With Brisbane's almost year round great weather, there is little wonder that parks are popular in Brisbane. There are some that are more than just patches of greenery, but provide a wide selection of activities that you and even your whole family can participate in.
I have to start here by clearing up the most common confusion in Brisbane: the botanic gardens in the city is called the City Botanic Gardens, and the one up Mount Coot-tha is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. In fact if you do a search on Google for the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, you are likely to find the City Botanic Gardens instead.
With confusion cleared up, these are great gardens with a range of facilities include several ponds, a Japanese garden, a greenhouse and a large area dedicated to native plants. There are also great views of the city from the pavilion near the back end of the park.
The simplest of the activities include the self-guided walks. Download a brochure from the Botanic Gardens website or pickup a free brochure at the park.But it can be more fun to join one of the free guided walks that are on Monday to Saturday at 11 am and 1 pm. There is no need to book unless you have a large group.
Regular events include story time for kids in the gardens, free gardening education programs with an emphasis on environmentally friendly practices, photography and yoga. There are also sometimes musical events and performances.
In many ways, this is Brisbane's most active park. Check the Brisbane City Council's What's On guide to find out more.
City Botanic Gardens
I have always loved this little riverside botanic gardens. You can easily come here to find a place to relax or just pass through on a walk or bike ride by the city. I have been very disappointed that the mangrove walk and cafe have closed, but it is still a great place to go and relax when you are in the city.
Self-guided walks are available. Details are available on the Brisbane City Council Website, but I have never seen brochures anywhere in the park. Guided walks are also available Monday to Saturday at 11 am and 1 pm.
The City Botanic Gardens is a hive of activity. The council organises exercise programs that include Tai Chi, gentle exercises such as tone and stretch or more intensive boot camp style classes such as the 8 week weight loss challenge. Check out the City Botanic Gardens What's On Guide for more information.
But activities in the park are not limited to these. It is common to see tight rope walking classes and as well as numerous boot camp and yoga groups exercising in this wonderful surroundings.
Given the location to the city, this park is the place to go to on weekday mornings and at lunch time for activities. If you are coming just to check out the gardens, don't forget to check out the nearby Parliament House or the art galleries at the adjoining Queensland University of Technology.
Roma Street Parklands
Roma Street Parklands is my current favourite park in Brisbane for two main reasons. The first is the general aesthetic, where many of the treasures of the park are hidden and you can wander for hours and keep discovering unexpected delights, while also the idea of a borrowed view of the city adds to the pleasure of the location.
The other reason I like the Roma Street Parklands is that it is one of the few parks in Brisbane where you can legally drink. You have to drink from plastic cups or cans but you can bring alcohol in glass bottles but you have to pour it into plastic cups to drink.
Roma Street Parklands is not the most active of parks, though it often hosts events. Featuring a great outdoor theatre, it is the premium location for theatre in the park in Brisbane. The theatre is also used for a variety of concerts.
The main activity to join in at Roma Street is the free guided walks that are on every day at 11 am and 1 pm as well as irregular specialist walks that include art, heritage and a look at the design process behind the gardens. Don't forget there is also an Auslan interpreter walk and a sensory walk for the visually impaired.
Keep a watch on the What's On guide for the Roma Street Parklands as other events will occur regularly including zumba. Various groups also use the great sports fields for boot camps and social sporting competitions.
South Bank Parklands
I put South Bank last, because while it is a very active place it is more about events than other activities. So this is the place to see a concert, watch a movie under the stars, experience fire works, or participate in a fun run or charity walk. Keep an eye on the What's On guide for South Bank.
It is also the place where Brisbane goes to grab a drink or meal at a nearby bar or restaurant and so on. This is a great opportunity to combine this with a live performance, such as the Sunday Sessions on the Green which is usually on during the warmer months.
There are great running and cycling tracks along the river starting at South Bank. There is a regular 5 km park run early every Saturday morning as well as guided cycling tours that are aimed at over 50 year olds.
Most people go to be active at South Bank in a less organised manner. You can go for a swim at Streets Beach or run, ride or walk the river front. The new kids playground opening up in 2015 also makes it a great place for active kids.
Brisbane's Active parks program is designed to get Brisbanites out and active. These free events occur in parks all around Brisbane so you are sure to find something near you. Activities are targeted at everyone from babies through to the elderly and everyone in between. So you are also sure to find something that suits you.