A visit to Brisbane | Guide for families
Brisbane is a fantastic city to visit with kids. It is very easy to walk around, particularly if you are centrally located around the Queen Street Mall. The city has a very friendly feel about it. It is busy and bustling and interesting but there is still enough elbow room to walk past people without feeling like you’re in the way when you have children in tow. This is a great city to wander around and discover heritage buildings or admire the amazing modern constructions.
Plus, even in the middle of winter, the weather is good. Sunny good!
For those who are serious shoppers, the Queen Street Mall has no shortage of all your favourite brands. Head to Edward Street if you’ve got a lot of cash to spend or if you simply like window-shopping. Tiffany, Cartier, Hermes are all there… the list goes on.
If the kids like walking you won’t even need public transport, however, if you would like to venture a bit further grab a Go Card which can be bought at various retailers such as newsagents, 7-Eleven stores, busways and terminals or they can be ordered online. It is a tap and go system which can be recharged online. Go cards can be used on all TransLink bus, train (including Airtrain), ferry and tram services in greater Brisbane, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast regions.
Think seriously about bringing a car to the city. Most locals don’t bother. Parking during weekdays is expensive and locals are very nervous about even stopping briefly in the wrong spot in case they get caught. Be warned. On weekends, many carparks offer cheap pre-booked parking.
We recommend taking a leisurely ride along the City Cat Ferry from Guyatt Park Ferry Terminal to New Farm. This takes approximately 40 mins one way and is a great way to get acquainted with the layout of Brisbane and to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
Parks, playgrounds and gardens
With its amazing weather, Brisbane is the perfect place to grab a coffee, walk to a park and enjoy the serenity. The gardens and parks are a real highlight of Brisbane which has some fantastic parks and playgrounds for kids to explore, so if they have the wrigglies we have a list of great places to take the kids for some active fun.
If you love gardens and great views, take the easy walking trail up to the top of Mount Coot-tha. There is a restaurant, cafe and some grassy areas from which to enjoy the views over much of Brisbane and beyond.
Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
The expansive Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens are a great place to visit. There is a small nature playground with swings, sandpit and climbing equipment. Don’t forget the garden though – it is spectacular and features a variety of garden rooms including a serene Japanese Garden, Bonsai house, large, rambling rainforest, ponds, lakes, a fernery, arid garden, a tropical display dome, and a hide and seek children’s trail. If you are after a relaxing day, this is a great place to go. The cafe/restaurant was undergoing renovations when we visited in July 2017.
Roma Street Parklands
The Roma Street Parklands are definitely worth exploring. It is quite easy to walk around the whole of the gardens in an hour or so, but be prepared to stop at the cute playground which is perfect for the younger ones but also has enough to keep the older ones busy too. This garden is perfectly manicured and filled with subtropical plants. There are also barbecue areas and grassed areas, perfect for a picnic.
If you can, wander down to the Botanic Gardens and along the banks of the Brisbane River for beautiful views across to Kangaroo Point. Although, the gardens are not large, they are very relaxing and there is an all-abilities playground with a double swing and climbing tower.
New Farm park & City Cat ferry rides
New Farm – New Farm park is a ferry ride away within the city boundary. This is a fantastic playground for all ages. It features the regular climbing frames and swings etc but the little ones will love the massive fort where they can go an adventure through tunnels. There are plenty of places for adults to relax and watch the kids and the whole park is surrounded by lush tropical greenery and amazing Indian Banyan Trees which have amazing roots which plunge from the branches into the ground!
Southbank is well worth a visit and is a fantastic place for families. It is like an oasis in the city. If you are staying in the CBD, it is still a very easy 10-minute walk across Victoria Bridge to Southbank, the Queensland Museum and Science centre, Gallery of Modern Art. Take your pick from a multitude of restaurants and cafes or simply wander the length of Southbank and explore all that is on offer:
Wheel of Brisbane
Subtropical Rainforest boardwalk (rainbank)
- Streets Beach – a man-made beach with a lagoon and sandy beaches (undergoing renovation at time of review July 2017).
- Boat Pool – a free pool patrolled by lifeguards all year round
- Aquativity – a free, interactive water-play park (pictured below)
Riverside Green Playground
You could bring a picnic or grab lunch from a nearby cafe and spend hours watching the kids play on this huge adventure playground – fantastic for all ages.
Epicurious community vegetable garden
The Queensland Museum and Science Centre
The Queensland Museum is a great place to spend a few hours with the kids. The museum itself is free to visit. There are a lot of animals and birds on display to learn about and a discovery centre which is very spacious where kids can get a little hands-on with some of the exhibits. For the younger ones and the dinosaur-lovers, the Playasaurus place features two life-sized dinosaurs and hands-on interactive exhibits.
The Science centre is a paid permanent exhibit which is well worth the reasonable admission fee. We stayed for three hours, jumping from one exhibit to the next. This is a highly engaging exhibit with lots of things for the kids to do to learn about how things work.
If you can explore a bit further on a day trip, we highly recommend O’Reilly’s rainforest retreat. Be prepared for a two hour drive heading south of Brisbane and a half-hour, very windy, ‘exciting’ drive up the mountain to the very top where you can marvel at incredible views to the mountains in the distance. Be sure to wear sturdy walking shoes, socks and bring a warm jacket.
There is a good cafe serving a small range of meals which overlook the valley and distant mountains, however, there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy a picnic surrounded by wildlife.
There is also a beautiful mountain garden to explore with plenty of rocks for the kids to climb and stairs and pathways to explore.
Views from the cafe and surrounds are simply breathtaking.
There is accommodation available, however, day-trippers can still enjoy the activities on offer including the Birds of Prey show which was an intimate and extremely informative show where visitors can view these amazing creatures up close. There is also the option of holding an owl or …. a Wedge-tailed Eagle which our kids loved! The show costs approximately $48 for a family.
For those not afraid of heights, there is a free Tree Top skywalk. If you are afraid of heights, it is still manageable (speaking from experience). The Tree Top walk is 180 metres in length and is made up of nine suspension bridges, with much of the walkway being 15 m above the ground. We managed three rounds with the kids who couldn’t get enough. Unfortunately, this reviewer was too busy holding on for dear life to take any photos!
One of the most popular attractions at O’Reilly’s is the bird-feeding. For $4.00, you can hire a bowl of seed and wait for the crimson rosellas and King Parrots to land on your head, arms or eat from the bowls. This brought squeals of delight to the kids.
Where to go for coffee and sweet things:
Coffee Anthology | Great coffee! | 126 Margaret Street, Brisbane CBD
Strauss | Great coffee | 189 Elizabeth St, Brisbane CBD
Della Mano | Good coffee and amazing chocolates, truffles, savoury pastries. We loved this because it was preservative free and so delicious! | Tattersalls Arcade, Shop 8 B, 215 Queen Street, Brisbane City
Be sure to take a 10-minute drive to Kenmore to the Wild Canary botanical bistro. You can choose to sit indoors or under a marquee surrounded by a canopy of towering bamboo and subtropical gardens. Beautiful additive free cakes and good coffee. You can find the Wild Canary at 2371 Moggill Rd, Brookfield
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
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