19 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).

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 are 19 things you can do in Brisbane City with kids, tweens, teens and even those that never grew up.

1. Relax in a park with Gigs & Picnics

Gather the family, pack a picnic rug (or borrow ours) and spend a lazy afternoon lounging in the sunshine. Once a month on a Saturday, the City Botanic Gardens come alive with food trucks, free live music and hundreds of people picnicking. There’s plenty of space for kids to run around in the gardens while you relax to sweet mellow jazz sounds, modern reggae and dub vibes, gypsy swing and more. The line up of food trucks and live music is different every month.

2. Head to the Museum of Brisbane on Sundays

Museum of Brisbane

The Museum of Brisbane is an absolute gem and there’s always something new on or cool happening. Sunday is family day at the Museum of Brisbane, with family-themed tours and activities revolving around current exhibitions. 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. Children of all ages also love riding up the Clock Tower, and timed tour tickets are also free.

3. Dance the night away with Latin Friday Nights

Latin beats and dancing feet take over Reddacliff Place every Friday night. Wear your dancing shoes and join a passionate, pumping crowd that loves to shake their hips. The DJ plays fun, fresh and modern Latin music that teenagers and pre-teens will love. It kicks off at 8pm with a dance lesson, so grab dinner in the city and then wander over for a fun and safe dance street party that goes until late.

4. Dance to the City Sounds

The City Sounds

If you love live music, you’ll love the 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 the CBD in a whole new light. You can book a general greet, or request a special topic – like street art, architecture or war history – to suit your family’s interests.

6. Eat your way through the Brisbane City Markets

Every Wednesday, starting 6 February, the country comes to the city when one of Brisbane’s best farmers’ markets pops up in Brisbane Square from 8am-6pm. 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 CBD market is a must-visit yourself.

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. Skating At Festival in King George Square

From 21 June to 14 July King George Square will be transformed into a winter wonderland. Expect an ice skating rink (including Kanga skating aids), rides, markets and music.

9. Pixar Putt in Brisbane City

Until July 14 take a trip down memory lane as you putt your way around 9 or 18 mini-golf holes inspired by your favourite Pixar films, including Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., Wall-E and more. 

10. 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.

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. 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 Bavarian Bier Cafe 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. 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.

19. Stroll the Riverwalk

One of the best ways to move between the city and trendy New Farm is via the Riverwalk. And now that Howard Smith Wharves lies between the two, it’s worth walking, running or cycling through. This flat, suspended path sits above the water offering beautiful views across the river to Kangaroo Point and a fresh angle of the city. Hire a CityCycle and get going!

20. 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.

21. See something edgy at Metro Arts

One for high school children, Metro Arts is a cool and alternative arts space dedicated to supporting independent artists. Inside the five-storey converted building on Edward Street is a theatre, gallery, studio and arts cinema. There’s always something new and interesting to explore, so check the program before you head in.

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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