I have been away from Sydney for so long, due to travel. I love Sydney, despite all the stupid politics going down and lockout laws destroying the night life culture that used to make the city so unique and bubbling with life.
But there are still flecks of hope through the Keep Sydney Open Campaign. They, along with all the people who care about the personality of the city being crushed, are taking matters to the streets. With amazing protests, and finally some results are coming from their tireless work to keep Sydney open, friendly, welcoming and full of life!
But, if you are visiting Sydney and want a break from the big sights, to see some local spots that will not only impress, but improve your experience in Sydney check out my list below.
I have a few special places that I always return to when I am there now, from ice cream parlours, to bars, restaurants and stunning parks to spending hours just soaking up the sun and reading a good book.
For some lovely beach hang outs see my blog about the 5 Best Summer Spots in Sydney, especially if you are visiting during the sunny season.
*Warning, this list may be bias due to my love of the inner west and surroundings of Sydney*
The Courthouse Hotel
My go to pub to meet friends, sit in the sunny courtyard and play pin ball machines.
This place is like visiting a friends home and has a very local feel to it. My personal favourite thing is at night, the courtyard glows with fairy lights (insert dreamy eyes) Aside from my love of a good beer garden and sparkly lights, they serve local brews and some great pub food here too.
Best of all, the courtyard is dog friendly!
Photo via - The Courthouse Hotel
Along King Street, you will find this little haunt, glittering with fairy lights (yes, I seriously love them) This skinny corridor of a bar, consisting of two levels is cosy, low-lit and full of mixologists that know how to make a damn good negroni.
If you can score the front bench that is right on the street, you will have the best spot for people watching. But the upstairs terrace is a nice place to park your butt and drink a few great cocktails or local beers.
Photo via - Corridor
With Mexico being my second home, of course I love Tio's. This is where I had my going away drinks before my 2-year stint in Oaxaca, Mexico. That trip has given me more respect for the Tio's guys, and the hard work they put in to sourcing incredible tequila and especially Mezcal from Mexico. I promise you, get here, walk up to the bar and ask them for a few tastes of Mezcal, and you will be tasting Mexico at it's very soul. Plus, the bar is rad, full or personality and they give you free popcorn... *mic drop.
Photo via - Backpack Diary
The best ice cream parlour in Sydney. There, I said it.
Even on a cold day you can pop in here for a house made, decadent hot chocolate to warm up your hands and spirit.
This family run business is churning out planet friendly, handmade ice cream made from coconut milk on the daily and you'd be doing yourself a dis-service if you didn't treat yourself to a scoop or two.
Photo via - Gelato Blue
I have heard some sad things about this beautiful park and its wetlands being destroyed for WestConnex (a light rail, which many locals to the area are adverse to) If so, That is a huge shame. This gorgeous park is perfect for picnics, dog walking and hanging out in general. It is known for it's unique brickworks towers that have been there since the industrial times of the area.
Photo via - City of Sydney
Once upon a time I worked in a high rise building, right next to Hyde Park in the middle of Sydney.
I escaped to this beautiful park every lunch break and most of the time never ended up going back to my office. How could I? On a spring day when the sun is shining and I am enjoying people watching, eating my lunch and kicking back... I couldn't bring myself to put my shoes back on and walk into my grey office. (That job didn't last long!)
They have great Night Noodle Markets amongst other lively events here all the time, check the event calendar to see what's coming up!
Photo via - City of Sydney
This is another King Street, Newtown winner that just never quits.
The food here just freaks me out sometimes, like when you are eating and you are just like "Holy crap. How they do this?"
It's romantic but also great for groups. Book in advance to avoid disappointment and the menu is constantly changing.
Photo via - Smudge Eats
My lord. This place.
I have had thoughts about getting married here or at least having my reception here. Maybe I should?
Anyway, order everything, have a bottle of wine and if the weather is nice, make sure you sit outside, underneath the huge fig trees, covered in (you guessed it) fairy lights. This place is romantic as hell at night and on Sunday's they do incredible yum cha for those hazy heads you might have.
Photo via - Bodhi Restaurant
Earl's Juke Joint
Another gem on King Street, Newtown. This bar is hidden by a "butchers shop" facade, but once inside you'll find a dimly lit, comfortable haunt full of locals. Take a seat at the bar and watch the bartenders work wonders with incredible cocktails or just a local beer from one of the many brewery’s in town, you can’t go wrong here. If you have a date, take them here after dinner and score a few ‘cool’ points.
Photo via - Where to Tonight?
The Soda Factory
Damn, I love this place. It’s a small establishment along Wentworth Ave.
This is another spot that would impress a date, especially if there is a band playing or something going on. Saying that, there is always something happening here.
Get in early, it gets packed to the walls and trust me you want a comfy booth or even just a stool to park yourself and eat some rad food to go along with those beers you are chugging.
Photo via - The Soda Factory
A gorgeous little pizzeria on King Street (So much Newtown!) Their pizzas are insane, the place is always packed and the wine is fantastic. It is a first in, first served kind of deal. They don't do bookings.
So, I suggest eating an early dinner to avoid standing in line on the street.
Photo via - Gigi
The home of some of the best burlesque, cirque and cabaret shows in Sydney.
Book your tickets, get a table and dining experience while you enjoy some amazingly talented women and men dancing, singing and making you laugh and possibly spit your drink out unexpectedly.
After the show, head over to Arc, Stonewall or one of the many great clubs along Oxford street and ready to party hardy.
Photo via - The AU Review
See what band or act is playing during your trip and get your butt here.
One of the best live music venues left in Sydney, and there is always something rad on.
Photo via - The Music
Vic on the Park
My old local. My love.
This place has seen me at my very best (or maybe, I should say worst) on a few occasions.
They are always running awesome events in their back courtyard with bands like Dune Rats (pictured), local artists, skate events and so much more. This place aint’ just a pub. But, you can still sit in the front bar and watch the footy, so don’t stress about that.
(Also, it's another dog friendly gem!)
Photo via - Vic on The Park
Ahhhhh…. The Dendy.
Such a cute cinema, showing not only big movies but art house, anime and everything else that Newtowners and visitors could want. Get tickets for the Dendy Lounge, and treat yourself to the extra comforts of bigger chairs, leg rests and get a bottle of wine, food or just some extra popcorn brought in during your movie. That’s living. And it's cheap.
Photo via - Deviant Art
That is my list! If you are a Sydney local or tourist, let me know your fave spots that I need to explore when I am in town again. I know my list is bias to mostly Newtown, so give me some spots to explore in your neighbourhood!