Royal Botanic Garden
There's no entrance fee for the stunning 158-acre Royal Botanic Garden, so even if you simply walk the harborside path from the Opera House to Mrs. Macquarie's Point, offering one of the best views of the harbor, it's worth the trip. If you have more time, join the Sydneysiders picnicking among some of Australia's most beautiful and rare trees, flowers, and other flora.
Classic food option: Just outside the garden's southeastern gate, the Finger Wharf of Woolloomooloo provides another opportunity to soak up the view—but at Otto, the focus is on the man-made spectacle, not the natural. Year-round alfresco dining overlooking the harbor and Sydney's skyscrapers is augmented by a modern Italian menu with options that include saffron-infused orecchiette and suckling pig (but call ahead for that one). For something equally as classic (but slightly less elegant), walk down to Harry's Café de Wheels, peddling savory pies and hot dogs since 1938.
Trendy food option: Rockpool, a cornerstone of Sydney's modern dining scene, recently opened a sleek new space on Bridge Street. With its charcoal-gray walls, cast-iron fluted columns, and turn-of-the-century exterior, the atmosphere is moody and mod, making way for elegant food featuring Australian-grown produce.
Unexpected food option: You don't have to don a bathing suit and oversize hat to enjoy the deck of Poolside Café at Andrew (Boy) Charlton—but if inspiration strikes, go with it. Located just around the point from Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, the Poolside offers lovely views of the naval base and Woolloomooloo Wharf. The café-style breakfast and lunch dishes are fresh, reasonably priced, and frequently accompanied by the splashes of industrious paddlers below.
By Lindsay J. Westley