Cities with kids: Perth
As a part of the series "Cities with Kids" here at Simple Family Travel, we are featuring a different mum writing about her favourite city each month. You'll find tips on where to eat, what to see, best places to play and even what to do on a rainy day.
Our next city is Perth.
Angela, a mum of 2, has lived in Perth her whole life, well except for a brief stint in Europe when her kids were young. She is an "expert" in all things Perth and dives into some great attractions to discover in the its great to . Its nice to hear from a local "expert" with kids of their own and read what they recommend to see and do.
When you’ve lived in a city as long as we have, we initially struggle to think of things to do with our visitors. “Our” Perth is about being busy with the day-to-day chores of living – working, getting the kids to school, and sorting out our parents. Furthermore, Perth is a relatively “new” city. When we have had family visiting from Europe, we find it a bit daunting to compete with all of their historic tourist sites. It is then that I have to remind myself that we are incredibly lucky to live in this sunny, relaxed and friendly city, and I look forward to highlighting some of those things for you in this post.
When I sit down and think about it, there are actually too many places of interest in Perth to write about in one post. So today I’ll tell you a bit about the city centre (or as we call it, the the CBD, or Central Business District) given that most of our hotels are located in that area.
Perth is one of the most isolated major cities in the world and because of that it can be often overlooked on people’s travel itineraries. However, now there’s even more reason not to overlook Perth. In the last five years or so, there has been a great deal of effort put toward making Perth a desirable travel destination. Most of this rejuvenation has occurred on the river foreshore of the city centre.
What are your favourite things to see and do?
The recently developed Elizabeth Quay area is a new focal point. It is a major, revamped inlet of the Swan River that has bridges to walk along, a nature play ground for the smaller kids, a very nice bar and restaurant, and the all-important ice cream shop.
During summer we have a water play ground with fountains that kids big and small are allowed to play in. These fountains are shut off in the early evening and replaced by lights that are also fun to play around with. You'll also encounter ever-changing pop-up bars and eateries. The Perth City Council hosts many different festivals throughout the year and Elizabeth Quay is often a part of this, as host to many of these interesting activities. Make sure to check the internet for what’s on while you’re in town.
Next to Elizabeth Quay you will find the Bell Tower. Twelve of the Bells in this tower were gifted to Perth from Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, London. You can actually climb the tower, and if your timing is right you might even have a chance to ring the bells. (Let’s face it, what kid wouldn’t want the opportunity to make that much noise!!!)
Shopping on Hay and Murray Streets
If you’re in the area, it is also worth taking a walk through the city. Even if shopping is not your thing, it’s a nice atmosphere for a stroll. The two pedestrian malls, Hay and Murray Streets, are lined with various shops and linked by numerous arcades. You’ll also find a couple of the larger department stores here. If you prefer the upmarket, fancy stuff walk a bit further west to King St.
London Court is a pretty little alley that we refer to as our own little “Diagon Alley” which is also a quaint place to walk through. Check out the front of London Court with its clock that has figurines which move around when the clock chimes on the hour. It’s not quite the Marienplatz Glockenspiel in Munich, but it is a cute Perth version that’s fun to see, especially for the little ones. During school holidays, there are often various activities in the City Centre. This is especially the case around Christmas time.
Not far from the city centre, is our biggest inner-city park, Kings Park. Last year, when my son was doing an assignment for school, I was surprised to learn that this park is larger than New York’s Central Park. This is a wonderful park with lots of open spaces, great views of the city, picnic areas with BBQ’s, cafes, walking trails, native wildlife and wonderful playgrounds. If you visit during early spring you will also get to see the wild flowers. In summer there is an open air cinema as well as the occasional concert. It is a “must-see” place if you have young kids.
Another place that I would recommend is Matilda Bay. Matilda bay is situated across the Swan River from the city, and is a picturesque spot where you can relax under the trees. There is a good deal of space where the kids can run around, play with a ball or even have a dip in the river. You can grab a bite to eat, or have a coffee or snack at the coffee shop. Or you could opt to bring a picnic or some takeaway. There are BBQ facilities that you can use to cook some snags (our word for sausages!). You might even see black swans swimming in the river (not to mention the seagulls that will try to steal your food), and if you are really lucky you could even get to see some dolphins playing around in the water.
If you do make it to Matilda Bay, you might like to cross the road and have a walk in the shade of the lovely big Moreten Bay Fig trees of the University of Western Australia campus. I love this site with its lovely reflection pond, ivy and huge trees, and the reason I love it here has nothing to do with the fact that it reminds me of my youth, which seems so long ago!
What are your favourite Restaurants with kids?
If you are traveling with small kids, then Sticky Beaks at Kings park is a great place to have a meal. There is a fenced off playground to keep the kids occupied whilst you sit and have a coffee…and cake. There are usually some lovely salads and a good selection of pastries and sandwiches…(and did I mention the cakes and ice cream?).
If your kids are old enough for you to let them go off on their own (or if they are getting to that age where they don’t want to be seen with you) then Zamia Café in Kings Park is also good. It is located in the Synergy parklands, and is a big space. The café is quite popular, so if you go for lunch it is a good idea to make a booking ahead of time.
In the City centre, Jamie’s Italian is always a popular choice with kids. That, too, can get busy so be sure to make a booking. Just behind Jamie’s Italian there is a laneway with more lovely eateries. This is called Railway lane at 140 William St.
What are your favourite Playgrounds?
Kings Park, Synergy Park, and Rio Tinto Parklands
In the centre of Perth, Kings Park is the main focus for playgrounds. In this one location, there are three main playgrounds. One at Sticky Beaks café, which is a typical play ground with swings and slides. This is best suited for little kids.
Synergy Park has lots of different areas to climb on. It is very big and has lots of bridges to climb and walk along. This is great for older kids who are a bit more independent.
The third playground is Rio Tinto Parklands, which will reopen 2018 after redevelopment. This is a real nature play area where kids can build with rocks and sticks and play in small streams.
What are your tips for a rainy day?
I hate to brag, but one of the amazing things about Perth is the weather. We must have about 300 days of sunshine a year, so rain is not usually a concern for us. If we are out on a rainy day it usually means we are standing on the sidelines of a netball court or sporting field yelling at/encouraging our kids.
That said, if you do happen to be here on a rainy day, a good option is the Science museum, Scitech, in Perth. It is a wonderful place with interactive exhibits where kids can learn without even realising it. Scitech also has a planetarium that projects the night sky onto the domed ceiling above, and presents lots of different interesting information about the heavens to the viewers.
Perth Cultural Centre: Art Gallery of Western Australia and West Australian Museum
There is also the Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge where you will find the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the West Australian Museum. The West Australian Museum is currently under contruction until 2020, however there are many offsite experiences on offer. These places often have activities for the kids as well as special events, especially during school holidays.
As I’ve aimed to keep this post about the centre of Perth, I have not mentioned our beautiful beaches and coast lines, or the Hills Area, the Wine Valley or a little place called Fremantle. I look forward to the opportunity to continue this post in the future with more information about some of the other beautiful and amazing things to see and do in Perth outside of the city centre.
Happy and safe travels!
Print and go: check out the locations of all of Angela's suggestions
Thanks very much Angela for your great insight into the city of Perth. We are excited to hear from you again in the future and hear what else there is to discover along the west coast of Australia. You really have got me thinking how I can make it work to visit one day in the future!
Have you ever been to the city of Perth?