50 great days out in Brisbane for $50

Don't phone the bank for a loan – we've created 50 great ways to spend just $50 and enjoy a day or a half day out and about in Brisbane. 

1. Marvel at the wonder of the galaxy at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium

The sheer size of space can make us feel so small, but there's nothing quite like finding out exactly who you are in the universe. Try to piece it all together with the help of the Planetarium's exhibitions – general entry is free but tickets to the Cosmic Skydome cost $15.80 for adults. Kids are $9.60 and concessions are $13. Before or afterwards, wander through the expansive Brisbane Botanic Gardens at the base of Mt Coot-tha, they are totally free. 

2. An oyster dinner with a view at the Sandstone Point Hotel, overlooking Bribie Island

Sandstone Point Hotel

Want the seaside vibe without the seasickness? Grab a seat at the Sandstone Point Hotel for fresh oysters and sundowner drinks with a view out over the bay. Romantic weekend dinner anyone?

3. Explore QAGOMA before chowing down along Little Stanley Street

Across the two galleries QAGOMA houses some of the most iconic traditional and contemporary art in Australia. Find out its current and upcoming exhibitions here and share the love (and the food) with these share plates on Little Stanley.

4. Catch a properly artsy movie at the GOMA Cinematheque

The Australian Cinematheque spans two theatres at GOMA and screens the work of influential filmmakers, international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with musical accompaniment. If you're looking for something a little out of the cultural lexicon, this is the place. Ticket prices vary but a bunch of sessions are free. Combine with #3 for a full day out.

5. Seize the day with a kayak tour from Riverlife

Paddle & Prawns at Riverlife

Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned sailor, Riverlife's guided kayaking adventure sessions let you see the city from a unique angle while you glide along the meandering River. It's $49 for a day tour – starting at 1pm daily during the week, Saturdays and Sundays run at 8.30am or 11am. Climb the Kangaroo Point Stairs to the top of the cliffs and enjoy a barbecue picnic with city views afterwards.

6. See the sun set at Tamborine Mountain

Take a blanket, camera, anything you need and set yourself up at Hang-Gliders Lookout for a spectacular sunset. Watch the hang-gliders launch off the side of the mountain and see them floating above you as the sky burns orange while the sun goes down. Make a trip of it by wandering Gallery Walk that afternoon, exploring fudge stores, chocolate shops and even a German Cuckoo Clock store. Stop in at St Bernard’s Hotel for a pint or two ($15) and pat the beautiful welcome dogs (free) before hunting out this sunset spot with spectacular views towards the ocean.

7. Bowl your way to victory at New Farm Bowls ClubThe Boo, or Bardon Bowls

Barefoot and boozy – bowls clubs are an amazing way to spend a Sunday being that little bit more active than expected. Bring friends, order a schooner of Queensland's finest and get competitive. 

8. Try one of these hot dates for under $50

Kangaroo Point Cliffs

Yep, if these 50 ideas aren't enough - we came up with a bunch more designed to share with a special someone. Treat them to a night out without breaking the bank.

8. Explore River City's history with the Museum of Brisbane and laneway crawl in the CBD

Duck into City Hall in King George Square and head to level 3 to seek out a rotating series of free exhibitions that cover the span of Brisbane's recorded history. A tour up the clock tower is free, just ask staff when the next one is leaving. After the museum, drop down Burnett Lane for drinks and snacks at Super Whatnot or Brew

9. Grab a Greeter to tour you around the Brisbane

Brisbane Greeters

These free tours are led by passionate volunteers who just want to show off the city they love. Put aside four hours for a walk through Brisbane and learn as much as there is to learn about a few different topics with a variety of Greets. Did we mention, free? That leave plenty of dosh for lunch in the city.

10. Look and feel cool (as long as you don't fall over) at IceWorld Acacia Ridge or Boondall

The ultimate summertime escape, IceWorld's a relaxing way to spend a few hours. Race around the rink or take it slow and get accustomed to the skates with the help of the wooden hand rail. School holidays can get pretty busy but a midweek sojourn'll give you some quality time with the ice. adults $17, Kids $15, under 5s are $10.

11. Come face to face with sharks at Nielsen's Native Nursery and Marine Aquarium

This Southside adventure is just off the Pacific Motorway, half an hour south of Brisbane, and explores native Australian fauna as well as housing a marine aquarium complete with sharks and rays. Cool. Perfect for a half-day out with the kids.

12. Escape for a night with camping at Lake Moogerah

Camping at Lake Moogerah

Escape the city hustle and bustle for a night or two with camping out at Lake Moogerah. An unpowered camp site is just $26, add a six-pack to enjoy around the fire and a no-fuss homestyle picnic to stay within budget. If you've got one, bring your DSLR for some amazing long exposures of a clear night sky.

13. Relax with popcorn, friends and the open air at the Yatala Drive-In Theatre

One of only two drive-in theatres in Queensland, Yatala Drive-Ins are just about the perfect date night. Flick the seats back, turn the radio up and relax before the silver screen like they used to. If you want to escape the car, bring camp chairs, bean bags and a picnic blanket and gather around the boot with the windows down for the sound. Yatala is also home to famous Yatala Pie Shop – drive through before you drive in.

14. Picnic and drinks at New Farm ParkRoma Street Parklands or South Bank's River Quay

Roma Street Parkland

The grass between your toes, a cold bev in hand and cheese in the other – that's our perfect Sunday afternoon. The above three parks are licensed to drink alcohol, so long as you are eating something substantial at the same time. Bring friends and plan ahead.

15. Get spooked with a ghost tour

Delve into the darker parts of Brisbane's history with these ghost tours through heritage-listed sites and cemeteries. For the best experience, leave your flashlight and your skepticism at home. 

16. Experience the night markets at Eat Street Northshore

The new and improved Eat Street has shifted just up the road from its old haunt into a bigger and better space. Explore the bigger layout, complete with themed precincts and live music wafting through the market air. Entry is $2.50 and ATMs are inside. Spend as much or as little as you'd like. 

17. Get a bird's eye view from the Wheel of Brisbane

Wheel of Brisbane, South Bank

Climb above it all – with a little mechanical help – and see the River City like you only can from the Wheel. Book online to save a few dollars if you're really pinching pennies. Post spin, wander down to Tippler's Tap where sliders are just $5 and a basket of wings is only $12.

18. Fall in love at I Heart Brownies

If you don't, you will. I Heart Brownies know two things: how to make brownies and how to make you fall in love with them. This Fortitude Valley-staple prides itself on an exceptional product for a fair price and they're all gluten free. 

19. Chill out the Queensland Museum and Gelato Messina

Gelato Messina

Fight the impending summer heat with two super cool activities – run around the air-conditioned halls of Queensland Museum marvelling at creatures from teh deep and dinosaur bones. Follow it up with a smooth gelato from the best in the biz. 

20. Park somewhere on James Street and see how far $50 gets you

... not very, to be honest, but we recommend dropping into Gerard's Bar for a $14 cheeseburger, glass of wine and charcuterie. Sometimes rules are made to be broken. 

21. Go for par at Victoria Park Golf Complex or Supagolf at Sirromet

Fore! Once you've sunk some XXXX tinnies, sink some holes-in-one with 18 holes or with putt-putt for the kind of low stakes competition that'll shake up your office dynamic. If you're gonna cheat at putt-putt, though, make sure you're subtle about it. 

22. Take your pick at one of the many farmer's markets around Brisbane

Handpick your fruit and veg from the the farmers who know it best at one of the many farmer's markets around Brisbane, on weekdays and weekends. Get in early for the best produce but stick around for live music, arts and crafts stalls and a good way to spend a morning.You'll definitely have change for coffee and breakfast with market prices.

23. Unleash your inner child with BOUNCEinc

BOUNCEinc

Forget the serious stuff for a while and remember the rush of trampolining with the adrenaline playgrounds at BOUNCE. The Brisbane venue is in Tingalpa and general admission to the Free Jump Arena is $16.90.

24. Top up the tank and pack a picnic to scout the Scenic Rim

Marvel at the homegrown majesty just outside of town. Every bushwalk is free, but the petrol to get there isn't. Pack a light lunch so you feel energised but not weighed down, or indulge in a homestyle pie or slice of cake from family-run Arthur Clive's Bakehouse. 

25. Duck over to North Stradbroke for a day trip

Main Beach, North Stradbroke Island

The second largest sand island in the world (beaten out only by Fraser up the coast), Straddie's a perfect getaway for sun-soaked adventure. Swim, snorkel, eat fish and chips, save room for gelato and board the barge back in the afternoon. Bliss.

26. Steak frites (with bottomless frites) at Les Bubbles

Housed in the building that was once home to the famously illegal casino, bath-house and brothel, Les Bubbles makes sure to capitalise on that history. This Parisian steakhouse serves only the one dish, but serves it brilliantly with bottomless frites for $34.95. After dinner, head downstairs to the Bathhouse for a drink and a dip.

27. Tour the XXXX Brewery – then sink a tinnie

Experience the legend of XXXX and experience a true Australian icon up close. The tour closes with a beer tasting session of the freshest XXXX in all the land, which is probably what you're really here for.

28. Emperor's New Walk? Take a trek with a llama with Ottaba

Ottaba Llama Walks

Luckily you won't be evading an evil empress, but being escorted by a kind farmer though you'll definitely leave with a story or two. This one breaks the bank a little - $55 a head - but that's spare change you would have spent on something way less interesting. 

29. Take a chocolate or dessert walking tour with Foodi for $49

Wander the CBD and South Bank with a Foodi tour that'll open your eyes to all the glorious sweets you never knew Brisbane had. Chocolate tours kick off at 10am every Saturday, and South Bank dessert tours start at 11am every second Saturday. 

30. Choo-choo-choose a family pass to the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich

Workshops Rail Museum

Turns out the first railway line in Queensland was built between Ipswich and what's now Grandchester. Follow the history of rail in Queensland with the Workshops Museum in Ipswich. Explore steam engines and see how locomotion and transport have changed in 150 years.

31. Start with an exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art, hop to Johnny's Pizzeria for the Friday 2-for-1 pizza deal

Institute of Modern Art

Duck into the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art to discover the IMA. For food and a beverage, you'll find a heap of options just across the road (such as Harajuku Gyoza) - or even more through here. The best deal thought is down Bakery Lane where this kitschy Italian eatery (famous for its classic thin and hand-stretched pizzas) does 2-4-1. Try the clasico range or experiment with the gourmet options. Gluten-free bases are available for another $5.  

32. Fish and chips by the bay at Sandgate

Sometimes life calls for a simple, relaxed dinner with sea air, good company and tartare. A serve of fish and chips from the Sandgate Fishmonger for two, with the fancy chef's salad, will leave you with change for dessert. Watching the cute dogs parade the promenade is free.

33. Swim your way to a summer bod at the Spring Hill Baths

Brisbane's first in-ground pool, the Spring Hill Baths feature a heated indoor pool, kiosk, aqua aerobics and swimming lessons in this heritage-listed building. The Baths are open all year round but opening hours vary. Adults are $5.50 for entry with a 10-visit multipass for $54. If you're just visiting for a single splash, head out to Spring Hill Deli for food, coffee and a chat before or afterwards.

34. Go on an Adelaide St thrift crawl

Grab that beloved denim jacket that you haven’t worn in years, take it to clothing exchange SWOP and see if they'll exchange it for cash or credit. Trawl the racks for pre-loved treasures before popping into Blocksidge Arcade to visit Lifeline and shop labels at Revamp. Cash leftover? Stop into Noosa Chocolate Factory next door, grab a $3 coffee and scoopful of honeycomb that will leave you on a sweet high for days.

35. Tuck into New Farm Deli delights before a show at the Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane's oldest and most authentic Italian deli, the New Farm Deli has 35 years of experience with traditional and high quality food staples – which explains why it is always busy. Knock back that afternoon espresso before catching something spectacular at the Powerhouse. On Fridays the Powerhouse hosts a free comedy event called Knockoff.

36. Embrace your competitive streak with bowling and laser force at Strike Wintergarden

Strike Wintergarden

It's like lawn bowls, but with red and white shoes and vinyl couches. Show everyone how well you can roll a heavy ball in a straight line - it really is pretty fun - then take the competition into the dark with laser force. You know what to expect here: run around like an idiot and score heaps of points and win. Easy stuff.

37. Energise with liquid confidence at Bean Espresso, then down burgers at Miss Kay's

Did someone say $10 espresso martinis? Hidey hole Bean delivers the goods. Dare to conquer the Big Kay’s Challenge and get your face on the wall at Miss Kay’s, or just opt for the classic Cheeseburger before a quick trip into the Treasury Casino to see the action.

38. Splurge on the collective knowledge of every author that's ever come before you

Brisbane's no stranger to great bookstores. Browse the shelves at Archives Fine Books in the City, and Folio Books on Mary Street before fuelling up at Funny Funny, The Journey, Kotobuki or Sushi Edo ($3.50 plates please and thank you). If you're hungry for more, Avid Reader in West EndRiverbend in Bulimba, are bound (hah) to satisfy. 

39. Take a tour for two with wine tasting at Sirromet

Sirromet Wine Competition

Tickle your more adult tastebuds with a variety of wine tasting options at this Redlands vineyard. Premium wine tasting tours are $30 and last for an hour though have a minimum requirement of four people.

40. Fill up your cup at Eagle Street Pier

The bars along Eagle Street Pier have specials and happy hours going all week long. Stop in for a $5 G&T at Pony Dining, a jug of Lychee Mojito at Riverbar, a stein and pretzel at Bavarian Bier Café before finishing off with a Friday Happy Hour at Fridays Riverside.

41. Let me take a (kangaroo) selfie

While you pay the $36 entry fee to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, a challenge to see who can snap the best selfie with a kangaroo is priceless. Elsewhere in the sanctuary, hand feed the kangaroos, wallabies and lorikeets, watch the sheep dogs go to work and of course, cuddle a koala. 

42. Catch a blockbuster (or an indie flick) at South BankBalmoralPalace Barracks or Palace Centro

Popcorn at the movies

The date staple. We can't promise you'll have change left over if you head to Palace. That said, they have a more European feel and there's nothing quite like a "feature-sized" wine in the cinema. Cineplex at South Bank is the cheapest and most central while Balmoral still has the Golden Age art deco trappings for the same price – leaving plenty of cash money for popcorn and choc top.

43. Be a WAG

Out on Brisbane’s Bayside, there’s a thing called WAGS (not WAGs as we know it, but rather Wednesday Afternoon Go Sailing) for the enthusiastic yachters. Best of all, it’s free. If you don’t have a boat or aren’t keen to commit, sailors can join a crew three times before having to register. Drop in Manly Village for dinner or the boat house for beer after a sail.

44. Go on a culinary adventure at Wandering Cooks

On Thursday and Friday nights, three rotating small food businesses dish out interesting and unusual food from Wandering Cook's commercial kitchens. Pair with a new world, natural ferment wine and friends under the fairy lights in the courtyard for a great night out.

45. Drive out to the Lockyer Valley and buy this week's produce from the farmers themselves

Like the farmers' markets above, but out in the fresh air of the Lockyer Valley. The world's a little different out west and it is a bit of a hike to drive there so early but, if you get there in time, you'll score food you wouldn't believe is real.

46. Catch the CityCat down the River

CityCat

The easiest way to criss-cross the River, CityCats are a great way to get both on the water and where you need to go. The CityCats, with one exception, are named for the Aboriginal place names of part of the Brisbane River and the surrounds and many are wrapped with Aboriginal artist works.

47. Buy six (6!) plates of arancini at Bar OTTO (that's 42 arancini balls aka heaven) or five plates at Julius

There's no such thing as too much if you just don't regret.

48. Laugh a little (make it a lot) with cheeseburger spring rolls and $5 Young Henrys tinnies at Heya Bar on Wednesdays

Heya Bar Fortitude Valley

Every Wednesday, Heya Bar hosts Heya Comedy - a free show with some of Brisbane's best up-and-comers, with the occasional special guest. These comedians are almost as good as $5 tinnies and cheeseburger spring rolls that taste exactly how you'd expect. There's always space so you're always free to come on down.

49. See the latest movies under the summer stars with Open Air Cinemas or Moonlight Cinemas

Catch a new release in the open air with a special someone. At Moonlight, grab a beanbag and relax or make sure you bring pillows and a picnic blanket to pile up on so you can kick back and not strain your back.

50. Go for a destination dining experience in the Scenic Rim

Road trip out to the Mt Alford area of the Scenic Rim and stop in at Bunjurgen Estate’s cellar door for a drop or two before heading to Kooroomba Vineyard & Lavender Farm. If the restaurant is out of the budget, order a glass of wine from the bar ($11 roughly), some arancini or chips and wander up to the swing chair and take in the view. It’s something else.

Have we missed anything? Let us know

More to do around Brisbane