A Teen Play Date in Darling Harbour

It’s a sunny winter’s day and as we admire the sparkly view from our Darling Harbour hotel window our breakfast is wheeled in. Breakfast is a sampling of practically everything on the room service breakfast menu and as far as the girls are concerned, the high point this weekend.

We’re staying at the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour, just me and the girls. We have a vague plan to take advantage of the wide range of activities available to us in this little pocket of Sydney.

Novotel Darling Harbour towel monkey and view

Our weekend starts on a sunny Saturday afternoon after checking in and claiming beds.  From our corner suite on the seventh floor we can see most of Darling Harbour so we use this vantage point to figure out where to start.

As it happens, we start a short walk away from the hotel at Kingpin Bowling, and game of ten pin bowling (which takes a very long time because we’re all so bad) followed by a game of lazer tag.

I’ve never played lazer tag before – a strange concept – but actually it’s kinda fun playing hide and seek, chasing each other round the obstacles. And strangely therapeutic.

Novotel Darling Harbour at night

After a little stroll around the waterfront and an obligatory stop at the English Lolly Shop we decide to return to our beloved suite to loll about for a bit longer, arriving back just in time for a surprise afternoon treat; chocolate covered strawberries.

Our dinner is at Eat Love Pizza, a family friendly gourmet pizza joint that is clearly very popular – I don’t see a single empty table. A pizza each, in hindsight, was ambitious, but luckily we’re able to take the leftovers back to the hotel (lunch tomorrow sorted). The service here is great, and there is a wide range of gourmet pizzas to choose from but e warned – the portions are large.

Having not quite managed to walk off our pizza we retire back to our room to, and, snuggled up in onesies, with popcorn and chocolate supplied (there’s always a little extra room for dessert) we settle in for the night with Mary Poppins – or rather Saving Mr Banks, bit of a tear-jerker but thoroughly enjoyable.

It’s possible I fell asleep before the girls.

The following morning our grand breakfast feast arrives. Pancakes with maple syrup, cream and strawberries, croissants with ham and cheese, smoked salmon and avocado, bircher muesli, toasted muesli, organic yoghurt and a huge bowl of fruit salad. Strawberry smoothies, freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly brewed coffee.

In Room Breakfast at Novotel Darling Harbour

Breakfast in a hotel room is a very rare treat, and while my kids are usually very partial to a hotel breakfast buffet, this tops the list for the girls as far as culinary experiences go. Having devoured what we could of our feast, we waddle over to IMAX theatre to see Great White Sharks in glorious 3D.

The film attempts to convince the audience that these critically endangered sharks need our protection more than our fear, but at the same time shows rather graphic footage of them leaping out of the water chasing seals. So I’m not sure the girls are convinced.

Strange fish at Sealife Sydney Aquarium

We then head over to SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium to see a few live action sharks. Sydney Aquarium has some fabulous interactive displays that take you on a Shark Mission – a mission to learn more about these largely misunderstood creatures.

There’s also a snorkel with sharks experience here now in their beautiful big tropical reef tank, which allows kids to snorkel above the tank in an enclosed platform.

Maritime Museum Submarine

Our next adventure is across the other side of the harbour at the Australian National Maritime Museum. We start with a tour of the submarine, ducking and crawling through the small spaces sailors used to occupy while at sea for weeks, before moving on the Endeavour, a replica of the ship sailed here by Captain Cook.

Maritime Museum Tall Ship

This ship has even smaller spaces to crawl through and it’s mind boggling to think that people walked around stooped at the waist for months at a time at sea. Maybe they were all midgets?

We take a quick sprint up the lighthouse before heading inside to check out the indoors exhibits, an exhibition of whale photography catches our eye first before we wind our way upstairs to explore the history of immigration and the Australian life at sea.

Maritime Museum Darling Harbour

A final visit to our lovely suite for lunch before we say a final goodbye to our corner suite and catch a ferry home. A busy weekend of activities comes to an end, and we haven’t really touched half what’s available here.

And the highlight? Our beautiful room with a view. And breakfast. A tie.

The writer was a guest of the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour. Family Stay and Play packages are now available: visit: novoteldarlingharbour.com.au

About Author


Mother, travel blogger, social media diva, scuba girl and passionate eco-warrior, on a mission to remove plastic from my life. I also blog here about diving: www.diveplanitblog.com


  1. Looks like a lovely treat for mum and daughters. There’s so much to do there and a staycation at home is always simple… no flights, taxis to airport etc etc You Can start relaxing straight away.

  2. So much fun. My tots love a Sydney staycation as much as your teens. 🙂

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