Most kids can’t wait for their next opportunity to wear themselves out while exploring the world around them. Lucky for parents, Brisbane has a wide range of activities that will keep children entertained, no matter what their age, interests or attention spans – or how deep mum or dad’s pockets may be. From central museums that will expand children’s minds and help them to develop critical thinking skills, to green spaces where they can run wild and connect with Mother Nature, there’s something for every kid to enjoy. Here are the best Brisbane activities for kids.
Hugging the south bank of the Brisbane River, South Bank Parklands encompasses 17ha (42 acres) of lush parklands housing several kids’ playgrounds and aqua spaces including Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach. Patrolled by lifeguards year round it’s perfect for families keen to cool off during Brisbane’s hot summers. Pack a picnic or feed the family at one of South Bank’s many restaurants. Not far from Streets Beach, kids can also discover exotic plants and fragrant herbs and learn about inner-city gardening at South Bank’s tranquil Epicurious Garden.
Part of the collection of arts institutions known as Queensland Cultural Centre, just north of South Bank, the free Queensland Museum invites kids to learn about Australia’s native flora and fauna, get up close to dinosaur bones and even take part in interactive displays and experiments at the SparkLab science centre, which forms part of the museum. Children’s activities and interactions feature throughout the museum’s five floors of exhibitions, with plenty of other kids’ events scheduled on the calendar.
A bustling Asian-style night market by Hamilton Wharf, Eat Street Northshore makes dinnertime a blast for kids of all ages. Open on Friday and Saturday evenings from 4pm, and on Sundays from noon until 8pm, the market boasts 180 dining and entertainment shipping containers to choose from, with plenty of exotic dishes from around the world to tempt even the fussiest of eaters. Don’t forget to bring some cash, as entry is 3 Australian dollars (£1.66) and some stalls don’t accept cards.
Pack a picnic lunch and let your kids run wild at Brisbane’s premier botanic gardens at the base of Mt Coo-tha. Among its incredible array of plants and attractions is the Hide ‘n’ Seek Children’s Trail set in the heart of the shady Exotic Rainforest, with a map for kids to follow to ensure they spot all the surprises and amazing plant facts. Kids will also love getting steamy in the Tropical Display Dome, and smelling the flowers in the Fragrant Garden. Brisbane City Council’s Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is located in the gardens, with a good handful of shows designed especially for kids. Entry is free, but you’ll need to book show tickets.
The first art gallery in Australia to create a permanent, dedicated gallery space for children, Ipswich Art Gallery was founded on the principle that learning starts with interactive play. The gallery’s rolling exhibitions and activities for children involve exploring interactive spaces and getting hands-on by creating art or testing their problem-solving skills on kid-friendly building projects such as constructing a ball run. If you have any Thomas the Tank Engine fans in tow, stop by the multi-award-winning Workshops Rail Museum while you’re in Ipswich.
Watch koalas doze in gumtrees, hand feed kangaroos and eyeball an endangered cassowary at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, a wildlife refuge tucked up alongside the Brisbane River in Fig Tree Pocket, southwest of the city centre. Time your visit right to catch keeper talks held throughout the day, or simply enjoy exploring the Aussie wildlife and barnyard animal enclosures at your family’s pace. While it’s possible to pay extra to cuddle a koala, the sanctuary offers a valuable opportunity for parents to teach kids about the value of admiring wildlife from a distance.