Your go-to guide to Brisbane’s best places to eat, sleep and top things to do with kids.
Where to eat in Brisbane with kids
Mini cheeseburgers, crumbed chicken and battered fish and chips are the perfect fuel ahead of a game of putt-putt golf at Victoria Park. Nab a table on the wraparound balconies at the bistro at the entertainment precinct, which overlooks the golf course and Victoria Parklands, just two kilometres from the city centre. Victoria Park Bistro has picnic-table-style dining and a kids’ games area that includes a repurposed farm tractor, row boat and giant cubby house.
Address: 283 Herston Rd, Herston QLD 4006
Billykart goes the extra mile when it comes to the most important meal of the day. From homemade crumpets to eggs in all their guises to wonderful breakfast burgers that pack a real crunch. Kids will love the buttermilk and ricotta pancakes at this colourful café owned by chef Ben O’Donoghue and business partner Ben Roberts where a picket fence, latticework and bricks add to the ‘backyard in Bris Vegas’ vibes. Head to Billykart Bar next door for burgers.
Address: 2 Edmondstone St, South Brisbane QLD
Step away from the city centre and into the Tardis that is Riverbend Books, where everyone in the family can call ‘time out’ and bunker down with a good book. The menu at the adjacent Bulimba bookshop cafe is a simple affair: order coffee for the adults; house-baked raspberry and banana bread or flaky croissants for the kids and settle down on the sprawling deck until it’s time to catch your ferry back to the West End.
Address: 193 Oxford St, Bulimba QLD 4171
Forget fussy sandwiches and cakes. Think meat pies, lamingtons and Milo all reimagined into miniature morsels at the High Tea of Aus at the W Brisbane. This Aussie-as version of a traditional high tea was conceived to thrill with wild creations such as hibiscus jam-filled lamingtons, mini Milo éclairs and torched ironbark honey nougat. The sweet and savoury treats also celebrate home-grown produce such as Fraser Island crab and quandong.
Address: 81 N Quay, Brisbane City QLD 4000
The ratio of hot, gooey cheese to bread at Melt Brothers Cheese Co. is about 50:50, which makes the creations at this dedicated toastie cafe pretty much perfect. The fillings for the melted sangas also level up the experience: try the Mouse Trap with mozzarella, aged cheddar, thyme and Dijon mustard; or the Holy Cheezus, with ham off the bone, tomato chutney, mozzarella and aged cheddar. It’s a temple to the toastie and we love it.
Address: 32/280 Queen St, Brisbane City QLD 4000
Harajuku Gyoza feels like it has been transplanted straight from Tokyo. While the raucous izakaya offers classics such as pork and prawn gyoza, it has also gone all out with contemporary variations such as cheeseburger, mozzarella and marshmallow gyoza. Children will love the delicate raindrop cake, which dissolves on your tongue like a drop of rain.
Address: 2/26 Victoria Ave, Broadbeach QLD 4218
While Fish Lane was once an ugly snarl in South Brisbane, it is now an urban oasis – where art, food and entertainment collide. Check @explorefishlane on Instagram to get a handle on the hub, home to standout eateries like Julius Pizzeria, housed in a repurposed heritage building. Sit at a table near to the floor-to-ceiling windows that frame Fish Lane and enjoy pizzas such as the signature tartufo: it’s a transcendental experience.
Address: 77 Grey St, South Brisbane QLD 4101
Parents looking on Google maps for restaurants near to wide open spaces where their children can run and play will likely drop a pin at Popolo on Brisbane’s South Bank. The restaurant is located near to an expansive lawn by the Brisbane River where little people can cartwheel or kick a ball to their heart’s content until lunch is served. Order from the picnic menu or say ciao to a carb coma with a nod-to-nonna feast of ravioli, risotto, ragu and pancetta pizza.
Address: 3 Sidon St, South Brisbane QLD 4101
This newly opened eatery has quickly hoisted its flag as the unofficial headquarters for residents of Bowen Hills. Parents will love the craft beer on tap at Half Pint Kitchen & Bar and the fact they can gather the whole gang without having to re-mortgage the house. The 70-seater bar has a mini library, board games and Foosball so wee ones can bide their time while waiting for mix-and-match plates such as crispy chicken, fat chips and garlic prawns.
Address: 35 Campbell St, Bowen Hills QLD 4006
Forget straighty-one-eighty gelato at La Macelleria. Yes, the gelateria delivers all your classic gelato fantasies at once, but it also flips out with Italian flavours such as gorgonzola, walnut and pear. The home-grown gelateria has locations dotted across Brisbane where it sells gelato, sorbets, cakes and gelato sticks. The gelato here is made without preservatives, colourants, additives and hydrogenated vegetable fats, which means it’s as guilt-free a gelato as you’re going to get.
Address: 4/25 King St, Bowen Hills QLD 4006
Where to stay in Brisbane with kids
This South Bank hotel is a child’s dream holiday spot with inclusions like Kids Electric Cars (ages three to 11) to use in the outdoor ‘racetrack’, an outdoor pool with pool toys for the taking, a Lego butler who will deliver Lego kits to your room on request, kids’ mini bar with Kit Kats, Freddo Frogs and Doritos, and teepees filled with colouring books and games in the ‘N’ Family Suite’s Junior Suite. They’ll never want to leave the hotel!
There is nothing quiet about the interiors at W Brisbane, but kids will adore the punchy primary colours, giant patterns and quirky design details used throughout. Check out the Wonderful and Spectacular rooms and one-bedroom Marvellous suite if you are a family of three, and then make a beeline for the WET Deck pool area or bright and breezy Three Blue Ducks for lunch.
Think apartment living combined with the Peppers brand of style and service and you have FV Brisbane by Peppers. The roster of one- and two-bedroom apartments in the landmark building in Fortitude Valley offer kitchens, Foxtel and free wi-fi. Facilities include a yoga studio and gym, private cinema and skyline pool.
Conceived by the award-winning Ministry of Design, this hotel residence is in the heart of the CBD close to Queen Street Mall, the Botanic Gardens and Eagle Street Pier. Teens will love the colourful reception area and slick indoor swimming pool.
Right in the heart of all the action, The Sebel Brisbane offers two-bedroom apartments comprising a king room and interconnecting studio, with kitchen and laundry facilities, free wi-fi, Foxtel and two bathrooms. There’s also a pool deck and stylish dining at The Croft House Town Kitchen & Bar.
With one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments all with full kitchens, laundry facilities, free wi-fi and balconies, as well as a 25-metre outdoor pool and gym, families of all sizes can be accommodated here. The property is also an easy walk to Queen Street Mall.
Tucked under the Story Bridge and across from Howard Smith Wharves, The Fantauzzo is an Art Series hotel, with works by Melbourne artist Vincent Fantauzzo throughout. Book a deluxe twin or two-bedroom suite to utilise the rooftop pool, and cute Fiat 500s ($50 a day).
What to do in Brisbane with kids
Festivals and events
A global sensation created by Grande Experiences, Van Gogh Alive flips the gallery experience on its head, giving art lovers young and old the chance to immerse themselves in the world of Vincent Van Gogh by inviting them to walk right into paintings such as Starry Night, Sunflowers and Irises through high-definition projection and a multisensory experience of sound and fragrance. Held in July in South Australia as part of Illuminate Adelaide, Van Gogh Alive then embarks on a national tour. Join the waitlist online for Brissie tickets.
Until 1 August
Artist Raquel Ormella invites children to speak up about climate change and the environment in her exhibition at QAGOMA’s Children’s Art Centre, which highlights Australia’s history of environmental activism with a timeline of protest songs, photos and posters. Kids can get involved with a range of activities as part of the exhibition such as designing a protest T-shirt and sharing their climate message with other visitors on a poster.
Brisbane Festival will see a jam-packed program of city-wide arts, culture, entertainment and music including plenty of family-focused events. A highlight will be the world premiere of Ishmael, a Dead Puppet Society production by David Morton, a contemporary space saga blending live filmmaking with live action, miniature sets, puppetry and music.
See the rising stars of dance glide from the page to the stage in this lively production of Peter and the Wolf designed by choreographer Greg Horsman to inspire the littlest of ballet lovers. Expect squeals of delight from both parents and children as young dancers take to the stage in costume to play characters such as ‘a courageous boy, lovable grandpa, rascally wolf, unlucky duck and graceful bird’ to bring the Russian folk tale to life.
Dates for the diary:
- 29 June – 3 July Dinosaur Time Machine Brisbane Powerhouse
- 30 June – 2 July and 7–9 July Kids Collective Roma Street Parkland
- 11–12 September Redcliffe Kitefest Pelican Park, Clontarf
- 16–23 December Queensland Ballet: The Nutcracker Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Take a day trip
For nature in abundance head to Lamington National Park, a 1.5-hour drive from the city in the verdant Scenic Rim. The area makes up part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest area, with some of the most extensive stretches of subtropical rainforest in the world. Take the kids on the brilliant Tree Top Walk, 500 metres of steel walkway laced through the canopy 30 metres above the ground, and then learn about the winged wildlife in these parts on a guided bird walk.
The islands dotted around Moreton Bay are like a pick-and-mix selection of idyllic destinations. While Moreton Island and its Tangalooma Island Resort capture a lot of the attention in this region, we recommend Bribie Island, which is the smallest sand island in the bay after Fraser and Stradbroke; Peel Island, with its wrecks at Platypus Bay; or Coochiemudlo Island, the ‘jewel of Moreton Bay’ where you can hire an aqua bike or kayak.
Tamborine National Park
An hour or so from Brisbane, Tamborine National Park is another of Queensland’s emerald-green jewels, made even more compelling with the arrival of the eco-designed Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, a 1.5-kilometre walk that combines forest floor trails, 300 metres of steel bridges suspended in the highest points of the canopy and a 40-metre-long cantilever bridge that soars 30 metres above the rainforest. The Eco Gallery also has lots to grab the kids’ attention.
Hop on a bus and head to the Gold Coast for a day of thrills and spills: Warner Bros. Movie World, Dreamworld and Sea World all offer rides and amusement by the bucket load. In fact, there’s so much fun to be had at each that you are only going to be able to tackle one per day so do your research and book ahead. If beach days are more your thing, head to Burleigh Heads or Surfers Paradise.
While the Sunshine Coast town of Noosa is well known for its cafe culture, the beachside town of Caloundra has a simple halcyon-days charm that hints at beach holidays of old. Family fun here revolves around the water: wading in the calm waters of the Pumicestone Passage, spotting whales making their way up and down the coast (June to November); dodging the water spurts at the Kings Beach saltwater fountain, and walking the coastal pathway before finishing the day with what else but fish and chips.
It would be a wasted opportunity to not spend the day at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast while in town. The passion project of the Irwin family, the zoo has a breathtaking array of animals, from tigers to exotic birds to crocodiles, of course. Take a tour, book a wildlife experience and find out how you can help conserve and protect the world’s wildlife in the future.