When I have a group of people to entertain and the weather is great, the best option is to go somewhere and use one of the many free barbecues in the Brisbane area. There are so many great locations for this.
Electric barbecues in Chermside's 7th Brigade Park
South Bank is a popular barbecuing destination for backpackers and international students, but it tends to become pretty crowded. For the best views in town, try the top of the Kangaroo Point cliffs. Though my favourite location for barbecuing is actually the Roma Street Parklands. These wonderful parklands stay open late, have amazing scenery, sports fields and lots of different barbecue areas. In addition, it is one of the few parks in Brisbane you can legally drink in (as long as you don't drink from glass containers).
Roma Street Parklands is a great place to barbecue during the day and at night
But if you want some interesting scenery, why not try Wellington Point in the south or Sandgate and Shorncliffe in the north. One of my favourite places for barbecue is Bullocky Rest at Lake Samsonvale. Because the barbecue areas are out on a peninsular jutting into the lake, the area stays cool even on a hot day.
Bullocky Rest at Lake Samsonvale is a quiet place for a barbecue
For those who love wood fired barbecues then Daisy Hill Conservation Park has mostly wood fired Barbecues and JC Slaughter Falls picnic area and Simpson Falls picnic area at Mt Coot-tha have a large number of wood fired barbecues with available wood.
Brisbane is not the best place for a free Swim. Streets Beach in the South Bank Parklands is a great place to cool off, as is Settlement Cove Lagoon in Redcliffe. The wading pool in Wynnum is more suitable for little kids.
Sandgate's beach is basically a sandbar that goes far out to sea and is not a very good place for swimming, but a great location for kite surfing.
One little secret beach is Wellington Point. People head here for a range of reasons. the main reason is to walk out to King Island along the exposed sandbar at low tide. But at high tide there is a nice little beach you can swim at. The point itself is a lovely park worth visiting for a barbecue or alternatively you can enjoy a mid priced ranged seafood meal at the Point of View Cafe or a cheap meal or an ice cream at the little takeaway shop.
But if you really want to swim around Brisbane you have to go to the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast or head out to one of the islands.
Go to the markets
Brisbane has a wide selection of markets. While shopping is not everyone's idea of fun, most markets have some entertainment. Find your local market and grab a coffee and listen to local musicians performances.
For example, a trip to Redcliffe on a Sunday morning will take the market, followed by lunch in one many great cafes or restaurants, a dip in a a lagoon, and a walk or ride along the shore front. The Boundary Street Markets are worth going to in their own right for food and entertainment in the evening, but many people head there as the first stop on an evening out.
There are also over 80 parks around Brisbane with exercise equipment. I am not sure whether that counts as fun, but it is free. Actually many people I know consider exercising fun.
The council has generously placed exercise equipment along popular locations for jogging and exercise. If you go past during the day you will think no one uses the equipment, but go early in the morning you will find quite a large number of people taking advantage of the machines as part of their morning workout.
Exercise equipment at Burnie Brae Park in Chermside
While most of this equipment doesn't stack up against what you would find in a gym, it is still a great way to mix up your exercise. Let's face it, it really is much more fun to exercise in a park than a gym.
Cyclist rides past exercise equipment in North Lakes
Some locations that I recommend include the Minnippi Parklanks in Brisbane's south east which probably has the best equipment, Burnie Brae Park in Chermside, and Michelton Outdoor gym. But check out the the Brisbane City Council Website for equipment near you.
Brisbane's art scene is pretty populist, which makes it more fun. The Art Precinct means you can visit the Queensland Art Gallery, The Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) and whatever might be on at the State Library of Queensland. Not far away on Grey Street in South Bank you will find the Griffith University Art Gallery. Around the galleries themselves are also a range of public outdoor artworks.
This can be followed by a walk through South Bank to the Kangaroo Point cliffs to look at the various artworks that make up the Art and the River art trail. Also across the river you will find two art galleries at the Queensland University of Technology.
The best hiking locations are Mt Coot-tha's many trails, the lakes such as Enoggera, Gold Creek or Lake Manchester. In the South of Brisbane Daisy Hill Conservation Park provides a great place to hike and spot koalas and other wildlife.
Enoggera Reservoir a great place for a stroll or even a serious hike
There are also numerous bushland reserves dotted around Brisbane. One of my favourites though are the Chermside Hills Reserve which is a collection of three bushland areas including the Raven Street Reserve.
But what happens if you want to do something fun and free but your friends are not lazy or have different interests? Luckily the Brisbane City Council has you covered. The active parks program runs everything from dance classes to fitness boot camps. Most are free, some though might require that you pay a few dollars.
Dragon boating is an activity you can try for free
The City Botanic Gardens in the mornings usually have lots of groups getting fit. On weekends looks for activities in parks near you. Some of the more interesting and unusual activities, such as kayaking or rock climbing, book out quickly, so make sure you get in early.
But events go beyond these and there are also lots of less active events on as well, including music, entertainment and cultural festivals. The biggest and the best will be listed in Weekend Notes, but if you are looking for small local events, such as cooking classes or kids activities, visit the Brisbane City Council Website.