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Things to do for FREE on a Weekend Staycation in Brisbane City

Last weekend we stay as guests of the Novotel in South Bank and took advantage of all the FREE weekend activities that are available in South Bank, the CBD and Roma Street!

There is always so much going on in the centre of our beautiful city so it was fantastic to have a staycation to soak it all in. We wrote about our recent stay at the Novotel hotel here if you want to see all that they offer for families.

Because this year has been a challenge to get *out and about*, we are now lucky enough to be taking advantage of Brisbane’s great weather and virus free status. We are, of course, remaining vigilant washing our hands, staying 1.5 metres apart from people and coughing and sneezing into our elbows (and you should too).  However, we are excited to get out into the city at this time of the year to enjoy all that Brisbane has to offer.

And you can too. We show you how to enjoy our beautiful city activities FOR FREE!

Pay for accommodation & food only

There truly is something for everyone and, when accommodation and food is the only thing you’ll be paying for, a weekend in the city sounds like the things memories are made of!

Here are our top choices for fabulous, family-friendly FREE long weekend activities right in the heart of Brisbane.

If you are heading into the city in December, then you will want to check out our Christmas in the City article for the timings of all the planned events.

RELATED: If you are looking for ideas for a weekend getaway from Brisbane, we know that too!

Free weekend activities in Brisbane City

There’s no better place on any given long weekend to find some great free activities than smack bang in the middle of our fair city! With so many great options on offer for families, you’re not going to want to leave the action. We’d definitely advise finding a great place to stay in the city that offers great deals for families – particularly places that offer great stuff for the kids to do!

That way – your only costs will be accommodation and food! Everything else on this list is FREE, FREE, FREE!

Free weekend activities – where to find them!

Here’s where we went over the weekend and here’s the order we did it! Why not plan your own staycation too!?

Friday – day one

long weekend Brisbane city

As soon as the kids finish school pick them up and drive straight into the city. Parking is included at the Novotel, so once you have pulled into the driveway, jumped out at reception and checked in, you can park for free under the hotel. Grab the lift up to your room and get acquainted with all that your hotel has to offer. Scope out the pool, investigate the kids activities and have a cheeky jump on the bed (shhh… don’t tell mum!).

If you choose to stay at the Novotel, make sure you book these bad boys… they are free to hire but you need to put a $250 deposit down (I used my credit card) which you get refunded when you bring them back!


Then pack the backpacks and walk 2 streets down to…

South Bank

South Bank offers families a plethora of opportunities to engage in some fun, family-friendly and FREE entertainment, particularly on long weekends! There are so many great long weekend activities in Brisbane to choose from right in South Bank. We’d recommend making time to spend at least four hours here and there are plenty of food options should you want to stop for dinner as well – or you can bring your own food to make it an even cheaper, low-key afternoon of fun.

Streets Beach South bank

You’ll be able to swim at the incredible City Beach, get the scooters out and venture up down the riverfront, take in any number of street performances that are always popping up unexpectedly, pop in to the Suncorp Piazza to check out what’s on offer AND play on one of the very best play structures that Brisbane’s ever seen!

Bring the togs and towels so you can splash about in the number of water-play spaces that are designed to cater for a wide range of ages and abilities. There are plenty of spaces to safely get changed, have a BBQ or spread out a picnic blanket and just enjoy everything and anything that passes by!

free long weekend activities picnic

South Bank is an easy and enjoyable walking distance to the CBD (our best route is to go through the Botanic Gardens and pop over the Goodwill Bridge – see the photo below for why you want to do this at night time!) and there are plenty of pathways and options for families that require strollers and wheelchairs. It’s a great FREE day out and the perfect way to celebrate a long weekend in the city.

things to do with visitors in brisbane city of lights

Saturday – day two

We’d suggest having a lovely sleep in but who are we kidding – you’ve got kids! They’re going to be up and raring to go. Here are the best ways to burn off some of that energy.

Saturday morning will hopefully see you dine in style as your breakfast will be included with your hotel package – Sweet! You will be able to select your breakfast from a range on a menu and after you have finished all you’ll have to do is head out to…

Brisbane Botanic Gardens

free long weekend activities playground

We caught the FREE City Hopper over to Eagle Street Pier to catch that beautiful morning sun and watch the kids go bananas on one of the most innovative play spaces in Brisbane – found at the entrance to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. This is a playground designed for the senses. There are a number of musical stations where children can experiment with sound, notes, tenor and tension in addition to being able to play on the safe equipment. There is an all-abilities access round-about and a ‘mum and bub’ swing where you can safely swing with your tiniest tot! Very cool!

Give the kids an hour or two here, back to the hotel to reapply sunscreen and then you’re back off across the river to…

GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art)

GOMA is a FANTASTIC place for kids to visit at any time of the year but particularly as a free long weekend activity. The Children’s Art Centre is always home to evocative, interesting, engaging and exciting ways for kids to get involved in all things art and culture. They’ll secretly be learning at the same time (don’t tell them that, obviously!).

free long weekend activities goma

Entry to GOMA and the Children’s Art Centre is always free (some international exhibits will have a cover charge but they’re not likely to be ones the kids will be interested in). There is a coat check station, toilets, on-site cafes and restaurants and the best air-conditioning known to man. It’s accessible, beautifully designed and the jewel in the crown of the Cultural Precinct.

You can find information about the latest GOMA exhibits at this link. We’d recommend at least an hour and a half for the kids to take it all in (making adjustments for how busy it is) before leaving and walking south towards…

Queensland Museum

Toddler at QLD Museum with magnifying glass

As you’ve already eaten lunch at GOMA (or brought your own food), the kids will be able to treat themselves to a solid couple of hours exploring everything the Queensland Museum has to offer. From the whale walk to the dinosaurs to any number of constantly changing displays  there’s just so much to see and do – it’s incredible that this example of free long weekend activities in Brisbane is COST-FREE. We’re just so lucky to have so much to see and do in our fair city!

While they could spend alllllll day there, there will come a time when you’ll need to drag them back to the hotel. Thankfully, the presence of a pool should prove bribe enough to get those tired feet moving! A splash and a relax before dinner and bed and they should (hopefully) be snoozing in no time. Leaving you time to get some cheeky room service dessert…

Sunday – day three

Sadly, your weekend in Brisbane City adventure has come to an end! You’ll probably need to check out by 10am and grab the car from the car park. ‘Tis a shame but all good things must come to an end. We’ve got one last suggestion before you head home, though. Drive through the city to the…

Roma St Parkland

Families Magazine LOVES Roma Street Parkland. There are so many things to see and do for families – making it a great choice when looking for free long weekend activities.

Roma St Parkland is a green space that’s made for families. Wide open spaces, water features, nature walks and amazing playgrounds. You can see our review of the facilities right here.

free long weekend activities roma st

There are often exciting activities happening in this area – particularly over the long weekend! Check out this link to see what’s the latest buzz!

Heading home

Back to reality! You’ve made some cherished memories with your nearest and dearest during your free long weekend activities adventure. You’ve seen some fantastic FREE entertainment that the city has to offer and you’ve stayed in a family-friendly, affordable, inner-city haven of class and comfort. What a great weekend. Such a shame we have to go back to work tomorrow!

If you’ve got a long trip ahead – why not try one of these fun car trip games along the way?

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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