Follow these savvy suggestions and get the whole family out of the house without spending a cent.
Get sandy in the city
Streets Beach at South Bank is Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach. There’s a swimming lagoon, picnic areas and free Wi-Fi—for updating Facebook, of course.
Catch a ferry
The CityHopper navigates the Brisbane River from North Quay to Sydney Street. It runs every 30 minutes and as the name suggests you can jump on and off as often or as little as you like.
Be culture vultures
Daisy Hill Conservation Park is home to many native animals, including koalas. If you can’t spot them in the trees, head to the Daisy Hill Koala Centre where you’ll be able to view the three resident marsupials in the outdoor enclosure.
Okay, so the food isn’t free, but kids under 12 get complimentary entry to Eat Street Northshore (only $2.50 for 12s and over). Choose your own meal from one of the 70 vendors; a seamless way to keep all tastebuds happy.
Image: Eat Street Northshore
Walk the wetlands
Keep little minds absorbed and little bodies energised with a walk on the Hide 'n' Seek Children's Trail at Boondall Wetlands.
Take in the views
Brisbane Lookout at Mount Coot-tha boasts impressive panoramas of the city. There’s bushwalking and mountain biking here, too.
Have a beach day
Suttons Beach in Redcliffe is known for calm conditions – ideal for little tackers. Consider, too, Settlement Cove Lagoon where, in addition to the main lagoon, there are wading pools, picnic shelters and playgrounds.
Don’t fancy the sand? Then take a dip at one of the local swimming holes and waterfalls – try Cedar Creek at Samford and Cedar Creek Fall at Tamborine Mountain.
Go on a tour of duty
For history lovers and aspiring politicos, the free tour of City Hall is a must. Running four times a day, for 45 minutes, it covers architecture, history and city stories. At the end, you can add on a free 15-minute Clock Tower tour ascending 76 metres above the city in a cage lift.
Take to the streets
Brisbane boasts striking and exciting street art—exploring the many murals and graffiti on foot will thrill artists-in-the-making. There’s no official website collating all the works, but Tourism & Events Queensland have highlighted 52 of the best creations and plotted them on a map for ease. See this website for more.
Meet & Greet
It’s billed as an “ambassador service” but even if you were born here, a Brisbane Greeters Tour is a savvy way to experience the city. Groups are kept small (no more than six) and can be tailored to your and your children’s interests.
Head north to Bribie Island for a day-hike from Red Beach to Woorim. It’s 6.3 kilometres each way, and it’s best at low tide to keep feet dry.
And hike high…
Decamp to the hinterland for a day exploring Lamington National Park. The Binna Burra section is particularly good for families, with treks ranging from just over one kilometre to circuits of more than 20 kilometres.
Hit the green scene
The city’s parklands and playgrounds offer plenty of diversions and excitement for a day-out: try New Farm Park, Roma Street Parkland, Orleigh Park, South Bank Riverside Green Playground and Colmslie Beach Reserve.
Admire gardens and planets in one place
Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mount Coot-tha is 52 hectares of gardens, rainforests, trails and water features; there’s a hide-and-seek children’s trail, guided walks, and plenty of picnic spots, plus the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, ideal for stargazers.
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