Brisbane with kids
As a part of the series "Cities with Kids" here at Simple Family Travel, we are featuring a different mum writing about her favourite city each month. You'll find tips on where to eat, what to see, best places to play and even what to do on a rainy day.
Our next city is Brisbane.
Rebecca, a mum of 2, is born and bred in Brisbane Australia. She just so happens to be life long best friend. We met when were were tiny 2nd graders and have been friends ever since. Despite being originally from Brisbane myself, I’ve never lived there with kids, so Rebecca or Aunty Becka as she is known around our home, is our go to Mum with what to do.
Over to you Rebecca:
Brisbane born and bred I have lived in this magical city for for 35 years. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for living in this wonderful town. I have travelled and experienced living in other countries and whilst Brisbane may not have a long rich history it is a city to behold none the less.
Now I know when most travellers think of coming all the way across the ocean to visit 'Down Under’ they normally think of visiting Sydney and Melbourne. However I am here to tell you not to forget a trip up the east coast to visit little old Brisbane! A city with the nickname ‘BrizVagas’ we have so much to offer and that is not just our warm sunny weather!!!
What are your favourite things to do?
Situated on the cusp of the city is Victoria Park golf centre. With a stunning location this is the perfect destination for all age groups. The Centre incorporates a glorious 18 hole golf course, driving range and 18 hole Putt Putt course. After a challenge on any course sit back and relax at the Bistro. There is also a fantastic playground for the kids to enjoy! On the weekends you can enjoy Dutch pancakes, delicious burgers and German sausages from market carts all whilst looking at spectacular views of the city.
Southbank is a must do for anyone visiting this beautiful city. Located on the southern banks of the Brisbane River not only does it incorporate, lush gardens, delicious restaurants, markets and uninterrupted river views, but it also has Australias only inner city man- made beach! Pure white sand and crystal clear water it is very easy to enjoy a whole day here. It is open all year round, has lifeguards on duty and is free to use. There is also a brand new children’s playground at the northern end of the parklands and a water play area at the southern end. Whilst visiting Southbank don't forget to take a ride on the Brisbane wheel, as it offers fantastic views of the city.
If you are looking for some shopping time then a quick walk across from Southbank is the heart of our city Queen Street Mall. The mall is home to some of Brisbane’s premier restaurants. It boasts over 1000 specialty stores, is home to our Casino and the free ‘City Sounds’ music programs. Check local guides when visiting as there is alway something happening in the city centre. When visiting over the Christmas period the mall comes alive with the Spirit of Christmas. Check out the Myer Christmas window display and the nightly Christmas pantomime which is followed by a light show and Carol singing around the Christmas tree in King George square. A beautiful night for families to enjoy.
Take a day to visit this area of Brisbane and enjoy what the west of Brisbane’s CBD has to offer. Only 7 kilometres from the city centre this lookout has panoramic views of the city and all the way out to Moreton Bay. There is also a lovely restaurant to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Just down the road is the Brisbane botanic gardens. These sub tropical gardens are open every day of the year and are a must see when visiting Brisbane. The gardens are divided into different themes from a scented garden, Japans gardens, fern house, bonsai house, cactus garden, and many more. It also features a tropical greenhouse that is home to the largest collection of Native Australian rainforest trees in the world. Collect a map at the information centre for the children to join in the ‘hide and seek’ trail. These magical gardens are also home to the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. This is a favourite for my children. Check local guides as this attraction changes it shows regularly and there is a cost involved. The planetarium has a Cosmic Skydome and a 12.5 metre diameter projection dome. For children that have a love of space, the big bang and science this is a great experience.
This is my happy place! Whilst I would recommend staying here for at least a few days it can also be a fantastic day trip. Taking a water taxi from Cleveland to the Island there is then a shuttle bus that will help you explore this little bit of paradise. If time permits hire a car and catch the ferry over to explore at a relaxed pace. The Quandamooka people have lived on this island for thousands of years and their connection to this land is still there today. Straddie is only 30 kilometres southeast of Brisbane and is the worlds largest sand island. From swimming, to whale watching or enjoying an ice-cream at point lookout this is the perfect place for all families to have an unforgettable experience. The beaches have the most amazingly blue water and fine white sand. There are fresh water lakes, rainforest walks, gorge walks, Australian wildlife, and perfect sunsets. If you need some R&R this is the place for you.
Now I know that Australia Zoo is located on the Sunshine coast however there are dedicated buses that leave the city centre and take you straight to the zoo and return in the early evening. This is a fantastic family day out. The zoo is owned by the Irwin family and was home to the ‘Crocodile hunter’ Steve Irwin. The facilities are clean and family friendly and the animals are well cared for. My children love this zoo as they are free to roam and explore the spacious grounds. The zoo offers specific animal experiences, photos with Koalas, a crocodile show that is often hosted by a member of the Irwin family, a train that travels the entire zoo, and a family eatery that caters to all fussy eaters!
When visiting Brisbane make sure you check to see if there are any games on at Suncorp stadium. The stadium is home to the Brisbane Roar (soccer), the Brisbane Broncos (rugby league), and the Queensland Reds (rugby union). These are great family days out. Suncorp stadium sits on the city edge and is well catered for with public transport to and from the game. The street that the stadium sits on Caxton street is busting with restaurants and cafes, so make a day of it and enjoy another little piece of Brisbane.
What are your favourite restaurants with kids?
This delicious Spanish restaurant is situated in Southbank. After a lovely day of strolling around the city we generally end up here. There is always something for the kids and something for the grown ups to enjoy. For dessert there are also lots of ice cream options all around the parklands. So grab a carafe of Sangria and sit back and watch the world go by.
This is a must when visiting Brisbane. Eat street hugs the shore of the Brisbane river. There are hundreds of different cuisines to choose from, there is even something for those picky eaters. You can sit back and watch the water, a cruise ship sail into port or the live entertainment. Warning: the fairy floss is larger than the size of a small child!!
My children are very early risers and this restaurant in the heart of the city has been our go to for years. Open 24 hours a day they serve the yummiest fluffiest pancakes around. They are family friendly with a seperate children’s menu and are happy to accomodate food intolerances. If you are not really into pancakes they do offer other items on their menu thus ensuring all members of the family are catered for.
For a easy Friday afternoon treat our family love nothing more then heading down to the Sandgate foreshore for some fish and chips. Soaking up the afternoon sun there are walking tracks and plenty of space for the kids to kick a ball around. Do not feed the seagulls or you will loose all of your dinner very quickly!
Located in the north of Brisbane Chermisde shopping centre recently underwent a massive renovation. There is now a dedicated restaurant area that caters to every desire. From Spanish to burgers to caramel apples and sushi. Not only does this area make you feel like you are in a tropical resort there is a central playground for the children to enjoy. Definitely a must visit. There is also the added bonus of shopping and the movie cinemas.
What are your favourite playgrounds?
Frew park is situated in Milton and sits on what was the old Milton tennis centre. There are still some tennis courts for those budding little players however there is now the most amazing children's playground. It caters to all abilities and for ages up to about 15 years old. There are large climbing walls, massive slides, climbing nets and a large grassed area to play on or just to sit and enjoy a picnic. There are plenty of shaded areas to relax in, barbecue facilities, toilets, and the all important cafe to grab a coffee from.
This public park is 15 hectares that lines the Brisbane River. Located as the name suggests in the suburb of New Farm this park is home to a beautiful natural playground for children. Set amongst the glorious fig and Jacaranda trees this park is just as beautiful to look at as it is to play in. Jump on a city cat from the city centre and enjoy this marvellous space. The park has toilet facilities, BBQ’s, and plenty of parking. Included in the area is the Brisbane powerhouse. It plays host to live arts and entertainment, restaurants, the moonlight cinemas (during the warm months) and the Jan Power farmers markets on the weekends.
In the heart of the Brisbane city is Roma street parklands. This is a contemporary garden with lots of wildlife and walking trails to explore. There are playgrounds in the Upper Parkland, a cafe, and a large central pond. This inner city oasis is perfect for children that love an adventure. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the lush green grass, or there are BBQ facilities spread throughout the 16 hectares of parkland. For a simple gold coin donation you can hop on board the colourful train that navigates the park named the ‘Parkland Explorer’. There are herb and vegetable gardens to explore with your little ones and the playground encourages natural play with climbing spaces, ladders, bridges, and of course swings!
Tips for a rainy day?
Now this is one of my most favourite places to visit in Brisbane, and not just on a rainy day. GOMA is our gallery of modern art. Located in the city cultural centre in Southbank, this is a must do when visiting Brisbane. The centre is home to both historical, contemporary and modern art. My children love this space as there is a dedicated children’s art centre. Check the website for current exhibition information. The children's art centre has collaborative interactive artworks that give the children hands on experiences. There is a cafe on the ground level where you can sit back and look at the Brisbane river. Whilst there is a fee involved when visiting the main exhibition area, the dedicated children art centre is free of charge.
Also part of the Brisbane cultural precinct is the Queensland Museum, Art Gallery, and the Science centre. It is a popular destination and loved by all ages. The museum has both permanent and changing exhibitions and explores the history of Queensland. It offers many public programs and includes early childhood activities and experiences. There is a restaurant attached to the museum that is self serve and very family oriented with lots of special treats for the kids.
Admission prices do apply when visiting the Science centre which is situated below the Museum. However it is well worth the expense. Children are engaged in activities the moment the enter the space. All exhibits and displays are hands on and nothing is off-limits.
The Queensland art gallery is about 150 metres away from GOMA and sits beside the Museum. Exhibiting both historical, cultural and modern art, the museum also offers a children's hands on art space. No admission prices apply. There is also a very lovely cafe in the gardens perfect for a quick drink and piece of cake. Given that all of these amazing spaces are located within walking distance from one another (mostly by covered walk ways) this is the perfect day out when its a little wet in Brisbane.
With various location across Brisbane Flip out indoor trampoline centre is perfect to chase away those rainy day blues. The centre is covered in floor to wall trampolines, with giant foam pits, climbing walls, basketball hoops and a great cafe. Kids have an absolute ball and use up all their energy!
Don't forget to visit Brisbane
Brisbane is a magical city that is perfect for family holidays. Being located in the south east of Queensland the weather is warm and sunny perfect for all the outdoor activities that Brisbane has on offer. On either side of the city we have the Gold Coast (South) and the Sunshine Coat (North), both of which are amazing in their own right and well worth the visit. There are perfect beaches, mountains to explore and tourist attractions such as Seaworld, Movie world, Underwater world, and Dream world. If you are planning a trip to Australia do not forget to put Brisbane on the list of must visit cities.
Print and go! Check out all of Rebecca's suggestions here on the map.