Darwin is a pretty family friendly kind of town. The lifestyle is laid back, there's heaps of things to do with kids in Darwin and opportunities abound for families to get out and about and dine at one of the many restaurants, local markets, beachside cafes or Pop Up food vans that are springing up around town.
As a local Darwin mum who loves eating out with the family here are my top picks for the best family friendly restaurants and places to grab a bite for breaky, lunch and dinner in Darwin with kids.
By Libby Larsen x
PS - You may be interested in my article on The Best Things to Do in Darwin With Kids.
At the Darwin Ski Club the sunsets rock, the ambience is laid-back, the vibe is totally Darwin and very family friendly. Set on Vesty's Beach, the Ski Club is a Darwin institution, and somewhere that ticks all the boxes for both parents and kids. It's the perfect location for a family friendly dinner. There is plenty of lawn and two pools, one which is a cool kids wading pool. It's a place where kids can collect shells and hermit crabs on the beach while you knock back a few bevies, catch up with friends and enjoy a spectacular sunset. You can grab dinner there and they do decent kids meals. We always go for an early dinner but it's also open for breakfast.
Credit: Darwin Ski Club FB Page
Set on the lawns of the Darwin Surf Club at Casuarina beach Cafe del La Plage is simply fabulous and just perfect for families with little kids. It's a bean bag and picnic mat on the grass kind of affair. There are some quirky table and chair arrangements made out of milk crates and surf boards. They do a small range of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as coffees etc. The service can be slow when things are hectic but they seem to be running allot more efficiently these days. Check out their Facebook page for events there. They often do "street food" nights featuring a different international cuisine each week. Its licensed so you can't BYO. It's very laid back and very kid friendly dining.
Set in the lush Darwin botanical gardens in the gorgeous heritage listed old Weslian Church, family friendly Evas Cafe is deservedly popular with locals and visitors alike. It's the kind of place you'd go to whether you have kid or not. The setting and ambience is the drawcard here. It's very kid friendly and you can even bring your pooch along. You can sit inside in the charming and quaint weatherboard cafe, or outside with garden views. There is a magical kids playground set amongst the gardens out the back where you can take the kids after. Hands down, it has Darwin's best treehouse (but there are only 3 storeys - not 26 like in the book by Andy Griffiths). Very cool, and very kid friendly!
Image Credit: Goko and Co
Set on Nightcliff Foreshore - Cucina Sotto le Stelle do great wood fire pizzas from their "Pop Up" van. It's They also do some fancy pants pasta. It's super popular with local families who bring their picnic blankets and a bottle of plonk or two. They set up ant -long tables and chairs with homely checkered table cloths under the trees. There's lots of grass for kids to stretch their legs and the beach as well where kids can run and play. When the sun sets the glow of the strings of lights they set up above the tables creates a cosy atmosphere. There is always a gaggle of kids running around. Check their Facebook Page for the location and which nights they are open.
Set out over Darwin Harbour, Stokes Hill Wharf is a fun family friendly dining experience. There are tables and chairs set up along the huge pier, so you are literally dining out in the harbour. There are a number of family friendly restaurants where you grab take away food - the standard fish and chips with some yummy Asian options. There are HUGE fish that your kids can feed from the wharf that will adore your left over greasy fish and chips. But, be warned there is a BIG drop from the wharf into the harbour (depending on the tides) along the main dining area. There is a barrier, but its pretty much a large railway sleeper so be wary, or avoid perhaps if you have a toddlers. There is a fenced area on the other side of the wharf though if you have kids (but I don't like the view as much).
Credit: Northern Territory Government
Some of the best food to be had in Darwin for the whole family is at one of its many markets, where cross-cultural influences and abundant tropical produce are everywhere. I LOVE them all - but perhaps my pick for families with little kids is the Nightcliff Markets. The food stalls are yummy - Thai, Cambodian, Malaysia, French etc, there is a small playground with tables spread around the edges, a coffee van, live music, market stalls with clothes, knick knacks and some local produce as well. There is a family friendly neighbourhood feel, and is a place where locals bump into each other and end up chatting for ages. Nightcliff Markets are open all year and are super kid friendly.
Credit: About Australia
Mingle with the hipster Darwin northern suburbs crowd at the local Lucky Bat Cafe which is fast becoming an institution. These guys have some fab food, great coffee and welcome families. They do break and lunch and are also opening for wood fire pizza some nights. I love that they now have a little bar as well! There's a little courtyard out the back and just a cooee away you'll find a cool kids playground and the local library. I call it the Darwin Trifecta - good coffee, playground and library (with kids area). It's as local as you can get and super kid friendly.
Credit: Lucky Bat Facebook Page
Overlooking the marina in Cullen Bay you will find the whimsical kid friendly restaurant - the circus themed Lolas Pergola, aptly named after the owners' daughter Lola. The atmosphere is fun and colourful and kids love it. There are retro carousel ponies and old style carnival memorabilia toys to play on. There is even a teeny tiny merry go round (that works, and it's free!). There isn't oodles of space for rambunctious kids, but there is enough to keep them entertained for a little while. The family friendly menu has an American Diner flair to it, and they do it well. You can expect burgers with brioche buns, pulled pork, chunky chips and pizza options. It's really well-priced by Darwin standards, and they also have a good kiddies menu. It's fun, it's frivolous, and certainly worth a drop in, although it can get really busy with a younger crowd (sans kids) as the evening progresses.
You may know that Darwin was hit by Cyclone Tracey in 1974 and many beautiful old houses were destroyed. But there is a little enclave of lovely heritage "tropical" houses at Myilly Point. If you are looking for a really special Sunday arvo outing, afternoon tea with the family at Burnett House could be your thing? Run by National Trust Volunteers - high tea at Burnet House in the Dry Season is fun and kids are welcome. They can play in the garden and explore the charming old house. It's a very seasonal thing - only in the Dry Season, but a special thing to do with other families.
10. Picnic with locals at Sunset Park
If you want to be super casual and join local Darwin families grab a picnic or some take-away and head to Sunset Park at the and of Aralia St, in Nightcliff (the end near the Nightcliff jetty). Its perfect for families. There is a great playground, oodles of lawn to run and kick a ball and usually a nice sea breeze. The atmosphere is super low-key, friendly and local.
For some great nosh for break, lunch and dinner by Darwin Harbour with a low key dining and chilling section on the lawn with some kiddy games there's lots to love about meeting up at the kid friendly Foreshore Cafe with other families. It's right next door to the lovely Nightcliff Swimming Pool so you can have a splash with the littlies and then head to the Foreshore Cafe for a flat white and chocolate milkshakes.
Credit: NT News
One of our family favourite food trucks in Darwin, you can't beat the location of the Salty Plum Cafe overlooking Fannie Bay. These guys operate on the weekends in the Dry Season - but keep an eye on their FB page for any extra days or hours! They do bacon and egg rolls, hamburgers, milkshakes and the like. There are lots of bean bags to lounge on. This is a winning combo for kids and parents.
Happy Darwin Dining!
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Libby Larsen - Growing up Troppo
I live in Darwin in the Top End of Australia with my lovely partner and two little boys. I have fallen in love with most things about life here; the sunset picnics, the relaxed outdoor lifestyle, interesting people and amazing landscapes. I'm not sure about you but when I'm heading somewhere a good friend has been to, I always ask, "Where did you stay? What are the best places to eat with kids? I trust their advice and insights. Growing up Troppo is about providing honest and independent travel advice for families