The best kid and family activities for the winter school holidays in and around Geelong

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The best kid and family activities for the winter school holidays in and around Geelong

Here are our picks of the best activities around the region for kids:

The school holidays are here, and it’s time to plan some exciting adventures that will keep kids and families entertained throughout the break.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor thrills, educational experiences, or creative outlets, there’s no shortage of activities to spark joy and create lasting memories (while also ensuring you don’t lose it merely a week in).

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here

From thrilling theme parks to interactive museums and natural wonders, we have curated a list of fantastic things to do during the school holidays.

Winter Glow at Adventure Park

Taking inspiration from their ever-popular Christmas Festival of Lights, Winter Glow will see the venue transform into a frosty winter wonderland with a range of activities and experiences that are perfect for families, couples, and anyone looking to embrace the winter season. 

Running 23 June – 10 July and from 13 – 16 July for 2023, a highlight is of course the park being decorated with millions of twinkling lights, creating a magical atmosphere that is truly breathtaking.

In addition to the stunning decorations and lighting, Winter Glow also offers a range of winter-themed activities for visitors to enjoy. From building a snowman in the Snow Play Zone (with realistic snow), to amazing fire twirling and ice sculpting displays, awesome action rides, face painting, cookie decorating and even mini-golf, there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

Winter Glow: Adventure Park transforms into a glowing and snowy winter wonderland in June/July 

Winter Wonderlights in Ballarat

When we say a winter wonderland, we mean that quite literally with the return of headlining event Winter Wonderlights at Sovereign Hill. Set to be brighter than ever before, visitors will be swept up in the excitement of a special European-style Christmas as the entire township comes alive with a new shimmering light and projection show; falling snow; warm mulled wine; delicious gingerbread treats; pantomimes and theatre shows; hands-on Christmas-themed arts and crafts; and visits from St. Nick.

It’s a school holiday favourite!

Tickets here.

Hit up the driving range

Whether you’re with one kid or a group, the Curlewis Driving Range is perfect for anyone looking to get out of the house! Take it as seriously or as casually as you like – I’m terrible at it but on the rare occasion my golf ball does score some air time, I feel blissfully accomplished so it’s guaranteed the kids will love it.

The driving range is located at 1201 Portarlington Rd, Curlewis.

Holiday Drop-in Sessions at the National Wool Museum

Daily 10am-5pm, Free with entry

School Holidays at the Museum are all about getting creative, using your hands and your imagination.

Their family hands-on crafty sessions will introduce the kids to all to the amazing things we can make with wool, fibre and textiles. For children young and old, they are offering fun and practical workshops where they can learn to make, repurpose and style garments

Take a tour of We the Makers Sustainable Fashion Prize 2023 and then head to the Design Studio to create an outfit for your peg doll or try on vintage garments to create your personal look. There’s also a Learn to Spin and Felt session on 29 June, and Learn to Knit and Plait on 4 July.

Find out more here.

Explore the magical world of Fairy Park in Anakie

This one’s for the young and the young at heart. Family attraction Fairy Park is located just 60 minutes from Melbourne and 30 minutes from Geelong.

Dedicated to tales, myths and legends, the park features 32 scenes housed in awe-inspiring castles, cottages and caves set among beautifully manicured gardens ready to be explored. There’s even a medieval Camelot Playground where children can explore secret passages, climb daring towers and meet mystical creatures, and the park features one of Australia’s largest collections of rare Marklin model trains. Even if you’re not into the tales and myths, the breathtaking 360 degree panoramic views of Mt Anakie’s extinct volcano and the rich landscape that can be seen from the summit is reason enough to go check it out.

Tickets start at $14 with children under two free.

For more information, visit the website.

Check out the new tiger at Ballarat Wildlife Park

Good news if your kiddies are animal lovers!

The family-owned and operated Ballarat Wildlife Park has long been a favourite for locals and tourists, with Ballarat’s friendliest Meerkats, Kangaroo Island Kangaroos, giant Tortoises, Rattlesnakes, giant Anacondas, Pythons and even Tasmanian Devils and Victoria’s only Komodo Dragon. It’s a place of beauty for any wildlife and animal lover, and it’s one championed by a strong passion for the conservation of wildlife and the environment.

You’ll also be able to meet Akasha –  Ballarat’s newest tiger. A Sumatran/Siberian cross, Akasha is the younger sister of the Park’s current tiger, Kai.

Tickets start at $17 with kids under 5 free. You’ll save a few bucks if you pre-book online too.

Visit the website for more details.

Hike Erskine Falls in Lorne

Visiting a waterfall is one of the most unique experiences ever, and it’s one that will have your kids on cloud nine for the rest of the day (as well as wear them out for the afternoon).

In a region known for its magnificent waterfalls, Erskine Falls stands out as one of the best, plunging (or trickling, depending on recent rainfall levels) down a 30-metre drop into the Erskine River. To indulge in the beauty that it is, there’s an easy walk to the first lookout (about 300m), or a more strenuous but rewarding climb down 230 steps through lush rainforest to the second lookout, where you will see the waterfall in all its glory.

You can find the exact location here.

Lace up your hiking boots and explore these 10 waterfalls near Lorne

Indoor Fun at Bounce Geelong

On those chilly days, head indoors to Bounce Geelong.

Jump on trampolines, conquer the ninja warrior course, or challenge your friends to a game of dodgeball. It’s the ultimate destination for active kids and adults alike.

Find out more here.

A trip to Victoria Zoos

In case you missed it, children aged 16 or younger can get free entry to the Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo over the school holidays, making it the ideal activity this school holidays!

The Werribee Open Range Zoo is the closest, located just 30 minutes from Geelong and featuring an amazing array of animals live on 225 hectares of wide, open Savannah. Come face-to-face with amazing gorillas, a pride of lions, see monkeys at play, watch cheetah prowl, and feel the sand between your toes and watch the hippos at Hippo Beach. You will also find rhinoceros, giraffes, zebras, antelopes and more grazing together on the picturesque Savannah.

To be eligible for free entry, children must be accompanied by an adult.

Enjoy a Movie at the Cinemas

When it’s time to unwind, catch the latest blockbusters at Village Cinemas. Grab some popcorn, sink into a comfy seat, and let the silver screen transport you to exciting new worlds.

This school holidays there are a range of big-name movies taking over the big screen, including Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Elemental, Spider Man: Across The Spider-Verse, The Flash, The Little Mermaid, and more!

Go Ice Skating

After its enormous success in previous years, a popular ice skating rink is making a comeback to help you make the most of winter. Armstrong Street South in Ballarat will be transformed into a winter wonderland from 24 June through to 16 July thanks to the team at Stars On Ice, giving locals and tourists alike the chance to skate along the ice, with or without a skating aid to keep you upright.

There will be great tunes and disco lights in the all-weather marquee, as well as child-friendly, sensory sessions with no music or flashing lights and restricted numbers and disco sessions on Friday and Saturday nights. There will also be Bollywood on Ice sessions featuring DJ Bobby M mixing the hottest Bollywood tunes, and Latin Fiesta on Ice sessions with Live DJ ‘Vico’ mixing the hottest Latin tunes.

You can find out more about the Ballarat Ice Rink here.

Lace up your skates, an ice skating rink is popping up in Ballarat this winter

Take them on the ferry

If you’re not one for long drives you could consider jumping on Searoad Ferries, which operates two all-weather car and passenger ferries between Sorrento and Queenscliff. Not only is it the most scenic way to get from Mornington Peninsula to the Bellarine, but because of the large stretch of coastline around Queenscliff, where the kids might catch a glimpse of dolphins, whales and seals along the way!

Searoad Ferries even have a fantastic schedule of FREE school holiday activities aboard its ferries between Queenscliff and Sorrento. In addition to the FREE kid’s activities, there is a children’s playground onboard each Ferry. 

Keen passengers can head to the Searoad Ferries website for timetables and other information.

Explore the Geelong Waterfront

If you’re looking for low-cost, bundle up and take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Geelong Waterfront.

Enjoy the stunning views of the bay, visit the iconic bollards, and stop by one of the cozy cafes for a warm cup of hot chocolate.

Become a Junior Chocolatier at Great Ocean Road Ice Creamery and Chocolaterie

There’s no denying this venue’s pull. Chocolate and ice cream, is there anything else your child could need in life?

With a showroom filled with thousands of chocolates, chocolate tastings (with social distancing measures in place) and an international team of six chocolatiers located just 30 minutes from Geelong, it’s the perfect excuse for an afternoon of browsing handcrafted chocolates, enjoying ice cream, and sussing out the sweet and savoury delights to take-away.

For the kids, they run 45 minute Junior Chocolatier Class held in the ‘parent free zone’, where children aged 6 – 12 years can learn from our chocolatiers how to make their very own chocolate creations. $40 includes personalised badge, chef’s hat and apron, graduation certificate plus take home three chocolate creations to enjoy. Classes are available on Selected days throughout the July school holidays. Bookings essential. Visit the Classes page to make your booking.

Check out Lightscape

 – ttendees will be mesmerised at Lightscape by an eight-metre sphere filled with over 20,000 moving LEDs, singing trees and a flickering fire garden amongst colour-changing installations, soundscapes and large-scale illuminated sculptures. They can also experience the new two-kilometre trail around the lake and celebrate the beauty of nature after dark.

While you’re there, rug up and grab a bite to eat at the tempting food trucks and bars at the Lightscape Welcome Zone or along the trail.

After-dark festival Lightscape is illuminating Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens this winter

Visit The Redwoods, The Otways

Located an hour and a half from Geelong and tucked within the heart of the Otways, on the banks of the Aire River south of Beech Forest surrounded by the native eucalypts, stands a spectacular forest of Californian Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) worthy of a day trip with the kiddies. This 85 year old plantation of Californian Redwoods has become a favourite local picnic area, and walking between the massive trunks flanking the river for the first time creates a special feeling of awe and reverence – one that’s really not to be missed in your lifetime. As you’ve already jumped in the car, Hopetoun Falls and Beauchamp Falls are within close driving proximity to The Redwods and are highly recommended to visit while in the region.

After a trip here, they’ll be talking about the HUGE trees for the rest of the week.

Head to The Sweets Lab

If you’re wanting to keep it super local, the local legends have something fun in store with their bath crumble station PLUS a do it yourself pick & mix station which will have the kiddies buzzing!

The bath crumble is $20 per bag and you can fit as much as you’d like into the bag, while the DIY pick & mix is $15 per bag and you can fill it right to the top!

Head here to find out more.

Nature Walks in You Yangs Regional Park

Lace up your hiking boots and explore the stunning You Yangs Regional Park.

With breathtaking views, tranquil bushland, and a variety of walking trails, it’s the perfect opportunity to connect with nature and spot local wildlife.

Knights of Fire at Kryal Castle

Combatting the winter chill, Kryal Castle in Ballarat is being set alight these school holidays with the return of its much-anticipated Knights of Fire from Saturday 24th June to Sunday 9th July.

Telling the fighting story of Snow Queen Neva’s battle to save the kingdom, here visitors can watch a spectacular fire joust; be spellbound by flaming swords; create magical potions; learn to sword fight and axe throw; partake in Knight School; and enjoy live performances that tell the story of Snow Queen Neva’s survival.

Book your tickets here.

An immersive Knights of Fire event is lighting up Kryal Castle for winter

Step into the shoes of SEA LIFE Melbourne’s penguin keepers

SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is calling all aspiring penguin keepers to waddle in for a brand-new Junior Penguin Keeper program during the Winter school holidays.

Through a range of engaging activities, including an artefact table, interactive kids trail, and daily keeper talk and feed at Penguin Playground guests will dive into the captivating world of penguins, learning valuable knowledge about diets, habitat maintenance, enrichment schedules, and the crucial role these flightless birds play in marine environments. With expert keepers on hand guiding  little ones through the program, sharing their extensive knowledge about penguin care and conservation this will be a fun learning opportunity for all.

Tickets start at $32 with kids under 3 free. Find out more here.

Check out the Waurn Ponds Shopping Centre Games

It’s game on these school holidays at Waurn Ponds! All activities are free and will run from 11am – 2pm weekdays.

Get ready to tee off the school holidays with two weeks of exciting activities in Centre… During week one, they’ll be calling all footy fans to show off their skills with specky games, inflatable activities, personalised footy cards and more.

During week two, shoot some hoops or tee off at Ball-o-rama! Put your golfing skills to the test on our epic mini-golf course and experience the thrill of our new high-tech basketball experience, combining 3D digital gaming with physical gameplay.

Find out the specifics here.

Explore the creatures of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ at the Melbourne Museum

Created by the Natural History Museum in London with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment, the acclaimed exhibition Fantastic Beasts™: The Wonder of Nature at Melbourne Museum is now showing, perfect for any young Harry Potter fans.

Combining science, nature and fantasy, this extraordinary exhibition demonstrates how the natural world has ignited myths, legends and incredible stories for generations, inspiring a new-found sense of admiration for the diversity of life on Earth. Study the connection between animals that roam our planet and their fictional counterparts: the magical creatures from the fan-favourite film series Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter, and celebrate the real-world scientists who help us understand our planet’s extraordinary creatures so we can protect them for the future.

Explore the creatures of the Wizarding World at ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature’ at the Melbourne Museum

Complete Master Wu’s mission at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre

Don’t miss Master Wu and his team of Ninjas who are heading to LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre this Winter school holidays on a mission to help guests release their inner Ninja.

Undertake multiple missions inside the attraction as they complete a NINJAGO activity booklet. From using super skills to work their way through the scavenger hunt, battling it out in Ninja bingo and competing in a SPINJITZU contest, once completed guests will earn a special Ninja headband.

Master Model Builders will also be on hand throughout the holidays to join in the fun and share their Ninja–esque LEGO building skills.

Find out more here.

Visit the Narana Cultural Centre

If you’re keen to learn more about the First Australians with the kids, look no further than the Narana Cultural Centre. No matter how much you think you know about Aboriginal culture, you’ll walk out of Narana knowing so much more, and it won’t cost you a cent.

They focus on bringing attendees an “introduction to today’s Indigenous culture”, and they achieve that through some amazing displays, intriguing programs, and a native garden.

Explore Street Art

Geelong is bringing their A-game to street art in recent times. It’s an absolute treasure trove of unique and vibrant street art to explore, whether you’re in the CBD, on Pakington Street or out in North Geelong – there’s something for everyone and there’s no doubt the kids will love it.

We’ve come up with a non-exhaustive list of some stellar works you can see right now. Don’t forget to take some snaps!

Puffing Billy’s immersive Train of Lights

Puffing Billy’s immersive Train of Lights experience is back in June and July for its second-ever run.

Taking place as soon as darkness takes over, the mesmerising winter steam train will become adorned with thousands of dazzling lights and stunning visual effects, illuminating the trees, tracks, and passing towns, captivating passengers with its magical charm.

Puffing Billy’s immersive Train of Lights night-time experience returns this winter

This list barely covers the amazing activities out there! Whatever you get up tp, the winter school holidays in Geelong are bound to be filled with adventure, discovery, and fun for the whole family.