Whilst Brisbane is not usually considered a must see tourist destination, mainly due to being overshadowed by the gorgeous beaches of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, there are numerous things to do in Brisbane, particularly for families. One of the best things about visiting Brisbane, is that many of the must do Brisbane top attractions are free! That’s right, completely free. There is even free transportation to get you around all the free things to do in Brisbane. You can swim in free riverside lagoons and beaches, visit art galleries, museums, city tours and playgrounds all for free.
In this post I will cover off on all the main Brisbane points of interest, including all the wonderful things to do with kids in Brisbane. The post will look at the best family accommodation Brisbane has to offer, including some great self contained accommodation and Brisbane hotels. I will also cover off on some great places to eat in Brisbane, including the best kid friendly restaurants Brisbane has; as well as let you know where to find some good Brisbane food courts and supermarkets.
- 1 Must do in Brisbane: Things to do in Brisbane with Kids
- 1.1 1. Brisbane Story Bridge Climb
- 1.2 2. Roma Street Parklands
- 1.3 3. Brisbane City Hall Clock Tower Tours
- 1.4 4. Spend the Day at the South Bank Parklands
- 1.5 5. Visit the Cultural Precinct
- 1.6 6. Museum of Brisbane
- 1.7 7. Kangaroo Cliffs
- 1.8 8. Brisbane River Cruises
- 1.9 9. Eagle Street Pier
- 1.10 Download our FREE Printable Packing Checklist!!
- 1.11 We will email you a link to your FREE packing checklist.
- 1.12 10. Free Guided Walks
- 1.13 11. Steam Train Sunday
- 1.14 12. Queen St Mall
- 1.15 13. Brisbane Riverwalk
- 1.16 14. Brisbane Markets
- 1.17 15. Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
- 1.18 16. The Cube – QUT
- 1.19 Things to do around Brisbane
- 2 Where to stay in Brisbane
- 3 Best Places to Eat Brisbane with Kids
- 4 Getting to Brisbane
- 5 Getting Around Brisbane
Must do in Brisbane: Things to do in Brisbane with Kids
1. Brisbane Story Bridge Climb
For the best view of the Story Bridge jump on a City Cat or River Cruise. However for a fantastic view of Brisbane City, then check out the Brisbane Story Bridge Climb. The Brisbane bridge climb is a one of the cool things to do in Brisbane, particularly because it is 1 of only 3 bridge climbs in the entire world.
The Story Bridge is 72 metres tall and from the top you can see all the way out to Moreton Bay in the east and the Scenic Rim to the west. During the climb you will learn some interesting facts about the bridge as well as Brisbane city. There is no required fitness level to do the bridge climb, however you must be ok with climbing steep stairs. The entire experience goes for around 2 hours.
Kids must be at least 10 years of age (and at least 130 cm tall) and all children up to the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult (a maximum of 1 adult for 3 children). The Story Bridge Brisbane climb starts at $129 per person or click here for discounted tickets from Klook.
2. Roma Street Parklands
The Roma Street Parklands are located in the heart of the Brisbane and is a great place to visit with the kids. The parklands are huge, with lakes, playgrounds, flower beds, bridges, waterfalls and walkways for exploring making it one of the most beautiful places to visit in Brisbane. The Roma St Parklands are one of the world’s largest subtropical gardens in a city centre. Here is a quick overview of things to see in the parklands:
- Playgrounds: there are 2 playgrounds here for the kids filled with swings, ladders, bridges, slides, forts suitable for children of all ages. There is also a herb and vegetable garden as well as worm farm.
- The Lake: Explore the walkways, watch the ducks or try and spot the lungfish;
- The Rainforest: Various boardwalks take you through a subtropical rainforest right in the city centre;
- The Lookout: From here see the entire parklands and see City Hall;
- Free Guided Walks: Guides will take you through the gardens and provide interesting details along the way. Walks take around 1 hour and depart from the Hub at 11 am, and 1 pm daily;
- Wildlife: You will see a range of native wildlife in the park including birds, bees, fish and water dragons. When we visited recently there were so many water dragons throughout the entire park;
- Train Tours: The kids will love jumping on board the train which takes you on a 20 minute ride through the parklands. Tours depart from the top of the playground Wednesday to Friday (10 am to 1230 pm) and Saturday and Sunday (10 am to 3 pm);
There is a café within the parklands, or a short walk away you will find a variety of Brisbane CBD cafes. Your best bet though is to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy within the park or make use of one of the various BBQ’s found through out the park.
There are usually some great free activities for the kids during school holidays as well. So if you’re visiting during school holidays be sure to check online. The Roma Street Parklands is a great stop if you are looking for some of the free activities Brisbane has on offer.
The Roma Street Parkland is located on Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill. You can easily walk here from within most places in the city. If you are visiting the parklands from outside the city, the closest train station is Roma Street Train Station; its only a few minutes walk away.
3. Brisbane City Hall Clock Tower Tours
The Brisbane City Hall Clock Tower has been a central point of the City since the 1930s. Located in King George Square, you will hear the Brisbane clock chime every 15 minutes.
If you want to get a closer look at the Brisbane Clock Tower; as well as some fabulous views of Brisbane City, take a free Clock Tower Tour. Tours take you into the original 1930 hand-operated lift, past the clock face to a platform 64 metres above the ground. In my view, this is one of the fun things to do in Brisbane and it’s completely free!
Tours depart from the Museum of Brisbane, which is located on level 3 of City Hall. Tours are daily and leave every 15 minutes between 1015am to 445pm or 645 on Fridays.
Given this is a free tour, tours are very popular. I recommend arriving close to opening time of 10 am and take tickets for your preferred time. We arrived right on 10 am and were lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the first tour.
4. Spend the Day at the South Bank Parklands
One of the best kids activities Brisbane has to offer can be found at the South Bank Parklands. No doubt if you are holidaying with kids you will most likely spend at least a day or two here, particularly in the hotter months. There is so much to too here, that the Brisbane South Bank requires its own blog post, read it here. In the mean time here is a quick overview of things to do in South Bank:
- Streets Beach, Boat Pool and Aquativity: No doubt the main attraction in South Bank is the man made beach, rock pools and swimming pool. There are 3 main areas to swim at South Bank: Streets Beach Brisbane (man made swimming beach); Boat Pool (lagoon style swimming pool) and Aquativity (water play area surrounded by shallow rock pools). All areas are patrolled by life guards and are one of most popular Brisbane tourist attractions.
- Riverside Green Playground and Picnic Island Playground: Riverside Green is probably the most popular playground with a stack of interactive equipment for kids of all ages, including a seperate toddler zoned area. The playground has giant slides, skywalk, bridges, climbing equipment, giant hamster wheel, spinning wheel and swings. Picnic Playground is located in a quieter setting but still has plenty of equipment for the kids including swings, slides, cubby house etc.
- The Brisbane Wheel: In a fully enclosed air-conditioned gondola, the Brisbane Wheel will take you 60 metres above the ground for fantastic 360 degree panoramic views of Brisbane. During the 12 minute ride you can listen to the audio commentary which points out attractions around Brisbane. Also if you are looking for fun things to do in Brisbane at night, put this on your list as the lights from the city buildings look gorgeous at night. The Wheel of Brisbane is open daily from 10 am until 10 pm Sunday through to Thursday and 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays. If you want to save money, I recommend buying your tickets online. You can save up to $5 per ticket or save $14.25 on a family pass. Click here to buy your discounted tickets.
- Rainforest Walk: Wander the raised wooden walk ways through the man-made rainforest. The rainforest features tropical and sub-tropical plants, native wildlife and water features.
- Visit the Nepalese Pagoda: This three story high Pagoda was originally brought to South Bank as part of Expo 88. The pagoda took 160 Nepalese families to built over 2 years and features 80 tonnes of hand-carved Nepalese timber.
- Southbank Cinemas: If you are wondering what to do in Brisbane on a super hot day or even on a rainy day, catch a movie at the Southbank Cinemas. The best part is the movies here are cheap! Adult tickets are $8.50 and kids are $4.50. Click here for movie times.
- Southbank Markets: these markets are on Friday nights, and all weekend. Here you will find clothes, art, jewellery, home decor, food, live music and more.
- Take your photo in front of the Brisbane sign: A must do whilst visiting Brisbane is to get your photo taken in front of the funky three dimensional, 3 m high Brisbane sign. The sign was commissioned by the Queensland Government for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2014 and was designed by community groups across Brisbane.
- Have a BBQ or Picnic: There are endless green grassy spaces in South Bank, with excellent BBQ and picnic facilities. If you don’t want to bring your own food, grab some take out from one of the many shops and enjoy in one of these open spaces.
- Queensland Maritime Museum: Features the historic 1945 warship Diamantina, the 1925 steam tug boat and Jessica Watson’s Pink Lady. Visitors can board the Diamantina and explore. The Museum is open daily between 9.30 am to 4.30 pm and entry is $16 for adults and $7 for kids.
- Visit the Cultural Precinct: The South Bank Cultural Precinct includes the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and State Library of Queensland. See below for more information about the Cultural Precinct.
South Bank is a short walk from the Brisbane CBD, or alternatively you can take a range of public transport including buses, trains and ferries. The train station closest to South Bank is South Bank Station. For free transport take the City Hopper Ferry from the Brisbane CBD to South Bank.
5. Visit the Cultural Precinct
The South Bank Cultural Precinct includes the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Museum, the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and State Library of Queensland. You could easily spend an entire day or two exploring all these places with your kids. If you visit during school holidays you will most likely need even longer as all the places usually hold fantastic kids activities. Here is a quick overview of each place:
- Queensland Museum: There are various interactive displays featuring dinosaurs, marine life, Australian animals as well as a range of weird and unusual collections. The Museum also has different exhibitions that change throughout the year. The Museum is open daily from 9.30am to 5pm with free admission (some special exhibitions charge). The Science Centre is also located here – which is currently being redeveloped until mid 2018.
- Queensland Art Gallery and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA): GOMA is fantastic for kids and has a range of interactive exhibitions and activities for kids throughout the year. Exhibitions change throughout the year, so check out whats on during your visit. If you visit during school holidays there is bound to be a stack of great activities for the kids. Both galleries are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and entry is free, although some exhibitions do require an admission fee.
- State Library of Queensland: All year round kids can visit “the Corner” where kids can read books, build structures out of large building blocks, participate in various arts and crafts and various other activities. During school holidays the library has a host of various other free activities, check online to see what is on. The library is open daily from 10 am and closes at 8 pm Monday to Thursday and 5 pm Friday to Sunday.
The Cultural Precinct is a short walk from the Brisbane CBD, or alternatively you can take a range of public transport including buses, trains and ferries. The train station closest to the Cultural Precinct is South Brisbane Station. For free transport take the City Hopper Ferry from the Brisbane CBD to South Bank and walk from there.
6. Museum of Brisbane
Located on level 3 of City Hall is the Museum of Brisbane. This is the departure point for the free City Hall Clock tours (see above) as well as various Brisbane Exhibitions.
You can learn about the history of Brisbane through interactive displays, photos and film. I really like the 100% Brisbane exhibition that appears to be on display indefinitely at the museum. This exhibition explores the life of 100 Brisbane locals of all ages and ethnicity, which gives visitors an authentic insight into the people of Brisbane.
This Brisbane Museum also has various activities designed just for kids. Activities include story telling, kite making, craft, cooking, and more. Activities change regularly so check online whats on during your visit.
The Museum of Brisbane is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and admission is free (some exhibitions may charge an admission fee). Combine your visit to the Museum of Brisbane with the free City Hall City Clock Tour.
7. Kangaroo Cliffs
Located just past South Bank Parklands is Kangaroo Point. It is a nice walk from South Bank along the river to the Kangaroo Cliffs and it is a lovely spot for a picnic. If the little ones are keen, climb the steep stairs to the top to play in the playground.
The most popular activity at Kangaroo Cliffs is abseiling or rock climbing. If this isn’t your thing, find a shady spot and watch others climb the impressive cliffs.
Also located at Kangaroo Cliffs is River Life. Here you can hire kayaks, scooters, bikes and roller blades as well as join kayaking, abseiling, segway and stand up paddle boarding tours. Click on the links for discounted rates through Klook.
8. Brisbane River Cruises
A great way to see Brisbane is via the Brisbane River. There are various Brisbane river cruises on offer as well as the free City Hopper ferry and the City Cats which will all take you up and down the river where you can see the Brisbane sights such as South Bank, Botanic Gardens, Kangaroo Cliffs, River Walk, the Story Bridge and the Brisbane skyline.
River City Cruises
We recently took the 90 minute river cruise with River City Cruises. Cruises depart daily at 10.30 am and 12.30 pm from Jetty A at the South Bank Parklands (right in front of the Wheel of Brisbane).
Throughout the cruise the Captain points out various places of interest in Brisbane as well providing historical information about the settlement of Brisbane.
On the morning cruise, morning tea is provided as well as the option to hop off at Newstead House at 11.15am and re board at 1.15pm. If you decide to do this you may like to go and explore historical Newstead House (only open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and / or have lunch at the iconic Breakfast Creek Hotel.
When you board everyone seems to want to sit on the sun deck, however I recommend going inside in the air conditioning. Get yourself a nice spot and then once the cruise is under way there is a lovely small area out the front or back of the boat (sort of between the 2 main decks) which you will most likely have all to yourself – you can get some great photos of various Brisbane attractions from here.
River City Cruises cost $29 per adult and $15 per child, family passes are $65. Click here to make a booking.
Here is some information about the other cruises and ferries in the Brisbane River:
- Kookaburra Queen: These beautiful paddle wheelers offer a range of cruises including lunch, dinner, high tea and sightseeing cruises. Cruises operate Thursday through to Sunday and depart from Eagle Street Pier. The Kookaburra Queen is a popular choice for their Brisbane River dinner cruise. Click here to check prices and / or to book for the dinner cruise or here for the lunch cruise.
- Mirimar Cruises: Combine a Brisbane River cruise with a trip to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary located in Brisbane’s western suburbs. Along the way you will receive informative commentary about Brisbane and then spend 3 hours at Lone Pine where you can feed kangaroos and emus, cuddle a koala, see Australian sheep dogs in action as well as various other Australian animals. Cruises are daily and depart from the Cultural Centre Pontoon in the South Bank Parklands. Click here for ticket prices and to make a booking.
- CityCat: Another great way to explore the Brisbane River is to simply board one of the city’s iconic CityCats. CityCats are Brisbane’s public transport on the river. The CityCats go as far as The University of Queensland at St Lucia all the way down to Hamilton and operate every day with regular services every 15 minutes for most of the day, and express routes and more frequent services during peak times. Click here for more information with regards to the CityCat timetable and fares.
- CityHopper: You can actually explore the Brisbane River for FREE!!! The City Hopper ferry is a free service with ferries running every 30 minutes between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. The CityHopper travels along the Brisbane River, stopping at North Quay, South Bank 3, Maritime Museum, Thornton Street, Eagle Street Pier, Holman Street, Dockside and Sydney Street terminals. Click here for the CityHopper timetable.
9. Eagle Street Pier
A lovely place to have lunch or dinner is down by the river at the Eagle Street Pier. Many restaurants have lovely views of the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge and there are plenty of casual family friendly options as well. You will find some of the best restaurants Brisbane has to offer here at the Eagle Street Pier.
10. Free Guided Walks
If you are the sort of traveller that likes a tour guide, than check out the free guided walks with Brisbane Greeters. Brisbane Greeters are locals who love living in Brisbane and are keen to share their intimate knowledge with others.
You can choose a Greeter’s Choice tour or Your Choice Greet. Basically the difference being either the Brisbane tour guide determines the tour or the tour is designed around your personal interests.
11. Steam Train Sunday
For little ones who love trains, they will love seeing Brisbane from onboard a vintage steam train. Once a month on a Sunday (usually the first Sunday of the month) the vintage steam train leaves Roma Street Station for an hour ride around Brisbane. The carriages are from a bygone era and the kids will love waving to onlookers as you pass them by.
Tickets go off-sale at midnight the Friday prior to the trip. Tickets are $30 per adult, $18 per child and $88 for a family pass. Click here for more information.
12. Queen St Mall
For those who love to shop, a visit to Queen Street Mall is a must. Here you will find over 700 retailers, heritage-listed arcades, large shopping centres, cinemas, a bowling alley , casino, pubs and some of the best cafes in Brisbane.
Popular shopping centres off Queen Street Mall include the Myer Centre, Broadway on the Mall, Queens Plaza, MacArthur Central, Queen Adelaide Building and the Wintergarden. In these shopping centres you will also find food courts if you are after some cheap places to eat in Brisbane City.
On any given day you will often find a variety of buskers or other entertainment to watch in the mall.
During the Christmas period you will also find the Myer Christmas Windows and the David Jones Christmas Parade in the Queen Street Mall.
13. Brisbane Riverwalk
For the family who likes to be active whilst exploring the city – grab your bicycles, scooters or just a good pair of walking shoes and explore the city along the 870 metre Brisbane Riverwalk. The Riverwalk juts out along the Brisbane River from the Brisbane CBD to New Farm at Riverview Court. Along the way you will see some of Brisbane’s most gorgeous Queensland homes.
I’d recommend going the entire length to New Farm and go onto New Farm Park. There is a fantastic kids playground and large gorgeous park here. From New Farm Park you can take a CityCat back to the CBD, or do the trip in reverse.
14. Brisbane Markets
There are some great Brisbane markets to explore around the city centre and South Bank. Here is a quick overview of the markets around town:
- Riverside Markets: Located in the City Botanic Gardens and the lower block of Albert Street, these Brisbane City markets are on Sundays from 7 am to 3 pm. You will find here arts, crafts, clothes, food, beverages, street performers and more.
- Collective Markets: Located in South Bank, these markets are on Friday nights, and all weekend. Here you will find clothes, art, jewellery, home decor, food, live music and more.
- Jan Powers Farmer Markets Brisbane: These farmer markets are located on George Street at the end of the Queen Street Mall and are on every Wednesday from 8 am to 6 pm. Here you will find farm fresh fruit and veg, fresh juices, ginger beer, popcorn, honey, bread, biscuits, bagels, meat, seafood, small goods and various other food from around the world.
15. Brisbane City Botanic Gardens
The Brisbane City Botanic Gardens is a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of the CBD. Here you will find large areas of manicured lawns, riverside pathways shaded by large weeping figs, ponds with ducks and an excellent all ability playground.
The playground here is excellent and the kids will no doubt love it. I love how this playground has been designed to ensure children of all abilities can join in the fun. There is even a ramp so kids in wheelchairs can go up onto the fort. There are plenty of interactive musical instruments, swings, slides etc. My only concern with this park is there is not a lot of shade and in the middle of a hot summer’s day this is an issue. A couple of shade sails would make this an even better park.
Whilst visiting the Botanic Gardens, take a stroll along the river to the Cube at QUT – see below.
16. The Cube – QUT
Your kids are going to love the Cube at the Queensland University of Technology. The Cube is one of the world’s largest digital interactive learning and display spaces. The interactive display screens are situated across two storeys of the centre, and like a cube there are 6 different touch screens for the kids to explore.
I am not going to lie, I found some of the display screens confusing and difficult to work out – but I am sure a smart little primary school aged child could quickly figure it out. Myla and I really enjoyed the Dino Zoo screen where life sized dinosaurs roamed as well as various dinosaur themed games.
What is on the screens changes regularly, you can check what is on here. There are plenty of seats surrounding the screens, great for parents to have some quiet time whilst the kids are engrossed in the displays. There is also a good food court just outside the building and down a set of stairs.
The Cube QUT is located in the Science and Engineering Building (Level 4, P Block) at Gardens Point campus and is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm and is free.
Things to do around Brisbane
Of course there are so many wonderful activities in the surrounding areas of Brisbane. This post is only focused on the things to do in Brisbane City (including South Bank), but here are some top things to do around Brisbane or from Brisbane as a day trip:
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: Take a lovely cruise down the Brisbane River to see various Australian wildlife with the option to cuddle a koala and feed kangaroos. Click here for ticket prices and / or to make a booking.
- Wet and Wild: Enjoy exhilarating water slides, plenty of great activities for the smaller kids as well as the awesome giant wave pool. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- Tangalooma: Spend the day in the beautiful Moreton Bay Marine Park where bottlenose dolphins play and dugongs and turtles feed. Enjoy a snorkeling tour and buffet lunch. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- Mount Tamborine: Spend a full day exploring the natural beauty of the lush hinterland of Mount Tamborine. See rare butterflies, crystal clear waterfalls, lush rainforest and more. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- North Stradroke Island: Visit the second largest sand island in the world, swim in crystal clear water, see various marine life as well as other native Australian animals in their natural habitat. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- Fraser Island: Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site, drive the scenic roads of the Glass House Mountains, cross to Fraser Island by ferry for a full day of exploration.Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- Australia Zoo: Spend the day at the world famous Australia zoo where you can see various native Australian animals including the giant salt water crocodiles. During the day you can watch various wildlife shows as well as have the opportunity to get up close to a range of animals. Click here for tour prices which include transfers to and from Brisbane.
- Gold Coast: Explore the Gold Coast’s highlights, enjoy a seafood lunch cruise and shopping. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- Movie World: Enjoy rides themed around your favourite movies as well as meet your favourite characters. Several thrill rides as well as plenty to keep the little ones entertained. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- Dreamworld: Jump on Dreamworld’s 9 big thrill rides, see the tigers, play at Wiggles World and Kung Fu Panda World, see native Australian animals, cool down at the WhiteWater World waterpark and much more. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- Mt Coot-tha: During this tour of Brisbane visit the stunning look out of Mt Coot-tha with views of Brisbane, Moreton Island and Stradbroke Island. The day tour also includes a guide of the CBD, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and a Brisbane River cruise. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
- XXXX Ale House and Brewery Tour: Tour Brisbane’s most iconic brewery and learn about the legend of XXXX as well as beer tasting. Click here for tour prices and / or to make a booking.
Where to stay in Brisbane
If you are wondering where to stay in Brisbane, you will be glad to know that there is a great range of family accommodation in Brisbane from self contained accommodation in inner Brisbane City Apartments to full service rooms in some great family friendly Brisbane hotels. As to where the best area to stay in Brisbane is, really depends upon your individual circumstances and where you will be spending most of your time. I would definitely recommend either the Brisbane CBD or South Bank as being the best area to base yourself.
Self Contained Holiday Apartments Brisbane
For longer stays, I would recommend one of the self contained holiday apartments Brisbane has to offer. You will find these located both within the Brisbane CBD and around South Brisbane, close to South Bank.
Evolution Apartments Brisbane
We recently stayed at Evolution Apartments Brisbane, which are self contained apartments located along the Brisbane River (great if you are after Brisbane River accommodation). We prefer self-contained apartments over hotel rooms when we travel as we like the space as well as being able to make most of our own meals, so Evolution was perfect for us. For other families coming to Brisbane who want the comforts and space of home, I would recommend considering Evolution Apartments. In my view you won’t find better Brisbane City accommodation for families.
Evolution Apartments is located along the Brisbane River at 18 Tank Street. Whilst at first I thought the location may be a little out of the way, I soon realized the apartments are in a great location. Most likely you will be spending your time between South Bank and the Brisbane CBD and the Evolution Apartments are located between the two. Here is a quick guide of whats close by and how long it will take you to get there:
- South Bank: 15-minute walk or walk 5 minutes to the North Quay ferry stop where you can take the free city ferry to South Bank.
- Roma Street Train Station: 5-minute walk
- Queen Street Mall: 5-minute walk
- Museum of Brisbane: 5-minute walk
- Cultural Precinct: 10-minute walk
- Eagle Street Pier: walk 5 minutes to the North Quay ferry stop where you can take the free city ferry to Eagle Street Pier.
There are also a variety of convenience stores and cafes within a minute or two walk.
We stayed on the 27 floor with spectacular views across the Brisbane River, CBD and South Bank. If views are important to you – then these apartments are definitely for you. The 2-bedroom apartments are very spacious – with excellent views from every room. There is a fully self-contained kitchen, dining area, lounge, balcony, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a laundry. Families could easily stay here for a week or more and feel perfectly at home. There are also 1 bedroom apartments available.
On level 6 you will find the recreation area which includes a pool, spa, kitchen, media room, fitness room and outside BBQ area. We only used the pool during our stay, but for a longer stay the kitchen and outdoor BBQ area looked awesome. I could totally see families cooking a meal here, whilst the kids played in the pool, it’s a lovely area.
Reviews / Bookings
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Evolution Apartments and would highly recommend it for families who want a self-contained apartment.
Evolution Apartments is well recommended on TripAdvisor with 71% of people rating it as excellent of very good.
At the time of publishing the best rate for a family of 2 adults and 2 children was $203 on Booking.com.
Other Self Contained Apartments Brisbane
See below for other self contained apartments around Brisbane and South Bank.
iStay River City Apartments
- iStay River City Apartments is located in the Brisbane CBD, within minutes from the Botanic Gardens and Queen Street Mall. The apartment is surrounded by cafes and shops and is a 10 minute walk to Central Train Station. It is also only a 15 minute walk to South Bank.
- Facilities include parking, wifi, swimming pool and fitness centre;
- 2 Bedroom apartments include 2 bedrooms with double beds in each, air conditioning, balcony, kitchen and washing machine;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $176 per night for 2 adults and 2 children in a 2 bedroom apartment on Booking.com;
Oaks Casino Towers
- Oaks Casino Towers is located in the Brisbane CBD, within only minutes from the Queen Street Mall. The apartment is surrounded by cafes and shops and is a 10 minute walk to both the Roma Street and Central Train Station. It is also only a 10 minute walk to South Bank.
- Facilities include parking, wifi, swimming pool overlooking the Brisbane River and fitness centre;
- 2 Bedroom apartments have 1 large bed in 1 bedroom and 2 singles in the other, air conditioning, balcony, kitchen and washing machine;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $222 per night for 2 adults and 2 children in a 2 bedroom apartment on Booking.com;
- The Morgan Suites is located in South Brisbane and is a 10 minute walk to the South Bank Parklands, a 7 minutes walk to South Brisbane Train Station and close to cafes and shops. It is also only a 15 minute walk to the Queen Street Mall.
- Facilities include a pool, fitness centre, coffee shop, parking and wifi;
- Family apartments include 2 bedrooms each with a double bed, kitchen, air conditioning, balcony with outdoor setting and washing machine;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $215 per night for 2 adults and 2 children in a 2 bedroom apartment on Booking.com;
Fleet Lane Apartments
- Fleet Lane Apartments is located in South Brisbane, a 10 minute walk to the South Bank Parklands, a 5 minutes walk to South Brisbane Train Station and close to cafes and shops. It is also only a 12 minute walk to Queen Street Mall
- Facilities include a roof top terrace, spa, parking and wifi;
- Family apartments include 2 bedrooms each with a double bed, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, air conditioning, balcony with outdoor setting, washing machine and dryer;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $173 per night for 2 adults and 2 children in a 2 bedroom apartment on Booking.com;
Hotels Brisbane CBD
There are several great Brisbane hotels located both within the Brisbane CBD and South Bank areas. See below details of some of the best hotels in Brisbane City for families.
Novotel Brisbane City
If you are a family that prefer to stay in a full service hotel, then the Novotel Brisbane City is a great hotel offering rooms at a good price.
The Novotel Hotel Brisbane is located on the outskirts of the Brisbane CBD, not too far from the trendy Fortitude Valley. Whilst it may not be the best location for those that want to walk everywhere, we still found it pretty easy to get around given the free bus and ferry transportation. Here is a quick guide of what’s close by and long it will take you to get there:
- South Bank: 10-minute walk to the Eagle Street ferry stop where you can take the free city ferry to South Bank
- Central Train Station: 5-minute walk
- Queen Street Mall: 10-minute walk
- Museum of Brisbane: 10-minute walk
- Cultural Precinct: 10-minute walk to the Eagle Street ferry stop where you can take the free city ferry to South Bank
- Eagle Street Pier: 10 minute walk
There are quicker routes to the above places of interest in Brisbane via paid public transport.
The Hotel Room
We stayed in a double hotel room which we found nice and spacious. In the room is 2 double beds, a small lounge, small bar bridge, desk and chair, massive flat screen TV and spacious bathroom.
I was pretty impressed with the size of the bathroom. Travelling with small kids, you need space in the bathroom for bath time and in this bathroom you will have no issue. There is even a bath (combined with the shower) which is great for little ones.
Within the room are other items you would expect from first class hotels such as safe, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, robes, slippers etc. Mind you travelling with small kids I could do without the mini bar – first thing Myla wanted when we got into the room was chocolate from the mini bar. There isn’t a balcony in the room, but there is not much of a view at this end if the city anyway.
The Novotel Brisbane has plenty of restaurants to choose from including the Pantry, Gourmet Bar and Two Donkeys.
During our stay we only dined at the Pantry for breakfast. The buffet breakfast was $32 per person which is pretty pricey, but there are great deals including breakfast in the room price, so make sure you check this out with your booking. Oh and kids eat free, so that’s a pretty good saving. The breakfast was delicious and included all the usual items – bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, waffles (no pancakes much to Myla’s disappointment), cereals, fruits, breads, small Asian selection and yogurts etc.
What I did really like was there were plenty of healthy options as well as dairy free and gluten free options which is important for travelling families with so many kids having food allergies and intolerances. Coffee lovers will also love the coffee machines at breakfast and tea lovers will love having every possible tea choice imaginable!
The Novotel also have a lovely big swimming pool with pool toys (perfect for travelling kids) and plenty of sitting room with sun lounges. Not that I usually have time for the gym when I travel, but I was pretty impressed with the equipment in the the fitness centre. Usually I find gyms have outdated gym equipment but the Novotel’s equipment was up to date cardio equipment as well as weights. The fitness centre also has a sauna, toilets, water stations and free towels for use.
In the foyer there is a kid’s corner, which is a great concept. The Kids Corner has the potential to be something awesome, but I have to say I was not overly impressed with it. The kid’s room contained books, an arcade style video game, blocks, games with pieces missing, colouring in but no pencils, a chalk board with no chalk and despite it being a kids only area we found on one occasion a man working in there. Despite these issues, Myla did enjoy playing in here and played in there for 30 minutes or so whilst I had a drink at the Gourmet Bar which is located right next to the Kids Corner.
Reviews / Bookings
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Brisbane and would recommend it for families who want a full-service hotel.
Novotel Brisbane is highly recommended on TripAdvisor with 83% of people rating it as excellent of very good.
At the time of publishing the best rate for a family of 2 adults and 2 children was $169 including buffet breakfast on WOTIF. This is an awesome rate and makes the Novotel one of the best cheap hotels Brisbane has to offer families.
Other Brisbane Hotels
- The Mercure Brisbane is located in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, only a few minutes to tourist places in Brisbane such as the Queen Street Mall, Roma Street Train Station, buses, shops and places to eat. It is also only a 12 minute walk to South Bank Parklands.
- Facilities include a swimming pool, parking, bar, fitness centre, wifi and restaurant;
- Rooms include 2 Double beds, tea and coffee making facilities, air conditioning, and mini bar;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $179 per night for 2 adults and 2 children on WOTIF.
- Ibis Brisbane is located close to all the Brisbane tourist spots. It is a short 5 minute walk to the Brisbane Queen Street Mall, a few minutes walk to Roma Street Train Station and close to cafes and shops. It is also only a 10 minute walk to South Bank.
- Facilities include parking, wifi, restaurant and bar;
- Family sized rooms include 2 double beds, tea and coffee making facilities and air conditioning;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $152 per night for 2 adults and 2 children on Booking.com;
Mercure Brisbane King George Square
- The Mercure Brisbane King George Square is located in the heart of the Brisbane City close to all the popular places to go in Brisbane. It is a few minutes walk to the Brisbane Queen Street Mall, Roma Street Train Station and cafes and shops. It is also only a 10 minute walk to South Bank.
- Facilities include parking, wifi, fitness centre, restaurant and bar;
- Family sized rooms include 2 double beds, tea and coffee making facilities and air conditioning;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $122 per night for 2 adults and 2 children on WOTIF;
Rydges Southbank Brisbane
- Rydges Southbank Brisbane is perhaps the most popular accommodation South Brisbane has. It is located in South Brisbane, only minutes from South Bank Parklands, cafes and shops and the South Brisbane Train Station. It is also only a 10 minute walk to the Queen Street Mall
- Facilities at Rydges Hotel Brisbane include parking, wifi, swimming pool, 3 restaurants and bar;
- Rydges Brisbane has family sized rooms including 2 double beds, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar and air conditioning;
- At the time of publishing the best rate was $204 per night for 2 adults and 2 children on TripAdvisor.
Best Places to Eat Brisbane with Kids
No matter what your dining preferences are – cheap eats, cafes, fine dining, pubs or supermarkets to buy food and cater for yourself, there are plenty of options for places to eat in Brisbane.
If you have a self contained apartment or even if you want to stock up on some cheap snacks and drinks for your hotel room, there are a variety of convenience stores around the city as well as large supermarkets. Here is a list of the supermarkets in the Brisbane CBD and South Bank areas:
- Queens Plaza – Corner of Queens and Edward Streets
- Myer Centre – Elizabeth Street
- Boundary Street, West End
- Macarther Central – Que
- Southpoint – Grey Street, South Brisbane
- Melbourne Street South Brisbane
Cheap Eats Brisbane – Food Courts
For those wanting cheap eats, you will find food courts in multiple locations across the city where you can buy fast food, sushi, noodles, sandwiches and much more. A meal in a food court will cost you around $10. Here is a list of the more popular ones:
- The Myer Centre: top of the Queen Street Mall;
- Queens Plaza: bottom of the Queen Street Mall;
- Wintergarden: centre of the Queen Street Mall;
- MacArthur Central: Queen Street;
- Post Office Square: Queen Street;
- South Bank; and
- Roma St Transit Centre: Roma Street Train Station.
Kid Friendly Restaurants Brisbane
There is no shortage of casual family friendly cafes and restaurants in Brisbane. Some of our favourite places for casual dining are below:
A lovely spot for dinner is down on Eagle Street Pier. Whilst there are quite a few fancy Brisbane River restaurants here, there are just as many family friendly casual places too. If you love pizza or have a fussy eater then I definitely recommend checking out Fratelli Famous.
This pizzeria encourages you to create your own pizza. You choose your own pizza dough, sauce and all the toppings. They even have gluten free dough for those with allergies. They claim your pizza will ready in 90 seconds, although ours certainly took longer this. Regardless the pizza here is absolutely devine!
If you’re terrible at making decisions, they also have standard pizzas you can order, as well we other items like salads and bread sticks. Also Fratelli Famous is fully licensed so you can have a drink with your meal.
Pizza prices are $13 for regular size, $17 large and $19 for gluten free. Combo prices (which include a drink) are $16 regular and $19 large. These pizzas are very generous in size so you could easily get a large and share, or children may even share a small pizza.
Fratelli Famous even serve up delicious dessert pizzas, which your kids are going to love! There is Nutella Pizza or a banana and Nutella calzone.
Fratelli Famous is open daily from 10 am to late.
If you are like us and just LOVE Asian food, then dinner at Junk South Bank is a must! Junk is a funky Asian restaurant located on Little Stanley Street, among the various Southbank cafes and restaurants.
You can choose to sit out on the side walk for optimum people watching or inside at the massive round tables with a lazy susan in the middle. The restaurant is spacious so perfect for little ones in prams, and high chairs are available too.
The menu is perfect for ordering a few things to share. Smaller sized menu items start at $10 and larger sizes from $15. The restaurant is also licensed so parents can have a drink.
We had Pork Bao, Korean Fried Chicken Wings, Crispy Pork Belly and Beef Massaman between the 3 of us and we were stuffed!! If you have a light to medium appetite I would probably recommend having 1 large item with 1-2 smaller items between 2 people.
We just love Junk and highly recommend it. Junk is open daily from 11 am to late.
If your craving a burger but don’t fancy Maccas, then check out Burger Project. This is not your everyday fast food burger joint. For a starters everything is cooked after your order and your meat is grilled to your liking.
The Burger Project is also fully licensed so Mum and Dad can enjoy a beer or wine with their burgers too.
There are stacks of burgers to choose from on the menu including a vegetarian option. Burgers are priced between $10 to $16.
Whilst we didn’t try any desserts, they looked delicious! On the menu are various chocolate desserts, pavlova and blueberry pie. Desserts are all $5.90 with soft serve cones being $4.50.
There are 2 Burger Project locations in the City – one on Edward Street in the Brisbane CBD and one in the Southpoint Food Court where the Woolworths supermarket is in South Brisbane. Burger Project is open daily from 11 am to 9 pm.
There is no shortage of places to go for special treats for the kids. Whether you are after ice cream, donuts, chocolate or delicious drinks, you will find it on most corners throughout the Brisbane CBD and South Bank.
Myla just loves Doughnut Time and Mister Fitz for a special treat. In fact I am a bit partial to Doughnut Time myself! These are no ordinary cinnamon rolled donuts, these are crazy creations oozing with delicious creams and fillings. Take a look at some of their amazing donuts here.
Mister Fitz’s is a traditional style ice cream parlor with a twist. You choose your ice cream and then you can choose various toppings and sauces to add to it. They also serve up some crazy ice cream sandwiches and shakes. Check out their menu here.
There are 2 Doughnut Times in the Brisbane CBD and 1 in South Bank. You will find Mister Fitz right next door to Doughnut Time in South Bank.
Getting to Brisbane
Brisbane is located in Queensland on the east coast of Australia. You can fly direct to Brisbane from various international destinations, or alternatively you can fly direct from most Australian capital cities.
To reach the Brisbane CBD from the airport you have various options including train, taxi or shuttle bus. In most cases for a family I would recommend a taxi. It will cost around $40 to $60 in a taxi and by the time you purchase various train or shuttle bus tickets for everyone in the family a taxi will be the cheaper option and more convenient.
The Air Train costs $18 one way per adult (kids under 14 are free), click here to book tickets.
Shuttle bus transfers to the city in a shared van usually start at around $20 for the first person and $10 per person thereafter. Click here to book shuttle transfers.
Getting Around Brisbane
As stated above, it is super easy to get around the Brisbane CBD with the free buses and free ferries. It is also is pretty easy to walk around, Brisbane CBD as it is not an overly big city. Here is a quick overview of the various modes of getting around Brisbane CBD:
- Trains: The main train stations are Central and Roma Street within the CBD; South Brisbane station for the Cultural Precinct and South Bank station for South Bank.
- Bus: There are various bus stops across the Brisbane CBD and South Brisbane. No need to pay for any buses though, you can easily get around with the free buses which operate between 7 am and 6 pm. Find out more about the free city buses here.
- Car: Plenty of taxi’s and Uber in the Brisbane CBD or if you have your own car you can drive. However like most Australian capital cities, parking is very expensive both within the Brisbane CBD and South Bank and for this reason I don’t recommend driving yourself around the city.
- Ferry: The Brisbane River is fairly large and so is a great way to get around. The CityHopper is a great free ferry service which operates every 30 minutes between the hours of 6 am and midnight. Find out more about the free CityHopper here. There are also the City Cats which go further up and down the river.
- Walk: Any place you want to go will be between 5 to 30 minutes walk away – so you can easily walk wherever you like within Brisbane CBD. Just a word of warning that in the Summer months it can get super hot and pretty unbearable to walk long distances.
Click here for train, bus and ferry timetables and fares. This website will also help you work out which is the best mode of transport to get you to where you are going.
To enjoy all the attractions around the Brisbane area as well as the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast beaches, I recommend you hire a car. However as stated above it is not necessary to have a car whilst you explore the Brisbane CBD, so save your money and don’t hire your car until you plan on leaving the CBD or exploring the surrounding areas.
Thanks so much to Evolution Apartments, Novotel Brisbane, River City Cruise, the Wheel of Brisbane, Fratelli Famous, Mister Fitz, Junk, Doughnut Time and Burger Project for hosting us in Brisbane. As always, all opinions expressed in this blog are my own and have not been influenced in anyway.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means that should make any bookings using my links, I may be paid a small commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to provide this information free of charge – thank you for supporting our website.