5 favourite things to do with kids in Brisbane



Spending some time in the capital of Queensland? Here's five of our favourite centrally located things to do as a family in our old hometown of Brisbane.

1. Museums, State Library and GoMA

Located right next to each other near Southbank, the Queensland Museum, State Library and Gallery of Modern Art make a fantastic day out for the whole family.

The Queensland Museum has all your typical exhibits – dinosaurs, native species from the present and past, Indigenous history and transport history, but from a Queensland focus. There’s a number of hands on exhibits and the whole museum is very kid friendly. Better yet entry is free. Be sure to check out the dinosaur garden in the basement but watch out for the Raptor song, it tends to get stuck in your head.

Underneath the museum is an excellent Science Centre, although there’s a entrance fee.

Next door the museum, the State Library has a great imaginative play area that’s perfect for under 8’s. There’s crafts, puppets, toy kitchens, computers with drawing activities and staff on help out. There's also a giant chess set for older children.

 Just next door to the State Library, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) often has family friendly exhibits. It also have a specific area for children with crafts and interactive activities based around the current exhibitions. The activities and displays change all the time but they’re usually wonderful and always free.

alien nation

2. Ride a CityCat to New Farm Park

A ride on a CityCat (Brisbane's river ferry) is an adventure in itself. They're fast so standing on the deck is a lot of fun. Plus it's a great way to see the city.

To make the ride even better, catch the CityCat to New Farm park to experience one of Brisbane’s best playgrounds. Built up and around giant fig trees there’s something for children of all ages. Thanks to the floods in early 2011 the park has recently been completely renovated.

The playground has plenty of shade and there are plenty of seats for parents and nearby coffee shops. If you have time, the nearby Powerhouse Museum usually has great exhibitions for teens.  

3. CBD Parks

Central Brisbane has three fantastic parks within a short walk of the CBD – Southbank Parklands, the Botanical Gardens and Roma St Parklands.

Southbank Parklands

Before having kids we mocked Southbank. An artificial chlorinated beach in the middle of the city in a busy man-made parklands … bah.

And then our kids came along and we realized that ‘lame’ for 20-something workers is actually heaven for families.

Het strand/zwembad middenin Brisbane

Built on the old World Expo ’88 site, Southbank is filled with green picnic areas, great boardwalks to explore the river, playgrounds and large swimming pools. There’s even a special children’s swimming area with fountains, water features and shallow wading pools.

Better yet it’s all free.

Well unless you buy food there. Eating out at Southbank isn’t friendly for your wallet but there are hundreds of great picnic spots and barbeque's so bring your own food.

Southbank is located in the heart of the city. It’s well connected by trains and the CityCat, Brisbane’s ferry service. It’s also an easy walk from the CBD across one of the many bridges that cross the river. 

If you’re hoping to go the cinema during your stay in Brisbane, the nearby Southbank Cinemas (Cineplex.com.au) are almost half the price of other cinemas in Brisbane.

Botanical Gardens

The shady Botanical Gardens have a great playground for younger children, plenty of flat footpaths to ride bikes/scooters/skates through. Along the riverbank there’s also an interesting Mangrove boardwalk where you can learn about mangrove forests.

Roma Street Parklands

What’s not to like about Roma Street Parklands – a duck pond, plenty of boardwalks to explore, a great playground for all ages and perhaps our kids favourite part – an observation deck where you can watch the trains pulling in and out of the tunnels for Roma St train station. On weekends there’s often a kids train running around the gardens, although it’s not particularly cheap.

Roma Street is just near Roma Street station, or a short walk from King George Square and City Hall.

4. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Unlike Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane doesn’t have a state zoo.  But what it does have is Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary – a fantastic open-range zoo with a great range of native animals. Entry used to be very quite reasonable but it's gone up recently. Still it's a fantastic zoo and you can feed the kangaroos that are free to roam a large enclosure.

If you don’t have time to get to Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast, Lone Pine is a great alternative. It’s not as large but it’s a lot lot cheaper, less busy and offers the same opportunities to get up close to Australian wildlife.

Lone Pine is in the western suburbs but several buses and one boat daily go there. Check out the Sanctuary's website for full instructions on how to get there.

Alma Park Zoo is another fantastic small zoo that allows you to get up close to Australian wildlife. It's been years since i've visited this zoo but Juliet from Lace N Ruffles has a collection of photos from her trip to Alma Park Zoo that will give you an idea of some of the animals you'll see during your visit.


5. Mt Cootha Lookout and Botanical Gardens.

If look-outs and great views are your thing, then Mt Cootha is the place to go. The mountain just near Toowong to the west of the city offers great views. On a clear day you can see almost all the way to the coast and south to Ipswich, as well as the CBD.

At the base of the mountain is a lovely botanical gardens with restaurants, picnic spots and duck ponds. There's also a great planetarium. The highlight for our kids was always the cactus gardens and the dinosaur gardens filled with ancient conifers and cycads that have existed for millions of years. They loved seeing "real dinosaur food".

The city council 471 bus leaves from Adelaide and Albert St in the city for Mt Cootha. Alternatively you can catch a train to Toowong and then take a taxi.

Sparkling Brisbane in the evening

Looking for information on other great places to explore around the world with kids?

This post is part of a group project where other travelling families have shared information on their favourite places to go in their hometown or favourite cities. I hope this list gives you some great ideas of places to explore with your family!

USA and Canada

Boston, USA - Great Family Escape

New York City, USA - A Minor Diversion

Seattle, WA, USA - Walkingon Travels 

Sunset Coast, Michigan, USA - WanderingEducators.com

Vancouver, B.C. Canada- With 2 Kids In Tow

Kingston, Ontario, Canada- EdventureProject.com

Washington, D.C. USA - Grow In Grace Life


Central and South Americas

Antigua, Guatemala - Raising Miro

Ambergris Caye, Belize - A King's Life

Lake Chapala, Mexico - Living Outside of the Box

Costa Rica - Bohemian Travelers


UK, Europe and Middle East

London, UK - Travels with a Nine Year Old

The Holy Land: Israel- The Nomadic Family

The Netherlands - Act of Traveling

Fethiye, Turkey - ramblecrunch


Central Australia - Wandering Photographer

South Australia - Livin On The Road

Brisbane, Australia - OurTravelLifestyle



Chiang Mai, northern Thailand - The Dropout Diaries 


Next Post: Holy crap we lost our kid Previous Post: Surprise - We're in Crete

About the Author


Tracy Burns

Tracy always talked about traveling a lot more than she ever traveled. Married to an avid traveler that thankfully changed. After almost two years exploring South East Asia and Australia, enjoying the most amazing food, temples, beaches, and more importantly every sweet food treat she can find, Tracy is keen to explore further afield. Tracy juggles homeschooling, playtime, blogging and learning more about photography while they travel. Some days she juggles them better than others!

Comments (13):

  1. Great and informative post guys--well done and thanks for sharing!

  2. Australia is on our bucket list and in our sights for late this year, or next year!! Great post! I'll be checking back as we get closer.

  3. You mocked the southbank! It looks like Disney world! And it's free? 20 somethings suits can be so . . .

    Seriously this looks great! My kids would flip! Thanks guys!

  4. This list is PERFECT!!! All of my FAVOURITE Brisbane things. I was at Southbank last night for a business dinner with overseas guests. Walking back to their hotel they were astounded to see dozens of families swimming and having fun. It was 9.45pm and 28 degrees celcius!!! I'm going to miss Brisbane!!!

  5. I am flagging this post and sticking it in our Australia folder. We should be heading down in late 2013/early 2014 to visit a friend in Brisbane and do a little exploring. I can't wait! Thanks so much for sharing all of these local goodies.

  6. Wow, what a great list and surely thing that may not be found on a things to do list. Australia is on our long term plan and after seeing this great list I will feel even more prepared.

    Free place to swim, great museums, and a place to pet kangaroos....why did you leave again, ha! I better not show this to my kids or we will be in Australia next week! Thanks!

  7. I think they're my top five as well! Even though I haven't been to Lone Pine Sanctuary since I was a kid.
    Great. Now you've made me homesick for Brisbane.

  8. Southbank looks great...what a fantastic idea to break up a big city and make it family friendly!

    The sanctuary also looks awesome....is it safe to assume you didn't take that close-up photo?!!

  9. We were in Brisbane a dozen years ago and it has always stood out in my mind. I only wish I had some of these great suggestions at the time. I DID particularly enjoy the CityCat and found it gave a great city overview for our brief stay. Reading about the other fun stuff to do there makes me realize it might be time to go back. Great post!

  10. I think we need a year to do just Australia! That kangaroo looks cuddly - are they friendly?

  11. Just realized your link to my site isn't working. I must have had it listed wrong in the online list. Sorry! It is: http://livingoutsideofthebox.com/2012/01/09/5-great-activities-for-kids-in-lake-chapala-mexico/

  12. time for me to head to oz. what incredible things to do - and such beauty!! thanks!

  13. I will go to Brisbane with my kids in these places. These are very beautiful places.

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