Fun for All Ages: Queensland’s Top 6 Family-friendly Destinations

A natural wonderland like no other, Queensland is packed with virtually endless experiences to suit every traveller, no matter your age.

From setting sail across the Whitsundays waters and exploring the Daintree Forest, to bodyboarding in Burleigh Heads and snorkelling the inimitable Great Barrier Reef – Queensland has some of the best family-friendly spots to visit across the state.

Please note that due to current restrictions some operators may be temporarily closed. Call ahead for the most up-to-date information.

Find family-friendly city adventures in Brisbane

Brisbane is widely considered one of Australia’s most child-friendly cities, with its plethora of indoor and outdoor experiences, abundance of open-air spaces, free activities and exceptional year-round climate.

For the youngsters, discovering dinosaur skeletons at the Queensland Museum and frolicking through the Exotic Rainforest at Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Mount Coot-tha are a must. Or board an active, beautifully restored steam train at Australia's oldest operating heritage-listed railway workshop, the Workshops Rail Museum.

Tween to teens may find more fun sightseeing on a cruise down the Brisbane River (or the more affordable option: a CityCat ferry), stargazing at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium or sparking their imagination with interactive exhibits at the SparkLab, ScienCentre.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Family Friendly

If creating life-long memories is your goal, try the exceptional wildlife experiences at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (the world’s first and largest koala sanctuary) and Tangalooma Island, where visitors can hand feed wild bottlenose dolphins at sunset — only 75 minutes from Brisbane.

For something slower in pace, pack a picnic and head to South Bank – Brisbane's premier lifestyle and cultural precinct – before calling it in for the night at Eat Street Northshore, Brisbane's very-own riverfront shipping-container dining hub. With over 70 vendors creating delicious dishes from all over the world, all tastes are catered for, making family dining a breeze.

Embrace laidback fun on the Sunshine Coast

Boasting perennial sunshine, lush rainforest and an easy lifestyle, the Sunshine Coast ticks every family holiday box.

For young children, a tour of Maleny Dairies is a must. Here in the Hinterland, little ones will learn how milk gets bottled and are given the chance to taste it fresh from the cow’s udder. A walk through Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World may tame a tantrum, while the Ginger Factory in Yandina has a boat, a train, and a bee show, as well as gingerbread men to decorate.

Maleny Botanic Gardens Maleny Botanic Gardens

Sweet tooths rejoice at Palmview Strawberry Fields, where you can happily gorge on your personally collected punnet. Or let your children lead the way at Mt Ngungun, a scenic 2.8 kilometre hiking track on the Glass House Mountains. If you're looking for thrills and excitement, Aussie World has no shortage of rides for big and small.

For budding zoologists, there’s nowhere better than Australia Zoo — founded by the Irwin family and boasting 1,000 acres filled with local and international mammals, birds and reptiles. Give tired feet a rest on a traditional Saltwater Eco cruise through the Mooloolaba Canal or on a horseback ride along Noosa’s North Shore Beach.

Dive into reef and rainforest in Cairns

As the gateway to Queensland's tropical north, Cairns is a humble, laidback city best enjoyed by outdoor-loving families.

No matter your age, no trip to Cairns is complete without visiting the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. Here, you can swim, snorkel and sail this living masterpiece, while younger ones can go in search of Nemo. Those looking for something truly memorable can join a Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel experience with Indigenous sea rangers on a glass-bottom boat, complete with musical entertainment and engaging talks.

Fitzroy Island Fitzroy Island Family Friendly

If you have more time, seek out some of the reef's unspoiled islands, isolated beaches and sheltered bays by island hopping. Make your way to Fitzroy Island (45-minute boat ride from Cairns) to spot sea turtles in the tropical waters or at the island’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Back on land, see Cairns from a different perspective aboard the Kuranda Scenic Railway, as you wind your way through a tropical paradise framed by rugged mountains with tumbling waterfalls.

Nature is at the heart of Cairns and Great Barrier Reef, and the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is wildly beautiful — its lush mountain ranges, fast-flowing streams and waterfalls, deep gorges and dense rainforest resemble a real-life Jurassic Park. Covering 1,200 square kilometres, the Daintree invites you to take your time exploring the plants, birds and animals that call the wilderness home.

Back in town, Cairns Esplanade Lagoon is a great spot for a quick dip, while there are also a multitude of natural freshwater creeks within a 10-15-minute drive of the CBD.

Ultimate kids’ playground on the Gold Coast

Firm family favourite and one of Australia’s ultimate holiday destinations, the Gold Coast puts fun at the forefront — both for the young and young-at-heart.

Boasting a dazzling 57 kilometre stretch of sun-kissed coastline dotted with family-friendly areas, Gold Coast beach days are what dreams are made of. The Ian Dipple Lagoon at Broadwater, with its rip-free protected beach, pelicans and oceanfront playground, is great for younger kids, while Currumbin Creek keeps teens entertained with stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and more. Take a stroll to find your spot in the sand – be sure to pack your towel and sunscreen.

Thrills aplenty await in Australia’s theme park capital, home to six large-scale playgrounds for young and old. The hardest part is deciding which to visit first! Adrenaline-fuelled film buffs are best served at Warner Bros. Movie World, while Sea World mixes marine life and adventure, and Wet’n’Wild boasts stomach-flipping waterslides.

Burleigh Beach Burleigh Beach (141176)

Equal parts educational and fun, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary lets kids hand-feed kangaroos, come face-to-face with lemurs and watch eagles soar at the bird show. Afterwards, take to ‘nature’s playground’ at the Currumbin Rock Pools — a subtropical rainforest with a waterfall, crystal-clear rock pools and natural rockslides.

One last dip in the crystalline Tallebudgera Creek will be enough to settle the kids. An idyllic, patrolled paradise with gentle conditions makes for the ultimate family day out. The best part – it’s free!

Sit back and relax in the Whitsundays

Known for its tropical islands, caster-sugar-white sand beaches and abundance of marine life, Hamilton Island is one of Australia’s most desirable holiday destinations – and nothing short of family paradise.

Across the car-free island, there are several popular attractions for both adults and kids. Got a little golfer in your midst? Help them practise their swing at the mini-golf course and watch that competitive streak shine through. Those with the need for speed will not want to miss out on the adrenaline that comes with go-karting. Or slow the pace with a friendly game of ten-pin bowling — perfect for all ages and abilities.

Those with water babies in tow can take a dip in Hamilton Island’s three refreshing beachfront pools. The Main Pool even has a swim-up bar for the adults.

Whitehaven Beach Whitehaven Beach

Make time for a visit to the pristine and world-famous Whitehaven Beach — the star attraction of the Whitsundays, and just a 30-minute catamaran ride from Hamilton Island. With seven kilometres of shore to explore and shallow aqua waters, Whitehaven Beach is a safe play area for younger children and an Instagram hotspot for teens (or parents!).

Discover larger than life wonders on the Fraser Coast

Home to Fraser Island (the world’s largest sand island) and renowned for its wildlife encounters and safe beaches, the Fraser Coast has something for the whole family to enjoy.

Water lovers cannot go past WetSide Water Park in Hervey Bay. Providing hours of fun for all the family, this free outdoor arena also hosts a spectacular seasonal light show.

Off land, Hervey Bay offers world-renowned whale watching encounters from July to October each year. Look on as whales rest, socialise and play nearby, allowing you to get up close with one of the biggest marine animals on the planet.

Hervey Bay Family Friendly

Off the coast of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and packed with natural encounters for your next family 4WDing adventure. Surrounded by untamed wilderness and rugged terrain, this World Heritage-listed site features ancient rainforests, freshwater lakes, spectacular sand formations and the SS Maheno shipwreck — all ready to be explored. The whole family will enjoy a visit to the island’s Champagne Pools or the powder-like sands and fresh waters of Lake McKenzie — one of the country’s most visited natural wonders.

Step back in time and visit the heritage-listed Story Bank in Maryborough, where Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers was born, and take a photo with a life-sized statue of every child’s favourite fictional nanny. Or drop into the Hervey Bay Historical Village & Museum, where over 20 historical buildings have been gathered, including a slab house, schoolroom, railway station and church. It’s a trip down memory lane for the adults and a fun day out for kids, thanks to interactive displays and engaging informative talks.

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