Let’s be honest, we live in one of the most sought-after spots to spend the summer break. Yet how often do we step off our doorstep to explore the rest of the region?
With so many things on offer – the adrenalin-pumping theme parks of the Gold Coast, the laid-back vibe of the Sunshine Coast and the vibrant sights of Brisbane – our fab little corner of Queensland has something for every family. And it’s all just a day-trip away.
A Sunshine Coast institution and fabulous fun day out for the kids, the Ginger Factory is a must-do for the region. Take a ride on the train, wander through the heritage-style shops in Ginger Town, check out the live bee show and, of course, decorate your own gingerbread man! There are also free shows for the kids during school holidays; check website for details.
Crikey, no trip to the Sunshine Coast is complete without a day at Australia Zoo! A fabulous zoo for families, there’s plenty of opportunity to get up close with animals and super-easy to get around (just catch the train between areas if your family has little legs). Feed the kangaroos, take in the show in the crocoseum, and if you can, fit in a visit to the wildlife hospital to see the inspirational work of the vets there.
Maleny dairies is a family-owned milk company with their own processing and bottling plant. It’s a great day out for the kids, to see how a dairy farm works and enjoy the Maleny countryside. Book a farm tour or take a tractor ride around the paddock, and make time to stop at the café for their delicious coffee and snacks. There is also a great grassed area for kids to play.
Perfect for families, Aussie World has rides and attractions for kids of all ages. For some tummy-turning action there are rides such as The Wasp and The Redback. For the little ones try the Giggle Go Round and the Tin Lids Tea Party. If rides aren’t your thing there are stacks of other games and attractions such as Mini Golf, Crazy Mirrors and Leak’n Logs water play.
Did you know that the Sunshine Coast has a castle? This Norman-style castle is filled with medieval and historical displays. Wander over the drawbridge, feast with Kings in the Great Hall or explore the dungeon. Kids can dress up in themed headgear and take an interactive treasure hunt that leads to a free treat from the King’s treasure chest. And make sure you check out the stunning coast and hinterland views from the top of the castle keep.
Queensland Air Museum
If you have a little aviator in your family, a trip to the Queensland Air Museum is a must! There are more than 75 historic aircraft on display, as well as WW2 Jeep rides and other displays to explore. Check out the website for any special events happening when you visit.
A great aquarium for little ones, SEALiFE has stacks of ocean life to explore. Touch a starfish, wander through the Ocean Tunnel, see the enormous stingrays devour their dinner, and don’t miss the very entertaining seal show. For Octonauts fans there is also the fabulous interactive display, where kids can embark on their own mission to ‘Explore, Rescue and Protect’ alongside Kwazii, Peso and Captain Barnacles.
Located at the iconic Big Pineapple, Wildlife HQ is the new home for the 200 relocated animals from Alma Zoo. As well as the Aussie favourites such as koalas, wombats and dingos there are more exotic animals too such as red pandas, binturongs, ring-tailed lemurs and hamadryas baboons. With super-friendly staff and a simple layout, it’s a great zoo for families.
The Noosa Everglades are a 60km stretch of pristine, untouched waters in the upper reaches of the Noosa River. One of only two everglades systems on the planet, it is known as the ‘River of Mirrors’ because of the amazing reflections in the water. You can explore the Noosa Everglades on foot, by boat from Noosaville or with guided and self-guided kayak tours from Boreen Point.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
With 2km of tranquil walking tracks and a boardwalk viewing platform, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a wonderful rainforest day out for families. Visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre to discover some of the hidden plants and animals of each ecosystem, and enjoy a picnic or barbecue in the picnic shelters by the playground. Walking tracks include stroller-friendly options.
Nothing says a trip to the big city more than taking in a show, and QPAC always has something that will keep kids of all ages entertained. Check website for what is showing when you visit and for tickets.
QAGOMA (Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art)
Though you might not think that kids and art galleries go together, QAGOMA offers some great interactive installations and art projects that kids absolutely love. They also have the Children’s Art Centre with several exploratory art programs for kids, and the regular ‘Toddler Tuesday’ activities.
State Library of Queensland
With one of the best kids’ sections, the State Library is top of the list for family friendly day out. Explore the creative hands-on activities and games in The Corner, or take part in one of the many events as part of their comprehensive school holiday program.
A magnificent arts centre on the Brisbane river, the Brisbane Powerhouse is Queensland’s home for contemporary culture. Shows rotate and there is always something fun on for kids. Check website for things happening during your visit.
Sciencentre, Queensland Museum
A treasure trove of hands-on experiments that appeal to kids of all ages. Challenge your body in the Body Zone, delve into the optical illusions and puzzles in the Mind Benders area, explore the human body in the Body Works zone, or get hands-on in the Action Stations area where you learn about sound, water, gravity and space. Check website for special exhibits during school holidays.
Roma Street Parkland
Set in the middle of the city, Roma Street Parkland is a beautiful green space with something for everyone. Relax amongst the tranquil gardens and water features, wander the many boardwalks and paths, take a ride on the Parkland Explorer mini-train, then head to the playground with flying foxes, cubbies, bridges, climbing equipment and hedge garden.
Stretching from Queensland Art Gallery to the Queensland Maritime Museum, Southbank is home to 17 hectares of parklands, restaurants, cafés and stacks of activities to keep tiny tots busy. For a little adventure, head to Little Days Out – a free children’s program held every Thursday. For some splashy fun, try Aquativity in the heart of Southbank – a fun water-play park to cool off the kids.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary with over 130 koalas. Hold a koala, hand feed kangaroos and meet a large variety of Australian wildlife in beautiful, natural settings. Located only 12km from Brisbane city, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a great place for kids to learn, connect with nature and be inspired to make positive changes to protect wildlife habitats.
Dreamworld & WhiteWater World
A visit to the Gold Coast isn’t complete without a day at Dreamworld, Australia’s biggest theme park. As well as the big thrill rides, there are plenty of rides specifically designed for the littler ones to enjoy. After a busy morning of thrills and action, head next door to WhiteWater World, where you can cool off on one of their many water slides and water play spaces.
For ages 3+, iFly is the excitement of skydiving in an ultra-safe, state-of-the-art environment. Not just a thrill ride but also the latest in action sports, simply lean into the wind inside in the giant glass tunnel and a column of air lifts you up to float effortlessly into flight.
Warner Bros. Movie World
Whether it’s meeting Superman or checking out the Hollywood Stunt Driver show, Warner Bros. Movie World has something for every movie buff! Cheer your favourite LOONEY TUNES characters, have your photo taken with Scooby Doo or go behind the scenes on the Star Tour.
A marine park and theme park rolled into one, at SeaWorld you can get up close with a range of marine life including polar bears, penguins, sharks, sting rays. And when you are ready for a little action, enjoy the thrills and spills of the Storm Coaster, Castaway Bay and Jet Rescue, or for the little ones there is Nickelodeon Land, with kid-sized rides and shows.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Gold Coast
Packed with thrill rides and family fun, Wet ‘n’ Wild has something to cool everyone down this summer. From the adrenaline-pumping Extreme H20 rides to the subtropical gardens of Calypso Beach, the whole family will be set for a splash-tastic day.
SkyPoint Observation Deck
Located on level 77 of the Q1 Building and soaring above the golden beaches of Surfers Paradise, is SkyPoint, Australia’s only beachside observation deck. Take in the panoramic views and if you are feeling brave, try the SkyPoint Climb – Australia’s highest external building climb with unparalleled 360° views of the Gold Coast and beyond (bookings essential).
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
There’s stacks to keep the whole family entertained on a day out to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Get up close and personal with a range of animals, check out the animal shows, or get your photo taken with a koala. For the older ones, the Treetop Challenge is a must – a thrilling set of five large rope courses that climb through the pristine bushland and 11 ziplines that sour through the treetops (weight and height restrictions apply).
Springbrook National park
Just 45 minutes from the busy coastline is the idyllic forest wilderness of Springbrook National Park. Formed by the eruption of an ancient volcano 23 million years ago, this nature-lover’s paradise is brimming with waterfalls, cool rock creeks, fascinating wildlife and some of the oldest trees in Australia. With many walks and lookouts that are kid friendly and stroller accessible, it’s a great spot for families to escape the rat race for a day.
Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Skywalk
Set in 30 acres of rainforest, this exciting eco-adventure offers a unique view of the rainforest. The 1.5km walk is a combination of forest floor trails and bridges that sour through the upper canopy. The walk is stroller friendly (but there are some steps) and there is also a rainforest eco gallery to learn about the local animals, birds and reptiles.
The Village Markets
Teeming with products from talented local designers and creators, as well as delicious food trucks and live music, the Village Markets is a great day out for the family and a popular place for locals to hang out. Grab a blanket, sit under the trees and enjoy the good vibes.