Top Things to do in Brisbane with Kids
Brisbane, known to locals as Brissy, is Australia’s third largest city. This city isn’t usually on many people’s radar when planning a trip down under, but its mild weather makes it a great year-round destination. We found the city clean, family-friendly and easy to get around. Read on to see our list of fun things to do in Brisbane, Australia with kids.
South Bank Parklands
The parklands were dubbed as Brisbane’s playground and were our first stop to combat jet lag. This cultural hub across the river and the city center was filled with museums, restaurants, shops and green spaces. It’s hard to miss the Wheel of Brisbane here. The brief 15-minute ride with panoramic views on its 42 gondolas wasn’t too expensive. The Clem Jones Promenade along the river was wonderful for strolling, biking and rollerblading. The kids also loved our Segway tour around the promenade.
Visit the Nepalese Peace Pagoda for the kids to learn some culture. We were here on a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed strolling through the weekend market filled with art, crafts, souvenirs and food. We also enjoyed the free concert at one of the parks.
The most popular sections here were the South Bank pools and Streets Beach, Australia’s only man-made beach in the inner city. Brisbane’s wonderful weather makes this a great spot to enjoy year round with various pools for the different age groups. Younger kids could enjoy interactive water features.
Cruise the Brisbane River
The Brisbane River surrounds the city. We enjoyed a different perspective of the city during our two-hour cruise that included passing under the iconic Story Bridge. We learned a bit of the city’s culture and history during the narrated tour. It was also a relaxing way to sight-see.
We highly recommend going on the River City Cruises tour but there is also the free CityHopper service. The CityHopper has ferries that run daily with several stops along the Brisbane River to hop on and hop off.
Story Bridge Climb
Climbing Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge is a must do activity for adrenaline junkies. It’s a 2 1/2-hour journey to the top at 262 feet (80 m). This bridge climb is one of only three available to do in the world with the other two in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.
I’m sure the panoramic views at the top are worth the climb and experience. There is also an option to abseil, or rappel, down the bridge after the climb for the daredevils. We didn’t get the chance to do the climb but would love to do this next time. Children must be over 10 years old and at least 130 cm (52 inches) tall.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Don’t miss this place when visiting Brisbane! We spent a whole day at the world’s largest koala sanctuary with over 150 koalas to observe and cuddle. Only certain parts of Australia allow koala cuddling and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is one of them but with strict guidelines. It was hard to return that koala.
Our other favorite experience here was feeding the kangaroos and wallabies roaming freely in the five-acre reserve. It was a bit surreal and a little intimidating to be surrounded by so many kangaroos. My kids loved going from one kangaroo to another and petting them too.
This also served as a haven for Australian native animals like wallabies, Tasmanian devil, Southern Cassowary, wombats and emus. There were shows and exhibits to help guests learn about the various animals.
Queen Street Mall
We stayed at Hilton Brisbane, which was conveniently located on Australia’s largest and most popular shopping street with over 700 retailers. The pedestrianized Queen Street was a shopper’s paradise. My daughter and I loved walking through here. She particularly enjoyed the multi-level malls filled with familiar and local stores.
This is also considered Brisbane’s heart and the ultimate destination for entertainment. Many events usually take place here including weekend music performances. We were here during an important rugby match and it was so fun to be around all that energy.
Brisbane Parks and Gardens
Brisbane offers hundreds of parks and family-friendly green spaces. My kids have always enjoyed strolls through parks and spending time at the local playgrounds. We loved the historic City Botanic Gardens along the Brisbane River. There was a large playground, ponds, open spaces for picnics and beautiful plants and trees with some only found in Australia. Don’t miss the Bamboo Grove with a great collection of 23 bamboo species.
Volunteers offer one-hour guided walks twice daily from Monday to Saturday. Self-guided walks are also available using this handy resource. Bikes with courtesy helmets are available to rent at many stations around the city. The park has some great bike paths. This park was a well-maintained and beautiful sanctuary in the middle of the city center.
Another fantastic park is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha. Enjoy free admission to several themed, well-maintained gardens and trails including the tropical dome, Japanese Garden and Children’s Art Trail. The gardens offer various events and workshops for families including gardening, photography and story time. Free guided walks are also available. Don’t miss the lookout over the city, the planetarium and the varied displays at the exhibition hall.
Vacations can be fun and educational too. Brisbane has many museums for kids of various ages and interests. Many of them were near each other and have low entry prices or were free. We found quite a few along the South Bank Parklands.
Some notable museums to visit include the free Queensland Art Gallery to see Australian art through the ages. Tours are available twice daily.
The Queensland Museum is also free and includes various interactive displays and educational exhibits on the Aboriginal people and their culture. The Playasaurus Place allows kids to have pictures taken with a T-Rex or watch dinosaur eggs get hatched. The Sciencentre will entertain kids for hours with many interactive and hands-on stations and exhibits. Check out the Action Stations on everyday science and the Body Zone for a fun way to learn about anatomy.
The Queensland Maritime Museum has a wonderful collection of lighthouses, ship models, marine vessels and nautical equipment.
Tips for Visiting Brisbane Attractions with Kids
- Look into the iVenture card to save on some of Brisbane’s attractions.
- Hop on the free The City Loop bus service that circles the city every 10 minutes everyday. It’s a great way to sight-see and get around.
- The Brisbane Greeters free service is a fantastic way to see the city with a local. Book a greeter online for a specific or personalized tour.
Do you have any other recommendations for fun things to do in Brisbane with kids?
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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…