Brisbane, Queensland © Tourism & Events Queensland
Top things to do in Brisbane with kids
From urban lagoons to pristine parklands, Queensland’s sunshine capital is a playground for adults and children alike.
By Amy Fraser
Dotted with pockets of lush-green parks, man-made beaches and river-side escapades, Brisbane’s outdoor activities create a recipe for an unforgettable family adventure. Its surroundings are equally as exciting, with picturesque sand islands, magnificent sub-tropical mountains and national parks all within easy reach. Hand-feed wild dolphins, discover Indigenous art totems, meet Australia’s cutest animals and splash your afternoon away in a man-made blue lagoon. Let the family fun begin.
Make a splash
Where: Stanley St Plaza, South Brisbane
While Brisbane doesn’t meet the ocean, the beach comes to us in this sun-drenched city. Nestled between tropical trees and city rooftops is man-made Streets Beach, an oasis with excitement and relaxation in equal measure. Younger families can easily spend a whole day splashing at the Aquativity play park, where little ones can learn about native marine species and the city’s connection to the river. Older teens will want to head to the next beach along; it’s the perfect spot to unwind by the water before perusing the local string of nearby eateries. The best bit is, it’s free!
Meet iconic Aussie animals
Where: 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) south-west of the city
If getting close to Australia’s cutest animals is high on your bucket list, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary won’t disappoint. The wildlife experiences include daily koala encounters, visits with kangaroos, impressive bird shows and getting to know the country’s epic array of animals around the park. Once you’re ready for the wilderness, head out to Daisy Hill Koala Conservation Park to watch our furry friends sleep between the treetops.
Embark on a river adventure
Where: Kangaroo Point Cliffs Drive, Kangaroo Point
Snaking through the heart of the city is the Brisbane River. While there are plenty of ways to soak up its sweeping views, when it comes to family activities, Riverlife Adventure Centre is your go-to. Offering a whole range of safe adrenaline-inducing experiences – including rock climbing, abseiling, night kayaking and SUP tours – there's something for every age group.
Picnic in the parklands
Where: 1 Parkland Blvd, Brisbane City
Roma Street Parklands is a gorgeous green getaway in the middle of the city. With expansive lawns and stunning parklands fitted with trails, vegetable gardens and playgrounds, it’s the ultimate place to burn off some energy, enjoy a picnic and get back to nature. For little ones, the best way to explore the park is on The Parkland Explorer train. Sit back and relax – you’ll be weaving around towering treetops and beautiful blossoms in no time.
Go mad for museums
To learn more about Australia’s history, visit the town of Ipswich to step back in time at the Workshops Rail Museum. Thomas the tank engine fans, this might just be the highlight of your trip!
Where: South Brisbane
Brisbane’s river isn’t just a place for outdoor fun. Perched on the water’s edge is the Cultural Centre where science, art and history come together with two of the city’s best museums housed under one roof. Wander around thought-provoking galleries in the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) and be sure to stop by the Children’s Art Centre where interactive galleries and intriguing artworks are a big hit with the kids. Next door, release your inner scientist at the Queensland Museum’s SparkLab before becoming experts on Australia’s wildlife and history at the Discovery Centre. Families with young children should check out Little Learner Activities, the museum’s unique series of educational experiences.
Stroll around beautiful Botanics
Where: Mount Coot-Tha Road, Toowong
Situated at the base of Mount Coot-tha is Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens, another of the city's free attractions. With over 56 hectares (138 acres) of impressive ecosystems, from Japanese Gardens to the Tropical Dome – not to mention the world’s largest collection of Australian native rainforest trees – you could spend hours exploring this sub-tropical wonderland. Join a guided tour through the gardens, looking out for wildlife and the nature-themed kids’ playground along the way. Don't forget to swing by the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium (located in the gardens) to marvel at their spectacular cosmic displays.
Soar between the trees
Where: 67 kilometres (41.7 miles) south in the Tamborine Mountain region
Nothing screams adventure like swinging between the mountain treetops on a zip wire. One of the best things about Brisbane is its proximity to diverse landscapes including the phenomenal Tamborine Mountain. In just under one hour the whole family can be climbing, zip wiring and swinging through the Treetop Challenge’s epic park. Featuring courses for all age groups and fitness levels, there’s a thrill for everyone during this adventurous day out.
Meet dolphins on Moreton Island
Where: Moreton Island, north-east of the city
Lining Brisbane’s nearest beaches are a host of beautiful islands including Moreton Island. Made up entirely of sand and coated in national park, Moreton’s incredible landscape lends itself to back-to-nature and action-packed experiences for an unforgettable family adventure. Though stepping foot on this idyllic island is a highlight itself, big family draw cards include seeing wild dolphins, quad biking over sand dunes and experiencing Moreton’s magical underwater world.
Learn about the local Indigenous culture
Where: 25 minutes from Brisbane city centre, in the Boondall region
Venture 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) outside of the city to the Boondall Wetlands, a protected reserve teeming with wildlife, wilderness walks and Aboriginal cultural heritage. Start at the Cultural Centre, where interactive displays and animations help children learn about the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and preserving Australia’s natural areas. Once your family is stocked up on knowledge – and picnic food – hit the park’s Nurri Millen Totem Trail to discover wildlife, birds and Indigenous art totems.