23 things to do with the kids in The City - Visit Brisbane

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23 things to do with kids in Brisbane City

Do you remember visiting a big city as a kid? Towering skyscrapers, bright lights, chic shops, people in suits, sweet treats – it was a new adventure with plenty of rewards (hello, ice-cream!).

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Travelling into the CBD is an exciting and memorable way to spend a day together as a family, and Brisbane City has plenty to offer – from hands-on activities for young children right through to free dance classes and a thrifty clothing market that will even keep tricky teenagers entertained.

Here’s 23 things you can do in Brisbane City with kids, tweens, teens and even those who never grew up.

1. Relax in the park

The Gardens Club

Originally planted by convicts in 1825 with food crops to feed the prison colony, Brisbane City Botanic Gardens is our oldest park. Flash forward and these days it’s a beautiful, relaxed spot to take the kids, a loved one or mates for a picnic right in The City’s heart. Ancient trees, rainforest glades and exotic species are everywhere amid the Gardens Point greenery. The park runs the length of Alice Street and the Brisbane River, it's right next to Queensland University of Technology and includes The Gardens Club restaurant, the much-loved Riverstage amphitheatre and a rotunda for smaller events. Don’t forget the Riverside at the Gardens Market held each Sunday from 8am-3pm.

2. Head to the Museum of Brisbane 

The Museum of Brisbane is an absolute gem and there’s always something new or cool happening. Throughout the school holidays, there's heaps of special activities to coincide with current exhibitions. And, as always, Sunday is family day at the Museum of Brisbane, with extra family-themed tours and activities. Bring young ones along to the third floor of City Hall for free activities that will have the kids learning and creating while having fun.

3. Tee-off some putt-putt fun

Let your family's competitive side loose and see who can putt their way to victory at Australia's craziest and most unique mini-golf course. Holey Moley Golf Club has a nine-hole putt-putt course and a karaoke room inside the Wintergarden precinct.

4. Check out City Sounds

The City Sounds

If you love live music, you’ll love City Sounds. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Australia’s largest free live music program presents local and touring bands and artists on stages in the Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square and other locations around the CBD. Expect everything from alternative and folk, to jazz and electro – you can check out who is playing this weekend here.

5. Rediscover the city with a Brisbane Greeter

Greeters wander through Burnett Lane

Have you ever noticed the brass animals above your head as you walk along Adelaide Street? It’s amazing how many little facts and secrets the Greeters know. Book a free walking tour with a Brisbane Greeter and have them show you and your family Brisbane City in a whole new light. You can book a general greet, or request a special topic – such as street art, architecture or war history – to suit your family’s interests.

6. Eat your way through the Brisbane City Markets

Jan Powers Farmers Market

The country comes to the city when one of Brisbane’s best farmers markets pops up in Reddacliff Place from 8am-6pm on Wednesdays. Take the kids along to meet farmers and producers, buy fresh produce and pasta, taste cheese and jams, and find meat, seafood and hot smoked salmon to take home. Arrive hungry for the hand-picked food stalls, where you’ll find everything from fresh juices to falafel pita wraps to indulge in for lunch. Find out why this weekly City market is a must-visit.

7. Find new threads at Suitcase Rummage

Everything old is new again at the Suitcase Rummage. Twice a month this market sells vintage, clothing, bric-a-brac, artwork, books, jewellery, shoes, records, handmade goods and more in Brisbane Square. Each stall holder brings along a couple of suitcases with goods to sell – some sell handmade creations, others are clearing out their wardrobes. It’s a great place to pick up cheap second-hand fashion – bargaining, cloth swapping and haggling isn’t uncommon!

8. Solve crimes at the Queensland Police Museum

Is your son or daughter a budding police officer? If your child is on the way to being Queensland’s next best detective, take them to try their hand at solving a crime with a simulated murder scene at the Queensland Police Museum.

9. Cruise the river on a CityCat or City Hopper

Feel the wind in your hair and see the city in a whole new light from the water. Stand up front for your Titanic moment and to see all the sights as you make your way around the CBD. Depending which way you travel, you may see the New Farm Riverwalk, the Story Bridge, or South Bank. The City has two stops - Riverside (at Eagle St Pier) or North Quay near the Treasury Casino. Check the Translink website for fare and timetable info.

10. Take kids to the theatre

Keep the little ones out of mischief these school holidays by taking them to a show at QUT Gardens Theatre. Based on the award-winning picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Room on the Broom will hit the stage from 7-11 January. On stage from 14-17 January is another live show for kids aged three to eight years, Magic Beach – a play based on the book by Alison Lester.

11. Check out The Cube at QUT

The Cube at QUT

Explore one of the world's largest digital interactive learning and display spaces. The Cube has 48 multi-touch screens stacked two storeys high, and gives the public a chance to play “citizen scientist”. It shows scientific work from the QUT’s Science and Engineering research in an inspiring, explorative and participatory way – projecting real-world scenes and collecting data. It’s free, and it’s fun.

12. Play upstairs at the Wintergarden

Bowling, laser tag, an escape room and karaoke – you can do them all at the top level of the Wintergarden centre off Queen Street Mall. Strike Wintergarden is home to all four options, as well as pool tables. There's a bar for snacks too. Entertainment, sorted.

13. High tea for all ages

Shingle Inn

Brisbane City has two quaint and classic tea rooms to take the kids to for a fancy cuppa and cake. Located inside Brisbane City Hall, the original Shingle Inn has antique wooden panelling and does a Teddy Bear High Tea for those under 12. On the top level of the historic Brisbane Arcade, Room With Roses is a specialty tea house with raspberry or ginger scones, plus high teas, sandwiches, cakes and more. Put on your best frocks and head out!

14. Pop into the Brisbane Square Library

Think libraries are a yawn? You’re mistaken. The multi-storey Brisbane Square Library is a cool, air-conditioned oasis with awesome river views, spaces to hide and hang out with a book, and great events happening constantly. Keep an eye out for toddler playtime and storytelling sessions, craft activities for primary aged kids, hands-on robot tech workshops, animated movie screenings and more.

15. Catch a flick on the big screen

Speaking of movies, watch the biggest family-friendly films on the big screen at Event Cinemas, on the top level of The Myer Centre, or at the chic independent Elizabeth Picture Theatre. Whether it’s school holiday family flicks for kids, or big blockbusters for teens – movies are a good excuse to leave the house, munch on popcorn and spend time together.

16. Twinkle with the fairy lights

Did you know there are fairies in Brisbane CBD? From secret fairy doors, magical fairy lights and hidden nooks – there’s a whole trail to explore. There are pretty spots all over the city illuminated with lights, and the magical garden next to the Goodwill Bridge isn’t too be missed. Take a snap and share it with #brisbanecity.

17. Eat out with the family

Keep little tummies happy with family-friendly dining with everything from free meals at The Bavarian at Eagle Street Pier, to watching your pizza and pasta made right in front of you at Vapiano. Don't forget to keep space for a sweet treat afterwards! For a full list of family-friendly dining options in the City, head here.

18. Explore the new Waterline Park

Looking for an active and outdoor adventure? Explore this new park on the river’s edge with your family. Located between 1 William St and Mangrove Walk, this park has fun active activities such as table tennis and a huge outdoor gym. We hear there will soon be a climbing wall too. Waterline park is one of the first parts of Queens Wharf to open.

19. Hit the shops

From the latest looks and toys for kids to cool streetwear and tech for teens, there are shops hidden throughout the Brisbane CBD to delight and entertain. There are big department stores for all budgets, plus great Australian boutiques Seed Heritage, Country Road and Cotton on Kids. And of course, something fun for all ages can be found at National Geographic, MindGames, Toys R Us and EB Games.

20. Look into Brisbane’s convict history

Built by convicts between 1828 and 1829, the Commissariat Store is Queensland’s most significant and oldest habitable building. Step inside the museum to discover Queensland’s history. There is rotating exhibitions through to more permanent rooms that explore the colonial period of our history – keep an eye out for the famous ‘convict finger’...

21. Explore the city on two wheels

One of the best and most active ways to move around the City is by bicycle. With Waterline Park and Howard Smith Wharves now open, you can cut a fairly flat lap around the river's edge, perhaps crossing over to South Bank or taking the Riverwalk to New Farm. Cycling around the City is great way to both keep fit and get a new perspective on the CBD. And the easiest way to get moving? Hire a CityCycle!

22. Welcome to the house of fun

There is a whole world of gaming fun to have at FunHouse in The Myer Centre, and iPlay on nearby Albert Street. Buy tokens, play lots of games, count your tickets, then redeem for awesome prizes! Epic. Or battle it out at iPlay with favourites including Dance Dance Revolution, Tekken7, Jurassic Park and a photo booth to capture all the fun.

23. Get a clue with the family

Head to Fox in a Box Brisbane for escape rooms that will delight the whole family. With six themed escape rooms on site, families have one hour to solve the puzzles as a team. Each room can accommodate up to six players and the escape rooms are perfectly suited for kids aged 10 years and up (children under seven years can play for free).

Navigating & parking in the CBD

Travelling to the city with a hive of children can make things trickier. The good news is there are a few easy ways to access Brisbane CBD with your family.

$5 weekend and evening parking

The cheapest parking in the city is at the Brisbane City Council-run King George Square and Wickham Terrace car parks. After 4pm weekdays and on weekends you can park for just $5. If you enter the Roma Street Parkland car park before 9.30am weekdays, you can stay for just $10. Find out more about parking in the city here.

Public Transport

Brisbane’s buses, trains and ferries all service the CBD as a central point. You can use Google Maps or the official Translink Journey Planner to find the best way to access the city from your location. Many suburban train stations have free park’n’ride facilities, so you can leave the car and take the train into Central Station or Roma Street Station. Catching the CityCat or free CityHopper is also a super delightful way to arrive in the city via the river.

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