Home » Things to do » Family Fun Days Out » Day Trips

Gold Coast to Brisbane: Best Gold Coast and Brisbane Attractions

Some of the best Queensland attractions can be found in South East Queensland on route between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  The Gold Coast and Brisbane attractions are numerous from theme parks, to wildlife parks, from island day trips to fantastic views from bridges and towers.

Whether you’re a local or visiting South East Queensland on holidays, this article covers all the best South East Queensland tourist attractions which can be found from Brisbane to Gold Coast.

With so many fun things to do in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, the drive between to two cities will keep you busy. You will have no trouble coming up with a great list of Brisbane and Gold Coast attractions that the whole family will love.

The best Brisbane attractions

Below we’ve listed some of our favourite things to do in Brisbane.  These are the very best Brisbane tourist attractions that should not be missed if you’re visiting Brisbane with family.

  1. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Some of the most popular Qld tourist attractions are the ones that involve cute and cuddly Australian animals, like Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  Home to over 130 koalas, Lone Pine is the biggest koala sanctuary in the world.

But not only will you find koalas here, at Lone Pine you will find a range of Australian animals such as kangaroos, emus, dingo’s, crocodiles and loads more.

Some get your photo taken with a cute and cuddly koala, pat a kangaroo and see a range of other Aussie favourites.

Located just a short drive from Brisbane CBD, or better still a relaxing cruise on Brisbane River, Lone Pine is a must for your Brisbane sightseeing list.

Find out how to get discounted entry every day to Lone Pine by reading our detailed review here

Click here to book your tickets to Lone Pine.

  1. The Wheel of Brisbane

The Wheel of Brisbane is Open Christmas Day Brisbane

One of the most breathtaking attractions in Brisbane rising 60 metres above the ground with a 360-degree panoramic view of spectacular Brisbane City is the Wheel of Brisbane.  This giant observation wheel is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Brisbane city.  The experience offers impressive views of the Brisbane skyline for people young and old, including the teenagers!

A ride of the Wheel of Brisbane takes around 10 to 12 minutes and operates every day of the week.  Situated at South Bank Parklands one of the Brisbane main attractions to visit, be amazed by the height of the wheel!

Check this link for a discount price on the Wheel of Brisbane.

Also click here to check prices for the Wheel of Brisbane.

  1. Brisbane Story Bridge Climb

Story Bridge Cliimb

If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Brisbane for families then the Brisbane Story Bridge is definitely for you.  The climb is popular for visitors and locals catering for all fitness levels and ages.  It is a 2.5-hour adventure climb with spectacular 360 degree views and is one of only three bridge adventure climbs in the world.

During your climb, you will receive an informative and interesting commentary about the history of Brisbane as well as uninterrupted views of various places of interest in Brisbane.

All climbers are provided with a fully enclosed climbing suit and are given an exhilarating experience at one of the most adventurous things to do in Brisbane.  you do not want to miss during your visit

Click here to book your Story Bridge Climb.

  1. Moreton Island Day Trip

Moreton Island

Queensland tourist attractions are varied and many, however exploring the third largest sand island in the world and discovering its natural beauty and crystal-clear waters is one the most awe-inspiring places to visit near Brisbane.

Begin your tour on board the MiCat Ferry enjoying air-conditioned comfort until you reach the crystal-clear waters and white sand of Moreton Island.  Once on shore you can laze on the perfect sandy beach or bodyboard and gaze at the coral reef below.

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Brisbane for teenagers – have them taboggan down the massive sand dunes or go snorkeling around the shipwrecks.  Moreton Island is renowned for its combination of coral, reef fish and even sea turtles, so you’ll be able to have some up close and personal encounters.

When it comes to places to visit near Brisbane, be sure to put this Moreton Island tour on your list.  Tours depart every day from Roma Street Transit Centre in Brisbane, except Wednesdays.

Click here to book your Moreton Island Day Trip.

  1. Kookaburra Queen

Climb aboard Brisbane’s iconic vintage-style paddlewheel vessel which has made it to the list of things to see and do in Brisbane for over 30 years.

There is no better way to see the Brisbane City tourist attractions then by cruising the Brisbane River on the Kookaburra Queen.  Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens, the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Maritime Museum, Southbank precinct, the Story Bridge and many more photo opportunities.

Choose from lunch and dinner cruises, high-tea, or even book your next family celebration on the Kookaburra Showboat.

  1. Feed the Dolphins at Tangalooma

Tin can bay dolphins

With crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and untouched national parks make sure you do a day trip to Tangalooma on Moreton Island during your Queensland sightseeing holiday.  Only 75 minutes by ferry from Brisbane, Tangalooma is waiting to be explored.

The highlight of Tangalooma is the wild dolphin feeding program which operates each evening at sunset when the dolphin’s come into feed.  You will delight as the dolphin’s swim into shore for hand feeding making this one of the most memorable family attractions around Brisbane.

There are a range of other activities also to be enjoyed at Tangalooma including sand tobogganing, 4WD island safari’s or just relaxing on the white sandy beach. Read our Tangalooma detailed review here.

Click here to book your tickets for a Tangalooma day trip

  1. North Stradbroke Island Day Trip

Gorge Walk

If you’re looking for things to do around Brisbane, then why not uncover the secrets of North Stradbroke Island on a guided 4WD adventure from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

‘Straddie’ to the locals, is known for some of the most spectacular scenery found between the Gold Coast and Brisbane.  Freshwater lakes, rolling surf and endless white sandy beaches make North Stradbroke Island an ideal holiday destination for families, groups of friends and day trippers.

Enjoy a guided 4WD adventure climbing the pristine white sand dunes, swimming the secluded crystal-clear lakes, and exploring the Eucalypt forest.

Read our detailed review about North Stradbroke Island here.

  1. Kingston Park Raceway

Gold Coast to Brisbane attractions

Looking for things to do in Brisbane for teenagers?  Why not take the family to the grand-prix-style Kingston Park Raceway located halfway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane along the Logan Motorway at Kingston in Logan City.  Kingston Park Raceway is one of the most exciting places to visit in Brisbane and Gold Coast areas for families of all ages.

The Raceway has over 100 go karts, and 3 great outdoor go kart tracks to test drivers’ skills for speed demons of all ages and abilities.

Families with younger children can also enjoy a day of fast fun and excitement in the Go Zone, riding amusement rides and kids karts on the purpose-built Indy Track.  Children as young as 5 can experience all the thrills of go karting in a safe and organised environment.

Visiting Kingston Park Raceway is one of the perfect family things to do in Brisbane.

Click here to book your tickets for Kingston Park Raceway

  1. The Workshops Rail Museum

Ipswich Rail Museum

All aboard!  Meet some true Aussie characters as you step into a real heritage railway workshop and see and hear living history with an up-close view of a real Heritage Steam Train.  The Workshops Rail Museum, winner of Australian and Queensland Tourism Awards for Heritage and Cultural Tourism should be at the top of your list of family things to do in Brisbane.

All Thomas the Tank Engine fans alike will thoroughly enjoy and delight making history come alive with hands-on exhibits, multi-media encounters and colourful stories on how railway travel has impacted the lives of the beautiful people in Queensland for over 150 years.

The museum is located in North Ipswich, and open daily from 9:30am to 4pm.  Get the family building, engineering and inventing with popular programs for ages from 2 to 99.

Read our detailed review about the Workshops Rail Museum here.

Click here to book your tickets for the Workshops Rail Museum

Best Gold Coast Attractions

Below we’ve some of our favourite Gold Coast attractions for families.  These are the very best Gold Coast tourist attractions that should not be missed if you’re visiting the Gold Coast with family.

  1. Dreamworld & White-Water World

australia day with kids dreamworld

Dreamworld and White-Water World is one of the most popular Queensland attractions for local families and tourists alike.  If you are holidaying on the Gold Coast Dreamworld and White-Water World should be at the top of your Gold Coast Top 10 list.

Dreamworld is perhaps the Gold Coast most popular theme park – with rides, slides and wildlife all in the one place.  Dreamworld hosts around one million visitors each year and is a Gold Coast must do.

Not only is Dreamworld and White-Water World top of the list of the biggest Gold Coast attractions, it is also a wildlife conservation park, housing more than 500 animals and is proud to help the protection and conservation of Tigers, Koalas, Bilbies, Tree Kangaroos, and more.  Dreamworld also offers an interactive walk-through experience celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander culture.

The aquatic fun of White-Water world is right next door to Dreamworld (your entry ticket to Dreamworld also includes White Water World), and has both thrills and kids rides to suit the whole family.

Be sure to purchase your combined pass to experience the Big 9 Thrill Rides and thrills of the White Water here at a reduced price, it’s a great way to save money while extending your amount of fun!

Read our detailed Dreamworld review and get cheap tickets here.

  1. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Looking for places to visit on the Gold Coast that don’t break your budget? Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been on the Gold Coast must do list for over 70 years.  Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary serves a myriad of native Australia animals, big and small, flourishing and endangered.

The Sanctuary is home to native mammals, reptiles, bird life and amphibians as well as some exotic species.  The educational park provides vital breeding and conservation programs for its animals and is one of the most popular attractions in south-east Queensland.

Lorikeets flock to the arena twice daily to be feed delighted visitors and the wide-open enclosures provide one of the best valued days out for families and one of the best Gold Coast experiences.

Read our detailed Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary review here

Click here to purchase your Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

  1. Movie World

Gold Coast to Brisbane attractions - Movieworld

For all the movie buffs in the family one of the fun things to do on the Gold Coast is to spend the day at Movie World.  Movie World is a theme park inspired by all your favourite blockbuster movies!

Movie World has rides for everyone in the family from heart stopping roller coasters to gentle kiddie rides.  There are plenty of great family friendly shows to watch too – don’t miss the Hollywood Stunt Driver show!  Plus there is ample opportunity to get your photo taken with your favourite superheroes and Warner Bros stars.

Movie World is located in Coomera, across the road from Dreamworld and next door to Wet n Wild.

Movie World is part of the Village Roadshow theme parks which also includes Sea World and Wet n Wild.  For the best deal on Gold Coast theme park tickets, be sure to buy a combined pass to all parks.

Click here for your Movie World passes.

  1. Sea World

sea creatures are plentiful at Sea World Gold Coast

For one of the awesome Gold Coast activities for families with younger children – head on down to Sea World.  Part theme park, part aquarium, Sea World is a great best theme park for families as well as people that just have a love for marine life.

Seals, polar bears, dolphins, penguins, sharks – name a marine animal and the chances are you’ll find it at Sea World.  There are various animals shows too such as the dolphin presentation and seal show too.

For the little ones they will love seeing Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Square Pants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more.  For some Gold Coast fun there are some great little kid rides and well as a few great thrill rides for the older kids too.

Sea World is located at Main Beach on the Gold Coast and is part of the Village Roadshow theme parks which also includes Movie World and Wet n Wild.  For the best Gold Coast attraction deals, be sure to buy a combined pass to all parks.

Click here for your Sea World seal encounter

  1. Wet n Wild

Gold Coast to Brisbane attractions - Wet n Wild

One of the more popular Gold Coast attractions for kids during the Summer months is Wet n Wild.  Wet n Wild is without a doubt one of the cool things to do on the Gold Coast with your kids if they love spending time in the water.

At Wet n Wild you will find some of the tallest and fastest water slides on the Gold Coast, as well as wave pools and an awesome kiddies water area.  There are plenty of sun lounges for mum and dad to relax too!

Wet n Wild World is located in Coomera, across the road from Dreamworld and next door to Movie World.

Wet n Wild World is part of the Village Roadshow theme parks which also includes Sea World and Movie World.  You can purchase a Gold Coast attractions pass which will save you money if you are planning on visiting all parks.

Click here for your Wet n Wild passes.

  1. Australian Outback Spectacular

Outback Spectacular

For something a bit different for your Gold Coast sightseeing, how about a dinner and show package at the Australian Outback Spectacular.  The Australian Outback Spectacular is one of the Gold Coast’s top attractions the entire family will Love.  Enjoy a delicious three course meal whilst watching an amazing show of talented Australian actors and animals as well as various special effect and stunts.

The Australian Outback Spectacular is located right by Movie World and there are performances daily.

Click here to purchase your Australian Outback Spectacular tickets.

  1. Paradise Country

Gold Coast to Brisbane attractions - Paradise Country

If you need some time away from the popular theme parks, add Paradise Country to your Gold Coast to do list.

Paradise Country is great place for families with young children.  Here they can see what life is like on an Aussie farm.  Cows, horses, chickens, cattle dogs and sheep – name a farm animal and the chances are you will find it here.  Children will love cuddling the baby animals, whilst international tourists will appreciate being able to see some native Australian animals such as koalas and kangaroos.

Paradise Country is located in Coomera, not far from Dreamworld and Movie World.

Paradise Country is part of the Village Roadshow theme parks which also includes Wet n Wild, Sea World and Movie World.  For Gold Coast Activity deals, purchase a pass which will save you money if you are planning on visiting all multiple parks during your stay.

Click here to purchase your Paradise Country tickets.

  1. Whale Watching

Whale Spotting Gold Coast - The tail of a Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) rise above the water against Surfers Paradise skyline in Gold Coast Queensland Australia

During the months of June to November its whale watching on the Gold Coast and which is one of the best Gold Coast sights during this time of year.

Whale watching tours depart multiple times a day from Sea World and last for 2.5 hours.  On board a luxury vessel, there are size different viewing decks where you can observe these majestic creatures.

Click here to book your whale watching tickets.

  1. SkyPoint Observation Deck

SkyPoint Observation Deck

There are numerous things to do in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, but one of the top Gold Coast tourist spots is the SkyPoint Observation Deck.

SkyPoint which is located on level 77 of Q1, is the highest point above the Gold Coast and provides fantastic 360-degree views from the beach to the hinterland.  After you’ve enjoyed the stunning views, why not grab a cuppa and cake or even a drink at the Skybar lounge.

Click here to book your tickets to the SkyPoint Observation Deck

Photo of author

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.

Leave a comment