A trip to Brisbane would not be the same without visiting its inner-city oasis. Find out in the guide below the top things to do in South Bank Brisbane.
Situated on the southern banks of the Brisbane River is the city’s entertainment and lifestyle precinct. Spread out over 17 hectares are first-rate cafes and restaurants, museums for a cultural fix, tranquil picnic spots, and lots of outdoor activities.
Use the guide below, including the best things to do in Brisbane with kids to help plan your day and make the most of a popular location for tourists and locals.
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Post was updated in October 2020
Featured Image: South Bank Pool © Tourism & Events Queensland
- Top Things to do in South Bank Brisbane
- South Bank Parking
- Eating Out South Bank Brisbane
- Where to Stay in Brisbane with Kids
Top Things to do in South Bank Brisbane
Riverside Green Playground
With the popularity of this area growing, an upgrade to the Riverside Green Playground was completed in October 2015. The playground is suitable for children aged 2 to 15 years with some fun features, including a mouse spinning wheel, spinning supernova, swings, enclosed and open slides, rope bridges, a skywalk, rock walls, and climbing structures. The adjacent boat theme area, “Calypso,” features a slide and is tailored for the younger age group.
The split-level playground has colourful sponge matting underfoot and shade cloths over all the lower areas for safe play and sun protection. A popular picnic area in the city, find a seat on the tables nearby, or a spot on the lawns overlooking the picturesque Brisbane River.
Streets Beach South Bank
There is no need to leave Brisbane to find a beach; Streets Beach is Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach, and now a South Bank icon. The sparkling crystal-clear lagoon, surrounded by tropical plants and luxurious soft white sand, is one of the best free things to do in South Bank Brisbane. A perfect place to relax and for the kids to enjoy calm waters.
The beach caters to all ages with a grassy embankment nearby to enjoy the Queensland rays.
Aquativity South Bank
Aquativity is a fun, interactive water park fantastic for all children but perfect for the younger kids. It’s located on the southern side of Streets Beach. It features educational play elements referencing rivers, creeks, fish, and animals found in the area, created to assist children in understanding the water cycle.
One of the fun things to do in Brisbane with kids, as they will love playing in the shallow pool and having fun with the tipping buckets, shooting fountains, and shower wall.
Another aquatic space boasting marvellous views over the Brisbane River is the Boat Pool. Connected to Streets Beach, this pool is ideal for a refreshing plunge, fitness laps, and fun family water activities.
Practical Information: For the safety of visitors, professional lifeguards are on duty seven days a week, times changing throughout the year.
Take a Walk or Bike Ride
To escape the Queensland heat while enjoying a tranquil rainforest setting, take a stroll along the Rainforest Walk. Yet again, another unique surprise that you would not expect to find in an urban environment. In the heart of South Bank, wander over wooden walkways and underneath a canopy of tropical trees in the made-made rainforest.
There are many walking trails and bike paths in South Bank bustling with pedestrians and cyclists. One of those is the iconic Arbour, a kilometre-long walkway that winds itself through South Bank connecting Streets Beach to the cultural precinct. The Arbour is a well-photographed piece of architecture, winning multiple awards, and is nothing short of beautiful when it is draped in vibrant purple Bougainvillea flowers.
The Wheel of Brisbane
The Channel Seven Wheel of Brisbane sits in the South Bank culture area (closest to Victoria Bridge), offering a city’s unique viewpoint from comfortable, air-conditioned pods. The pods rotate slowly for 10 to 15 minutes (stopping once at the top) and share audio on Brisbane’s landmarks.
From the dazzling heights at the pinnacle (60 metres high), you can see 360-degree views over Brisbane’s cityscape, the nearby mountain ranges, and other attractions.
Tip: It always pays to look online for tickets to this popular attraction. We purchased our tickets via Groupon.com.au as they offered a great deal at the time instead of buying them directly at the wheel.
Practical Information: The gondolas can accommodate up to six adults and two children and are open Sunday to Thursday 10.00 am-10.00 pm, and Friday to Saturday 10.00 am-11.00 pm (subject to change).
Queensland Performing Arts Centre – QPAC
QPAC or Queensland Performing Arts Centre has been theperformance home for the state’s leading performing arts companies since 1985. They host a range of live events and performances that cater to all age groups. During one of our visits to South Bank, a Peppa Pig show was one of the main attractions along with the two musicals; Matilda and Singing in the Rain.
The venue has regular seasons by Queensland Ballet, Opera Queensland, Queensland Theatre Company, and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
There is an onsite café, bistro and restaurant in the centre to suit everyone’s taste and budgets.
Practical Information: There is no food to be taken into the theatre, and photography is not permitted due to copyright.
Parking at QPAC: The closest parking area to QPAC is the performing arts car park, which can be prepaid. The other car parking options available are outlined on the QPAC website.
Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art – QAGOMA
One of the popular things to do at Southbank Brisbane if you need to escape the heat or rain is to visit QAGOMA. The Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art has a particular area designed for children and families, perfect for children who love to be creative.
Artists work with QAGOMA to create interactive activities and programs for kids. The exhibitions, art projects, and activities change throughout the year, and another brilliant part about the children’s art centre is entry is free.
Practical Information: Open daily 10.00am-5.00pm. From noon Anzac Day, and closed Good Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day.
The Queensland Museum is home to permanent and changing exhibitions and programs to learn about the outside world. Step back in time to the dinosaur era at the Lost Creatures exhibit and learn about insects, and animals through the Discovery Centre.
The museum typically has a special exhibit that runs for a limited time, such as the past Dinosaur Discovery: Lost Creatures of the Cretaceous display, which showcased more than 20 life-size dinosaurs around the globe.
On level two, young minds can discover STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) in a fun, creative way in the Sparklab Sciencentre, ideal for children aged 6 to 13 years.
Practical Information: General admission is free, which gives visitors access to various levels and lots of displays. Tickets are required for the museum’s special exhibits, events, and the Sciencentre.
Open daily from 9.30am – 5.00pm. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Open ANZAC Day from 1.30 pm
South Bank Parking
Travelling to South Bank by car, you will find the area’s car spaces are paid metered parking. If you are planning on spending the day at South Bank, there are other less expensive options, including online and early-bird specials, which can be found here.
Eating Out South Bank Brisbane
South Bank is one of the hot spots for dining out in Brisbane. There is a cuisine for everyone’s tastes and a café or restaurant to suit all budgets. Grab a takeaway or dine in at many of the establishments. From breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in-between, here are some of the family-friendly dining options in South Bank.
Cowch – If you want to start the day with dessert, then Cowch is the place. Queensland’s first dessert and cocktail bar offering everything from pancakes, waffles, ice creams, and even a dessert pizza.
Grill’d – If you are craving a fresh, tasty burger, then Grill’d is a brilliant place to grab a meal with a vast menu selection that also includes kids packs.
Guzman Y Gomez – Take the taste buds on a trip to another country with a Mexican burrito, cheesy quesadilla, or nachos. The kids don’t miss out on the same options available in smaller portions.
Nitrogenie – On a warm Queensland day, there is nothing better than ice cream to cool down. Using the magic of liquid nitrogen, there is a huge slection of flavours created by adding “real food.”
Where to Stay in Brisbane with Kids
Being Australia’s third-largest capital city, there are many places to stay in Brisbane with kids. Three of the areas you can choose from are:
Brisbane CBD – If you want to stay in the heart of the city surrounded by heritage buildings, glass skyscrapers, and walking distane to eateries and attractions, the CBD is the perfect location. With parking in Brisbane being limited and expensive, the CBD offers the convenience of cafes, restaurants, and shopping at your doorstep. Strap on your comfortable walking shoes as it is only a 20-minute walk to South Bank and some of the popular Brisbane parklands.
South Bank – For somewhere just as convenient, but a little quieter, try South Bank, particularly if your time in Brisbane is going to be spent in this location.
Outer city suburbs – A short drive from the CBD is the suburbs of Kangaroo Point, known for its picturesque views over the city and the eclectic Fortitude Valley.
Some of the top family accommodation in Brisbane are:
Meriton Suites Herschel Street – One of the most popular places to stay, located in the city’s heart only 100 metres from the Brisbane River. All suites have a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, stove, refrigerator, and laundry facilities.
Novotel Brisbane South Bank – A popular 4 ½* hotel located in South Bank
The Sebel Brisbane – Only a 5-minute walk from Queens Street Mall, the Sebel apartments have a separate living area, kitchenette, and laundry facilities.
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