Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital city full of natural beauty, history, and heritage. One of the most family-friendly cities containing green leafy parks and gardens of supreme grandeur, there are so many things to do in Hobart with kids. Located towards the southeast end of Tasmania, discover other incredible locations by taking day trips from Hobart.
When visiting cities, it can become expensive as a family to visit the local sights. The below is a guide for free things to do in Hobart.
This post contains affiliate links – Article Updated September 2019
THINGS TO DO IN HOBART WITH KIDS
If you are in Hobart on a Saturday, a stop at the famous Salamanca Markets is not to be missed, with nearly 300 licensed traders; it is one of Australia’s largest markets.
The street itself is lined with 19th-century Georgian sandstone buildings, once used for warehousing whale oil, grain, and timber. They have now been converted into some of Hobart’s most popular café’s, markets, shops, and restaurants.
SALAMANCA MARKET STALLS
The markets draw crowds of people searching for art, craft, home-made delights, fresh fruit and vegetables, second-hand books, Tasmanian wood products, jewellery, toys, and much more.
The markets are a great place to stock up on delicious local fresh produce and some sugary treats along the way.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Be prepared for crowds! The Hobart markets are not your average weekend market, and the once small street markets that began in 1973 are now a local institution. There can quite literally be thousands of people walking the street of Salamanca Place.
If you are after a break from the hustle and bustle, the grassy area alongside the markets is the perfect place to relax and listen to the local buskers.
The grassy area alongside the markets was the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the street. Claim a patch of grass, listen to the soothing sounds of the buskers and stop for a snack underneath the giant trees.
Image Credit – City of Hobart and Alastair Bett
On Saturdays, Salamanca Market is closed to traffic from 5.30 am to 6.00 pm, which is why the council encourages public transport. You have the option of parking in a nearby city car park and walking to the markets. After a long morning on your feet, return to your car by catching a free shuttle that runs in a continuous loop every 10 minutes from 9.00 am to 2.00 pm between the Hobart city centre and Salamanca Place.
KIDS ACTIVITIES HOBART
Walking towards the water along Salamanca Place leads you to the streets of Battery Point, where you’ll find Princes Park. A nautical-themed play area, with lots of activities for the children to enjoy, and one of the best playgrounds in Hobart for kids. Surrounded by lush green grass, colourful flowers, and large shady trees, it is a perfect way to relax after a morning of shopping.
Princes Park near old Battery Point
Known as Sullivans Cove, the waterfront area stretches from Salamanca Place to Hunter Street. This port has been made internationally famous by the Sydney to Hobart race that starts on Boxing Day and finishes at Constitution Docks each year.
As you venture along, you will view historic buildings adjacent to the waterfront area, such as the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and Parliament House.
Feel time slow down as you watch the boats set sail from the dock or take a boat tour on what would no doubt be a perfect day on the water.
When the salty air creates an appetite, you’ll find many restaurants and cafes in the area or purchase a live seafood feast from the local fisherman.
ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN HOBART
Established in 1818, nestled in the heart of Hobart, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens are the second oldest botanic gardens in Australia. We have visited many botanic gardens, and Hobart has to be one of our top favourites with its striking displays.
You can opt for a guided tour or go at your pace and explore the 14 hectares of parklands. Due to the cool climate, many garden displays are unique to Hobart.
HOBART BOTANICAL GARDENS CAFE
A café and restaurant are available in the gardens. The fully licensed Succulent Restaurant is located in the visitor centre near the main gate, offering snacks, coffee, and lunch, seven days a week.
Coffee, ice-creams, sandwiches, wraps, cakes, and more can be purchased in Sprout Café. You have the option of alfresco seating or grab a takeaway and find a secluded area in the gardens. Sprout Café is open seven days a week from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm
Just a short drive to the gardens from the city centre parking can be located near the main gates or along Lower Domain Road.
MUST-SEE GARDEN DISPLAYS
If your time is limited, choose to tailor your walk through the garden displays based on these recommendations.
- Conservatory – The Conservatory at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens opened in 1939, and each year upwards of 10,000 plants are grown in the conservatory to use in their four seasonal displays.
- Lily Pond – Formed in 1840, water lilies have grown here for over 100 years. The Nymphaea lilies are planted in pots on the bottom of the pond, and if you are visiting throughout summer, you’ll be lucky to witness their beauty covering the entire pond.
- Japanese Garden – White pebbles, water displays, stepping stones, vibrant flora, and bridges are just some of the special aspects of the Japanese garden display. The ducks encountered in this part of the gardens quite literally jump out of the water to greet you.
- Tasmanian Section – The gardens have created a tropical sanctuary with the centrepiece being a waterfall amongst lush ferns, palms, and tropical plants. Walk around the display via the wooden steps.
- Subantarctic Plant House – This is a garden display you will not encounter anywhere else! Enter into the World’s only subantarctic plant house where plants from subantarctic islands grow. The Tasmanian gardens have been able to create such a display by mirroring the COLD, (very cold!) foggy and wet conditions in a climate-controlled environment.
- The Main Gates – though not a feature on the map, The Royal Botanical Tasmanian Gardens has some of Australia’s best and oldest examples of trees, overlooking the grounds. These giants stand 40 metres tall and can be seen down the entrance drive to the main gate. The 130-year old trees are only mere babies compared to some being more than 3000 years old in California.
MOUNT WELLINGTON / KUNANYI
Mount Wellington is an impressive sight to look upon, but even more impressive is being on top of this giant that stands 1270 metres in the sky.
This natural attraction sits on the doorstep of Hobart being only a mere half-hour drive from the city and is full of activities from bushwalking, bike riding, horse riding, dog walking, 4WD, rock climbing. It caters to anyone wanting to spend a day in nature.
With perfect blue skies, we encounter many other people visiting, but due to the several walking paths and vastness of the area, you tend not to notice the other people around.
The views are spectacular, and on a cloudless day, it gave a brilliant aerial view of Hobart, the River Derwent, and the ocean.
Travelling to or from the summit, you will notice the Mount Wellington walking tracks embedded in the dense woodlands. I can imagine the sense of achievement those adventurers would have after they hiked approximately 1200 metres from Hobart to the summit of Mount Wellington.
You don’t need to go to this extreme to be rewarded with magnificent views, though. There are many short walking tracks on the summit. We did find its best to leave the stroller in the car as there are stairs that lead to some of these lookout points.
HOBART TO MOUNT WELLINGTON – OPENING TIMES – CAR PARKING
Vehicle access is via Pinnacle Road, with Wellington Park only closing if there is an emergency or in extreme weather conditions. Car parking is found at the summit, where you may have to loop around a couple of times to find a park if it is busy.
Toilets are available at Myrtle Forest, Fern Tree Park, The Springs, and the Pinnacle.
MOUNT WELLINGTON WEATHER
It is best to prepare for all conditions when you reach the pinnacle as it can change suddenly from beautifully calm conditions too windy, wet, and cold. We had been warned that it could be at least -8 degrees cooler on the mountain, and then you need to add the wind chill factor. On a glorious sunny day, ensure you pack your hats and sunscreen as the Tasmanian sun packs a punch.
Visit the Wellington Park website for more detailed information on planning your visit.
Image Credit – Luke Tscharke c/o Tourism Tasmania
DAY TRIPS FROM HOBART
With Hobart being one of the main destinations in Tasmania for visitors due to the number of things to do and the ease of accessing the city, it also makes for the perfect hub to discover many other places in southern Tasmania. Below are some of the best day trips from Hobart.
TASMAN NATIONAL PARK
On your way to Port Arthur, take a short detour, and stop at Tasman Park Lookout. Join the many other tourists who stop to admire and take photos of the remarkable rock formations and towering sea cliffs that are some 300 metres high. Visitors can choose to admire the spectacular coastal landforms of the Blowhole, the Tasmans Arch and Devils Kitchen from afar or inspect them more personally on one of the many bushwalks. Cubed Espresso Bar and Food, is a cute caravan perched on the lookout, offering the perfect refreshment or snack for your rest stop.
The historic village of Richmond (which was once Tasmania’s 3rd largest town) is an easy 20-minute drive from Hobart. Richmond was initially established as a military staging post and convict station linking Hobart with Port Arthur. It is now a popular tourist destination famous for its galleries, tea shops, craft boutiques, and sweet shops that fill the historic Georgian buildings lining the streets.
One of the most photographed landmarks within the town is the Richmond Bridge, Australia’s oldest surviving large stone arch bridge, completed in 1825.
Another one of the best things to do in Richmond Tasmania is to visit the existing and best-preserved colonial goal, built-in 1825. The goal gives an insight into the life of the men and women who served their time during the convict era.
Take a walk around the charming town, making sure to stop at Sweets and Treats, an old school lolly shop filled with many old school lollies; it would make Willy Wonka’s eyes bulge.
Image Credit – Alastair Bett c/o Tourism Tasmania
PORT ARTHUR HISTORICAL SITE
If you are after a lesson in history, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of Port Arthur is a must-visit location. Only 90 minutes from Hobart walk around the 40 hectares while learning the lives of the inmates that passed through Port Arthur. The site itself is a sheer contrast to the dark history it holds with the grounds beautifully presented.
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Image credit – Hype TV c/o Tourism Tasmania
Russell Falls is within Mt Field National Park, a little over an hour from Hobart. It is one of the most photographed places in Tasmania, and many say the loveliest waterfall. There are two visitor sections in the National Park. The first, near the main entrance, is where you will find stunning walks through vegetation with some of the tallest trees in the world. This is also where you access the falls 600m circuit. Its easy track through the lush rainforest is suitable to reach for those with strollers.
TIP: You will need to purchase a parking pass for entry into the National Park, and there are hefty fines if you are caught without one. The money raised from the fees goes directly towards the upkeep of your parks and reserves. It is used to maintain and upgrade visitor facilities, walking tracks, and information booths. The Tasmanian National Parks website will give you more details on the different passes and the costs.
One of Tasmania’s sort after destinations for spectacular bushwalks, beach strolls, and picturesque natural scenery. Bruny Island is well known for its rare plants and animals. Fifty kilometers long North and South Bruny are joined by a narrow isthmus of land called The Neck. Climb the wooden stairs to the viewing deck where you can witness 360-degree views. A foodies paradise savour fresh seafood, creamy cheeses, and delicious chocolates. A short 20-minute ferry ride connects Bruny Island with Kettering on the mainland, 40-minutes south of Hobart.
PORT ARTHUR LAVENDER FARM
The Port Arthur Lavender Farm is a family-owned business set on 18 acres and has been supplying visitors with a quality range of lavender products since 2014. A 90-minute scenic drive from Hobart, the farm is open seven days and is free to enter. The lavender flowers are in peak bloom from December through to February, and openings times change based on the season, so visit their website before the trip. Try handmade lavender products, indulge on lavender ice creams, and take a free, self-guided tour describing the lavender farming process. While at the farm enjoy a meal at their café, offering savory and sweet delights, with many drink options featuring their hero ingredient – lavender.
WHAT PART OF HOBART ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO VISITING?
Road Trippin around Tasmania?
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