2020 has not gone to plan.
Of course, we would love to be abroad collecting more stamps inside our passport. But the silver lining of not travelling internationally means that we have the opportunity to focus our attention on the beauty of home.
The “staycation” has garnered popularity as our freedom of movement was restricted. Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane, has long flown “under-the-radar” in comparison to her more popular southern cousins, but the River City definitely deserves more spotlight.
Our recent weekend escape in Brisbane saw us discovering previously unnoticed spots and re-visiting old favourites with a fresh lens. So the next time you’re looking to get away, you needn’t stray too far. An adventure may be awaiting you, right in your own backyard.
STAYCATION QLD | A WEEKEND ESCAPE IN BRISBANE
1. Sunbathe at the beach without having to leave the city
Want that beach feeling without having to leave the city? Brisbane has you covered featuring Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach! Grab your beach towel, sunscreen and swimsuit and make your way to Streets Beach in the middle of South Bank parklands.
Boasting a sparkling blue lagoon, it’s quite easy to loll by the water with cafes and ice-cream parlours nearby.
2. Enjoy riverside views with dinner and drinks at Howard Smith Wharves
Nestled underneath the Story Bridge, the latest entertainment precinct to flank Brisbane’s riverside is Howard Smith Wharves. Featuring an on-site brewery, a fancy cocktail bar, three fine dining restaurants and an Art Series hotel, Howard Smith Wharves is the place to be on a Saturday night.
Casual drinks call for a bench table at Felon’s Brewery whilst share plates are encouraged at Greek restaurant, Greca. Elevated Cantonese food is served at Stanley whilst a Japanese feast awaits you at Yoko. Reservations required.
3. Catch the free CityHopper ferry and take in Brisbane from the river
To admire Brisbane from a different perspective, hop on Brisbane City Council’s free CityHopper inner city ferry service. There are eight stops between North Quay and Sydney Street, New Farm. The service runs every 36 minutes between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. You are welcome to hop on and off as you please. For up-to-date timetable information or to plan your journey, visit TransLink’s website.
4. Watch sunrise from Mt Coot-tha Summit Lookout
Located just 15 minutes from Brisbane CBD, take yourself to the top of Mount Coot-Tha Summit Lookout to admire Brisbane CBD from afar. This angle of Brisbane can be viewed at any time of day or night, proving to be a popular spot for photography enthusiasts, local residents and visitors.
Nestled in the bushland of Brisbane Forest Park, the Mount Coot-Tha precinct includes walking trails and other attractions including Brisbane Botanic Gardens and the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium.
5. Drink specialty coffee
Melbourne is not the only place in Australia with superb coffee. Brisbane continues to surprise us with several coffee roasters setting up shop in the River City.
Brisbane CBD recently welcomed The Maillard Project onto the scene along Charlotte Street, which much to our surprise and relief is open during the weekend. Other central favourites include Strauss, John Mills Himself and Edward Specialty Coffee – these guys are only open from Monday – Friday.
6. Spend big in boutiques and arcades
What’s a weekend away unless it includes some retail therapy? For the latest designs by Australian high-end fashion labels, direct your credit card towards the boutiques along James Street.
Homegrown Brisbane talent who regularly feature their designs at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival stock their sartorial best in Brisbane Arcade. Designers include Maiocchi, Pia Du Pradal and Tengdahl Australia. International luxury brands are all housed in QueensPlaza whilst familiar international and Aussie favourites are found along Queen Street Mall, the Myer Centre and the Wintergarden.
7. Revel in the magic of the theatre
The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (otherwise known as QPAC) sits along the Brisbane River delighting audiences with its schedule of theatre, dance and musical performances showcasing an array of talented local and international creatives.
To book tickets to upcoming events, visit the QPAC website.
8. Grab some beers and watch the sunset from Kangaroo Point Cliffs
Our favourite time of day is dusk and one of the best spots to watch the fading light is from the top of Kangaroo Point Cliffs. With unobstructed views of Brisbane’s skyline, this spot in Brisbane is arguably the most magical as you watch the orange glow of the sun disappear and the twinkling lights of the skyscrapers lighting up the velvet sky.
9. Scale the Story Bridge for the ultimate city skyline view
This activity is bound to get the heart pumping and the adrenaline rushing but we promise that both physiological responses will be worth it.
The Story Bridge Adventure Climb involves donning a boiler suit and being safely attached by harnesses and lanyards before climbing Brisbane’s most iconic structure. From the very top, you’ll experience a unique perspective of the city and its surrounds by day, at dusk or at night. For the daredevil adrenaline junkies, you can push your personal limits by adding on the extra thrill of a Cantilever Lean Out or Walk the Plank.
To make a reservation for the Story Bridge Adventure Climb, visit this booking link.
10. Take a history lesson at the Museum of Brisbane
Despite living in Brisbane my entire life, I only recently visited the Museum of Brisbane for the first time. Located on the third floor of Brisbane’s City Hall, exhibitions rotate regularly through the museum featuring a mix of Brisbane history and contemporary art. At times, you’ll have the opportunity to also meet an artist in residence.
The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10am – 5pm. Admission is free. Non-flash photography is permitted. To make the most of your visit, reserve a spot on the Clock Tower Tour which will take you up the clock tower of City Hall. This tour is also free but very popular, running daily every 15 minutes.
11. Check out the farmers markets
The community spirit flourishes on the weekends as vendors come to sell their goods to locals and visitors alike. You’ll find the Jan Powers Farmers Markets at the Powerhouse in New Farm bustling every Saturday morning from 6am – noon. Discover fresh produce, handmade products, artisan wares and delicious food. Bring a picnic blanket and your sunglasses, grab a pastry and coffee and find a spot in the shade on the edge of New Farm Park.
The Riverside Markets are at City Botanic Gardens every Sunday from 8am – 3pm. Here you’ll discover outdoor market stalls selling clothing, crafts & international food, plus live music.
12. Delight in the classic Aussie brunch culture
Healthy can be tasty too and we revel in the fact that Australia does brunch extremely well. And the menus will extend beyond smashed avo on toast. Our favourite places for brunch in Brisbane include Industry Beans Newstead and Mylk + Ko in New Farm.
13. Ride the Wheel of Brisbane to see Brisbane from above
Opened in 2008 to celebrate 20 years since Brisbane Expo ‘88, Channel Seven’s Wheel of Brisbane has since become an iconic landmark on the South Bank skyline.
A ride on the Wheel of Brisbane takes you 60 metres above ground, offering breathtaking 360 degree panoramic views of Brisbane City. On super clear days, you’ll even be able to glimpse the Glasshouse Mountain on the horizon. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth but you’ll save 5% if you book your tickets online.
14. Hop on a CityCycle bicycle and ride from New Farm Park to Brisbane City
For a bit of incidental exercise, rent a CityCycle bicycle and enjoy a sunny ride along the riverside bike paths. You’re able to hire a CityCycle bicycle for $2 for 30 minutes which is the perfect amount of time to go from New Farm Park to the edge of Brisbane City.
Don’t forget to wear a helmet and make sure to dock your bicycle correctly when returning it to a CityCycle station.
15. Stroll through the gardens at Roma Street Parkland
For a little pocket of peace and quiet, meander through 16 hectares of stunning parklands. A 10-minute walk from Brisbane’s CBD, Roma Street Parkland features beautifully designed gardens, free barbeque areas and is fringed by trendy cafes and historical monuments.
Pack your own picnic to enjoy the sunshine on one of the lawns and if you time it nicely, you’ll also be able to enjoy some free live jazz music in the park.
16. Sip cocktails in laneway bars and rooftop terraces
For a pre-dinner tipple or nightcap, explore Brisbane’s coveted bars off the main thoroughfares.
Cocktails are aplenty behind the doors of Death & Taxes and Super Whatnot down Burnett Lane. The lights are low but the drinks are chilled amongst the vintage decor in The Gresham, whilst twinkling lights are the best accompaniment with your beverage atop Sixteen Antlers Rooftop Bar.
This Brisbane staycation was made possible thanks to NEXT Hotel Brisbane.
Located in the heart of Queen Street Mall, NEXT Brisbane’s central location means that you’re only a hop, skip and a jump from attractions, shopping, dining and entertainment precincts.
Cross the Victoria Bridge and you’ll reach South Bank Parklands whilst a 15 minute walk in the other direction will take you towards Eagle Street Pier and Howard Smith Wharves. Push your credit card limit with retailers in the mall while coveted cocktail bars are right on the doorstep in Burnett Lane.
After a few tipples, it’s as simple as gliding upstairs to your suite and falling into a deep slumber as the twinkling lights along the Brisbane river bid you goodnight.
NEXT Brisbane’s crown jewel has to be the Pool Terrace & Bar on level 4. A quick snap of you lounging by the side of the open-air #hotelpool will show your friends and family just how cool Brisbane is.
Book accommodation for your Brisbane Staycation with NEXT Hotel Brisbane by using our discount code “TQNEXT” to receive 20% off your stay. This discount code is valid and applicable for all bookings up to and including 31 December 2020.