How to have a fun, active, and inexpensive (or free) day out in Fremantle with your kids – even if they are all under the age of five.
Fremantle is rich in culture, history, cuisine, and atmosphere. It ‘s a place to come for an excellent meal, an evening show, or to experience one of the many museums or historical locations.
However, much of this changes when you have your kids with you. Some of my favourite relaxing coffee shops full of eclectic knick knacks now fill me with terror when I think of my three year old racing through them.
Something that makes Fremantle exceptional is how much of it can be enjoyed as a family. Fortunately there is not an excess of pre-constructed family activities in Fremantle, the sort of activity that is fun for the kids and the parents’ worst nightmare (playcentres come to mind). Instead, there is a wide variety of activities that are appropriate for both children and adults, without being weighted strongly in favour or one of the other.
So come with us on our journey of a day out in Freo for the family.
It’s summertime, so your first stop is the beach. The best way to experience WA beaches in summer with small children, in particular, is to get there early. Starting at Port Beach take a short stroll up to Leighton Beach. In the afternoon, when the sea breeze comes in, Leighton becomes a mass of flying colours as the kiteboarders fly along the coastline. But, in the morning, the wind is offshore and perfect for swimming and enjoying the beach.
In addition to large deep beaches that are great for both swimming, sunbathing, and building sandcastles, Leighton has a large grassed area with BBQs, great if you want to get out of the sun or the wind. Newly opened, The Orange Box is nestled next to the lawn, behind the dunes. A relaxing coffee and delicious food can be enjoyed in the shade while the kids run in the grass. Mixed in with the sweet and savoury treats, healthier options such as low sugar raw balls are on the menu. My son was a big fan!
Driving into Fremantle, there is no doubt your kids have pointed out the enormous rainbow to you! Seeing it up close was a short but exciting stop to stand under the arch. Parking is down on Beach Street, and there is an accessible path up to The Containbow. Be sure to get that picture from under the arch that has become the quintessential Freo experience.
While you are here, cross Canning Highway (at the lights!) and walk up to the new Cantonment Hill Playground. Part of the Cantonment Hill Project, the new playground is located at Tuckfield Oval. The new park features a nature-based playground, barbecues and picnic areas, improved footpaths and lighting and landscaping with water wise native plants. In addition to being a fantastic new playground, the location sports stunning views of the river and the rainbow, it is a lovely place to spend the morning.
On a Sunday, our next stop is the Fremantle Arts Centre for a picnic on the lawn and an afternoon of music. Sunday Music is a free event that runs weekly during summer from 2-4pm. This event is family friendly, and you will see people of all ages in front of the stage dancing, sitting on the lawn having a picnic, or running and playing on the upper lawn. What is particularly appealing about this event and location for parents is that it is an adult event that is truly child-friendly. If you don’t want to bring a picnic, Canvas cafe is on site and, during the concert, wood-fired oven pizza is available for purchase, as well as Little Creatures beer.
Picnic and a play
While there are many fantastic picnic locations in Fremantle, a current favourite of ours is Booyeembara Park. Located next to the Royal Fremantle Golf Club, this park contains trails both paved and dirt, a unique 5-way swing and nature play area, exercise equipment, open grass areas, BBQ’s, and a small lake. There is also a skate park just off Montreal Street. This location is fantastic for a feeling remoteness nestled in the city. Not overdone with play equipment, there is a lot of room for exploring at Booyeembara Park!
Lunch with littlies
If you choose to forget the picnic option and have a bite out, here are our top four suggestions for places to eat with young children. While there is a long list of family-friendly restaurants and cafes in Fremantle, for our family, it takes more than a designated playspace or crayons at the table to make it enjoyable for the whole family. Our oldest, in particular, needs space and the ability to move and run. Although it can be very busy on the weekend, Little Creatures has a large sandpit on the patio that contains enough trucks to entertain a toddler army. Another favourite is Clancy’s Fish Pub. Next to the outdoor seating is a large field that even has a tree suitable for climbing! Children are often seen running and playing as the adults watch while enjoying a social bite to eat.
Our final two favourites have already been mentioned, The Orange Box at Leighton’s Beach, and Canvas at the Fremantle Arts Centre. Both have large fields adjacent to the restaurants, and therefore don’t require active toddlers to sit still for extended periods of time!
On those days when it is a bit too hot, or a bit too cold, Fremantle has several indoor options to inspire imagination. The WA Shipwreck Museum has free entry (donation requested) and has several special exhibits running through the year, as well as a school holiday activities. For a day of historical Fremantle adventure, include the WA Maritime Museum in your tour. Unfortunately, the submarine is currently closed to tours, but the museum is full of interesting nautical history. The building itself is fascinating, with a boardwalk over the river. Our son loves looking at the fish in the water.
And finally …
Before leaving, wander over to the EShed markets. If your kids are at all like mine, you are probably not going to be able to have a causal wander through the market. Head on over to the ferry terminal, where there is a fantastic view of the ships and the cranes moving shipping containers. Last time we were there, we watched a massive ship head out to sea, escorted by a tugboat that looked tiny by comparison. My son is still talking about it.
It would not be a Fremantle visit without mentioning the Esplanade Park and Playground. You will have no trouble finding this one – just look for the giant Ferris wheel and skate park. This space has something for all ages. It is worth checking out – you will probably end up there at some point because, in Fremantle, it can frequently seem like all roads lead to the Esplanade.
There are many other things to see and do in Fremantle with kids. Hopefully, this itinerary will give you a bit of inspiration to get out with the kids and rediscover Freo.