A freelance writer who can't resist good food and exploring new places. Visit my blog at www.travelchook.com
Published March 28th 2021
Two Day Itinerary for a weekend in Toowoomba
The best weekend getaway at Toowoomba involves beautiful old-style buildings, the stunning Japanese gardens, which are full of colour in Autumn, botanical gardens, great food, wide streets, breathtaking views, and a nearby zoo. If you choose to go in winter, choose accommodation with a fireplace and spa.
Japanese Gardens - Toowoomba
This is a weekend getaway I like to do at least once a year with close to the same itinerary because it is always wonderful! This is how I enjoy a weekend away at Toowomba. At the end of it, I feel like I've done so much, been totally transported in bliss land and as though I've been away for a week!
Where possible, it is nice to arrive by 10.30am and do the Russell Street Historical Walk which takes about an hour. Experience a bit of Toowoomba's history and gorgeous old buildings.
Afterwards, have an early lunch at Picnic Point Lookout. Enjoy the parkland and views over the Main Range and Lockyer Valley. There is also a lovely little man-made waterfall and pond to look at. If you are up for it, the area has a few short nature walks between 20-40 minutes. There are maps on site.
Point Lookout view
After lunch and a walk, spend the rest of the afternoon exploring and relaxing in the Japanese Gardens. I like to spend about half a day there, although that may be a little too long for some people. The gardens have nooks and crannies and lots of seats all over the place to sit and enjoy the magnificent views and abundant birdlife.
I love standing on the quaint bridges looking down into the water and spotting turtles popping up, ducks swimming, geese and swans. Sitting pondering nature at various points around the gardens is a joy which is best experienced at leisure.
By the time you finish at the Japanese Gardens, it will be time to check in to your accommodation and get ready for dinner. No trip to Toowoomba is ever complete without dining at Sofra Turkish Restaurant in town. Authentic Turkish cuisine comes served within Sofra's beautifully decorated Turkish themed décor. I suggest the mezze platter for two, which gives you the option to try a range of different entrees.
Sofra Turkish Restaurant
Depending upon the size of your appetite, you could try the moussaka for main – one of my favourites, or the home-made Turkish style dumplings steamed with beef and served with a tomato concasse, sumac and yoghurt.
Moussaka at Sofra
But whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances skip dessert. Sofra has some of the best Turkish desserts that continue to stick in my memory for years afterwards. You cannot go wrong with any of them. But having said that, my favourites are the Pashas Dessert Platter for two and the Turkish Delight Sundae which includes ice-cream mixed with authentic Turkish delight, pistachio, fairy floss and berry compote. It is one of the most delicious concoctions I have ever tasted.
Sofra dessert platter
Normally, I am not a fan of Turkish delight, but Sofra's Turkish delight is nothing like the commercial variety, it is soft, pastel pink, sweet but not too sweet with a gel like gooey texture and fragrance that make it dangerously addictive. I would never leave Sofra without getting extra Turkish delight to have the next day, although, sometimes I cannot resist, and having it later that night – so naughty, but so yum!
Turkish Sundae at Sofra - so amazing!
After the end of day one at Toowoomba, I already feel renewed and as though I've been away for days and done so much. There's a lot of pleasure packed into one day. If you still want more, you can visit the historic Empire Theatre for a show, music, theatre, comedy or a film, depending upon what is on at the time. Alternatively, visit the historic Strand Cinema for a film.
But I usually like to head back to my accommodation and relax, nibble on that takeaway Turkish delight from Sofra or jump in the spa if the accommodation has one.
I always have to have breakfast at Kingfisher's Café about ten minutes away in Kearney Springs. The reason I love this place is because it's set outdoors in lovely gardens. When you book, be sure to book an outdoor table, because the setting is truly gorgeous. Just sit there and drink in nature. Take a jacket, because the morning air can be cool and crisp. The last thing you want to be is too cold to enjoy the wonderful outdoor garden in the misty morning. If it's raining and you can't sit outdoors though, go elsewhere (Park House Café or Café Valetta).
Festival of Flowers in Toowoomba's botanic gardens
After breakfast, head back to Toowoomba city and explore the lovely Queen's Park Botanical Gardens and Laurel Bank Park at leisure. Take your time and smell the roses, so to speak. It really is a wonderful way to enjoy the sights and forget the rest of the world exists. If you come in September, you'll have the opportunity to attend the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers which is a spectacle of colour and a real treat. But plan for it at least six months in advance as it is very popular.
Park House Cafe opposite Toowoomba's botanical gardens
By this stage, you may be ready for a hot drink. Try Park House Café or Café Valetta, which are both directly opposite the gardens. These are also good places for breakfast or lunch if you stay a second night.
After your hot drink (and maybe a light bite), take the pleasant forty-minute drive to Darling Downs Zoo. It usually closes at 4pm, so ensure you leave yourself at least a good couple of hours to explore. If you are a late riser, love animals and are short on time, you may have to skip the botanical gardens this time around.
Darling Downs zoo is filled with giraffes, lions, tigers, monkeys, zebras and so much more. It really is a very casual but wonderful place, almost like a series of paddocks with incredible animals that are very accessible from a viewing aspect. You can get a cold drink and a bite (although food options are basic and limited) and of course, there is a toilet.
Darling Downs Zoo near Toowoomba
This zoo is always a highlight for me because I love animals. Last time, I got to pat a baby zebra, feed a llama and watch a lion pursue a love interest, do a deafening roar and charge my partner.
For animal lovers, Darling Downs Zoo is a 'must do'.
From the zoo, it is usually time to head home and Brisbane is just a 2-hour drive away, while the Gold Coast is 2.5 hours. You might be tired by the time you hit the pillow Sunday night, but if you are anything like me, you would have had an amazing weekend full of nature, beautiful sights, great food and wild animals.
I always feel so happy, satisfied and renewed after my weekend itinerary at Toowoomba. I hope you do too.
We always attend Carnival of Flowers, enjoy Picnic Point coffee and later a great lunch in town. Then we return to Brisbane. Until now had not felt staying was warranted. Thanks for sparking my interest to stay for a few days and discover more of Toowoomba.