Byron Bay might not be everyone’s cup of organic chai tea but if you’re looking for a magical family holiday, it’s the place to go. Babies and kids will love the beach lifestyle while parents will appreciate the laidback and relaxed vibe of Byron.

There’s something mystical about this part of the world. Located 772 kilometres north of Sydney and 165 kilometres south of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia, it’s long been known for its hippie and surf roots.

It’s a great place to reconnect with yourself and your family while enjoying the magnificent weather, scenery and beaches. Speaking of beaches, this is a major drawcard of Byron Bay. Whether you’re surfing, swimming or just walking by the beach, you’re spoiled for choice.

Best family-friendly beaches include Main Beach (surf patrolled), Clarkes Beach and Watego’s Beach. It’s easy to spend hours at the beach. Kids love building sandcastles, collecting shells and splashing in the waves.

Believe it or not, for most months of the year, the water is a lovely temperature. I went for an ocean swim on the first day of winter and it was actually quite warm! If you’re up before sunrise with kids, go for a walk along the beach and look for the Byron lighthouse flashing every 15 seconds.

Activities

There’s plenty of fun things to do with kids in Byron. If your kids love water, go for a swim, surf or snorkel. Older kids and adults can enjoy kayaking amongst pods of dolphins and whales.

Don’t leave Byron without visiting the iconic Cape Byron lighthouse, the most easterly point of mainland Australia. It’s a 3.7km walk to the lighthouse (great workout with a stroller) or you can drive up and park for $8 for the day. (Hold on to your ticket and come back to watch the sunset).

From the lighthouse grounds, you’ll see amazing views of the surrounding area. Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales out to sea. Also, look for a lone brown goat Wate-goat. This is the last of the remaining Cape Byron goats and this old arthritic goat has evaded capture for the past 11 years.

If you get a chance, take a guided tour of the lighthouse. It’s available for adults and kids 5 and over. The tour involves learning about the history of the lighthouse, climbing up the stairs and seeing the lantern before stepping out to the lighthouse balcony. Short of hang-gliding over Byron, this is the best way to see panoramic views of the region.

For a great playground, you can’t go past Apex Park at Main Beach. It’s a playround with a beach view and is a great place to hang out for a couple of hours. There’s plenty of cafes nearby so grab some takeaway and have a picnic at the park. At night, you’ll often see performers at Main Beach.

The hinterland region around Byron Bay is beautiful. If you have the time, visit the surrounding towns and villages around Byron as they all have their own distinct personalities such as the picturesque town of Bangalow, the alternative vibe of Mullumbimby and the hamlet of Newrybar with its acclaimed café Harvest.

Just down the road from Newrybar is The Macadamia Castle & Animal Park, a great place to take kids. Although the park isn’t that large, there’s heaps of fun activities and you can easily spend three or four hours here.

Kids will love all of the creatures including ducks, chickens, goats, alpacas, lambs, calves, snakes, lizards and kangaroos.

The highlight of the park is getting up close to the animals during feeding time. Milk and feed are provided so you can bottle-feed hungry lambs and calves or feed sheep, alpacas and kangaroos.

There’s also a reptile show where you can hold snakes and baby crocodiles or if you prefer some softer and cuter, a rabbit petting session. In between animal shows, there’s plenty to do including an 18 hole mini-golf course, train rides, a tree house playground and a sandpit playground. There’s also free face painting on most Sundays and during school holidays.

If your family gets hungry, use the free BBQs at the park to cook up some food or have a delicious snack or meal at the Macadamia Castle café. If your family loves pancakes, check out the pancake menu. Locals rave about the pancakes here and we saw plenty of travellers breaking up their drive to tuck into some stacks! Don’t leave the castle without sampling some of the macadamia nuts at the Nut Bar. They are delicious and you’ll find it hard to leave without buying some.

Shop

If you’re in the mood to shop on your holiday, there’s plenty to choose from. There are markets every week in the region. The biggest though are the Byron Bay Markets which run on the first Sunday of the month. Allow for a couple of hours at this large market which covers a few acres. There are tons of stalls including handcrafted products, clothes, artwork, face painting, locally grown fruit and produce.

Don’t bother to eat before the market. There are dozens of tasty food options including organic treats, vegetarian options and international cuisine. There’s entertainment as well and we were fortunate to hear some fantastic Spanish music accompanied by flamenco dancers. The Byron Farmers Market runs every Thursday morning and offers fresh organic fruit and veggies, gourmet treats and local coffee if you feel like cooking at your holiday place.

For more shopping, visit the clothing, art galleries and homeware boutiques in Byron Bay. Although some shops are expensive, they are full of beautiful tempting things. Just keep an eye out for sales. Another spot to shop is the Arts and Industry Park just past Belongil Beach. This precinct is full of shops and factory outlets such as artworks, fashion, surfboard factories and various second hand and antique furniture shops.

Yoga and Massage

After all that shopping, you might need some relaxation. Being a health and wellness mecca, there are dozens of massage places and day spas to choose from in Byron. A local recommended Beachside Yoga and Massage which offers massages and yoga classes upstairs at the Surf Club at Main Beach from Monday to Saturday. It’s an uncomplicated booking system for the massages. You just visit the Surf Club and check when the masseuse is free and write your name on the bookings board. The setup is basic – just a massage table in front of an ocean view complete with the sound of waves– but the massage was amazing.

The yoga is equally as impressive in Byron Bay with lots of different varieties of yoga ranging from Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa to Mum and Bubs Yoga and Surf yoga. Many of the places enable you to drop in for a class.

Accommodation

For a place to sleep, there are heaps of different accommodation available in Byron Bay. However, be prepared it can be expensive especially during school holidays and long weekends. One year, we stayed in a fantastic holiday apartment across the street from Main Beach.

Fantastic views of the ocean, a heated pool and close to everything in town made it a dream rental. Only drawback was number of stairs to our top floor apartment so not really suitable for kids in strollers. However, an alternative for families with babies or toddlers is the ground floor apartment  which can be accessed without navigating stairs. Another year, we booked accommodation near Clarkes Beach, another great area for families to stay.

Keep in mind that the popularity of Byron Bay means it can be packed with tourists in the months of December and January. Visiting outside of these peak periods is a much better option with lower accommodation costs and less people on the beach, in town and in restaurants.

Eating

And speaking of the restaurants, Byron Bay is a food lover’s dream with plenty of options including gluten-free, organic and vegan. This wide range of cafes and restaurants makes it easy to enjoy delicious food when dining with babies and children. Most restaurants are welcoming of babies and kids and have high chair available. Earth n Sea Pizza provides crayons and colouring paper to kids to keep them busy while they wait for their pizza or pasta to arrive. It’s an iconic restaurant with old-styled red booths. They also have a take away window where you can order as well a home (or hotel) delivery option. Suffolk Park Hotel has a kids playground so you can enjoy your meal while they play.

The Treehouse at Belongil is another great place for a casual eat. Their Nutella Dessert Calzone a delicious combination of chocolate and strawberry. The Byron Beach Café at Clarkes Beach is a great spot for breakfast. Brush turkeys and the amazing view will keep kids happy. For great coffee, visit Top Shop. It’s a cool, relaxed café with healthy food. You can sit inside or just sit on the front grass with your baby or kids like everyone else. If you have a fussy baby or an energetic toddler who won’t sit still in restaurants, pick up takeaway lunch or dinner from Bay Lane behind Main Beach. This “eat street” is full of restaurants offering a range of cuisines from Seafood, Indian, Thai, Asian, Sushi and lots more.

There are some great places outside of Byron’s centre to eat with kids. Here are a couple of my favourites. Harvest is an amazing café and deli in nearby Newrybar. It’s a foodie’s dream come true and also has a toy box to keep kids (and parents) happy.

Their dessert was sumptuous. Visit the deli and stock up on provisions such as sourdough bread, cheese and chocolate. In Mullumbimby,  The Rock and Roll Coffee Company serves delicious coffee, scrumptious Asian food at a very reasonable price and has a great corner with toys and books to keep little ones amused.

While keeping kids amused on holidays is important, it’s essential for parents to have a break and that’s what Byron Bay is all about. It’s a place to relax and recharge in a unique and beautiful environment.

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