Best places to go with kids in August

The view from Whitsunday Apartments Hamilton Island
The view from Whitsunday Apartments Hamilton Island

So many great places to choose from for the month of August, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. If I had it my way, I would endlessly chase the summer, flitting from North to South hemisphere. For Australia, it’s particularly chilly this winter so let’s escape the cold by heading far North, with one exception, the Aussie ski season.

Looking out towards the Whitsundays from our Hamilton Island apartment

Best places to go with kids in August, Australia

1. Whitsundays, Queensland

Without a doubt, the Whitsundays in August is superb. We were lucky to visit Hamilton Island last year in August and it was glorious. When we asked the locals what their favourite time of the year was? They unanimously answered August. It is the best time to go, with long sunny days, clear blue skies and calm warm waters (free of stingers). The best part is the smaller crowds as August is between school holiday seasons.

Highlights with kids

  • Visit Whitehaven, one of the best beaches in the world
    A short scenic cruise away from the main islands of the Whitsundays, lies one of the best beaches in the worldWhitehaven beach.

    Located in a national park void of any man made structures is a 7km stretch of soft white silica sand that squeaks between your toes. The sand is so fine, you can clean your jewellery with it. The waters lapping this sensational beach is calm, warm and shades of azure blue; perfect for kids to swim in.

  • Sail The Whitsunday Islands
    Whitsundays is Australia’s largest archipelago, comprising of 74 islands dotted off the North East Queensland Coast. It’s within close proximity to and sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef making it ideal conditions for sailing.
    One of the larger resort islands known as Hamilton Island, plays host to a popular sailing event “Race Week” in August.

    You will see all different racing vessels moored in the Hamilton Island mariner. This does mean that your Whitehaven Beach tours are limited as some vessels used to ferry passengers, become race boats during this period.

    If chartering a yacht is out of your price range, you can still hire a dinghy and cruise to the many smaller often remote white sandy beaches of the Whitsundays.

  • Relax on Hamilton Island
    Spend your day between the pool, spa or Catseye beach on Hamilton Island. Slow down, relax and take in the beautiful view.

    When the family tires of paradise, pack the kiddies in the golf buggy and explore the town. Stopping in at the Mariner for a bite to eat alongside the very opportunistic resident cockatoos. Other resorts include; Hayman and Daydream Island.

  • Explore the Great Barrier Reef
    It’s a jam packed day with the kids on the the Great Barrier Reef where they immerse themselves in all things acquatic.

    Kids can ride a semi submersible to safely explore the underwater world below, there is fish feeding, swimming, underwater viewing platforms and for the super lucky ones, ride a helicopter to see the reef from above.

Check out my Wonderful North Queensland with kids post for more information.

2. Katherine region, Northern Territory

It’s the dry season in the Northern Territory and absolutely the best time to go. Escape the cold of the south and enjoy lovely summer days in the 30’s (Celsius), clear blue skies, little rain, jellyfish free waters, insect free outback and perfect balmy nights.

From Darwin, head south towards Alice springs along “the track” a vibrant red dirt road leading into the Katherine region. Known as the Lower Top End, it borders Western Australia, Queensland and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Covering  336,674 square kilometers of vast and remote land. It’s home to the fourth largest town in the Territory, Katherine.

This part of the country is a intersecting point between travellers driving North / South (Darwin to Adelaide) or East West (Broome to Cairns). It’s an epic road journey and one on our bucket list.

Katherine Gorge by Aaron Booth, Flickr Creative Commons
Katherine Gorge by Aaron Booth, Flickr Creative Commons

Highlights with kids

  • Cruise Katherine Gorge
    The main attraction in the region is the mighty and unmissable Katherine Gorge, nestled in the Nitmiluk National Park.
    With young kids, the best way to go is a a cruise up Katherine River to the impressive gorge.

    Swim in the croc free waters, explore the impressive rugged escarpments, walk the many walking tracks and spot native wildlife.

    Other options to get to the gorge include helicopter, a guided trek or by canoe.

  • Swim Leliyn (Edith Falls)
    Edith Falls is the finishing point of a 5 day trail (Jatbula Walking Trail) but can be be reached by car without doing the trek. At the bottom of the wide waterfall is a large natural croc free swimming pool.

    A 1km moderate walk uphill takes you to a plunge pool at the top of the falls. For the adventurers the Jatbula Trail sounds amazing, taking you through secluded swimming holes, waterfalls and stunning bush scenery.

  • Admire centuries old Aboriginal rock art
    Throughout the gorge system are sandstone paintings of Aboriginal rock art dating back thousands of years. 
  • Explore Cutta Cutta Caves
    Descend 15 meters underground and explore Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park, a series of limestone caverns with spectacular sparkling limestone formations.
    Kids might get a chance to spot snakes and bats that make the caves their home.

    A word of warning for young kids, the caves do get hot and dark, go early in the morning or late afternoon for comfort.

  • Relax in Hot Springs
    There are natural croc free thermal springs throughout the Katherine River region. The pools are at a constant 32ºC and a clear deep turquoise colour surrounding by lush tropical foliage.

    Popular hot springs include Katherine Hot Springs, Mataranka Thermal Pool, Bitter Springs and Rainbow Springs.

3. Mt Hotham, Victoria

It’s the peak ski season down under. Let’s head to Victoria’s Mt Hotham, this was the first place I learned to ski in my 20’s. Hopefully the kids will be carving up the snow way well before the age I started.

Mt Hotham is a 4.5 hour drive from Victoria’s capital city Melbourne. Mt Hotham is at an elevation of 1861 meters and has 245 hectares of snow fields to enjoy.

Mr Hotham, image courtesy of Aberden Hong, Flickr CC
Mr Hotham, image courtesy of Aberden Hong, Flickr CC

Highlights with kids

  • Learn to ski, kids ski school
    There’s nothing more annoying when you are learning to ski as an uncoordinated adult beginner, than little kiddies zipping by you with no fear. The little ski bunnies and their handsome instructor are already down the mountain, and queueing up for the next chair lift as as you slowly regain your balance and snow plough down the bunny run. Save your kids the same embarrassment and enroll them in ski school.

    There are half day and full day programs beginning from age 3 onwards.There is also an on-snow day care centre catering for for children as young as 3 months to 5 years of age, perfect for parents to get a few runs in together.

    For kids between ages 2-3 years old, not quite old enough for the kids classes, there are also introductory ski lessons. How incredibly cute would that be!?

  • Snow Play & Tobogganing
    Hire a toboggan and head to the designated snow play and toboggan run on Mt Hotham, which is easily accessed by car or shuttle bus. Here’s the ideal place for snow fights, snow angels and a healthy competition of out-doing the next families snowman.
  • Ride snowmobiles
    As if just skiing and good old fashion tabogganing is not enough, kids under the age of 14  can hire their own snowmobile. However at $30 for 15 minutes it’s a pretty expensive activity.
  • Get pulled along by siberian huskies – dog sledding
    On my bucketlist is to go dog sledding in Greenland. To get a taste of what it’s like, there is now a dog sled operator that runs a 4km circuit in Mt Hotham.
    It’s pricey, a family of 4 costs $400 AUD, but how do you put a price on 6 siberian husky’s whom go by names of Akita, Rex and Koda? As a comparison, it costs 655 Euros for a 5 day dog sled journey in Greenland.
  • Reach the summit with the kids
    A fun and easy way to see the snow capped mountains of Hotham is to take a chair lift minus ski’s to the summit of Mt Higginbotham.
    When the kiddies get too cold, you can bundle them up and catch the down on near empty. Scenic lift passes cost $15 per person per day and limted to off-peak times.

Best places to go with kids in August, worldwide

Eventually this section will expand to cover at least one from each of the continents. Time only permits me to narrow this section down to three of the very best in August. At least we can rule out Asia this month as it’s the height of monsoon period, hot, humid and wet, so no thanks.

The Americas

It is the height of summer in Canada and the USA. August marks the middle of summer break and is the peak season, it also means it’s hot and dry. If you aren’t put off by large crowds, peak hotel rates and the heat, you can go pretty much anywhere in the North America except the deserts which would be very uncomfortable in August.

It’s prime travel in South America as well but for weather alone, Ecuador and Brazil would be my pick of the bunch.

Seattle Space Needle Image courtesy of Wikipedia creative commons,
Seattle Space Needle Image courtesy of Wikipedia creative commons,

1. Seattle, Washington, USA

The potential to rain in the Emerald City, is ever present, however goto Seattle in the popular month of August to reduce your chances, it’s the hottest month in Seattle with lovely temperatures in the mid 20’s (75F).

Highlights with kids

  • Watch fish throwing at Pike Place Market
    Head to Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this wonderful farmers market. The kids will love the famous fish throwing at the front by Pike Place Fish.

    There’s local artisans selling gourmet ingredients, delicious fresh food and produce, wonderful flowers and unique arts and crafts.
    Whilst you’re there, pop into the Starbucks (1st & Pike) for a coffee from the very original store.

  • Lookout over Seattle from the Space Needle
    Check out Seattle from above by heading up to 184 m (604 ft) tall Space Needle, well 520 feet to where the observation deck is anyway. Touristy? Yes. Tacky? Slightly. But it’s always nice to see the city from up top, plus there is a outdoor fountain, food court and the quintessential thing that no old observation tower is without, a rotating restaurant.
  • See planes and allot of them at the Museum of Flight
    The Museum of Flight is the largest Air and Space museum in the world. It has a huge collection of planes of all eras and types as well as a collection of spacecraft.
    Kids can climb aboard all sorts of decomissioned planes include Air Force One.

    There is the Kidzone for the younger kids, flight simulators and a interactive air traffic control tower.  

  • Wonder the Downtown waterfront
    The Seattle Downtown waterfront looks out over Elliot Bay and the neighborhood is home to some lovely kids attractions including; the free Sculpture Park (run by Seattle Art Museum), a large ferris wheel, the Seattle Aquarium as well as eateries serving fresh seafood and boutique shops.

Europe

It’s hot in Europe, like both North and South America, you can pretty much go anywhere with the exception of the very southern tips of Europe such as Greece, the south of Italy and Spain which is best to avoid due to the stifling heat.

Being the peak season for travel, most holiday makers flock to the the Mediterranean. However, Northern Europe and anywhere in the UK is quite fabulous in August.

2. Iceland

My son is mad on the animated movie, How to Train Your Dragon. So the mention of Iceland  founded by Vikings is enough for him to pack his bags for Iceland. However, if spotting a Dragon or two is not the primary motivator there are other spectacular things to entice the kids to visit Iceland such as the Iceland ponies, resident puffins, volcanoes, waterfalls, glaciers and exploding geysers.

Iceland Blue Lagoon courtesy of wikipedia Creative Commons Sarah1990
Iceland Blue Lagoon courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons Sarah1990

Highlights with kids

  • Swim in the Blue Lagoon
    Adults and kids alike will love to take a dip in the milky blue geothermal pool of the Blue Lagoon. The sheer size of it means that even though it’s Icelands most famous attraction, you will find enough space to relax.

    Try digging up some white mud, full of minerals and good stuff for your skin, soak and rejuvenate.

    TIP – it’s closer to the airport and a great way to ease any travel tensions pre-flight.

  • Spot wildlife at the Largest Glacier Lagoon in the world
    On the top of my list of must-see’s in Iceland is the  The Jökulsár Lagoon. It’s magnificent blue lagoon with large floating icebergs, remnants of retreating Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and worth the long drive to reach it (there’s plenty of scenic spots to stop at along the way). 

    Kids may get lucky enough to witness ice calving into the lagoon or spot seals hunting for fish.

  • Explore the Golden Circle
    The Golden Circle is a 300km route through Thingvellir National Park with stops along the beautiful landmarks of Gullfoss Falls, Geysir and Stokkur Geyers and Keiro a beautiful volcano crater and lake.
  • Go whale watching, Reykjavik
    Though there are whales in Iceland year round, that’s why they feature on the menu, the whale season is from May to September.Join a tour from Reykjavik to spot one of the 23 different types of whale in the ocean, with the common whales being minke and humpback.

3. The Lakes District, Cumbria, United Kingdom

The Lakes District has been inspiring wonderful writers for centuries. The famous poet William Wordsworth was inspired to write his renowned poem, I wandered lonely as a cloud from a stroll in beautiful Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lakes District.

Scafell Pike and Wastwater in Wasdale Valley, Lake District, Cumbria, England, UK. ©VisitBritain - Joe Cornish
Scafell Pike and Wastwater in Wasdale Valley, Lake District, Cumbria, England, UK. ©VisitBritain – Joe Cornish

 Highlights with kids

  • Play at Brockhole by Lake Windemere
    The Brockhole Visitor Center is the perfect spot situated along Lake Windereme. It’s not just a typical information center, it’s a complete family day out.

    There is a free adventure playground, 30 acres of beautiful gardens to run around in, 1500 square meters of trampoline netting suspended 9 meters between trees to bounce and play in, a treetop trek which is a ropes course amongst the trees, beautiful kid friendly walking trails, ponie rides and bike hire.

  • Cruise UllsworthLake on a steamer
    Enjoy the tranquil waters of Lake Ullsworth on a traditional steamboat. These boats date back as early as 1877.
  • Visit the World of Beatrix Potter
    Immerse yourself in all that is Miss Potter. Kids can walk through life size creations of famous scened with beloved characters including Peter Rabbit, Flopsy Bunnies and Jemima Puddle-Duck.

    Afterwards, you can visit Hill Top, Beatrix Potters home and place of inspiration.

  • Take a scenic walk
    August is the best time to go and explore the great outdoors of The Lakes District. There are easy walks and the most stunning landscapes, which are still easily accomplished by young children.

    Check out Lake Districts Walking with Children for maps and more information.

  • Ride the Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway
    Board these adorable tiny steam train as it rattles through some beautiful countryside, making 7 stops along the way. The family can hop on and off for a picnic or walk and rejoin the journey on another train. The kids will adore it.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden Daffodils;
Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I wandered lonely as a cloud (Daffodils) by William Wordsworth

Have you got a best places to go with kids in August? Any tips, ideas or suggestions? Love to hear you, please comment below:

3 Comments

  • How To Train Your Dragon! I have been so wondering if I can nudge that one into an Iceland trip. Iceland is my Country That Got Away – we swore we’d see it and didn’t.

    Hm.

    But surely in August the only place to go is Brisbane for the ekka? 🙂

    • I was going through my archives and Iceland is one of those countries that you shouldn’t be able to take a bad shot, but mine were all blurry, unfocussed, poorly shot photos. So for that reason alone, I need to head back there with a decent camera. Meet you over there? We can look for dragons together.

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