The Ultimate Sydney Day Out

It’s crazy to think that, as of September, I’ll have lived in Sydney for two years. But for as much as I’ve seen of this Australian city, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do here, so this weekend called for some exploring with a little help from PARKROYAL Darling Harbour.

Parsley Bay, Vaucluse, Sydney

Parsley Bay, the first stop of the day

Eager to discover a new side of Sydney, I jumped onto PARKROYAL Darling Harbour’s nifty Ultimate Sydney Day Out planner. Take a quick personality quiz, answering questions like “What’s your style of drinking den?”, and the tool puts together a personalized guide for what to see, eat, drink, and do during a day in Sydney. Armed with my results, I set off to see more of the city I currently call home. First stop: Parsley Bay.

Parsley Bay

Parsley Bay is a secluded beach in Sydney’s suburb of Vaucluse. For as beautiful as it looked in photos, I hadn’t yet had a chance to visit, so I took a cue from the planner and began my Ultimate Sydney Day Out with a morning in the Eastern Suburbs. It’s been a chilly winter here in Sydney (well, “chilly” as far as Sydney goes), so we were lucky to wake up to a sunny and uncharacteristically warm day, the perfect day to explore.

Parsley Bay, Vaucluse, Sydney

Crossing Parsley Bay

We wandered down to the bay, having the turquoise water and quiet beach almost all to ourselves. A footbridge crosses the bay, so we followed it and found our way to nearby Vaucluse House, a nineteenth century estate featuring a museum, tearooms, and tranquil gardens.

Vaucluse House, Sydney

Vaucluse House

Vaucluse is a beautiful area (I would not mind owning a mansion there!), near some of Sydney’s best walks, and I’d love to return to spend longer enjoying its hidden bays, but, alas, we were off to our next destination.


Stomachs growling, we headed to Newtown, the artsy suburb just up the road from where I live, for lunch at Bloodwood. The restaurant offers exquisite share plates unlike any you’ll see elsewhere, as well as a large selection of unique beverages.

I ordered an organic cider as my boyfriend ordered scallops for his first dish – no seafood for me, but I’ll take his word that they were amazing. We then tried their deliciously tender miso fried chicken, followed by socca, a chickpea pancake topped with quinoa, pumpkin, summer seeds, and Persian feta. We finished the meal with a pecan and Jerusalem artichoke pie with eggplant, broccoli, and mustard. All was absolutely divine. My only regret is that we didn’t save enough room for dessert.

Bloodwood, Newtown, Sydney

Our assortment of dishes at Bloodwood

The Australian Museum

Next, we headed into the CBD (central Sydney) to the Australian Museum, Sydney’s answer to a natural history museum. I had passed it many a time but had never actually entered, so I was keen to check out what it had to offer. We began with a bit of aboriginal history in their First Australians gallery and their Garrigarrang: Sea Country exhibit, and then we were off to meet some of the species that have inhabited Australia over the millenia.

Staring down a thylacine

Staring down a thylacine

After paying a visit to the life-sized giant wombats, fanged kangaroos, and thylacines (Tasmanian tigers, which became extinct in the early 20th century), we traveled further back in time to greet the dinosaurs that reside within the Australian Museum. For someone who was completely enamored with Jurassic Park as a five-year-old, this was the exhibit I was most looking forward to. I mean, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

Australian Museum, Sydney

Dangerous place, that Australian Museum

Other exhibits featured contemporary Australian fauna, Pacific culture, minerals, and animal skeletons, all in all making for an educational museum visit that took me back to elementary school field trips.

Susannah Place Museum

Next up was another journey to the past at the Susannah Place Museum. The Rocks is Sydney’s harborside area that was established soon after the colony was formed in 1788, history preserved in its sandstone buildings and cobblestone streets. Susannah Place is a group of terrace houses in The Rocks that was built in 1844 and has been preserved to show what life was like over the various periods during which it was inhabited.

Susannah Place Museum, Sydney

Photos aren’t allowed inside most of Susannah Place Museum, but here’s a glimpse of their corner shop.

Our passionate guide led us on an hour-long tour detailing the lives of the working class families that called Susannah Place home between 1844 and 1990, sharing stories of how they cooked, slept, did laundry, and even used the toilet (let me just say I’m very glad we have plumbing now!). One of the things I miss most about living in Europe is having history on every corner, so I love finding the bits of fascinating history that Sydney does have to offer, and Susannah Place provided just that.

Shady Pines

After our long day of exploring, a drink was in order. Shady Pines Saloon is one of my favorite bars in Sydney, so I knew I had to include it in my Ultimate Sydney Day Out. Decorated like an old western saloon, with moose heads, American flags, and grungy, antique signs lining the walls, this place has a magnificent ambiance. I love themed bars, and Shady Pines is the perfect combination of kitschy yet classy.

Shady Pines Saloon, Surry Hills, Sydney

Inside Shady Pines

The menu includes a variety of beers, wines, and cocktails, but the best Shady Pines secret is their freshly juiced apple with whiskey. Simple yet oh so delicious. Peanuts on each table and live country/folk/bluegrass music further contribute to the atmosphere to make it one of my favorite spots in town.

Also cool? Shady Pines is a well-hidden secret, with an unmarked white door serving as the entrance to this underground bar. Only the coolest of the cool can come here…or at least those with decent Googling skills.

Peanuts and an apple whiskey cocktail at Shady Pines

Peanuts and an apple whiskey cocktail at Shady Pines

PARKROYAL Darling Harbour

Our final destination on our Ultimate Sydney Day Out was the hotel that made the day possible, PARKROYAL Darling Harbour. I’ll go into more details about the hotel in another post, but the highlight was having access to the Club Lounge, where we were treated to relaxing drinks and canapes overlooking the twinkling harbor.

PARKROYAL Darling Harbour Club Lounge, Sydney

Topping off the evening in the Club Lounge

Is it possible that the Ultimate Sydney Day Out guide knows me better than I know myself? Perhaps, considering it planned an utterly perfect day for me to explore new parts of Sydney. Finishing the day with a luxurious stay at the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour was the icing on the cake.

So, what would your ultimate Sydney day out be? Give the guide a try and let me know!

Bonus: here’s a nifty little map of my day so you can visualize exactly where I went, courtesy of Travelabulous.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, but all opinions are entirely my own, as always!

26 Responses

  1. mery says:

    lovely city!!! enjoy Sidney!! I loved it! spent 4 months there!!!
    great post!

  2. Sue Hodge says:

    Loved this post! My husband and I are planning a trip to Sydney and Melbourne in early 2017. We’re keeping this to add to our great things to do list!

  3. I gave the tool a whirl it I thought it had great suggestions – I love that they are hightlighting some of Sydney’s lessor known gems – Parsley Bay and Susannah Place are two of my favourites!

  4. Oh my gosh! The food at bloodwood looks scrumptious!

  5. Amanda says:

    Lovely article! So many cool things to see. Shady Pines looks like a place I could hang out at for a while! 🙂

  6. katie says:

    I am dying to go to the land down under! It looks like you’re having a blast.

    xo katie // a touch of teal

  7. Connie Reed says:

    Sounds like a great day. I’ve never been to Sydney, but when I get there, according to the guide I should go to Redleaf Beach, 121 BC for a drink, Mary’s for a meal, the Capitol Theatre and Susannah Place Museum. Fun guide!

  8. Sydney is one of my all-time favourites among the world cities that I’ve visited, and it’s high on my list of places I’d like to return to. There are some great ideas in this post for things I could check out during such a return trip. The Susannah Place museum in particular sounds right up my alley. On another note: Kangaroos used to have fangs? That’s almost as scary as a funnel web spider! 🙂

  9. The more I think about my unplanned visit to Australia this year the more posts I read about it. I am not even sure if I will manage to see Sydney when I visit later in the year but this certainly looks like an interesting list of places to include if I make it down that way.

  10. chrysoula says:

    That seems like a great day! Many things to add on my list for when visiting Sydney!

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