Don’t go into hibernation this winter – 4 wonderful winter escapes for families close to Sydney

In winter it’s tempting to hide away inside the warmth of our own home but getting out in the fresh air can really awaken the senses. Some of the best holidays happen in the colder months when the crowds of summer and the high-season prices disappear. Keeping the kids outside and active in winter also helps them to build immunity to fight off the nasty bugs that seem to go around at this time of the year.

Here are four great trips to consider for the winter holidays, perfect for families and within easy reach of Sydney.

Jenolan Caves

Jenolan Caves

Blue Mountains

Don’t run away from the cold, embrace it. The cool climate of the Blue Mountains is perfect for adventure with many children’s activities on offer that you can enjoy too.

Jenolan Caves showcases some of the most spectacular caves in Australia. Dramatically lit and expertly guided daily tours will have the kids feeling like they’ve entered another world. For older kids, check out Trees Adventure at Grose River Park. Climbing, swinging and leaping through the trees will release their inner Tarzan or Jane and burn off loads of energy.

On cool sunny days, there are number of amazing bush tracks to explore but make sure you take some extra water, warm clothes and let someone know where you are going. Or rest your legs and view the mountains from a different angle as you ride the scenic railway, the steepest passenger railway in the world. Get up close and personal with the native animals at Featherdale Wildlife Park.  In rainy weather, the Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum can be educational and fun at the same time.

Hunter Valley Wildlife

Hunter Valley Wildlife

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Gardens are stroller friendly and the little ones will love finding their favourite fairy-tale characters in the Storybook Garden. There is also horse riding, Hunter Valley Zoo, Richmond Vale Railway Museum and even hot air ballooning to try. Get back to nature at the Hunter Wetlands Centre with trail walking, canoeing and a children’s discovery playground. You can even warm up on a cold day with a tour of the chocolate factory.

Choose an accommodation option that is close to all the attractions and offers family friendly accommodation facilities and packages such as Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley Resort.

Pacific Coast Drive

If you have a bit of time up your sleeve why not take a few days, the car and the kids, and experience the legendary Pacific Coast Drive from Sydney to Brisbane.

Make your first stop off at Australian Reptile Park in Gosford where the kids can make new friends, of the scaly and furry variety. By Port Stephens you will all be in the holiday mood. During the cooler months of June and July you can spot the annual whale migration and pods of bottlenose dolphins here.

Port Stephens

Port Stephens

Then you’ve got a continuous line of surf beaches, national parks and rolling green hills to explore up the coast. Highlights here include a visit to Ellenborough Falls near Taree and of course The Big Banana on your way through Coffs Harbour. Byron Bay has a chilled out beach vibe and in winter there are less backpackers and more families. Be sure to take the kids on a walk to the lighthouse.

Queensland – Gold Coast

Add on an extra week after your Pacific Coast Drive and take some time to relax and explore the Gold Coast. Or fast track your trip, skip the drive and pick up some cheap airfares to the winter warmth of Queensland.

With the fun of the theme parks and myriad coastal activities, the Gold Coast is the ultimate family destination. Even in winter it’s warm enough for the kids to run wild on the coast and play in the sea. Be sure to check out Drax for Kids, if they are old enough to visit this gothic park without having nightmares. Glow Worm Caves are amazing and instructive too. Then experience dinner with a unique show the whole family will love at The Outback Spectacular. For a better deal on your family theme park packages visit themeparks.com.au

Instead of moping about the place waiting for summer to show its face make the most of the cooler months and your next holiday. Keep a lookout for the special deals advertised to pull in tourists at this, off peak, time of year and make the most of them. Winter is the time for serious family fun; so pack your bags, strap on some boots, pull on your hats and coats and get out there.

This post was provided by Anna Johnson, a busy mum of 2 boys, a freelance travel writer who still enjoys spending her time-off travelling with her family and loves sharing her experiences with others. Follow Anna on G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AnnaJohnsonOToole