Queenland’s capital is a more chilled and less image-conscious city than it’s other Australian neighbours, making for a surprisingly apt family holiday destination. Temperate weather, a chilled atmosphere but with all the iconic Aussie friendliness makes Brisbane a good alternative for traveling with kids if you want a smaller, quieter Aussie city to explore. Donna Fingland of Haggus and Stookles and mum of Ben (8), Brooke (6) and Emma (3) tells suitcases&strollers why she loves her hometown and why Brisbane with kids makes for an ideal way to see Australia with kids. 

Why is Brisbane a good place for families to visit?

Brisbane is a great place for families to visit due to its relaxed, laid-back and friendly nature. It is easy to get around with enough things to do without feeling you have to cram a lot into a short visit. The beautiful weather and amazing parks make it perfect for families.

What does Brisbane offer that the other Aussie capital cities don't?

Brisbane’s best asset is the beautiful weather all year round. Just spent a day at the beach in the middle of July [and it is still] 21 degrees and sunny all day.

Brisbane is also unique with its proximity to some of the best beaches and theme parks on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. Both Coasts are easily accessible by car or bus and the South Coast also has the option of a train. There are ample destinations on each Coast that tourists will love to visit, such as UnderWater WorldAustralia ZooSea WorldWarner Bros. Movie WorldDreamworld as well as the beautiful beaches. [For more travel tips on Queensland with kids, see the suitcases&strollers stories The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Insider.]

It is also extremely close to Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island. We have had many holidays at Stradbroke Island as you feel like you are on a Whitsunday Island but only 45 minutes from Brisbane.

Where is your favourite place to take the family in Brisbane? 

We love heading out to the bay at Wynnum. The parks are great here (love the Wynnum Wading Pool Park) and there are bike/walking tracks following the bay. It is such a relaxed part of Brisbane – the perfect place to kick a ball and have a picnic or fish and chips. 

Where is your kids' favourite place to hang out?

Our kids love Warner Bros. Movie World because while it is great for kids of all ages (even our 3 year old has loads to do here), it is also so much fun for the big kids and adults. It is also a really easy theme park to get around.

The Gabba and Suncorp Stadium are also a huge hit with our 8 year old as he loves the AFL (Australian Football League), cricket and rugby.

Which is better in Brisbane: parks or beaches?

In Brisbane itself the parks are definitely better. Ones we love as a family and that are great for kids are New Farm Park (it has an amazing playground), Riverside Rocks Park at Seventeen Mile Rocks, Kalinga Park at Clayfield, and Wynnum Wading Pool Park

Where do you take the kids when it's raining? 

My kids love the movies and the little old fashioned cinemas at Balmoral (Bulimba) and Hawthorne are fantastic. The kids also love heading into South Bank to the SciencentreQueensland Museum (with the dinosaurs), the Queensland Art Gallery Gallery of Modern Art and the State Library of Queensland. All four are extremely child-friendly and have lots of activities and programmes especially for the kids.

What are some of Brisbane's hidden gems that tourists wouldn't know about? 

Kangaroo Point Cliffs are fantastic for tourists to visit with a great cafe sitting on top of the cliffs. [It’s a] great walk – from the cliffs you can walk across the Story Bridge, down along Riverside which has a fantastic walking/running path along the river. This path then takes you through the Botanical Gardens where you can then walk across the footbridge across to South Bank. (A shorter walk is the other way from the cliffs back to South Bank, about a 10-minute walk.)

[For more travel tips on free things to do in Brisbane with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]

What is the one must-do for families visiting Brisbane? 

Brisbane is all built around the river so a ferry ride and a visit to South Bank and New Farm are a must. South Bank is fantastic for families with a great kids swimming area, playgrounds and wide, open, grassed areas. Lots of the best restaurants and markets are at South Bank and it is also the home of the cultural centres with all of the museums and theatres being based here.

Are Brisbane cafes and restaurants family-friendly?

Yes most cafes in Brisbane are child-friendly offering high chairs, kids colouring-in packs and toys. Bowerbird Cafe (199 Bilsen Rd., Wavell Heights, Queensland, Australia, Tel: +61 402 559 432) at Wavell Heights is extremely child-friendly with a huge kids play area.

In our local area, Stomp Espresso is great, has kids’ toys and even makes food specifically for the kids.

Flute Fine Food (4/380 Cavendish Rd., Coorparoo, Queensland, Australia, Tel: +61 7 3324 0999) in Coorparoo gives kids a babycino with a little umbrella in it and a cookie on the side along with colouring in to keep them busy.

A lot of Brisbane pubs have play areas for kids. The Pineapple Hotel has a great kids’ play area and gives them all an activity bag. [Also family-friendly are] Chalk HotelThe Gap TavernEverton Park HotelBellbowrie Tavern, and Nick’s Restaurant at The Jindalle

Indooroopilly Bowls Club has a nice casual restaurant and if no games are on the kids can play on the greens (and you can plays games there too).

Where is the best place to stay in Brisbane with a family?

Rydges South Bank Brisbane is in a great central location and you can walk to most places from here (or get the ferry). Otherwise Meriton Services Apartments are good too, centrally located in the city on Adelaide Street or a new one has just opened on Hershel Street

What's the best time of year to visit Brisbane? 

Definitely springtime (September to November) – beautiful warm weather perfect for swimming and being outdoors but not too hot and the August winds have gone by then too. The Brisbane Festival is also on in September with Riverfire [fireworks display] which is a great event to visit.

What are your top tips for families visiting Brisbane? 

Stay close to or in the city or around South Bank/New Farm as you can travel around easily by the CityCat Ferry or by walking. If you have time it’s also good to head out of the city too and explore some of the gorgeous inner city suburbs like Rosalie, West End, New Farm and Breakfast Creek.  

Families flying into Queensland for a family holiday often stopover in Brisbane on their way to far North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. For more ideas on things to do in Far North Queensland with kids, see the suitcases&strollers interview with tennis legend Pat Rafter here
Images: Atmosphere Photography; Tourism and Events Queensland