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Published June 12th 2019
Toddlers will think you're the BEST after these free outing
You don't have to fork out every time you want to take the kids somewhere fun in Brisbane. There are stacks of free activities and things to do with toddlers and preschoolers, you just have to know about them. Animal encounters
Kids (children) and kids (goats) - a natural day out
Ipswich Nature Centre, Queens Park, Ipswich It's outside Brisbane but only a 45-minute drive from the city, and you can see heaps of animals for free. Kangaroos, wallabies, reptiles, farm animals, and lots of birds. The paths are pram friendly and it's close to the family-friendly cafe, and the huge Queens Park playground.
Here your little ones can see lots of farm animals and birds up close, for free. There are goats, piglets, parrots, cockatoos, cockatiels, guinea pigs, kittens, mice, fish, hens and baby chicks. Sometimes you can feed them and pat them. It's a very relaxed and friendly environment with a rural feel in an urban location. Buy some treats for your dog and toys for your cat, or a neighbour's.
Samford Lifestyle Centre As well as housing a garden centre, kid-friendly cafe, natural health providers and other small stores, the Lifestyle Centre lets you freely wander on a path around their paddocks to see goats, chickens, geese, ducks, donkeys, sheep and their babies. You can purchase food to hand feed the animals too. Chicken meet and greet at The Nest, Everton Park Book into a free kids workshop to meet and feed the chickens in the backyard of this community craft centre.
Dog parks Many of our off-leash dog parks are located near a playground. After a play on the swings, your littlies might like to watch the pooches having their own fun in the dog park. For safety, don't go inside the dog park, but you can ask owners as they leave if their dog would like a pat.
Parks and gardens
So much for kids to do at Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens
Brisbane is blessed with wonderful playgrounds dotted throughout every suburb, but when you want to go to the biggest and best, explore these popular spots.
Roma St Parklands Visit for the gardens, huge waterfall and awesome (but busy) playgrounds. Free activities are available through the Kids Collective program during school holidays. Plus, you can ride on the mini train (see below).
Mt Cootha Botanic Gardens
For the lake, planetarium, nature-themed playground and of course the gardens. Also, heaps of water dragons!
City Botanic Gardens Watch boats on the river, play in the playground and run amok on the lawns. You can even walk over the bike and pedestrian bridge to Southbank.
Southbank Parklands Free toddler activities run every Thursday from 9am-1pm to enjoy free activities for kids aged 0-5. Plus there is, of course, the artificial beach, water features, playgrounds and lawns.
Active Parks activities
Check out the Brisbane City Council's Active Parks program for free activities for preschool age kids like soccer and music.
Playgroups let toddlers learn and make friends, while parents socialise too
While some ask for a small amount to cover costs, Northey St Farm playgroup in Windsor is one that is free. It's on every Tuesday and Friday morning. There's a cubby house, a sandpit, mud/clay painting, lots of donated toys and books, and chooks roaming around.
Check with Playgroup Queensland or local churches, schools, community organisations, or a neighbourhood facebook group about other playgroups.
Take a free trip
Explore Roma St Parkland by mini train (gold coin donation only)
Roma St Parkland Explorer Mini Train
At Roma St Parklands, you can ride on the Parkland Explorer mini train (voluntary gold coin donation) It runs Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10am and 12.30pm, and Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 3pm.
While you're in the city, take the free CityHopper ferry that travels between the CBD and New Farm
Trains, buses and citycats
Kids aged 4 and under can also travel anywhere on the Translink network for free. Of course, the adult with them still has to pay their own fare.
No one who grew up in South East Queensland could forget Playasaurus Place, the covered outdoor dinosaur-themed play area. Plus there are lots of kid-friendly exhibits upstairs.
Museum of Brisbane
Here you can ascend the city hall clock tower (free but bookings required). There are also crafty kids' activities available during the school holidays.
State Library of Queensland
As well as the interactive play environment of The Corner, the State Library offers free weekly Rhyme Time, Story Time, Baby Play and Hickory Dickory Rock sessions.
All local libraries also offer a range of story and music sessions throughout the week. Check your local council library website.
Chermside Library and Brisbane City Square library are two that have a particularly large children's area, slightly separate to the rest of the library.
The Ferny Grove water park at Keperra is loads of fun for preschool and early primary school kids
When the weather's warm (and in Brissy that's 9 months of the year) get some outdoor play time in without overheating with some water fun.
As well as the council pools, Southbank and the nearby beaches, check out:
Some of my local favourites are The Alley, Everton Park (large fenced playground), Birds and Bees, Everton Hills (spacious undercover outdoor seating and play area) and Coffeecidance, Everton Hills (friendly staff and indoor play area.)
On the other side of the river, Miss Bliss is popular with parents, in West End
BONUS - Consider these other fun outings that foster kids' ethics, many of which are free or low cost. Taking them somewhere you can start a conversation you wouldn't otherwise have had, is one way to give your kids a values education.
Foster an eco-friendly and ethical attitude with these outings
Which free outings have I missed? Leave a comment here or on your facebook post when sharing this article.