It’s renowned for sophisticated dining and chic shopping but exploring Noosa with kids is a family holiday dream come true.
Picturesque beaches, fresh coastal air and killer kids’ menus at the region’s best restaurants — there’s plenty of reasons to bring little ones here for a much-needed escape. We’ve rounded up the best things to do in Noosa with kids to help you and the clan stay busy and keep meltdowns at bay.
1. Cut loose at Hinterland Adventure Playground
Show the kids how much you appreciated their patience during the drive into Noosa by dropping into the Hinterland Adventure Playground in Cooroy, a 30-minute drive from Hastings Street.
Built on a former timber mill site, the playground is a total children’s paradise, featuring a bunch of swings, a flying fox, a splash zone, a sand pit, a rock play area, tunnels, a sensory garden, a giant slide and plenty of nets to climb and tumble down from.
Go down the slide.
Toddlers will also love trotting along the nature trails. Best of all, there’s ample shade, plus barbecue areas to make an afternoon of it all which means even teens are bound to get on board. It only opened early 2023 so consider it one of the newest ways to keep everyone happy if you’re exploring Noosa with kids.
Hinterland Adventure Playground has a gigantic slide for kids.
2. Learn to surf
Boasting 300-odd days of sunshine a year, it’s likely you’ll spend most of your Noosa holiday by the beach. Noosa’s Main Beach, which is a hop, skip and jump from bustling Hastings Street, is not just popular for its white sand and cerulean water. It’s also super safe for families visiting Noosa with kids.
Sit in on a surfing lesson with Merrick’s Noosa Learn to Surf.
Patrolled year-round, it is safe for swimming with moderate waves and is a great spot to learn to surf. Book a lesson with Merrick’s Noosa Learn to Surf or, if your kids are really keen, they also offer five-day school holiday surfing programs.
Noosa Main Beach is a great spot to learn to surf.
3. Ride a horse along the beach
Swap your surfboard for a steed. Meander along Noosa’s stunning coastline on horseback with Equathon Horse Riding Adventures, which offers private tours for groups and families (aged seven years and older) along Teewah Beach on Noosa’s North Shore.
If you’re a more experienced rider (aged 12 and above), Rainbow Beach Horse Rides run a bareback ocean ride, where you can ride your horse into the sparkling waters of Rainbow Beach. One of the most memorable things to do in Noosa with kids, hands down.
Hop on and enjoy the view.
4. Get messy with arts and craft
If you’re in town on the third Sunday of the month, the Noosa Regional Gallery runs ArtPlay Sunday, a free program made for families visiting Noosa with kids. Staged from 11am to 1pm, the awesome initiative includes activities that stem from the current exhibitions going on in the gallery – so expect some very cool stuff beyond simple colouring in. Perfect for primary school-aged children, ArtPlay Sunday is held just outside the gallery, weather permitting, so families will also score the bonus of some epic Noosa River views during their visit.
5. Visit The Ginger Factory
You don’t have to be a fan of ginger to enjoy The Ginger Factory, located just 30 minutes south-west of Noosa at Yandina. Surrounded by subtropical gardens, The Ginger Factory is a great day out for the family, with a sprawling nine-hectare property to explore.
Sign up for a fascinating tour at The Ginger Factory.
Ride a 100-year-old sugar cane train, enjoy a boat ride with music and puppetry, browse the boutiques in the heritage-style village, let the kids run wild in the outdoor playground, take a factory tour, and – of course – taste Buderim Ginger products (ginger beer, gingerbread, chocolate, honey and more…). A gift that keeps on giving if you’re visiting Noosa with kids of any age.
Find handmade toys and sweet treats at Giuseppe’s Workshop.
6. Explore Noosa by bike
Ditch the car and get around this scenic region on two wheels. There are a number of easy cycle paths for families to ride in Noosa with kids of all ages.
Pump up your adrenaline on two wheels down the palm forests along Wooroi Creek.
The best ones include the flat 6.5-kilometre ride from Noosa Marina to Hastings Street, which passes the Pirate Playground along Noosa River, some of the region’s best cafes and coffee, and Main Beach; an 11.5-kilometre track along the coast from Noosa Junction to Peregian Beach; the 2.5-kilometre loop around the Noosa River and a six-kilometre path from Weyba Creek to Noosa Farmers Market and Mangrove Boardwalk.
Ditch the car and get around this scenic region on two wheels.
Bike On offers hire with standard baby seats, shotgun child seats and child chariots starting from $20 a day and older kids can book out their own mountain bike and BMX from $10 a day.
Bike On lets you hire an assortment of bicycles.
7. Spend the day at Australia Zoo
It would be remiss not to mention Australia’s most famous zoo on this list of the best things to do in Noosa with kids. Located less than an hour south of Noosa, Australia Zoo has been operating since the 1990s and is home to more than a thousand native and exotic animals.
Get a chance to feed animals in Australia Zoo.
Watch saltwater crocs strike in the incredible Crocoseum, wrap a Burmese python around your shoulders, feed kangaroos that roam the grass areas and view exotic animals such as the red panda, meerkats, elephants, zebras and giraffes. Kids from four years of age can also partake in the Zookeeper for a Day program, which involves helping zookeepers feed animals, clean enclosures and get up close to the animals.
If you’re lucky you might get some tongue action with a giraffe.
8. Kayak through the Noosa Everglades
Noosa’s Everglades is one of just two everglades in the world and boasts a staggering 1365 species of plants and more than 44 per cent of Australia’s birdlife.
Kayak along the Noosa Everglades.
Explore this natural wonder in Noosa with kids thanks to the award-winning company Kanu Kapers, which runs self-guided and guided kayak tours through this fascinating ecosystem.
Paddle down the Noosa river with Kanu Kapers.
The half-day tour is perfect for young kids, who will love spotting the wildlife and, if the wind is in the right direction, the return sail across Lake Cootharaba.
Witness fiery sunset hues set amongst shady bushland in Lake Cootharaba.
9. Hike the Noosa National Park
Home to Noosa Headland, soaring eucalypt forest, pockets of rainforest, quiet beaches and a walk that captures incredible views of the coast, Noosa National Park is a great place to spend an early morning or late afternoon in Noosa with kids. There are five walking tracks, ranging from an easy one-kilometre trail through palm groves to an epic 10.8-kilometre coastal track that rewards you with panoramic views (you can do just part of this if you have small kids). Our guide to Noosa National Park offers a complete rundown. Spot a variety of wildflowers and keep an eye out for kookaburras, koalas and lace monitors. Between June and November, you may spot humpbacks cruising along the coast, while dolphins and turtles are occasionally spotted at Dolphins Point and Hell’s Gates.
Climb up to the peak of Emu Mountain to witness breathtaking views.
10. Paddle, fly and cycle Noosa River
The soothing river is prime turf for aquatic adventures in Noosa with kids. Noosa Stand Up Paddle offers stand-up paddleboard lessons and hire, as well as the more unique Fliteboard experience, which is an electric surfboard–snowboard hybrid that gives the sensation of flying over water. They also have nautical water bikes, which are easy and fun to use, making these guys the leaders in teenage boredom busting. The river is home to an abundance of birdlife, including pelicans, white-bellied sea eagles and the striking great egret.
Stand-up paddling in Tea Tree Bay is bliss.
11. Board a classic river ferry
If you prefer to take a more relaxed route, this is a great alternative to explore the highlights along the Noosa River. Cruising between Hastings Street and Tewantin, the Noosa Ferry offers a scenic cruise with seven stops.
Explore the scenic waterway with Noosa Ferry.
All-day passes for adults cost $28 while children aged between five and 17 cost $14, and this allows you to hop on and off as much as you like. There is also a sunset cruise, which is BYO and can run up to two-and-a-half-hours depending on where you’d like to go and get off.
Get on a rewarding sunset cruise.
12. Ride the Noosa Wave
Little ones love wildlife and speed, so why not combine them together if you’re visiting Noosa with kids? Spot the abundant marine life that call Noosa home, including dolphins, turtles and manta rays, on a thrilling zero-gravity-feeling ocean ride with Noosa Wave Boating Adventures. Kids from five years can join this 1.5-hour tour, which has you gliding over the waves without any hard bumps. It’s the fastest (and safest) adventure boat you’ll find in the area.
Spot the wildlife at Noosa Wave Boating Adventures.
13. Tackle a giant inflatable fun park
Just over a half-hour drive south of Noosa, the Blast Aqua Fun Park in Coolum claims to be the world’s largest aqua fun park and is sure to tire even the most energetic of kids aged six and over. The inflatable obstacle course comprises slides, trampolines, swings, wobble pads and more to slip and slide along. There are free barbecue areas so you can bring your lunch for the day or there’s a cafe to grab food from. All day passes are $60, or a single 50-minute session is $25.
14. Get lost in Pixels Arcade Noosa
If there’s one activity you won’t ever have to convince the kids to get on board with, it’s this. Pixels Arcade Noosa offers a mix of arcade games, redemption games, and console games including PS4, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. It also doubles as a restaurant (and a cocktail bar cleverly labelled ‘Barcade’ for adults of an evening) with a classic arcade menu featuring pizzas and sliders, as well as a charcuterie board for the adults. It’s located right across from Main Beach on Hastings Street, so you get two great activities side-by-side.
15. Noosa Aquatic Centre
Take a break from chasing your toddler away from Main Beach’s waves by visiting Noosa Aquatic Centre’s kid-friendly water mecca. Offering a heated toddler pool and heated bubble pool for even smaller bubs, plus giant inflatables for kids aged six and over during the school holidays, this long-running haven away from the madness is a bit of a local’s secret. There’s also a gym and cafe on site, and a creche if you’re desperate for a very virtuous swim or sweat session on your own while on holiday.
This article was originally written by Megan Arkinstall and updated by Kristie Lau-Adams.