1. Wave Lagoon Darwin
Darwin's warm weather makes it perfect for swimming, and the kids will love the Wave Lagoon, located down in the Waterfront precinct. There's a splash pool with sprinklers for toddlers, and the older kids will enjoy the Wave Pool itself, with its artificial waves and water toys. At only $18 for entry for the whole family (2 adults and up to 3 children), we think it's great value for money. Right next door is the Recreation Lagoon (free) - a manmade lagoon with a small, patrolled beach that's safe for swimming and sunbaking.
2. Lake Alexander or Berry Springs
If you're keen to take the little ones to a natural outdoor swimming spot that's still safe from stingers, crocs and other nasties, there are some great options in and around Darwin. Lake Alexander is a manmade lake that's popular with families - it's only 10 minutes out of the city centre, with a playground and shady spots for a picnic. You'll be right next door to Fannie Bay, another pretty beach that offers watersports like kayaking and sailboats.
About an hour away is Berry Springs National Park, with shaded rock pools perfect for swimming, and table and barbeques for a picnic lunch.
3. Crocodiles, crocodiles, crocodiles
It's not a visit to the top end without seeing a croc - from a safe vantage spot, of course. Crocosaurus Cove is located right in the heart of the city centre, so access is easy. There are over 70 species of wildlife to see, including some of the largest saltwarer crocodiles in the world. They'll feed the crocs twice a day, and there are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with different reptiles, turtles and fish.
Crocodylus Park is a bigger wildlife park about 20 minutes out of Darwin's city centre. Home to over 1000 crocodiles and alligators, as well as a whole host of other animals (like lions, tigers, monkeys, meerkats and kangaroos), the park focuses on education and conservation. It's a great family day out, and the kids will be sure to learn something new!
4. Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory
Like all good museums, this one will appeal just as much to kids as well as adults. There's plenty of interesting and colourful exhibits, from natural history and science specimens (like fossils, insect and animal displays and underwater delights like coral, crustaceans and fish) to art and indigenous culture. There's a great exhibition about Cyclone Tracey that includes a cyclone stimulator, and of course, the museums famous stuffed crocodile, named Sweetheart. Plus, there's a dedicated section for kids called the Discovery Centre, focused on interactive exhibiits and education. Best of all, the museum is free!
5. Australian Aviation Heritage Centre
There's lots of aircraft to see here, including some rare sights like the gigantic B-52 Bomber - one of only a couple on display outside of the United States. The Centre is run by enthusiastic volunteers who will encourage you to get involved - the kids will love hopping into the cockpit and interacting with different exhibits.
Aside from the 19 aircraft, there are 38 other displays including relics of crashed planes, fragments of World War II bombs that you can hold, and a number of other aircraft engines. It's quirky and different, but far from boring - and kids get in for only $7!
6. Deckchair Cinema
A Darwin staple, the Deckchair Cinema runs 7 nights a week during the dry season, from April to November. The cinema is situated on the edge of Darwin Harbour, so you'll enjoy watching the sunset over the ocean and having a picnic under the stars. The cinema provides 250 deckchairs and about 150 normal chairs, or you can bring your own cushions and rugs if you like. Run by the not-for-profit Darwin Film Society, there's always a range of flicks showing, with plenty of family favourites. Tickets will set you back $16 for adults and $8 for kids - be sure to book in advance, because it's a popular attraction!
Image credit: Tourism Australia