Finding things to keep kids busy during the school holidays can be a challenge, especially if the weather is not cooperating. But, don’t stress! We’ve gathered together some of the best things to do around Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. You’ll find some classics in there (like the museum) but we’ve been on the hunt for some more interesting ideas, too. Many of these activities would make great birthday party ideas. Maps are included for some listings to help you find the closest venue, and Queensland school holiday dates are at the bottom. As always, if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below!
Indoor Trampoline Centres
Recently Brisbane has seen two brand new indoor trampoline centres open up. You and your kids can fly high and touch the sky at either BOUNCE (Tingalpa) or Sky Zone (Macgregor) – it’s sure to wear them out. If the little ones still aren’t tired after bouncing around for an hour, Sky Zone also has a 3-storey laser tag arena! Drinks and food are available on-site at both locations, so you can sit and read a book in an hour of peace if you don’t feel like working up a sweat.
Ice Skating & Roller Skating
Skating is a great way to keep kids active, and there are a number of great facilities throughout Queensland. Here’s a list of ice skating and roller skating rinks in South-East Queensland. Many of them have school holiday programs, but be prepared for the rinks to be quite busy. I’m sure the kids won’t mind making lots of new friends, though! Don’t forget that during winter the Brisbane City Council also installs an open-air ice skating rink in King George Square, turning it into a winter wonderland.
- Gold Coast Iceland, Bundall
- Iceworld, Acacia Ridge
- Iceworld, Boondall
- Digi Skating Rink, Hillcrest
- Stafford Skate Centre, Stafford
- Skateaway, Albany Creek
- Skateaway, Ipswich
- Rollerdrome, Caloundra
- Epic Skate Rink, Tweed Heads
View Ice Skating & Roller Skating SEQ in a larger map
Mt Coot-tha Planetarium & Botanic Gardens
If you’re looking for an educational day out, head to the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium at Mount Coot-tha. The planetarium always has children’s shows on where kids will learn about various aspects of space and our solar system. Entry to the planetarium itself is free, and you can see various displays in the foyer. The actual shows will set you back around $9 per child and $15 per adult. Group prices and 3 show passes are also available. See the planetarium website for more details.
Explore the different areas in the botanic gardens (next to the planetarium), either by yourself or on one of the free guided walks. There’s a children’s “hide and seek” trail, or you can discover the cactus house, bonsai house, fern house and Japanese garden. My suggestion? Take a loaf of stale bread and feed the ducks and other water birds down by the pond. Entry to the gardens is free, but don’t bring Fido because dogs aren’t allowed. More details are at the botanic gardens website.
Riverlife Adventure Centre
The Riverlife Adventure Centre at Kangaroo Point has a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Join a guided kayak tour of the Brisbane River, try your hand at rock climbing or abseiling, or test your balance on a kickbike or rollerblades. Minimum age limits apply for some activities, so check with Riverlife before you go.
Indoor Rock Climbing
Indoor rock climbing is a great indoor activity, and it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like! Get the kids away from the Playstation and doing some physical activity with friends. Most centres allow children as young as 5 to climb, though they will usually need a belayer over 13 as well as parental consent. Check with your nearest venue for more info.
If you’ve never been to Natural Bridge or Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland, I highly recommend it. During the day you can wander down any number of rainforest tracks, and there’s a spectacular waterfall at Natural Bridge (also known as Natural Arch). Over thousands of years, the waterfall has eaten its way into the rock and resulted in a cave and land bridge (hence the name). It was a favourite spot to go swimming when I was younger, though that’s prohibited now for safety reasons. If you go there at night, you’ll discover something amazing. Glow worms! Thousands of tiny glowing spots appear in the caves (and some along the track on the way there). Be sure to take torches, but don’t shine them at the glow worms.
Why not take the kids horse riding? There are many horse riding schools around Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast and many of them offer school holiday programs. These can be anywhere from a couple of hours to a 3-day camp. For the younger children, most also offer pony rides. Check the map below to find your nearest venue.
View SEQ Horse Riding in a larger map
- Heritage Riding, Thornlands
- Indarra Equestrian, Wellington Point
- Cherbon Waters, Burbank
- Dalson Park, Slacks Creek
- Gumnuts Farm, Canungra
- Slickers, Kurwongbah
- Glasshouse Mountains Riding School, Beerwah
- Kiah Park, Gympie
- Mary Valley Adventure Trails, Gympie
Museum / Sciencentre
A long-time favourite activity for kids in Brisbane has been to visit the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre. Both are located at South Bank, so you can make a day of it by adding on a trip to South Bank Parklands. Museum entry is free (though exhibitions will have their own admission prices) and the Sciencentre is $13 for adults and $10 for children. Group prices are also available. See the website for more details.
Everyone loves mini golf (or “putt putt” if you prefer). There aren’t too many courses around, with a couple of decent ones in Brisbane and one each for the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. I’m yet to try the black light course at Browns Plains (which looks like a lot of fun), but I can vouch for the fun-factor of Victoria Park. Links below.
- Victoria Park, Herston
- Gecko’s Family Fun Centre, Browns Plains
- Top Shots Fun Park, Maroochydore
- Putt Putt, Mermaid Beach
Maybe it’s just a boy thing, but I love steam trains. The smell, the noise, watching the scenery pass by. Several times a year, you can experience the sights, tastes, smells and sounds of these magnificent workhorses of the steam age, thanks to a hard working group of people at The Workshops Rail Museum. Most journeys start from Roma Street Station, and they often run themed events like the Teddy Bears Picnic, Thomas the Tank Engine and Harry Potter. Or if you prefer pint-sized steam trains, take a ride on one of the miniature steam railways that are run once or twice a month.
- The Workshops Rail Museum
- Brisbane Bayside Steam Railway Society, Wynnum
- MELSA, Bribie Island
- Lions Miniature Railway, Bracken Ridge
River Heart Parklands
If you live somewhere out near Ipswich (or if you feel like going for a drive), make a day of going to the River Heart Parklands. Pick a nice sunny day, pack a BBQ lunch and make sure the kids have their togs! They’ll love splish-splashing in the water and exploring the mazes of ropes and balance beams. If you’re there at the right time you can even catch a laser light show!
Kids love playing in water, and while there are a few massive water parks around like Wet ‘n’ Wild and White Water World, it’s worth exploring some options that are far more affordable and closer to home. Council pools often have kids areas with waterslides and other play equipment, and entry fees are fairly affordable. Here’s a list of some of the best in the area (with either slides, kids play area or both).
View Brisbane Kids Pools in a larger map
- Brisbane Aquatic Centre, Chandler
- BlueFit, Chermside
- BlueFit, Colmslie
- BlueFit, Runcorn
- YMCA Leisure Centre, Acacia Ridge
- Council Pool, Bellbowrie
- Council Pool, Newmarket
- Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks
- Wading Pool, Wynnum
- Leisure Centre, Albany Creek
There are a number of zoos and wildlife parks in South-East Queensland, ranging from full-blown large scale zoos like Australia Zoo to the more sedate (and much cheaper) experiences like Walkabout Creek. Here’s a list of the zoos within easy reach of Brisbane, including a few you might not have even known about before!
- Walkabout Creek, The Gap
- David Fleay Wildlife Park, West Burleigh
- Darling Downs Zoo, Pilton
- Alma Park Zoo, Dakabin
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Fig Tree Pocket
- Australia Zoo, Beerwah
- Currumbin Sanctuary, Currumbin
Kids Cooking Classes
Smaller kids will love getting to create their own cookies and cupcakes. It’s something you can do yourself at home, but if you don’t want the stress then Cute Pies Baking School offers classes at Augustine Heights, or if you want kids cupcake & cookie decorating classes in the comfort of your own home, contact Nat from The Cake Tree (also a great party idea).
QLD School Holiday Dates 2015
For the full list of term dates, see the Education Queensland website.