The summer holidays can be an expensive time of year, especially with Christmas kicking off the season. You probably hope that the Christmas presents you have purchased for your children will keep them entertained, but that might not always go to plan.
There are lots of things you can do with your family - in and around Perth - that are cheap and cheerful, and we’ve put our favourites together in this handy list.
For those hot summer days when you want to be inside under the air-con, but you don’t want the kids to be sat in front of a screen, the WA Museum Boola Bardip is a great place to spend a day.
Explore permanent exhibitions covering everything from First Nations history and traditions, to what the future Perth could look like, and even discover the dinosaurs of Patagonia. On top of that, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions too, so there is always something new to see and learn about.
Entry is free for kids under 15 and adults can become a member for the price of a single admission and get 12 months unlimited entry. That means you can return in the Easter hols and winter holidays too!
The museum is a short walk from Perth train station so it’s an easy option to get to, without worrying about paying for parking. Plus, it’s pretty much next door to the Art Gallery of WA, so you can tick that off on the same day without spending any extra cash (entry is free).
This is probably an obvious one to some, but even many long-term Perth residents haven’t experienced all that Kings Park has to offer. Pack a picnic, take your bike or put on your walking shoes, and plan a day out for the whole family.
Don't miss the glass bridge walkway, climbing the DNA tower, exploring the Rio Tinto Naturescape, or visiting the State War Memorial. There are several play areas, guided walks and nature trails to explore, plus a number of food outlets and even a gallery shop.
Kings Park covers a huge area, so try and plan ahead and use an entrance that is closest to the area you want to explore. Parking is free within the park boundaries, but there are several public transport options too. From the city, bus 935 takes you right up Fraser Avenue.
If you need a way to cool down, then how about a trip to the beach? The Coogee Maritime Trail includes an underwater trail (for snorkelling and diving), as well as a land-based trail. It’s free to use and is available 365-days a year.
Probably better for older kids, unless your younger ones are strong swimmers, the trail starts 25 metres from shore at the Omeo shipwreck. Most of the trail is around 2.5 – 5 metres deep so it’s great for snorkelling. The trail travels through an underwater art gallery and an artificial reef, so there is lots of potential for spotting something cool.
Once you’re done in the water, you can dry out on the beach or on one of the many lawned areas – some of which have undercover picnic tables.
Everyone loves Freo, and there are plenty of free or low-cost options to enjoy with the kids. Plus, it’s easy to get to using public transport, and you can take advantage of the free city CAT bus once you’re there too.
Located on both the Swan River and the Indian Ocean, Fremantle is a great place for water-based activities, especially fishing. Whether you’ve never tried it before, or are a semi-pro, dropping a line is a great way to spend a few hours.
If you don’t successfully catch your dinner, then make sure you explore the Fremantle Markets. With quirky shops and tasty food stalls, you’ll find something that even the fussiest of eaters will enjoy. Once you’re done there, head out and explore the city’s laneways to spot some of the many street-artworks that brighten up many walls and buildings.
For a bit of history, the WA Shipwrecks Museum is a fascinating place to spend some time. For a gold coin donation, you’ll learn all about WA’s famous shipwrecks, plus the museum is housed inside WA’s first convict-built public building. If convict history interests you, then make sure you also visit the Fremantle Arts Centre (the building was built in the 1860s). It’s open daily and hosts a wide variety of exhibitions through-out the year. Free entry means you can afford plenty of return visits!
Scattered along the Darling Scarp, the Perth Hills area is an easy escape from the city. It doesn’t take long to get there and be in the native bush exploring one of the many national parks or walking trails. For the adrenalin junkies, be sure to check out the range of mountain biking routes.
The towns of Mundaring, Kalamunda and Armadale are all Perth Hills townships and offer plenty of free and cheap activities to keep your family entertained. From farmer’s markets to art and craft fairs, outdoor cinemas and water parks, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
For a wallet-friendly day out, why not get fruity with a visit to one of the many fruit farms and orchards located in the Hills? A crowd favourite is S&R Orchard in Walliston, where - depending on the time of year - you’ll have different fruit picking options. Plus, if you take part in the Summer Fruits Festival between December and March, you can also enjoy tractor rides and an animal petting farm.
Another great option is to visit Lake Leschenaultia. Pack the car, and enjoy a day of swimming and picnicking, at this great (free) spot in the Shire of Mundaring. There are barbeques available, as well as a kiosk serving snacks and coffee, and during the summer months you can hire canoes and stand-up paddle boards, so you don’t need to take your own.
Looking a little bit further afield, there are plenty of great options to keep you and the kids entertained. Avoid cabin-fever by taking a day trip, and explore a little bit of our great state.
If you want to head north, then the Pinnacles are a great spot to visit. About two hours north of Perth, this natural wonder is located within the Nambung National Park. It’s $15 per private vehicle to do the self-drive route through the otherworldly desert, and you don’t need a four-wheel drive.
On your way home, why not stop off at Lancelin for a bit of sandboarding on the soft, white dunes? You could also visit the Moore River Estuary at Guilderton and cool off with a dip in both the river and the Indian Ocean.
In the other direction, a visit to Gnomesville is a quirky way to spend a day. Just over two hours drive south of Perth – or 30-minutes from Bunbury – entry to Gnomesville is free and it’s home to more than 7,000 garden gnomes!
No one really knows how they all got there, but one thing is for sure - they just keep on multiplying. Many of the gnomes originate from other parts of the world, so make sure you take your time to learn their backstories, and if you want to really get involved, take along a gnome to add to the ever-growing, magical community.
Another great day trip to take is to head east to the Avon Valley. Just over one-hours’ drive from Perth, the towns of Northam, York and Toodyay are great places to explore.
York was the first inland European settlement in WA, and there is plenty of history to take in. Check out the Old Gaol and Courthouse, or enjoy a wander to see the historical buildings dotted around town. To further stretch your legs, why not take a walk up Mt. Ommanney in Northam. Situated just out of town, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of the whole town, and the surrounding countryside.
If you want to be more savvy with your spending and saving, then make sure you’re using our mymo app. Budgeting has never been easier thanks to the ability to set budgets by category and track where and how you're spending your money, all in one easy-to-use place.
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