South Bank Parklands | Brisbane

Things to do in Brisbane with kids: 7 day city and sand island family holiday

Unpack your bags and settle in: the only reason you’ll want to leave this subtropical city is to explore her neighbouring, world-class sand islands (ahem, Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island).

If you’re looking for things to do in Brisbane with kids and got a week to spare, we’ve got you covered with this itinerary. 

DAY 1 – A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT

South Bank Parklands | Things to do in Brisbane with kids: 7 day city and sand island family holiday

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Affectionately known as the river city, get your bearings (especially if its your first time to Brisbane) on The Wheel of Brisbane in South Bank Parklands where you’ll have a 360-degree view of her glistening glory.

Thirty years on from Expo ‘88, the southern side of the river is now the cultural and lifestyle hub of Brisbane, and the jewel in the crown is Australia’s only man-made CBD beach. Streets Beach is a lagoon of epic tropical proportions, complete with white sand and palm trees, and patrolled all year round. The nearby Aquativity water-play park will keep kids amused, then hop over to the Riverside Green playground before checking out the giant Epicurious Garden.

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It might have been built originally for Expo, but there’s no doubt, South Bank was designed for kids. It’s also where you’ll find the Queensland Museum and interactive Science Centre. The Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery (QAGOMA) are also super kid-friendly, with hands-on activities year round. For more museum-fun, Brisbane’s best museums as the low-down.

EAT

Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC) Melbourne Street Green (the performing arts centre café) has plenty of open space plus live music Friday evenings. There’s also an abundance of food and accommodation options along Grey Street if you want to stay and play close to the action (including the new Emporium Hotel South Bank). 

DAY 2 – TAKE IT TO THE HEART

Eat Street Markets | Things to do in Brisbane with kids: 7 day city and sand island family holiday

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Meet the real heart of the city, with a tour of its indigenous culture and history. BlackCard Cultural Tours local Aboriginal tour guides will take you on a 90-minute walking tour through the cultural precinct, or take the 3-hour bush tucker trail from riverside to local parklands.

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Time to put your feet up, Riverlife Adventure Centre’s 2-hour kayak tour will have you paddlin’ like a pro under the Story Bridge or past South Bank. If the kids have still got energy to burn? You can also hire scooters, rollerblades or electric bikes.

EAT

Forget trying appease fussy eaters, visit Eat Street Northshore to find more than 150 colourful shipping containers provide dining, bar and entertainment options from Asian street food to Americana, Thursday to Sunday. There’s more options than you can poke a fork at, making dinner more of a breeze than a hard negotiation. 

Day 3 – SCREEN TIME, THEN PARK IT

Roma Street Parklands Train | Things to do in Brisbane with kids: 7 day city and sand island family holiday

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You never thought you’d say this, but embrace some screen time kids! A 10-minute walk from the city centre is The Cube: 48 interactive touch screens featuring scientific and educational games and activities for the whole family. Open every day at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), admission is free.

When you’re done, take a leaf out of the local’s and take a stroll through the nearby City Botanic Gardens, fringed by the Brisbane River. It has one of the best all-abilities playgrounds going around.

Pssst – for more budget-busting ways to see Brisbane, check out this post.

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Catch the free City Loop bus, changing to Spring Hill loop. Roma Street Parkland on the north side of the city features 16 hectares of sprawling lawns, gardens, lakes and even waterfalls. A cute kiddy-size train will take you around the park for just a gold coin donation and there are two playgrounds to choose from.

A short journey will have you at Victoria Park Golf Course and an 18-hole putt-putt sporting views over the city. It’s open every day, no bookings required.

EAT

At the Victoria Park Golf Course Bistro featuring produce from their very own garden.

DAY 4 – CUTE AS A KOALA

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Get back on the river, we’re off to see some wildlife at the iconic Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Take in the view from Mirimar Cruises on the way there, because you’ll be admiring your snaps of cuddly koalas, cheeky kangaroos, crocs, dingoes and devils all the way back.

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Head to the Botanic Gardens at the base of Mt Coot-tha (5km from the city centre) for a tropical-inspired geodesic dome and hide ‘n seek children’s trail. The gardens also house the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, open every day with free entry.

EAT

At Kuta Café or Summit Restaurant, Mt Coot-tha with views across the entire city.

DAY 5 – MAKE SOME ISLAND LIFE

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It’s time to swap the city for castaway time. Moreton Island, traditionally named Moorgumpin (place of sandhills) is nature at her very best. It’s 4WD access only (unless you visit Tangalooma Island Resort), but the MICAT car ferry will take you there in just under two hours.

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Moreton’s famous wrecks are not far from the landing and teeming with marine life. Australian Sunset Safaris can show you this underwater wonderland via transparent kayak or snorkel tours.

Tangalooma Island Resort is a must-do to hand feed wild bottlenose dolphins at sunset (memories are made of this), and then settle in to your accommodation for the night.

EAT

Tangalooma Resort has restaurants and bars aplenty to choose from.

DAY 6 – SALT OR FRESHWATER: WHY NOT BOTH?

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Moreton’s Blue Lagoon (accessed via Bulwer-Blue Lagoon Road or surfside) is a 42-hectare, tea-tree-infused freshwater lake perfect for family-friendly swimming. Pack a picnic; you’ll be relaxing on the super white sands for a while.

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Head to the northern tip of the island for naturally formed Champagne Pools which fill with bubbles as waves crash over the rock wall. Not far from the pools is the iconic Cape Moreton Lighthouse and Harper’s Rock with desert-inspired red rock formations.

EAT

Hitch your dinner wagon at locals’ fave Castaways café, Bulwer. They also have glamping accommodation options if your kids and camping don’t mix.

DAY 7 – SAND IN YOUR TOGS

Moreton Island Sand Boarding | Things to do in Brisbane with kids: 7 day city and sand island family holiday

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Moreton is the third largest sand island in the world so head inland to The Desert for some serious sand boarding fun. Little Sandhills is accessible from the eastern surf beach and Big Sandhills from the western side. BYO boards, or book with a local tour operator.

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Check out some WWII relics at Rous Battery via walking tracks, before heading back to Brisbane. Ferries generally leave around mid-afternoon with additional services during school holidays. If you want to stay a little longer, it’s worth reading up on how to spend 48 hours on Moreton Island

Looking for more inspiration on where to take the kids?

Have we missed your favourite activity? Share your top picks for the best things to do in Brisbane with kids in the comments below.