Daytripper: Newcastle

How to get there: For train and bus services from the Hunter and Sydney, go to 131500.com.au or phone 13 15 00; or drive, parking stations and street spaces available, some fees apply.

What to take: Swimmers, hat, sunscreen, good walking shoes.

Who should go: Families, recreational types, senior citizens, young people there's something for everyone in Newcastle.

What to see: The beaches and harbour, art gallery, cultural activities in Hunter Street Mall and around town.

What to do: Swim, walk, view and shop.

Where to eat: Splurge on the seafood at Scratchley's; for mid-priced wholesome fare try Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club; or for casual cuisine grab some tasty takeaway from the beach kiosks or Queens Wharf and eat it by the waterside.

Best kept secret: Free CBD parking (excluding The Foreshore and Honeysuckle) on weekends, go to ncc.nsw.gov.au for details.

AS an ex-Sydneysider, I regularly play host to family and friends who want to explore my adopted home town.

When these daytrippers arrive in Newcastle, I lead them straight to water.

Depending on their level of fitness (or laziness) we usually start with a walk or a drive past the city's beaches from Merewether to Nobbys, stopping to admire my favourite, Bar Beach.

Then it's around to the harbour to watch the ships go by and stare at the view before sitting down to a long lunch at either The Brewery, any of Honeysuckle's eateries, or if we're really adventurous, all the way round to Wickham's Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.

That's all well and good for the first visit, but when they come back again, or we can't eat any more and still have time to kill, there's often a need for something else to do.

Novocastrians are keenly aware of the need to get visitors to linger in the city and make Hunter residents regular patrons.

Newcastle City Centre Committee is staging a Summer in Town Festival in a bid to lure daytrippers.

It includes light displays in city shopfronts and activities at Newcastle and Nobbys beaches.

Project officer Petra Hilsen said the events were designed to bring traffic back into the city and encourage people to come into Newcastle.

"The objective is to encourage both tourists and locals to visit the town and patronise local businesses and to activate businesses to facilitate such visitation and patronage," she said.

Cultural events program Livesites is joining the bid to bring daytrippers in.

Program director Paul Tibbles said activities included kids' discos on Wednesday (10am to midday, 1pm to 3pm and 4pm to 6pm) in a former church that is now Renew Newcastle's head office, in Morgan Street, off Hunter Street Mall.

On Thursday a children's choir and woodwind trio will perform in the mall.

Plans for January are to bring animal displays and outdoor cinema to the city.

"It's part of our participation with Newcastle City Centre Committee to try to bring people into the city and create a scenario where, you know, they're using the shops, trying to develop some sort of relationship with the businesses and that kind of thing," Mr Tibbles said.

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