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The ultimate guide of things to do in Brisbane with kids

The capital of Australia’s Sunshine State, Queensland, the city of Brisbane promises good weather, good times and a family-friendly holiday feel. And it does not fail to deliver.

The best ways to explore Brisbane are on the City Explorer hop on-hop off double-decker bus, CityCat ferry or by pushbike.

Brisbane’s CityCycle program allows you to pick up one of their bright yellow bikes and cycle around for free.

Make the most of Brisbane’s annual 300 days of sun at one of the city’s many outdoor green spaces. Browse the weekend markets for supplies for a picnic by the Brisbane Botanic Gardens lily ponds. Take a hike along one of Mt Coot-tha’s walking trails for spectacular vistas of Brisbane, Moreton Bay and surrounds.

If you’ve only got a weekend, here’s a family-friendly itinerary for 48 Hours in Brisbane with kids.

Brisbane at night

Cruise along the river on a Kookaburra Showboat Cruise or head to Riverlife Adventure Centre at the base of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs for more active adventures including abseiling and rock climbing. Paddle a kayak or stand up paddleboard up river. Hire a Segway or strap on rollerblades to wheel your way along one of the city’s great waterfront bike paths.

Or head for the heights on the Wheel of Brisbane for unparalleled 360-degree views of the city.

See something you like from up high? Here are our tips on the Best weekend getaways from Brisbane with kids.

Southbank Brisbane. Credit: Shutterstock

That said, on a rainy or lazy holiday in Brisbane, there’s also plenty to do indoors.

  • The South Bank is Brisbane’s cultural heart and your one-stop shop for incredible activities and attractions.
  • Browse the cool collections at the State Library
  • Immerse in the works of the Children’s Art Centre at QAGOMA
  • Get hands-on at the Queensland Museum and SparkLab Sciencentre.

Top 10 things to do in Brisbane with kids

From city beaches to star spotting, you’ll find loads of family fun in Brisbane. Here are ten of the best.

  • Make a splash at Streets Beach and Aquativity.
  • Soar 60 metres above the ground on The Wheel of Brisbane.
  • Enjoyinteractive installations and activities for kids at The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.
  • Take a paddlewheel ride up the Brisbane River with Kookaburra Showboat Cruises.
  • Climb up and abseil down the Story Bridge.
  • Paddle down the Brisbane River on a kayak adventure.
  • Search for the stars at Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.
  • Cuddle a Koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
  • Enjoy hands on learning at the Queensland Museum.
  • Ride the rails at The Workshops Rail Museum. 

Things to do in Brisbane with young kids (0-4 years)

Just 12 kilometres from the city, Walkabout Creek Wildlife Centre is home to a variety of native animals. There’s a walk-through habitat where the kids can get up close to kangaroos and wallabies. There are also nocturnal houses, a walk-through subtropical aviary and the Gondwana Platypus Rockpool. This is one of the only platypus enclosures in the world. The centre’s ‘connect with nature’ program offers fun nature-based activities and events for families.

Cuddle a koala and hand-feed kangaroos in a natural setting at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the largest koala sanctuary in the world. Feed the lorikeets, watch a sheep dog show and marvel at the birds of prey.

And for even more marsupial magic, head to the Daisy Hill Koala Centre. This sanctuary is set within the Daisy Conservation Park to the south of the city.

If you’d like to check out a few more exotic animals, visit the Brisbane Valley Ostrich and Fish Farm or Lyell Deer Farm in the city’s noth. Or perhaps Ottaba Llamas in Somerset, where you can take a llama for a walk!

Things to do in Brisbane with primary schoolers (5-8 years)

There is no better way to spend a day with the kids than diving headfirst into all the action and activities located in the Southbank Parklands rainforest, water and grassed areas.

Visit the tranquil Nepalese Peace Pagoda, the edible garden where kids can learn about herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Ride high on the epic 60-metre-tall Wheel of Brisbane. Clamber over the climbing structures and swings at Picnic Island Playground. Go wild on the nets, slides and skywalk at the interactive Riverside Green Playground. Or simply splash and paddle away the hours at Streets Beach, a unique man-made city swimming beach, and the fun Aquativity Water Park.

The cultural precinct of the South Bank provides plenty of additional activities and exhibitions to appeal to every age. Be sure to leave time to explore Southbank’s collection of incredible galleries and museums.

Indulge your inner botanist at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Mt Cootha, 52 hectares of gardens, rainforests, trails and water features teeming with creatures waiting to be discovered, such as water dragons, dragonflies and bees.

View over Brisbane from Mt Cootha. Credit: Janeece Keller

Things to do in Brisbane with tweens (9-12 years)

Brisbane is home to some of Australia’s most child-friendly art galleries and museums.  

QAGOMA, The Queensland Art Gallery’s and Gallery of Modern Art, is home to interactive installations, artist projects and activities especially for kids. The Queensland Museum is Brisbane’s centre for natural history, cultural heritage, science and human achievement. Home to permanent and changing exhibitions and collections, the museum is an interactive wonderland for kids. It is also the location of the Sciencentre and its inspiring hands on exhibitions.

At the Museum of Brisbane, kids can ride up the clock tower, explore Brisbane’s history and participate in hands-on MoB Kids school holiday workshops. The Queensland Maritime Museum is the place to explore historic boats such as a warship and steam tug, as well as Jessica Watson’s history-making Pink Lady. This was the vessel she used to sail solo around the world! Then, for something different, travel back in time to the Middle Ages at the Abbey Museum of Art & Archaeology.

Things to do in Brisbane with teenagers

Teenage thrill seekers need look no further than the city’s iconic Story Bridge for a little action. Strap into a safety harness and take the Story Bridge Adventure Climb across the top of the cantilever bridge. For even more thrills, finish the climb by abseiling Spiderman-style, down the bridge to the park below.

If that’s not scary enough, test your courage on a ghost tour around the city, including Toowong Cemetery or Boggo Road Gaol.

Riverlife Adventure Centre offers a huge choice of adrenaline-inducing activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, abseiling and rock climbing. There are also more urban adventures such as Segway tours, rollerblading and cycling. There’s even a nighttime kayak tour along the river, where you can soak up views of the CBD, Botanic Gardens and Southbank from a rather unique angle. These awesome operators are located at the foot of Kangaroo Point cliffs on the Brisbane River in the heritage-listed Naval Stores.

Climb the cliffs at Kangaroo Point. Credit: iPostnikov / Shutterstock

Teens will also enjoy spending a day, or more, at Moreton Island. Just 35 kilometres across the bay from Brisbane, there is plenty to see and do. Camping families will love unwinding in the bushland, sliding down the sand dunes and swimming in the lakes. If you prefer your creature comforts instead, the island also has a resort for overnight stays. Try out everything on offer, from hiking to outrigger canoeing, diving and guided snorkelling at the Tangalooma wrecks.

Feel like some retail therapy to shake things up? Brisbane’s CBD is packed with shopping opportunities, including the heritage-listed Brisbane Arcade complete with art deco trimmings.

Thinking about exploring more of South East Queensland with the kids? Here are some awesome Adventures in South East Queensland for every age.

When is the best time for families to visit Brisbane?

A subtropical paradise, Brisbane is blessed with more than 300 days of sunshine every year. It has the perfect climate for exploring the great outdoors, so it’s always a good time to visit.

Brisbane’s consistent weather makes it a popular family destination every month of the year. But between March and May is the best time to beat the crowds and enjoy the most pleasant temperatures. September to November is ideal too, but September is also festival season so hotels are busy. This means that you’ll find an increase in costs and you’ll need to book well ahead to secure accommodation.

On the flipside, December to early March can be wet and humid. It is also quieter, so if you’re on a budget and looking for great deals on airfares and hotel rooms this is the best time to visit.

As well as the year-round Farmers Markets, the South Bank puts on a special do at Christmas time! Credit: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

Brisbane’s family-friendly places to eat

Brisbane’s hip and happening food scene is fantastic for families with its incredible fresh produce and loads of restaurants and cafés catering to kids. Ever popular with kids is Jamie’s Italian in the CBD where the kids can choose from dishes such as chicken lollipops and curly wurly pasta bake from the quirky kids’ menu. Stamford Plaza Brisbane’s Kabuki Teppanyaki is an action-packed meal prepared at the table by talented and fun chefs who will have the kids in fits of giggles. And Star Wars fans will love Death Star Canteen, Brissie’s coolest cafe.

At Stones Corner Hotel’s Sunday Family Laneway, kids can pick and choose between tasty treats from Mr America Hotdogs and Fries, Vira Lata Food Truck, Carolina Kitchen, Smokin’ Pizza and Dippin’ Dots while enjoying activities and entertainment. And The Food Truck Hub on Chester runs on the first Saturday of every month from 4:00 pm until late with some of Brisbane’s all-time favourite food trucks.

As funky as its London namesake, Brisbane’s West End also hosts a Farmer’s Market, vegan markets, vintage shops and many a coffee hub. It is right next door to the Southbank, so is ideal for culture vultures.

Against the back drop of Brisbane skyscrapers, there’s always plenty of green space for running around. Credit: Shutterstock

Free things to do in Brisbane with kids

  • From expansive parks and playgrounds to world-class museums, the city of Brisbane has plenty of fun family action on offer that doesn’t cost a thing.
  • Take a stroll with a Brisbane Greeter, passionate volunteers who lead small groups around the city to share stories and the best inside secrets of Brisbane.  Climb aboard the CityHopper for free passage across the river between Sydney Street terminal in New Farm Park and North Quay in the CBD.
  • Aside from the botanic gardens, there are also other delightful green spaces to enjoy for a picnic. Roma Street Parkland is an oasis in the city centre, and the largest sub-tropical city park in this hemisphere. Check out their free events. To get there, hop off at the Roma Street Train Station.
  • Walk less than five minutes from the city centre to make a splash at Southbank’s Aquativity water park and Street’s Beach. The world’s only city beach, it is manned by surf lifesavers and kids can swim, splash and play all year round. 30 minutes away at Redcliffe, you can also spend a day at the beach at Settlement Cove. Then, go cycling along its 35km of cycle paths and explore the pristine wetlands.
  • It is also completely free to explore the awesome permanent collections at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, The Queensland Museum and The Museum of Brisbane.

Where to stay in Brisbane with kids

It can be tricky for families to figure out where to stay in large cities. We’ve done the research (and yes we’ve stayed in most of these places) to pull together this list of awesome accommodation options for families.

The Westin, Brisbane

If you’re looking for luxury, the Westin Brisbane has got it covered. Their family-friendly suites feature rooms with interconnecting doors, TVs with Chromecast and movie packages, and even teepees for the kids to play in.

When you’re not out exploring, you can take a dip in the outdoor pool with a swim-up bar.

Read our full review here: Hotel review: The Westin Brisbane

Westin Brisbane
The kids tent at the Westin Brisbane. Picture: The Westin

Tangalooma Island Resort, Moreton Island

The kids will love exploring one of the biggest ‘sandcastles you’ve ever seen – Tangalooma Island Resort.

Located on Moreton Island, the world’s second-largest sand island, and only a short boat ride from Brisbane, you and the kids can hand-feed dolphins, snorkel amongst shipwrecks, go whale watching, take a sand tobogganing tour or sign up for complimentary activities such as archery and badminton.

Oaks Brisbane Aurora Suites

These apartments are an easy walk to the Queen Street Mall. There are one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments all with full kitchens, laundry facilities, free wi-fi and balconies, as well as a 25-metre outdoor pool and gym. This is a great inner-city option for families of all sizes.

Novotel Brisbane Southbank

This has to be one of our favourite places to stay in Brisbane when we’ve got the kids with us. Not only is it an amazing location, right amongst all the family-friendly things to do in Southbank, but the hotel itself has so much to offer families. There’s

  • Free buffet breakfast for kids under 16
  • Pedal cars that younger kids will love to borrow and zip around an outdoor racetrack
  • Pool toys available for use in the pool
  • A Lego butler who can deliver the kids’ choice of Lego kits to build and enjoy
  • Kid-friendly minibar options including bite-sized Kit Kats and giant Freddo Frogs
  • Fun activities such as art classes, face painting and balloon twisting

Brisbane Holiday Village

This holiday park, located in the south of Brisbane and only 20 minutes from the Gold Coast’s theme parks, has more in common with a resort than a campground.

Brisbane Holiday Village has a range of resort-style facilities such as a saltwater lagoon swimming pool, bike track, sports field, playgrounds and some of the best kid’s mini golf Brisbane has to offer.

Families can park their caravan, pitch a tent or bunk down in a cabin at Brisbane Holiday Village.

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