Brisbane, the capital of the Sunshine State, cultural mecca of the top half of Australia and gateway to some of the most beautiful coastline in Australia. If you live in Brisbane or are planning a trip soon, we’ve rounded up some of the best family-friendly activities in this part of the country as well as a few undersung heroes that you may never hear about otherwise.
1. Visit an amazing playground
Unlike some of the southern capitals where you have to rug up for months of the year, Brisbane rarely dips below 20ºC during the day which means it is a city that appreciates and celebrates the great outdoors. Top notch playgrounds and picnic spots are dotted throughout the Brisbane suburbs and it is hard to choose a favourite.
We love the Wynnum Wading Pool (pictured at top), a heritage listed area built during the 1930s. The pool fills with seawater at high tide and is an ideal spot for kids to splash around, while the surrounding playgrounds and parklands make it a much-loved destination for a family day out. Kalinga Park (pictured above) on the north side and the recently refurbished Rocks Riverside Park in Clayfield are also worth checking out.
2. Get artistic at the Children’s Art Centre
You might consider a trip to the art gallery to be beyond the scope of most kids, but when it comes to GOMA in Brisbane, think again. Australia’s only purpose built, state-of-the-art, activity centre within an art gallery, the Children’s Art Centre has two floors of art activities to keep kids occupied for hours. The focus is on encouraging children’s artistic involvement and often, commissioned exhibitions are created specifically with kids in mind. Even when particular exhibitions are ticketed entry only, the Children’s Art Centre is always freely accessible.
3. Make a mess at the Ooniverse Kids Cafe
Ooniverse Kids Cafe is a wondrous place on Brisbane’s north side that is perfect for play dates and coffee dates alike. For $10, your child will have free reign at messy play, be provided a healthy snack and get a fun balloon animal, all in a positive environment that is especially designed for them. Parents can interact with their kids or sit back and relax as they watch on with a great coffee. Best of all, the mess stays there when it is time to go home. Great for birthday parties and events too.
4. Little Artists at Play at Brisbane Power House
The Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm is a destination in its own right; steeped in history and bordering beautiful parklands, the river and a popular weekend farmers market. On Tuesdays though, it is all about the kids. What started as an annual children’s festival, has become a year-round program of free art adventures. Little Artists at Play is a creative workshop series for children up to five years old, and their parents and carers. There are five 30 minute sessions running from 9am, so you won’t miss out and you can time it around naps.
5. Share a meal at Everton Park Hotel
Everton Park Hotel has taken family-friendly dining to a whole new level. Not only are kids palate’s well catered for, their energy levels are too. There is a massive outdoor playground as well as a kids indoor gaming room and a separate room with kids movies. Kids eat free on Tuesdays and parents will appreciate the easy access for prams, and visibility of play areas from the tables. Even so, it is a good idea to book ahead if you want a table outdoors near the playground.
6. Discover the fun of books at Queensland State Library
The Queensland State Library is another unsuspecting customer when it comes to fun and free activities for kids. Gone are the days of whispering and sitting still in the library. The Corner is heralding a new era of library use as a special space for children up to eight years old. With the support of parents and carers, children can enjoy and experience unique artworks, wonderful books, fun and educational toys and artist led activities for free.
7. Feed the wild dolphins at Tangalooma
A short distance to Brisbane’s east is Moreton Bay, humming with sealife and protected by the picturesque Moreton Island. A 75 minute catamaran ride will find your family in the tropical oasis of Tangalooma Island Resort. Here you can snorkel the Tangalooma Wreck, slide down the sand dunes on a toboggan, ride a quad bike across the island or feed wild dolphins. Feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city all in the short space of a day trip.
8. Get active at Riverlife
Sitting on the southern bank of the Brisbane River, overlooking the city, is Riverlife, a destination for special events and natural playground for adventure. Try your hand at rock climbing or abseiling on the Kangaroo Point Cliffs or stand-up paddle on the river. Explore the area with a segway tour or get the whole family in on a bit of friendly competition with the Segway Obstacle Course.
9. Get lost at Mount Coot-ha
The scenic Mount Coot-tha offers the best views of the city and is also jam packed with activities for kids. On rainy days, try the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium for a fascinating journey through the night sky, but for the majority of days, a stroll through the Botanical Gardens is in order. Set imaginations alight by exploring the Hide ‘n’ Seek Children’s Trail, in the heart of the shady Exotic Rainforest. Collect a map at the start of the trail and follow it to make sure you spot all the surprises and amazing plant facts.
10. Trainspot at the Workshops Rail Museum
If you have a little one obsessed with trains then we have one final, must-see Brisbane destination. The Workshops Rail Museum is the winner of the Australian and Queensland Tourism Awards for Heritage and Cultural Tourism and is located at Australia’s oldest railway workshop still in operation. While kids may not appreciate the significance of the history, they will be in awe as they watch it come to life through 15 interactive and hands on exhibits to check out. A family pass for two adults and two children is $63 or an annual pass is $126.