3 Fun Free Family Days in Brisbane

My mum lives in Brisbane so we visit often. Most of the time we make ourselves comfortable at home and spend as much time as we can with family but we try to get out and have a bit of a look around every visit. We find that we keep returning to the same few places because they are great for kids and have an abundance of free things to do. The following are my 3 favourite free things to do with kids in Brisbane.

Southbank 

This is a great part of the city that is packed with things to do.

Inner City Beach

One of our favourites is the man made beach. 

Beautifully made and manicured, it is half beach and half pool. It offers views across the river, lifeguards on duty and there is shelter and tables so you could bring a picnic. Nearby is also a water playground with streams of water jetting at different intervals. The kids will be screaming happily running away from jets of water for hours. Em would happily play here all day, but can be tempted to move on by the awesome playground that is also nearby.

Playground

The playground includes a number of different play areas suiting different age groups from toddlers through to tweens.

Cafes and Restaurants

It is near a small café so you could buy a takeaway coffee while watching the kids. We ate lunch at that café (I can’t remember what it was called) and the food was great. We shared a plate of Beef Nachos and a Caesar Salad and both were delicious.

Rainforest Boardwalk

The whole Southbank area is beautiful to walk around. It includes a rainforest boardwalk which loops around a manicured rainforest display. Many of the plants have name tags and you can spot a number of birds scratching around below the boardwalk. It is all fed by reclaimed water and there is an educational display telling you all about it.

Nepalese Peace Pagoda

The rainforest boardwalk leads to the Nepalese Peace Pagoda which was Nepal’s contribution to the World Expo in 1988. It is a beautiful structure with intricate carving perfect for playing a game of ‘spot the animal’ (dragon, monkey, lion etc) with the kids. When I see beautiful carvings or pictures like that I like to ask Em to have a look and find her favourite thing to show me.

The Brisbane Eye

Southbank is also home to the Brisbane Eye – a huge Ferris Wheel offering views of the whole city.

I had to practice deep breathing as we went higher and higher. I never quite realised I was scared of heights and definitely felt a bit of a panic when Em wanted to stand up near the edge (even though it was completely enclosed and safe). The Brisbane Eye unfortunately is not free. It was $21 per adult and $14.50 per child or you can buy a family pass for $62 (2 adults, 2 children). It did provide great views over the city and a recording told you what you could see as you cycled around the wheel. It lasted for about 15 minutes. (I was fine as long as Em was sitting down.)

The Cultural Precinct

As well as these activities Southbank offers so much more. It is home to the Cultural Precinct including museums and galleries as well as the exhibition centre. The Queensland Museum is free with a lot for families to enjoy.

In the area there are also a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants and on weekends there is a market. It also hosts a number of different events at its Amphitheatre.

Southbank is located on the south bank of the Brisbane River and has a number of lovely walking, running and bike paths along the shore of the river.

The Brisbane Botanic Gardens

Located on the edge of the city, right next to Queensland University of Technology and on the bank of the Brisbane River the Brisbane Botanic Gardens is an easy way to spend a day.

There are many beautiful manicured gardens to walk around and lots of green grass space to lie around. Many of the trees have plaques advising you of their names. Bush turkeys wander around the gardens as well. My favourite part of the gardens is the mangrove board walk located near the ferry terminal.

At the gardens you will find another awesome kids playground. There is a café and free guided tours of the park are offered by volunteers.

The gardens are right beside Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the uni students make the most of the sunshine by leisurely laying around on the grass during term. Near the University there are a bunch of little galleries that you can explore if you get bored of all the serenity.

Roma Street Parklands

Is another huge centrally located garden that is full of activities, playgrounds, water features and beautiful spaces to explore.

There are lots of paths which are easy to push a pram along and many places to stop and have a rest or a play. At the centre of the parklands is a large scenic lake.

The park is divided into a number of different areas, like ‘The Forest’ or ‘Celebration Lawn’ and the garden is beautifully maintained with many gardens of colourful flowers, a lovely bamboo grove and much more.

There is an information booth and maps of the park available so you can plan and find where you want to go.

A highlight is the trackless train which loops around the park. It is great value, run by volunteers for a gold coin donation. This was one of Em’s favourite activities of the day and is a great way to see the park if you would prefer not to walk (or just to rest your feet for a bit). Be prepared to wait as you may not get on the next train, but you would normally make it on the one after that. You cannot take strollers on board but they do provide an area to leave them (at your own risk, of course).

There are two great playgrounds that cater to different age groups so you can take your pick – or have a play at both. Both have a reasonable amount of shade which is good in the Queensland sunshine. We spotted them first from the train and were able to head back to them after our tour of the gardens.

The Roma Street Parklands is centrally located right near a train and bus station and there is paid parking available as well. As well as everything I have mentioned here there is also an amphitheatre and there are often free events held in the park. It is easy to spend a day here if you pack a picnic lunch or you can use their free barbecues if you prefer.

Brisbane is a great city to visit with kids. Each of these 3 places could offer a full day of free entertainment for a family which is why they make my top three.

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