Brisbane is a cosmopolitan and lively hub for arts, sport, culture and dining, heavy on laid-back charm, and increasingly recognised as a modern and sophisticated city on a global scale. And while the locals already know why it’s just been named one of Time Magazine’s ‘2023 World’s Greatest Places’, here’s a family-friendly itinerary for you to get a sense of Brissie’s unique appeal.
Leave your puffer jackets at home this winter with a trip to Queensland, the Sunshine State, for an outdoorsy, adventure-filled, summer-in-winter holiday with the kids.
Where to stay for a weekend in Brisbane with kids
Meriton Serviced Apartments on Herschel Street is a short walk to almost all of Brisbane’s iconic locations (including South Bank, Queen Street Mall, Brisbane Stadium) and offers suites that comfortably fit families up to six, and are all equipped with kitchenettes.
The tallest building in Brisbane, families can make themselves at home while taking in spectacular views of the Brisbane River or city skyline.
Or if you’re looking for a little more luxury, here’s our Hotel review: The Westin Brisbane – which is also super family friendly.
What to do on a Friday night in Brisbane with kids
Built from 180 repurposed shipping containers, Eat Street is located on a historic wharf on the banks of the Brisbane River and is a 14-minute drive or a scenic 30-minute City Cat ride from Meriton Serviced Apartments. The precinct comes to life every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.
Arcade games, restaurant pop-ups serving global cuisine from Peruvian to Turkish, stalls offering henna tattoos and
trinkets are all set against the sounds of some of Queensland’s best local musicians.
What you need to know:
- $5 entry fee, children under 12 – FREE
- $15 – 4 Person Entry Deal
- Carers accompanying a person with a disability are FREE
- FREE car parking at 221D Macarthur Ave, Hamilton
- Open: Friday, Saturday 4:00-10:00pm and Sunday 4:00-9:00pm
How to spend a Saturday in Brisbane with kids
Breakfast in Brisbane is a must, but it can also be an overwhelming choice given the sheer volume of cafes that grace the sunny city.
If you’re staying at the Meriton on Herschel Street, take a short trip up to Paddington Social, on Given Terrace (a five-minute drive, or a 20-minute leisurely stroll). Offering a cozy atmosphere in an old converted Queenslander house, Paddington Social has an extensive breakfast menu that features staples like smashed avocado and eggs benedict as well as Thai-inspired dishes for more adventurous diners. There’s also a special menu for kids under 12.
Once you’re fuelled and caffeinated, a visit to Lone Pine is a must. The Mirimar boat cruise departs daily from the Culture Centre Pontoon at South Bank and is a 5-hour, 45-minute return trip and includes 3-hours exploring the Sanctuary. It’s the best way to experience the winding Brisbane River, with front row seats to its historic buildings and iconic natural landmarks.
Your end goal is Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – home to more than 100 koalas and 70 species of Australian native animals. As the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary, reserve a few hours here to ensure you make the most of it.
While the koalas are the stars of the show, there’s a lot more to enjoy at Lone Pine. Watch eagles soar in the amazing Birds of Prey show, or experience what life is like on an Australian farm during the sheepshearing exhibition. The sanctuary is also home to a range of Australian animals including Tasmanian devils, kangaroos, emus, dingoes, crocodiles and wombats.
Return to South Bank and take a stroll towards the Culture Centre via South Bank’s award-winning South Bank Grand Arbour, famous for its stunning architectural vertical garden and walkway of blooming bougainvilleas. Wander past Streets Beach and dip your toes in the city’s iconic lagoon, offering box-office views to the soaring skyline.
From here, book in for an early dinner at Fish Lane Arts Precinct – Brisbane’s most diverse array of restaurants, bars and cafes. We suggest Julius, a friendly, laid-back pizzeria and the perfect spot for you and the family to fill up before the big game!
Head to a game at the Brisbane Stadium. To get there, take a left out of Fish Lane (head north) and stroll across the William Jolly Bridge to the top of Roma Street, down the famous Caxton Street and straight on to Brisbane Stadium (a 25-minute walk). Walking the streets as the crowd and atmosphere builds is the best way to feel the pre-game excitement.
If you’re a little early, Newstead Brewery has a family-friendly vibe and is located right next to the stadium on Castlemaine St in Milton.
Things to do on a Sunday morning in Brisbane with kids
Riverlife Kayaking Tours are a fun and active outing the whole family can enjoy. The guided tours run for an hour and a half along the Brisbane River and are an opportunity to take in beautiful scenery by the river and view the city’s iconic Story Bridge and the bustling Howard Smith Wharves precinct.
What you need to know:
- The minimum age for day kayaking tours is 8 years old. Children 12 years of age and under must be accompanied by an adult.
- The minimum age for Twilight Kayaking tours is 12 years old. Children 16 years of age and under must be accompanied by an adult.
- Kayaking tours depart from Riverlife’s pontoon at Riverlife Adventure Centre, Naval Stores, Kangaroo Point.
- Bookings via the website.
After your kayak trip, take a short walk south-west from Riverlife Adventure Centre and up the Kangaroo Point Cliffs Stairs for a bite to eat at Joey’s – a restaurant that sits atop the cliffs.
Joey’s offers a panoramic view of the city and is open from breakfast until late everyday. It offers coffee and pastries in the morning, and share plates and woodfired pizzas from lunch onwards.
The weekend is over but you’re still looking for family-friendly activities in Brisbane?
There’s so much to do in Brisbane. If you’ve got more than a weekend, check out our ultimate guide of things to do in Brisbane with kids for load of activities and inspriration.
And if you’re looking for something to switch out from the list above, here are a five more ideas:
- Ride the Wheel of Brisbane, the kids will get a kick out of seeing the city from up high.
- Go for a dip at Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach. There’s white sand, sparkling water and what’s more it’s accessible and free to use. The beach is patrolled by qualified lifeguards all year round.
- Kids aged 10 and over (minimum height 130 centimetres) can climb in harnesses across the top of Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge. And if they’re into Spider-Man, they might also want to try the 30 metre abseil down the southern pylon into Captain Burke Park.
- Explore one of Brisbane’s oldest and largest parks, New Farm Park. It fronts the Brisbane River so a visit to New Farm Park might also be your chance to hop aboard a ferry or CityCat.
- Pique the interest of your young creatives at the QAGOMA Children’s Art Centre. They work with artists to create interactive installations, face-to-face workshops and online activities.
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Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.