For starters, spring (NOW) is a great time to come! Days are bright and sunny, temps in the 60s/70s. Perfect weather for walking around town, not too hot, not too cold. Make sure you plan to spend a weekend in Sydney, for several reasons. First, the markets are a dont-miss. From The Rocks and Paddington Markets on Saturday and Bondi Markets on Sunday, you'll find jam-packed stalls of locally made clothes/jewelry (many of Australia's top designers get there start at the markets).
The weekends (Thurs to Sat) are the best eves to enjoy Sydney nightlife (my favorite hot spot is The Ivy, a multi-level, open-air complex of bars/restaurants/lounges w/great music and a fun local crowd). On Sunday afternoons, no better place to be than N. Bondi Italian (the casual sister to famous Icebergs), sipping local wine, grazing on Italian fare and soaking up the views of the world-famous beach just steps away (we met the owner, so be in touch for more details & VIP attention!). Before settling in for the day, start w/an invigorating oceanfront cliffside walk (shown in photo) from surfer-filled Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach and back. IMHO, it puts Newport (RI)'s cliffwalk to shame.
Also try to plan your visit when there's a great show or cool concert at the iconic Sydney Opera House. It's an experience in and of itself... especially if you're as lucky as I was to catch a huge talent like Ben Folds. On a sunny day, spend the afternoon on the harbour with SeaSydney; you'll see & learn about who lives where (ie, Nicole Kidman's former $14 million home is on the waterfront route).
If you're a yoga addict like me, check out Lululemon's website as they have a store on George Street that offers free classes 2x/week. Other fitness fanatics will be in good company--running through the Royal Botanic Gardens is a great way to burn off the meals you won't want to miss. My faves: Jimmy Liks on Victoria Street for flavorful Thai/Vietnamese & creative cocktails and Pony, an indoor/outdoor spot on Argyle Street in The Rocks for delicious tapas, grilled meats and fish. Both hot spots highlight a seemingly new trend--communal dining tables, a fun and different way to meet people while enjoying a great meal.
One of my fave finds in Sydney is The Wine Odyssey. This incredible wine-tasting concept store, allows you to help yourself to as many local wines as you'd like (tastes start at $2) and then graduate if desired to a half or full glass. Located on Argyle St. in a stylishly decorated house, there are multiple rooms/outdoor spaces where you can lounge with your liquor or pair it with light bites. Should you find a wine you love, just walk next door to the retail store. Brilliant. And saves a trip to wine country should you be pressed for time.
Next Sydney Scene post will highlight my thoughts on top Sydney hotels. I've stayed in 3 on this trip, so as to sample a variety of styles & neighborhoods. Stay tuned. And give some serious thought to a trip Down Under!