Find out here the absolute best things to do in Launceston with Kids. The guide includes the top tourist attractions in Launceston and the surrounding area.
What I loved about Launceston was that even though it has been transported into the current century with new infrastructure and features, it still embraces its history, which contributes to the cities charm.
Launceston is known to many as the gateway to the superb Tamar Valley wine region, and being Tasmania’s second-largest city, its airport is a hive of activity with incoming and outgoing visitors.
During our three-night stay, we discovered there was much to enjoy in and around this riverside city.
Continue reading for the perfect itinerary, including the best things to do in Launceston with kids.
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Featured Image – Gatekeepers Cottage and Kings Bridge © Tourism Tasmania & Sean Fennessy
Post was updated in May 2019
- 1 THINGS TO DO IN LAUNCESTON FOR FAMILIES
- 2 CITY PARK
- 3 BEAUTY POINT
- 4 LAUNCESTON HERITAGE WALKS
- 5 CATARACT GORGE
- 6 HOW TO GET TO LAUNCESTON
- 7 WHERE TO EAT IN LAUNCESTON
- 8 WHERE TO STAY IN LAUNCESTON
THINGS TO DO IN LAUNCESTON FOR FAMILIES
If you are searching for what to do in Launceston with kids, it is highly likely that City Park will pop up in the results, and for a good reason! Launceston has many delightful parks and gardens that are alive with colour in any season.
None though have the magnificence like City Park; lush green parklands filled with giant oaks, surrounded by Georgian streetscapes and old-world charm.
MACAQUE MONKEY ENCLOSURE
City Park has a long history of exhibiting animals with Japanese Macaques (also known as snow monkeys) calling the park home since 1980. The monkeys were presented to Launceston by their Japanese sister-city Ikeda, and their enclosure is designed to reflect the range of habitats that the monkeys would encounter in the wild. City Park’s free enclosure is a brilliant place for travellers to view these inquisitive and intellectual animals that are sadly diminishing in the wild.
The John Hart Conservatory is filled with a beautiful collection of seasonal annuals for everyone to enjoy. Stroll through the conservatory or take a seat and enjoy the hundreds of plants beautifully displayed. The conservatory is a wonderful space to enjoy peace and relaxation. The historic building was erected in 1932 and refurbished in 2010 as a joint project between Launceston City Council and the Federal Government through the regional local community infrastructure program.
LAUNCESTON FOR KIDS
Two enduring favourites for children in City Park is riding Lonnie the loco train and playing on the playground, which is also a train theme. Lonnie the loco will take your family on a little journey around the park for a small fee. To burn off some energy, the playground is one of the best playgrounds I have come across for toddlers and also has a section close by for the older children.
City Park Opening Hours
If you are visiting City Park for more than a picnic under the trees, the monkey enclosure, conservatory and mini train tour all have an opening and closing times.
The John Hart Conservatory is open weekdays from 8.30am-4.30pm and weekends from 9.00am-4.30pm (April-September) and 9.00am-5.30pm (October-March).
The Macaque Monkey Enclosure is open from 8.00am-4.00pm (April-September) and 8.00am-4.30pm (October-March).
The John Hart Conservatory is open weekdays from 8.30am-4.30pm and weekends from 9.00am-4.30pm (April-September) and 9.00am-5.30pm (October-March).
Lonnie the Loco operates on most days from outside the conservatory.
It is a short 45-minute drive from Launceston to Beauty Point in Tasmania where you will even find more Launceston attractions that shouldn’t be missed.
The landscape as you make the journey to Beauty Point was one of the most picturesque we came across on our road trip around Tasmania. It was lovely and scenic, past vineyards and Tamar wetlands.
The Southern Ocean Aquarium
Have you ever been close enough to a seahorse to hold it in your hands?
Seahorse World is dedicated to seahorse breeding, education, and conservation and is one of the very few seahorse farms in the world that are registered to export seahorses and sell them to countries all around the world.
When you arrive, you take the 45-minute guided tour which explains in full detail about the seahorse, the different types, and breeding cycles. As the establishment is a working seahorse farm, you will go behind the scenes and witness the seahorse in their enclosures in all stages of their life.
The final room you enter is the Southern Ocean aquarium where you will see many of the sea creatures that live in the Tasmanian waters. Learn about giant cuttlefish that change colour to suit their surroundings. See a Tasmanian giant crab and lobster up close and of course, hold a seahorse and starfish with your own hands.
The guide is extremely informative on all the sea creatures and was happy to answer lots of questions along the way.
The end of the tour leads you out through the gift shop selling a large range of souvenirs for you to buy. If you fell in love with the seahorses during your tour, Seahorse Australia (the parent company of Seahorse World) sells and delivers seahorses worldwide.
Seahorse World is open every day with the only exception being Christmas Day, where they are closed.
Tours depart regularly from 9.30am– 4.00pm (4.30pm in peak times or if booked) from December to April.
Tours depart on the hour from 10.00am to 3.00pm (4.00pm tours may be conducted if booked in advance) from May to November.
Tasmanian platypuses and Tasmanian echidnas are unique and cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. After you purchase your tickets, you will be taken to watch a 15-minute video on the platypus. You will then be guided into the platypus ponds area to watch the platypus swim and play in their enclosures while the guide shares the biology and interesting facts on both the platypus and echidnas.
The next room on your visit has a large tank to see the platypus being fed. I must admit the highlight of platypus house were the echidnas. At the end of the tour, you are taken into the echidna gardens where the three echidnas are given dinner literally at your feet.
Platypus House is open every day from 9.30am-4.30pm (November to April) and from 10.00am-3.30pm (May to October). The only exception being Christmas Day, where they are closed.
Facts from Platypus House
The platypus is one of the few venomous mammals with the males having a spur on the back of their feet that are connected to a venom secreted gland. The venom can cause excruciating pain for humans, so be aware the next time you see one of these animals in nature.
The echidna’s spines on their back are like a single hair which grows into one thick spine, and these spines fall out all the time, similar to hair does.
Cafe at Platypus House
After visiting both the platypus house and seahorse world, don’t leave before stopping at the Café in Platypus House for a warm drink and giant homemade melting moment cookie. If you find yourself visiting in the warmer months, you may prefer one of their delicious ice-creams offered.
Money Saving Tip
Seahorse World is right beside Platypus Place, making it an easy walk and convenient to visit both in the one day. Both attractions are known as two of the top things to do in Launceston for families.
Also in the area is the Beaconsfield mine and heritage museum. To explore all three, you can purchase a Tamar triple-pass, which is the best value for visiting all the attractions.
Seahorse World and Platypus House rank in the top two things to do in Beauty Point, Tasmania. Read what other people have to say about these attractions on TripAdvisor
LAUNCESTON HERITAGE WALKS
The best way to absorb Launceston’s history and experience its historical charisma is by walking the city. Launceston has three walking trails that vary in distance and time. They will all take you on a journey through time to witness examples of the cities history.
You May Also Like: The Ultimate Guide to Travelling Tasmania with Kids
One of the best things to see in Launceston is Cataract Gorge. Three factors make this one of the top places to see in Launceston, and they are the location, entry cost, and features. Cataract Gorge is only 15 minutes from Launceston city, making it easily accessible for any travellers visiting the area.
Entry into the are is free, and you can stay as long as you desire. Cataract Gorge is home to many walking and hiking trails, picturesque scenery, colourful gardens, a variety of wildlife and the world’s longest single-span chairlift.
Williams Collins, of the brig Lady Nelson, first observed the area in 1804 and wrote: “the beauty of the scene is probably not surpassed in the world.”
There are two parking spots for the gorge, but the largest and the one that has the easiest access to facilities is off Basin Road.
WALKS AND HIKING TRAILS
Many walks are suitable for prams, but be warned you are in for a workout at times as not all of them are flat or paved. Cataract walk was the most suitable with a stroller as it was an easy sealed track that followed the South Esk River rapids down to the magnificent Kings Bridge, which dates back to 1864. We were lucky enough to see two giant seals sunbaking on the rocks and frolicking in the water along this walk.
Another walk not to be missed is over the 1940 Alexandra suspension bridge. It was constructed across the South Esk River to connect the two sides of the river. The Alexandra suspension bridge has a slight sway as you cross overlooking the First Basin, free swimming pool, and surrounding bushland.
CATARACT GORGE CHAIRLIFT
If you prefer not to walk from one side of First Basin to the other or if you want to see Cataract Gorge from another perspective the gorge scenic chairlift is the perfect option. The chairlift span is 308 metres making it the world’s longest and gives you a birds-eye view of the Gorge, Alexandra suspension bridge, river, and bushland.
The chairlift has two seats together with a safety bar across your lap (similar to that of a ski chairlift). Children under eight years must be accompanied by an adult, however only our five-year-old went on this adventure as we did not feel comfortable taking a restless two-year-old up to those heights.
The alternative to the chairlifts if you want to cross to either side of the river is the First Basin loop. The loop is an easy part-sealed walk taking you underneath the chairlift near the river, sprawling green lawns, and free outdoor swimming pool.
Cataract Gorge Cafe
The Basin Café is on the West Launceston side of the Cataract Gorge reserve grounds, near the main station chairlift. They are open daily from 8.00am and offer breakfast, lunch, morning, and afternoon tea. This is also where you will find the souvenir shop and a kiosk, selling light snacks, drinks, ice creams, and confectionery.
We spent most of our time on the cliff grounds reserve side where you will find The Gorge Restaurant and another kiosk. The Gorge Restaurant showcases Tasmania’s finest produce and is a wedding and function venue. Their opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 12.00 pm – 2.30 pm for Lunch and Tuesday to Saturday from 6.30pm – 8.30 pm for Dinner.
We chose to order from the kiosk, which had a variety of food and drinks on offer. There is lovely outdoor seating where you can watch the famed resident peacocks roaming in the gardens. Alternatively, select a takeaway and sit in the grassed area close by surrounded by beautiful pastel hydrangea flowers in every colour of the rainbow.
HOW TO GET TO LAUNCESTON
Located 240 km’s south of the Australian mainland, Tasmania is separated by the famous Bass Strait, meaning the only way to access the state is via plane or boat.
FLY – The major airlines Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Qantas offer regular flights into Launceston from all major airports. If you are travelling from northern states, you may be lucky to score a direct flight, but it is not uncommon to have at least one connecting stop on the trip. Flying is certainly the quicker option to reach the state of Tasmania; however, if you are wanting a different experience or require your vehicle, then the Spirit of Tasmania is the other alternative.
BOAT – The shallow and exposed Bass Strait is well known for its ‘unruly weather’ where the sea can be large and the currents irregular. The Spirit of Tasmania is a 28,000-tonne ferry that sails between Melbourne and Devonport (approx. a little over an hour from Launceston). There are many different fare types as 500 vehicles can be accommodated on the vessel along with accommodation as you can choose to sail by night. Find out more about this travel option with kids here.
WHERE TO EAT IN LAUNCESTON
As we were staying at an Airbnb, we did not have the opportunity of trying all the local dining options our hosts recommended. We can, however, tell you about our fabulous lunch at Cuccina Cafe in Launceston, 60 Margaret Street, Launceston.
From the outside, you may not realise this is a café, but that may be how the locals like it, keeping it all to themselves. It’s not a large Café but this added to its atmosphere and when we arrived just before lunch order ended it was a hive of activity. The menu options were fabulous, with many choices on offer.
What Cuccina lacked in style they made up for with their food, which to be honest is what we care about. Their portion sizes were enormous, and their food was extremely tasty. It is little wonder why they have great reviews on Tripadvisor.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAUNCESTON
There are ample hotels, apartments, and holiday rentals in Launceston, and finding the best accommodation for the family can be challenging. I offer some options to help with your decision below.
Family Airbnb’s in Launceston
After deliberating on accommodation, we decided to opt for an Airbnb, only a short drive from the city. The Airbnb was a delightful apartment that was underneath the host’s primary residence. They were a family with young children themselves, and this meant they catered very well to having children stay, with games, toys and outdoor play equipment.
Find all the popular family-friendly Airbnb’s in the Launceston area here!
Family Hotels in Launceston
Alternatively, if a motel, hotel, or resort is more your thing, you can find the best deals for Launceston accommodation here.
The below are some popular hotel & apartment suggestions for travelling with kids in Launceston
Peppers Silo | very popular 5* hotel
Change Overnight | very popular apartment-style accommodation
Hotel Grand Chancellor Launceston | popular 4.5* hotel
Best Western Plus Launceston | popular 4.5* hotel
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