Being a relaxed, subtropical city with loads of sunshine and space, Brissie offers lots to do all year round. Even better, there are tonnes of free things to do that could keep families entertained for hours on end. Without further ado, here are 10 free family activities in Brisbane that will keep your kids, you and your wallet happy.
Anstead Bushland Reserve
Anstead Bushland Reserve is a brilliant little spot, as it’s not too far from Brisbane CBD (about 30 minutes drive), it’s fairly easy to circumnavigate and it offers enough to entertain a family for a few hours. Of course it’s also free! So what’s there to do in the park? For starters, there’s a large picnic-friendly field, shelters, BBQ facilities and a kid’s playground at the park entrance. Inside the reserve, however, you’ll find quite a bit more.
Just near the park entrance, there’s a nature trail that links to other tracks and areas within this 130-hectare reserve. There’s also an old basalt quarry by the river at the other end of the park, which kids love to explore. My 12-year-old and my dog were running around here for a while, up and down the hills, collecting sticks and letting energy out. This is also a great spot to have a picnic while they’re doing it too. As far as free family activities in Brisbane go, this one’s a cracker!
This is a fairly new edition to Brisbane in the city’s suburb of Chermside. It’s a most welcome one too, as it caters for little kids right up to teenagers. I recently explored this place with my family and it’s enormous and thoughtfully designed. Star attractions in the park include the 200-metre scooter track – which contains banks, jumps, dips and obstacles – and the playground itself, which will keep kids occupied for hours.
The playground is aimed more towards the tweens, as there are some challenging aspects to the play equipment, but there’s enough for the little ones to have a great time too. The playground contains slides, nets, bridges, tunnels, rope climbs, balancing beams and wires, and much more! At the other end of Bradbury Park, there’s also the Magic Forest of Bradbury, which is an enchanting forest area that invites imagination and agility.
Right by this there’s some outdoor gym equipment, and ice-cream trucks regularly make an appearance too. Bradbury Park is definitely one of the free family activities in Brisbane you shouldn’t miss!
Cedar Creek Swimming Holes – Free Family Activities in Brisbane
If I had to pick a favourite in this list of ten, it’s Cedar Creek Swimming Holes, without a doubt. The swimming holes/falls are about 40 minute’s drive from the CBD, just past Samford. The entire area, which is also dog friendly, is a place you should allocate at least half a day of your time to. To get there, park at the end of Cedar Creek Road and follow the creek until you get to the falls. Be warned though, the creek’s trail stops about halfway and you’ll be boulder scrambling a little, but nothing a relatively active family couldn’t tackle.
If this puts you off, the good news is that you can opt not to walk past where the trail ends, as there are so many swimming holes along the way which are just sublime. The falls itself are about a kilometre from the car, so keep in mind that it’s not too far if you decide to walk the whole way. It’s well worth it once you get there and while the place is popular, there are enough swimming holes to ensure you have your own private slice of paradise.
Fort Lytton National Park
Fort Lytton National Park is definitely one of the free family activities in Brisbane you shouldn’t miss, particularly if you enjoy history and exploring. The main attraction is the military precinct, which acted as Brisbane’s primary defence facility from 1881 to the end of WWII. So what’s there to do here for kids? For starters, there’s loads of grass to run around on, hills and the park runs alongside the Brisbane River.
There are also tunnels to explore in the old fort, as well as passageways, narrow walkways and there are cannon/gun towers and pits, old motorbikes and more historic paraphernalia too. Fort Lytton National Park also does reenactments at night, which include canon firing and live theatre. There’s even a gift shop on site and tour guides to aid your experience, and best of all, it’s free!
Kangaroo Point Cliffs
Kangaroo Point Cliffs are one of the most iconic free family activities in Brisbane. Families will love the clifftop views over the city, and there are BBQ facilities at the top to extend those views in style. If you’re not up for cooking, at the end of Kangaroo Point Cliffs there’s Joey’s restaurant. However, there’s also a whole other side (quite literally) to Kangaroo Point Cliffs if you walk down to the bottom.
There’s a steep staircase next to Joey’s which will get you there. Once you’re at the bottom, you can access BBQ and picnic facilities with lots of grass, gym and play equipment. You’re also sitting right by the river, which gives you a whole different perspective on Brisbane and there’s more play areas down here for kids to run about. If you walk a little further along the embankment you’ll run into kid-friendly activities, such as Christopher Trotter’s fish fossil.
King Island is a small island located about 45 minute’s drive from the city in Brisbane’s Wellington Point. The island is roughly a hectare in size, although what makes the island unique is that it’s only accessible during mid to low tide. It’s a great place to walk out to – being a novelty – and it’s also quite scenic as the sand and mudflats stretch for a long way behind the island. There are also islands of seagrass, starfish and small pools to explore which the kids will love.
Additionally, on King Island you can bring the dog, although dogs must be kept on a leash. I’ve also seen families here engage in fishing, boating and many bring chairs to sit and soak up this unique little part of the world. The island itself is pretty small but there’s a plaque in the middle that will tell you a family of seven lived out here for two years in the early 1900s. Picture that!
Make sure to put King Island on your list of free family activities to do in Brisbane, particularly during sunrise or sunset. Just make sure to time your walk right!
Eugenia Circuit Walk and Picnic Area
I’ll say straight up that Eugenia Circuit is my favourite walk in Brisbane. Located in Mt Coot-tha forest, the walk and area is dog friendly, there are picnic and BBQ facilities – including large grassy areas – and there’s a creek and hills for kids to explore while the parents relax or join in. Of course the walk is excellent, as it takes in waterfalls and swimming holes. In fact, it feels like there’s a waterhole every hundred metres or so on this track, particularly after rain.
The track is also a wonderful place to experience wildflowers in late winter and various species such as purple hoveas during the springtime. The walk isn’t too taxing either, but it will get your heart pumping and make you feel like you’ve done something for the day, that’s for sure. You could easily make a day of it here and the best part is that there’s a makeshift café near the park’s entrance, which you could visit when you leave.
The cafe, which is called Via Retro Café, serves up excellent raspberry muffins and coffee, as well as doggy treats.
Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium
As the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is free entry, it’s another one of the best free family activities in Brisbane. So what’s there to do? There are telescopes, a spaceman, star and planet maps, and a gift shop for starters. There’s also a walkway that orbits, quite aptly, the Cosmic Skydome. It costs money to see a show in the Cosmic Skydome, which is the highlight of the planetarium, but there’s still quite a bit to do here for free, particularly if you combine this with a visit to the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens next door.
There are also videos on our planet and the planetary system inside the visitor’s foyer and kids might enjoy a visit to the Sundial Courtyard out the back. The giant sundial is made out of concrete, steel and glass and it keeps time to within 10 minutes. You can sit in the Sundial Courtyard and the area is big enough to have a play too, provided the area is not packed of course.
Captain Burke Park
Captain Burke Park is a regular spot of ours, as we love coming here to have picnics under Story Bridge. We typically bring our dog and tie him up with a five-metre lead so he can more or less entertain himself while we eat, drink and take in the magnificent view. For kids, there’s a sizeable playground in Captain Burke Park too, along with BBQ facilities and shelters.
There’s also lots here to look at, such as boats passing, Howard Smith Wharves across the way and of course the city lights, which look pretty amazing when the sun goes down. However, another attraction here is the small beach that lines the river. Kids love to explore here, draw in the sand and splash about. We’ve explored here a few times so it’s a safe spot. Of course, supervise when needed. You could spend hours here – it’s definitely one of the best free family activities in Brisbane!
This one’s a cheeky edition, as it’s mostly free. You simply need to buy something in-store – something as small as a snack, chocolate or a drink and you can grab a board game in the hire section, sit at a table and play for a few hours. However, if it’s packed, sometimes you’ll need to book a table, which is $10 for four hours. Quite reasonable, but the first time I came here I didn’t have to do that.
So, what sort of games does Vault Games have? This board game shop, which is located on Queen Street in the CBD, has pretty much every conceivable game you could think of! Besides a plethora of card and board games, there are tabletop games, miniatures and role-playing games. You’re also allowed to bring in food – provided they don’t sell that food item in the store – and they sell beer and coffee here for the parents, should you stretch your notion of ‘free family activities in Brisbane’, just a little.
That’s a Wrap
I hope you enjoyed these free family activities in Brisbane, all of which I’ve personally experienced. Each section contains links to my articles, so be sure to click on the hyperlinks for more information.
What about you? Any suggestions on free family activities in Brisbane? Is there anything I’ve missed that you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comments or send me an email.