Keeping it cool: Top things to do in Canberra - Summer 2019

February 3, 2019 / By Lydia Stevens

With record.breaking temperatures hitting Canberra this summer, proximity to air conditioning and/or a large body of water become genuine logistical considerations when planning your weekends. The time is right to update your list on where to go to relax, exercise, eat or get your culture fix in the capital, all while keeping your body temperature in safe range. Here are my top picks!

Pools - when there’s no beach, think swimming pools!     

Manuka Pool - open 27th October 2018 - 24th March 2019 (above) 

Manuka pool is a Canberra institution, and the perfect place for you and the family to blow off some steam this summer. Canberra’s first pool was completed in 1930 and opened in 1931. In truly breathtaking art deco surrounds you can cool off in the large pool, or relax in plenty of shade and enjoy a coffee while the kids enjoy the littleun’s wading pool or the pirate ship playground.  

Dickson Aquatic Centre - outdoor pool open 22 October 2018 – 17 March 2019

Dickson Aquatic Centre offers plenty of shade for escaping the sun, on top of a range of pools that accommodate everyone from die-hard lap swimmers to little splashers. Even better, take advantage of the quality BBQ facilities and space underneath a magnificent canopy of trees to truly take some time out this summer. 

Civic Olympic Pool - open all year 

Get to the beach without leaving Canberra this summer! Work up a sweat on the beach volleyball courts before lounging on your beach towel in the large grass areas. If volleyball isn’t your thing, make use of the indoor 50m pool or the outdoor 25m dive pool (there’s even a toddler pool) before cooking up a sizzle of snags on the BBQ facilities. 

Cafes  - food and drink to help you keep cool 

Muse - 69 Canberra Ave, Kingston ACT (above)

Nestled between Kingston and Manuka in the stylish East Hotel, Muse is a meeting place for those seeking cool drinks and sumptuous eats with a twist. Food is served from breakfast onwards (with dinner available Wednesday - Saturday), and there’s a carefully curated selection of new and second-hand books on sale during restaurant opening hours. The perfect spot to think, read and unwind this summer. 

The Bookplate - National Library of Australia, Canberra ACT

Buildings in Canberra don’t get much more impressive than the National Library of Australia. With breathtaking lake views, a stunning interior and the opportunity to soak in decades of literary history, The Bookplate is an award-winning café option for your summer brunch, lunch or a truly indulgent high tea. 

Monster Kitchen and Bar - 25 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra ACT

Monster Kitchen, located in the effortlessly cool Nishi building, serves up edible and drinkable delights from 6:30am through ‘til late. Offering a menu that changes with the seasons and drinks for all occasions, Monster is the perfect summer hangout for any time of day. 

Exhibitions - get your culture fix at these magnificent institutions 

Love and Desire @ National Gallery of Australia Runs until 28 April 2019 (above)

Coming in hot from the Tate, Love and Desire features exclusive masterpieces from the Tate’s enviable collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Inspired by history’s great love stories, religious icons and a healthy dose of Pre-Raphaelite lust, the genre combined medieval romanticism with modern life to produce literary scenes, portraits and landscapes rich in symbolism. Never seen in Australia before, visiting Love and Desire this summer is billed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not to be missed. 

Rome @ National Museum of Australia Runs until 3 February 2019 

More history on loan from England are the more than 200 objects on show at the National Museum of Australia’s Rome exhibition. Over from the British Museum, Rome shares the incredible stories of the vast empire of ancient Rome and everyday life, worship, war, glory and death. There are extended opening hours at the museum for the remainder of the exhibition so that you can enjoy it right through until early evening. 

20/20 @ National Portrait Gallery Runs until 10 February 2019 

20/20 showcases the suite of new portraits that were commissioned to celebrate the National Portrait Gallery’s twentieth year. As with all portraits, the subject of each commissioned portrait is an Australian who is recognised for the notable contributions they have made to society, across a range of fields. The National Portrait Gallery, as always, is the perfect place to while away a hot summer’s day delving deep in to Australia’s stories. 

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So much more to explore - Canberra region