Things to do in Toowoomba for kids and parents
If you are looking for some fresh mountain air, spectacular parks, incredible street art, emerging foodie culture, and events, then Toowoomba is well worth exploring. From what used to be a sleepy country town, Toowoomba is now a vibrant regional centre and you’ll be surprised by some of the great things to do in Toowoomba, Queensland.
I spent my school years in Toowoomba but the day after school finished I left, thinking I would never return. Well, I travelled the world and Australia, only to find myself nearly 20 years later returning to Toowoomba to bring up my own family.
Toowoomba has come along way since we moved here in 2010. It’s shaking off its reputation as a big country town, which you’ll see by the growing number of trendy cafes, the building of a major airport, its street art, and the huge re-development of its major shopping complex, Grand Central.
Take a look at the best things to do in Toowoomba for kids and parents.
Things to do in Toowoomba
Toowoomba’s Park Life
There is a good reason why Toowoomba is called “the Garden City”. Its multitude of parks and gardens are spectacular, and a trip to Toowoomba wouldn’t be complete without a visit to at least one of these.
Our favourite park to visit is Queens Park. It has so many different sections to explore including an all-abilities playground off Lindsay Street (my boys call it the music park), a huge playground catering for a variety of ages off Margaret Street, various ovals and walking tracks, a dog off-leash area, and the stunning botanical gardens off Lindsey and Campbell Streets where the kids can ride their bikes and scooters amongst the flowers. There are lots of picnic tables, shaded areas, barbecues and toilets at Queens Park.
To take in the panoramic views from the top of the mountain, head to Picnic Point Park and Lookout. There you will also find a playground, restaurant, café, picnic areas, toilets and walking trails to nearby waterfalls. Don’t miss the adjacent Heller Park (on the southern side of the restaurant) with the witches house play equipment.
If you are up for exploring an impressive public garden, then head to Australia’s largest and most traditionally designed Japanese garden. Spring and autumn are the best times to witness the changing colours of the trees and plants. Take along some bread for kids to feed the fish, swans, ducks and other birds. There is no play equipment there but it’s a beautiful place to explore. The Japanese Gardens are located at the University of Southern Queensland campus on West Street.
Climb Table Top Mountain Toowoomba
If you’re up for a challenge then get the kids ready to climb Table Top Mountain. Now, this is no walk in the park. It’s more of a clambering/scaling of rocks. You do however get a great sense of achievement when you reach the top, plus there are spectacular views to take in. I wouldn’t recommend the climb for kids under 6, or if you have really bad knees, back or ankles.
Mountain Biking in Toowoomba
If you love mountain biking then Jubilee Park and the Stenner St skills park are THE place to head. There are several bike tracks throughout, for all different levels of riders. These tracks have been developed and maintained by the Toowoomba Mountain Bike Club, so take a look at their website for all the necessary information.
Indoor fun in Toowoomba
If you’re after indoor activities for kids, Toowoomba boasts two cinema complex, Kloud 9 trampoline park, two little kids indoor play centres (Chipmunks and iPlay), plus swimming pools, a fantastic public library, Inflatable World, and iPlay Amusement Arcade. There are also two ten pin bowling places – Sunset Super Bowl and Bazinga.
For the older kids, take a look at the Tick Tock Escape Room where your aim is to escape from the locked room by solving puzzles and mysteries with a themed story. With rooms like the submarine escape and Da Vinci, it sounds like something fun and different to do.
Toowoomba Street Art
Street art has brought life to a large number of alleyways and buildings throughout the Toowoomba CBD. What were once dull and dingy, are now interesting and fun to explore. Often you’ll now find cafés down alleyways where once there was nothing. Thanks to the First Coast Festival which began in 2014, Toowoomba now boasts one of the largest outdoor galleries in Australia with over 80 murals throughout the city.
Cobb & Co Museum
If you are after a bit of history or some interactive activities for the younger kids, then head to Cobb & Co Museum in Lindsay Street. The museum houses the National Carriage Collection with 47 horse-drawn vehicles on display, plus the Energy for Life Discovery Centre. There are several visiting exhibitions each year as well as holiday activities for the kids, and heritage trade workshops like blacksmithing. The little ones will love The Coach Stop play area, where they can dress up in old fashioned clothes, ride a life-sized replica horse and carriage, and run the old General Store.
Family-friendly events in Toowoomba
Toowoomba holds some fantastic events with the largest being the annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. What used to be a street parade and garden competition has now turned into a major drawcard for the town, complete with the massive Flower, Food and Wine Festival and concert series including headline acts like The Birds of Tokyo. Take a look at our review on the fun for kids at the Carnival of Flowers.
Other notable events for families include the Have a Go Festival at Cobb and Co Museum, the Felton Food Festival, and one of our favourites, the Christmas Wonderland. Make sure before you visit that you take a look at what’s on at Toowoomba’s iconic Empire Theatre. They have some amazing performances there.
Discover the best places to eat in Toowoomba
One thing is for sure, you won’t go hungry in Toowoomba. There has been an explosion of street food, cafes, and restaurants in the last couple of years with something to suit just about everyone.
Our favourite places to eat with kids in Toowoomba with kids are:
- Park House, Impressions on Scott, or The Finch for breakfast
- The Baker’s Duck for the most amazing pastries and great coffee
- The Finch, Ground Up, Impressions, or Wendland Fine Foods for coffee
- Pump (for drive-thru coffee)
- George Banks, Muller Bros, Piccolo Papa Pizza, Sofra Turkish, Fitzy’s, and Federal Hotel for lunch or dinner
Toowoomba Farmers Markets
Make sure you take home some of the seriously fresh and tasty produce of the region by visiting the farmers markets in Toowoomba. With fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, cakes, condiments and even fresh pasta, you’re sure to find lots of things to eat. My Local Feast Farmers Markets are held every Saturday near the windmills outside of Cobb+Co Museum.
Visit Darling Downs and beyond
Toowoomba is the gateway to a whole host of attractions in the Darling Downs and Granite Belt regions, including National Parks, food and wine trails, farm stays, country race days, rodeos, and many others. To the surprise of many, it’s ridiculous how much there is to do when you visit the Darling Downs.
If you’re into history, you’re in luck with a plethora of museums, galleries and heritage hotspots with the highlights being Jondaryan Woolshed, Australian Army Flying Museum Oakey, and Highfields Pioneer Village.
Some family favourite places to visit on the Darling Downs include a day trip to the Darling Downs Zoo, Dogwood Crossing in Miles, Glengallan Homestead, Granite Belt wineries, and you can even pick your own fruit at a few farms in Stanthorpe.
Bushwalking in the region
The Darling Downs and Granite Belt are not the places you’d expect to find rainforest walks, palm tree circuits and waterfalls so you’ll be surprised when you come to visit.
Pack your walking shoes and a picnic and take a day trip to Ravensbourne National Park or Crows Nest Falls for some bushwalking. Only about a 45-minute drive to either place, it’s worth it to see the beauty of the area. On your way out there, stop off at the Chocolate Cottage in Highfields for morning tea, pick up some roses from the rose farm, and take a look at the Black Forest Hill Cuckoo Shop. A must stop is Emeraude Cafe at Hampton. Incredible!
You’ll also find incredible walking and hiking trails a little further away from Toowoomba at stunning national parks like Goomburra Main Range National Park, Bunya Mountains, Girraween, and Queen Mary Falls.
Top tips for families visiting Toowoomba
- Always bring a jumper just in case. Even on hot summer days, Toowoomba can turn cold at night if the fog rolls in.
- On a rainy day, head to Cobb & Co Museum, Kloud 9 trampoline park, iPlay indoor play centre, iPlay games centre (confusing I know) or the cinema at Grand Central Shopping Centre or the Strand.
- You can hire bikes at Johnny Sprockets
- If you want to visit in September you will need to book early as this is the busiest month of the year with the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
- You will often find cheaper accommodation in Toowoomba over the weekend rather than during the week as it gets a high amount of business travellers.
Toowoomba Accommodation for Family
Trying to work out where to stay in Toowoomba on the Darling Downs, can be difficult. With so many places to choose from, we thought we would make it easier for you by revealing our pick of the best family accommodation in Toowoomba.
What’s important to us when booking family accommodation is that it is in a safe and quiet area, with clean rooms, friendly and helpful staff, and is close by to attractions. Having lived in Toowoomba for many years, we know the best places for families and where we like to send our friends to stay.
Serviced Apartments Toowoomba
Quest Toowoomba Serviced Apartments is one of our favourites for Toowoomba accommodation for a few reasons. Being in the heart of the city, it is walking distance to Queens Park, shops, restaurants, and the Empire Theatre. They offer modern serviced apartments, which is great for families, and have rooms ranging from studio to three-bedroom apartments, most with private balconies. The best view is of Queens Park. Quest is one of the more expensive accommodation places on our list but sometimes being centrally located, in a self-contained new apartment, with very helpful staff is worth it.
A new and absolutely stunning addition to holiday accommodation in Toowoomba is The Arbor Boutique Apartments. They really are elegant luxury and there are two and three-bedroom options which are perfect for families visiting Toowoomba.
Self Contained Accommodation Toowoomba
There are some fantastic self-contained accommodation options in Toowoomba now which are very family-friendly. These are my favourites being in good areas, and meeting the needs of families big and small.
Magnolia on Mary – 4 bedroom house – Click here to see the latest prices
Frangipani House – 3 bedroom house – Click here to see latest prices
The Lighthouse – 3 bedroom house – Click here to see latest prices
Keeler Cottage – 3 bedroom house – Click here to see latest prices
The Keepers House – 3 bedroom house – Click here to see latest prices
Pet-friendly Accommodation Toowoomba
If you are looking for a home away from home, Bannockburn Cottage and Bannockburn Lodge are the way to go. Located opposite Mother’s Memorial, these two homestays are very close to Queens Park and within walking distance of the CBD. Accommodating 8 people in the Cottage and 6 in the Lodge, they even provide toys for the kids and have an enclosed yard. Click here for latest prices
There are plenty of motels in Toowoomba to choose from so you’ll need to think about what area do you want to stay in, does it need to be close to restaurants, shops or a particular location such as the Empire Theatre, Picnic Point or one of the many boarding schools in Toowoomba.
If you are looking for a Toowoomba motel in or just outside the CBD, there are a lot to choose from. Our pick for family motels with easy access to restaurants in Toowoomba are:
Burke and Wills Hotel Toowoomba – click here for latest prices
City Golf Club Motel – click here for latest prices
Federal Hotel – click here for latest prices
Toowoomba Accommodation Cabins, Caravans and Camping
BIG4 Toowoomba Garden City Holiday Park is a great spot for camping, caravans and cabins with your family. It is close to town and the University of Southern Queensland, and has two pools, a jumping pillow, TV room and barbecue area. Click here for latest prices at Big4 Toowoomba.
Now technically this next place isn’t in Toowoomba, however, I have to include Murphy’s Creek Escape. We haven’t stayed here ourselves and I have heard mixed reviews, so please check it out before you book. You’ll find this bush campground 30 minutes drive north-east of Toowoomba. Try out some of the adventure activities like the flying fox, ropes course, archery, mountain biking, or abseiling. Once you’ve had enough adventure for the day you can enjoy a swim in the creek and rock pools.
Toowoomba Accommodation for Couples
If it’s romance you’re after, then Vacy Hall Historic Guesthouse is the place to go (preferably without the kids). This grand old building offers unique luxury rooms surrounded by an acre of stunning gardens, all in the heart of the city.
When to visit Toowoomba
The best times to visit Toowoomba are Spring, Autumn, and Summer, but by far the most beautiful time is September. Why? Because there are flowers in bloom everywhere. There is a very good reason Toowoomba is called the Garden City. My other favourite time is autumn when the leaves are changing colours and it’s cool enough to rug up but not too much that you want to stay indoors.
How to get to Toowoomba
Toowoomba is about 1 ½ hours west of Brisbane at the top of the Great Dividing Range. You can travel by car, bus and now by plane with the new Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport offering over 70 flights a week to Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Townsville, and Western Queensland.