tranquil Dr Seuss blue hills.
Just outside the fenced area there is an open grassy area to provide a little more room if you want to kick a ball around.
Mueller Park Playspace in Subiaco
This fenced play area sits in the middle of a vast expanse of grass. The nature based equipment is great to give your kids the chance to get a bit dirty. Perhaps avoid it if you don't have a change of clothes with you.
There are plenty of plants and gardens intermingled with the play equipment. This provides lots of tucked away spots for little ones to explore to help hold their interest for longer.
There are public toilets available nearby.
Cottesloe Beach Playground
Although it only consists of a few swings, a slide and a little climbing equipment this park's location gets it a special mention.
The Cottesloe Beach Playground provides a great view of the Indian Ocean. There are a few food options available nearby. Fish and chips at the beach is a bit of a tradition.
Any Park Near The Swan River
The below park is in Bayswater although the Swan River snakes through large sections of Perth. Large grassy areas are available, play equipment is dotted around and a footpath/cyclepath winds its way along the Swan River. These things are all along the river so if you are located anywhere near the Swan River there is a good chance that there will be one near you.
Places To Eat In Perth
Perth is a vibrant multicultural city that has brought together people and food from all over the world. Not surprisingly there is an enormous range of restaurants In Perth city. I am not going to try and list them all. We are also not restaurant reviewers. The following are just a few of our favourites that we return to again and again.
Tan Po Po
This is a Mt Lawley institution. Located on Beaufort Street Tan Po Po has been providing amazingly affordable Japanese food to the people of Perth for many years. It is run by an elderly Japanese couple who have done an amazing job of ensuring that quality standards stay high year after year.
Our personal recommendations are the Katsu Don and any of the various teriyaki bento boxes.
Dosukoi Japanese Noodle
Located inside Fremantle markets Dosukoi produces the best ramen noodle soup that we have found anywhere outside of Japan. We have had a lot of noodles in a lot of places and these are genuinely great.
Expect a bit of a wait as this place is very popular but they will happily send you a text message when your order is ready. There is limited seat and a lot of bowls of hot soup around so little grabby hands will make eating here difficult. Older children should be fine but curious little ones may need to be strapped into the pram for this one.
Although the decor is pretty basic Jessie's offers great Indian and Malaysian food at very reasonable prices. A family run business you can expect wonderful home cooked style meals and friendly service.
Seating is limited so you may want to book if you have a group and want to eat in. Take away is available.
The Best Hotel In Perth
This is a tough one to answer. Even though Perth is our home town we have stayed in quite a few hotels around town so we will provide a few notable examples.
Perth City Accommodation
Mantra On Murray is our pick for the Perth city center itself. The rooms are surprisingly spacious, there is a kitchenette for putting quick snacks together and the location could not get much more central. It is a couple of minutes walk from Perth train station. In the other direction it is maybe 10 minutes walk to the entrance to King's Park.
Bannister Suites is where we spent our wedding night before flying out for our honeymoon the next day. Maybe the circumstances of our stay made us impartial but it is pretty hard to argue with the comfort of the room and the location, less than thirty seconds walk from Fremantle's cappuccino strip and close to all of Fremantle's main attractions.
You can find a giant list of everywhere we have stayed that we recommend to others on our Where We Stay page. These are all hotels we have stayed in ourselves and we only list places we would stay again.
Free Things To Do In Perth With Kids
Australia is an expensive place generally but not everything needs to cost the earth. Perth's outdoorsy nature actually means that there are quite a few free things to do.
Self Guided Walking Tours
There are a few websites that provide downloadable maps for free self guided walking tours of both Perth and Fremantle. Depending on the age of your children and their fondness for walking or tolerance for time in the stroller these can be a great way to learn your way around and see some interesting sights.
Print out a map or save it to your phone and off you go. Remember sun screen as the Australian sun can burn the unwary extremely quickly and sunburn is not fun for kids of any age.
Play In The Parks
If you have not already, check out the best parks in Perth section. Perth is a fairly green city with lots of trees and parks scattered around. No matter where you stay there will be one or more parks nearby where you your kids can play. Modern playground equipment and shade sails are fairly common but each park is different.
King's Park in particular is worth going out of your way to visit.
Go To The Beach
WA (and Australia generally) has some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. White sand and clear water is the norm along much of Western Australia's massive coastline.
The most famous Perth beach is undoubtedly Cottesloe Beach. Be warned it can get very busy, especially on the weekend or during summer school holidays. This means that the beach itself will be crowded and parking can be very difficult to find.
There is sometimes sizable surf (ie waves) at Cottesloe Beach. Depending on the conditions the surf can make swimming in the ocean impractical for young children or weak swimmers. There are life guards present but take the conditions into account before you head out into the water.
There is a tiered grassy area although that is perhaps too steep for toddlers in particular. On the street nearby there is a variety of cafes, restaurants and so on. There are plenty of food options available as it is a very popular area.
If you do want flat water our personal pick is South Beach, just south of Fremantle. The whole area is quite sheltered so there is never any surf there. Other than the beach itself there is a large grassy area with barbecues and trees for shade. There is a cafe but food options here are much more limited.
Most of the visitors to South Beach are people who live in the surrounding area. Crowds are never a problem aside from during major holidays and even then the crowding is mostly in competition for a shady spot rather than on the beach itself.
Visit The WA Museum
The West Australian Museum in Perth city is a fantastic day out for curious kids. Entry to all of the regular exhibits is free although they sometimes have special exhibits that have an admission fee.
Although the complex has been extensively expanded and renovated over the years you can still see the Old Perth Gaol which previously occupied the premises. The buildings are as much apart of the attract as the exhibits within the museum. Old buildings have been incorporated into a thoroughly modern structure to preserve them in perpetuity.
Permanent exhibits include marine life from the region, mammal, bird and butterfy galleries, assorted dinosaurs and so on. There is more than enough to keep you busy for days so feel free to pick and choose what most interests you and your children.
There are also two smaller maritime museums in Fremantle. Go to the new WA Maritime Museum to see a retired Oberon class submarine. Go to the old maritime museum, now called the Shipwreck Galleries I believe, to see the wreck of the Batavia which was wrecked off the WA coast in 1629.
Perth is a great place to explore by bicycle. Its mostly flat, warm and has endless miles of dedicated bicycle paths. Read about our experience riding bicycles from Perth to Fremantle