Looking for an awesome weekend getaway for the whole family? It's hard to go past the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.
Located a pleasurable 90-minute drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains region is jam-packed with plenty of fun outdoor activities for both kids and parents, along with an array of brilliant places to eat, play and stay.
My family's recent mini-holiday to Blackheath during winter was absolutely magical - filled with park visits, winter walks, toasted marshmallows by our open fireplace and the boys very first trip to an amusement park.
Parkside in Blackheath
Travelling with two toddlers, aged two and three, our choice of accomodation is critical. It can be the make-or-break difference between a relaxing weekend or 'why didnt we just stay home'?
We are always looking for super convenient and comfortable options - and a fully-equipped luxury house we found on Stayz with a coffee machine, gas fireplace and free-standing bath tub ticked all of our boxes.
Parkside is a beautiful and newly renovated 1930s cottage in Blackheath that can accomodate up to six people.
The highlight is the cosy living room with the slow combustion fireplace that was actually easy to use - the kids absolutely loved their first taste of toasted marshmallows!
Once we popped the kids to bed - who were suitably exhausted from running around in the fresh mountain air - we could simply relax and unwind in with a glass (or two) of wine.
The house is so gorgeous and tastefully decorated, with exceptional attention to detail, that for a moment I almost forgot I had children - particularly once I climbed into the tub for a long, hot soak.
Parkside is perfectly positioned in Blackheath village near the key lookouts and walking tracks and a short drive from the iconic Three Sisters. The main strip of Blackheath is a a few minutes stroll away where you can find an array of cafes, restaurants, a supermarket (necessary) and antique shops (which Ill go back and visit when the kids are older!), yet the house fels completely peaceful and private.
It is also located directly opposite Blackheath Memorial Park, which happens to be a toddler's dream.
Not only does the playground have amazing equipment, including a rocket ship we couldn't drag three-year-old out of - but there is a duck pond and loads of open parkland and gardens for the kids to run around and picnic on.
Blackheath Memorial Park / Supplied
What to see
No family getaway to the Blue Mountains is complete without a trip to Scenic World - it is a must-see on your itinerary.
After a sleep in on Saturday morning - yes, even our habitually early risers stayed in their cosy beds! - we gobbled down breakfast, bundled the kids up and headed directly for the popular tourist attraction.
Scenic World is located in Katoomba and a superb place to view the world-famous Three Sisters across the Jamison Valley. You could easily spend a whole day here with all the experiences on offer but the three key attractions are the Scenic Railway, Scenic Cableway and Scenic Skyway.
I must admit I hadn't been on the Scenic Railway for about 30 years - and it still made me scream in delight! Sitting on a 52 degree incline, it's touted as the steepest passenger railway in the world and travels along a 310 metre route through a cliff tunnel before emerging on the floor of the Jamison Valley. My three-year-old was obsessed and made us go four times in total!
Photo: Supplied / Heidi Krause
Given our kids are so young, a big hike (or even short dawdle) can prove challenging. But Scenic World really was the perfect introduction to look around the heritage-listed area and is even pram-friendly. We took the 10-minute walk under the incredible rainforest canopy along the elevated boardwalk from the bottom of the railway around to the Cableway - and it was perfect.
We had an incredible guided tour from Laura, who not only was full of interesting historical facts and local knowledge - she even had experience as a nanny and was amazing with our boys!
My hot tips would be to arrive early to avoid the crowds and pre-book your tickets online.
Where to eat
While it was difficult to drag ourselves away from our beautiful abode, there are no shortage of great family-friendly places to eat in and around Katoomba, Blackheath and Leura.
In Blackheath itself, we had dinner at the grand old Gardners Inn - which has cheap pub meals and we felt very welcome with our raucous crew.
For pizza and pasta, the Piedmont Inn a few doors down comes highly recommended for families too.
On the drive up or back, do yourself a favour and check out 2773 Glenbrook. Not only is there an expansive kids' menu, but there is even an undercover play area with a cubby house and a few animals on site!
The Gingerbread House in Katoomba is also a fab place to visit with the kids. Set inside a 100-year-old renovated church, it has a delicious sweet shop plus spacious outdoor play area.
Also in Katoomba, Thunderbird Blue Mountains is a wonderful Mexican cafe/restaurant complete with a small play area and even a portacot. it's got a relaxed, family-friendly vibe and the Mexican-inspired food (and coffee) is delicioso!
The writer travelled as a guest of Stayz.