Best things to do in Brisbane with kids
When the weekend or school holidays roll around, the kids will be itching to go and explore new and wonderful places—to disperse their energy and expand their minds. Lucky for you, Brisbane has a wide range of activities that will keep the kids entertained, no matter what their age or interests.
From city-situated galleries and museums, to patches of green to play and picnic in, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and options for every budget.
Here are the best Brisbane activities to do with kids.
1. Explore the Cultural Centre
Nestled in front of the Brisbane river, is a hub of buildings where kids can be wowed by artworks and animals—all while learning new, interesting information. The Cultural Centre, located at Southbank and adjacent to the CBD, features QAGOMA (an art gallery with a dedicated Children’s Art Centre) and the Queensland Museum, which features engaging exhibitions on topics such as Queensland wildlife and Indigenous history.
When you need to refuel, there’s plenty of cafes and restaurants in and around the buildings to stop at.
2. Wander the Botanic Gardens
Brisbane has not only one, but two botanic gardens ready for you to explore—the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens and the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha is the best option for travelling with kids and, as the name suggests, is located on Mount Coot-tha in Brisbane’s inner west. Founded in 1970 and opened in 1976, this 56-hectare land is Queensland’s premier subtropical botanic garden.
Featuring the world’s largest collection of Australian native rainforest trees, natural wildlife and the iconic Tropical Dome, you’ll want to dedicate a day to exploring this place. Walk through the glorious greenery on a self-guided trail (information at the Visitor Centre) or join a volunteer on a guided walk. Plus, make sure you visit the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium for a taste of space; tour the galaxy in the Skydome, marvel at incredible artefacts and check out the permanent display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Astronomy.
Note: Admission is free, but scheduled shows require booked tickets.
3. Daisy Hill Conservation Park
While you won’t be able to cuddle a koala at this park, you’ll be able to see koalas in their natural habitat and learn about Queensland’s most loveable marsupials.
Set on over 570 hectares between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, bring the kids to hike or bike around the stunning eucalypt forest and paperbark wetlands. Keep watch for birds, wildlife and of course, koalas.
Note: If you have a pram or toddlers, stick to the Paperbark Trail or the Tree Discovery Trail as they are the easiest and shortest to manoeuvre.
4. Go to the Beach in the City
Yes, you read that right. Brisbane has a beach nestled in among the high-rise buildings of the city’s inner-city Southbank precinct. In fact, it’s Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach.
Located at South Bank, overlooking the Brisbane River, Streets Beach is a lifeguard-patrolled beach with sandy shores and crystal clear water; so you can keep cool while you enjoy the cool views. Nearby, you’ll find the Boat Pool and Aquativity (a water-play park where the kids can splash around all day long). One of the great Brisbane activities to do with kids.
Make a day of it by packing a picnic and lounging on the banks of the river, or go in the cooler hours of the morning and then hit a local café on bustling Little Stanley Street for a treat once you’ve dried off.
5. Settlement Cove Lagoon
If you want to venture to the bayside, Redcliffe has a stunning waterfront lagoon that’s a great spot for families with small children.
Overlooking Moreton Bay, Settlement Cove Lagoon comes complete with a water play area, wading pool and beachside BBQs. The perfect place to soak up some sun and stunning views.
Settlement Cove Lagoon is open all-year-round, but if you’re visiting in the summer months, make sure to arrive early to secure a good parking spot.
6. Boondall Wetlands Reserve
Long before Brisbane became Brisbane, it was Mian-jin to the original Indigenous inhabitants. Kids can learn more about Aboriginal cultural heritage by following the Nurri Millen Totem Trail at Boondall Wetlands—spotting aluminium totems that reveal how the clans used the wetlands.
A visit to the Boondall Wetlands Environment Centre is another must-do while visiting this remarkable location. Kids can learn about the area’s flora and fauna (and even become friends with the stick insects), play in the animation centre and marvel at the interactive display. They will no doubt leave this destination knowing the importance of preserving natural areas.
7. Picnic at a park
Scattered throughout Brisbane are glorious stretches of lush, green parklands, that make the perfect destination for a day out. Roma Street Parklands, New Farm Park, Kidspace, Colmslie Beach Reserve and Kalinga Park are just a few great parks in Brisbane.
Bursting with flowers, wildlife and plenty of playgrounds to keep the little ones busy, the parks (especially the ones on the river) are a major drawcard for families every weekend. Stop by a local deli or cafe on your way, or pack a picnic lunch from home, spread out a blanket and relax.
Bring your Wallet
8. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
If you want to see cuddly koalas up close, and other iconic Australian animals, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the place to be. The sanctuary is located in Fig Tree Pocket, and can be reached via a short drive, bus ride or river cruise from Brisbane City.
Here you’ll be transported to a world of wonderful creatures. Besides the koalas, you can say hello to birds, reptiles, wombats, kangaroos and more. For a really magical moment, grab a $2 bag of pellets and feed the kangaroos by hand. And don’t forget to cuddle a koala!
Lone Pine is small enough for little legs that get tired easily, but big enough to entertain for a full day. Be sure to check out the educational shows, such as the Free Flight Raptor Show or the Snake Keeper Talk, so the kids can learn more about the amazing animals they’ve befriended.
9. See Brisbane from new heights
Much like the Eye of London, the Wheel of Brisbane can be seen from river boardwalks and many different spots around the city. This giant ferris wheel is a great way to get a birds-eye view of Brisbane, and can be ridden both night and day.
Located in the heart of South Bank, there’s plenty to see and do around the Wheel of Brisbane so you can easily make a whole day out of it.
10. Workshops Rail Museum (Ipswich)
Just a 40-minute drive west of Brisbane, this heritage railway workshop (which was once the workplace of over 3000 railway workers) is bursting with fun for everyone. There are fifteen larger-than-life exhibits to explore, along with interactive activities that bring history to life.
11. Feed the dolphins at Tangalooma Island
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in another country when you set foot on Tangalooma Island—a tropical paradise with sandy shores, glistening water and tall palm trees. This dreamy destination is just a 70-minute ferry ride from Brisbane to Moreton Island. Here, you can have the amazing opportunity to hand-feed dolphins. The dolphins, who come in nightly to feed, are from two families who have been returning to the island resort since the early 1990s.
Note: If you stay the weekend you can enjoy all of the family-friendly activities on Moreton Island, such as calm water beaches, fishing and snorkelling.
12. Discover Newstead House
Built in 1846 and beautifully preserved by the Queensland Historical Society, Newstead House is Brisbane’s oldest surviving residence.
Just a 15-minute drive from the city centre, this house sits within Newstead Park (a piece of land on the bend of Brisbane River). So while you’re delving into the incredible history of the house, you’ll experience breathtaking views of Hamilton and Bulimba.
On your visit, take the kids on a look-don’t-touch tour of the residence that once housed some of the most influential families of Brisbane, as well as WWII servicemen.
Newstead House is open Friday to Sunday.
13. Science Centre
What kid doesn’t love learning about how things work? The Science Centre, located in Queensland Museum, will wow inquisitive minds. Arguably better suited for 10-year-olds than toddlers, this destination is one of discovery and education.
With hands-on, immersive activities that offer a glimpse into the science behind our everyday lives, you can spend hours learning about the human body, energy, light, sound and the earth’s elements.
14. Play putt-putt at Victoria Park
With views of the Brisbane city skyline and a fully licensed cafe, this destination is fun for the whole crew. Enjoy an afternoon or evening playing 18-holes of putt-putt with sand pits, water traps, crazy bridges and swinging poles thrown in to keep it challenging.
15. Boggo Road Gaol
From 1883 until as late as 1989, Boggo Road Gaol was Queensland’s main prison. Kids can discover the history of this heritage-listed site on a family-friendly tour.
For brave kids over 10, there’s also a Ghost and Gallows tour available where you can hear spooky stories from the gaol. One of the great historical Brisbane activities to do with kids.
16. Cruise the Brisbane River
To experience Brisbane from a new angle, head to the Brisbane River (the longest river in South-East Queensland) and enjoy the magnificent views.
Your travel options include a CityCat, a CityFerry or the CityHopper; you can catch these from any one of the 25 ferry terminals that dot the Brisbane riverbank.
Note: Although the CityCat and CityFerry incur a transport fee, the CityHopper is free!
17. Visit Jan Powers Farmer’s Markets
Jan Powers Farmers Markets is a vibrant hub of food and flowers, located at three spots around Brisbane—the Brisbane Powerhouse, Manly and Mitchelton. These open-air markets give over 300 growers a voice and pedestal every week, and thousands the opportunity to indulge in their flavours.
Explore the stalls of fresh farm produce, breads, meat, organics, spices, smoothies and more, at the following days and times:
Brisbane Powerhouse – Every Saturday from 6am to 12pm
Manly – First and Third Saturday of each month from 6am to 12pm
Mitchelton – First Sunday of each month from 6am to 12pm
18. Cycle around town
In 2010, Brisbane City Council introduced the CityCycle program. As a result, bright yellow bicycles line the city streets. For a nominal cost, you can cycle around the city—stopping at locations that pique your interest along the way. Check out this guide for the best bike trails around Brisbane.
If you become a CityCycle member (just $5 a month), you’ll be able to pick up a bike at any of the 150 locations and ride all day at no extra cost. Just make sure the bike is returned within half-hour intervals, or you’ll incur a fee.
Courtesy helmets are available at most of the bicycle stations (subject to availability) if you want to take a spontaneous ride or forget your own.
Note: Bikes are one-size-fits-all and not suitable for small children.
19. Mount Gravatt Marketta
Head to the Mount Gravatt Showgrounds on a Saturday from 4pm to 10pm, and step into a world of stellar street food.
Mount Gravatt Marketta is the southside version of Eat Street Markets—where good food and live music collide. There’s bound to be something to tickle everyone’s taste buds, with 60 of Brisbane and the Gold Coast’s best food trucks and street food vendors serving up delectable dishes.
Entry is $2 for adults; kids under 16 enter free.